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Understanding APA Format
If you’re writing academically, chances are you’ve been tasked with writing a paper that follows APA style. Although there’s a learning curve involved with adhering to APA style, it’s possible to learn the basics so you can turn in your assignments.
What Is APA Style?
APA is the official academic style of the American Psychological Association. This style was created in 1929 when a group of professionals worked together to devise a set of style rules for scientific writing as a means of making these documents easier to read and understand.
If an assignment indicates APA style, you will need to adhere to these style rules. These guidelines ensure that your document is consistent and uniform with elements such as punctuation, headings and subheadings, abbreviations, numbers, tables and figures and citations.
Main Sections of a Document
APA style dictates the format of the main sections of a document.
The title page includes a running head, the author’s name and the school.
The abstract is a succinct summary of the document. APA style dictates that abstracts be no more than 250 words, although some instructors give leeway regarding the length.
The main body of the document is the text of the essay or report. Some reports are divided into separate sections.
Your reference section follows the body. It includes a list of references you cited in your document.
How to Reference APA Style
In-text citations appear within the text, identifying any information you cite. APA format for in-text citations includes the author’s name and the date of the publication.
The reference page always begins on a new page with the title “References” centered at the top. Include all entries in alphabetical order, and each entry’s first line begins at the left margin, and additional lines are indented. Place titles of newspapers, magazines, journals and books in italics, and double-space the reference section.
Double-check that all of your sources appear as both in-text citations and in the reference section.
Use an APA Sample Paper
An APA style example can be helpful if you’re learning this style and trying to apply it to a writing assignment. Many schools and universities maintain resource web pages with APA samples to show students how to follow this style.
More APA Tips
If you’re struggling with creating APA citations and references, use a citation machine to check your work. You simply fill in the citation and click a button, and the tool tells you if you made any errors.
Consider hiring an academic editor to check your work after you finish writing. The editor can find and correct errors to make sure your document adheres to APA.
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About APA Citation Online Tools
As anyone who has ever written a paper for a college class knows, there are certain style rules and guidelines to be followed depending on which discipline you are in. Such style rules ensure consistency in formatting and publishing and address details such as comma placement, capitalization, references and in-text citations. One of the most commonly used styles is the APA style, which is the style preferred by the American Psychological Association. APA style is style that is generally used for disciplines such as the social sciences, education and psychology.
Origins of APA Style
For many college students, learning APA style can be tricky. The specifics of the style often trip up even the best writers, since it is difficult to remember whether titles should be in italics or not, how references should be alphabetized and how to cite citations, which can vary depending upon where they appear.
According to the APA, the style originated in 1929, when a group of psychologists, anthropologists, and business managers decided to establish a simple set of procedures, or style rules, to bring uniformity to the elements of scientific writing to increase the ease of reading comprehension.
Some of the procedures they decided upon can be challenging. Plus, there are various online tools and style generators out there that can help. We’ve gathered a few of them here.
Online Citation Machines
It takes just a few clicks to find any number of reliable citation machines that help writers be sure their papers conform to APA style. In general, a citation machine website helps students and professionals properly credit the information that they use. As any good student knows, proper credits are essential to presenting a strong paper, because they cite the sources used, giving credit where credit is due and not plagiarizing.
Avoid Plagiarism at All Costs
In a reference paper, article, blog post or any other published work, writers must give credit to their sources. Failing to do so, even if you have completely reworded the information or summarized the information, is considered to be plagiarism. A good rule of thumb is to cite sources extensively, because even if you think you have an original thought, you may actually be paraphrasing something you’ve read elsewhere. It is safe to say that you cannot cite too many sources.
Citation Machine Ensures APA Conformity
Citation Machine is a free online tool that students, researchers, teachers and publishers can use to see how well their paper conforms to APA style guidelines.
The site is extremely clear about the two types of APA citations and provides a good summary. The first kind of citation is called an in-text or parenthetical citation. These citations must be included when you use information from someone else’s work in your own paper. They are used in the main body of your paper and must be placed immediately after the information you have borrowed.
The second kind of citation is a reference citation and is included with all other full citations at the end of your paper on the last page. They are alphabetical and listed one after the other. They’re the full citations for the in-text citations included in the body of your paper.
BibMe Details APA Style
BibMe is another free online citation generator for APA style. Along with citation guidelines, it spells out ways in which paper elements such as publication dates and titles should be structured. For example, publication dates should place the date that the source was published in parentheses, after the author’s name. If no date is available, you should write n.d. In parentheses, which stands for no date.
Book titles should capitalize just the first letter of the first word in the title. Do the same for the subtitle. The first letter of any proper nouns should be capitalized and italicized. Each should end with a period.
Check Every Last Detail
Learning APA style on your own can be daunting. Fortunately, you can learn more about it while making sure that paper is correct and that you properly cite each and every one of your sources by using online tools developed for this exact purpose.
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How to Write a Bibliography in APA Format
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.
- APA Bibliography
- How to Create One
- Why You Need It
What is an apa format bibliography.
An APA format bibliography is an alphabetical listing of all sources that might be used to write an academic paper, essay, article, or research paper—particularly work that is covering psychology or psychology-related topics. APA format is the official style of the American Psychological Association (APA). This format is used by many psychology professors, students, and researchers.
Even if it is not a required part of your assignment, writing a bibliography can help you keep track of your sources and make it much easier to create your final reference page in proper APA format.
Creating an APA Bibliography
A bibliography is similar in many ways to a reference section , but there are some important differences. While a reference section includes every source that was actually used in your paper, a bibliography may include sources that you considered using but may have dismissed because they were irrelevant or outdated.
Bibliographies can be a great way to keep track of information you might want to use in your paper and to organize the information that you find in different sources. The following are four steps you can follow to create your APA format bibliography.
Start on a New Page
Your working bibliography should be kept separate from the rest of your paper. Start it on a new page, with the title “Bibliography” centered at the top and in bold text. Some people use the title "References" instead, so it's best to check with your professor or instructor which they prefer you use.
Gather Your Sources
Compile all the sources you might possibly use in your paper. While you might not use all of these sources in your paper, having a complete list will make it easier later on when you prepare your reference section.
Gathering your sources can be particularly helpful when outlining and writing your paper.
By quickly glancing through your working bibliography, you will be able to get a better idea of which sources will be the most appropriate to support your thesis and main points.
Reference Each Source
Your references should be listed alphabetically by the author’s last name, and they should be double-spaced. The first line of each reference should be flush left, while each additional line of a single reference should be a few spaces to the right of the left margin, which is known as a hanging indent.
The format of each source is as follows for academic journals:
- Last name of first author (followed by their first initial)
- The year the source was published in parentheses
- The title of the source
- The journal that published the source (in italics)
- The volume number, if applicable (in italics)
- The issue number, if applicable
- Page numbers (in parentheses)
- The URL or "doi" in lowercase letters followed by a colon and the doi number, if applicable
The following examples are scholarly articles in academic journals, cited in APA format:
- Kulacaoglu, F., & Kose, S. (2018). Borderline personality disorder (BPD): In the midst of vulnerability, chaos, and awe. Brain sciences , 8 (11), 201. doi:10.3390/brainsci8110201
- Cattane, N., Rossi, R., & Lanfredi, M. (2017). Borderline personality disorder and childhood trauma: exploring the affected biological systems and mechanisms. BMC Psychiatry, 18 (221). doi:10.1186/s12888-017-1383-2
Visit the American Psychological Association's website for more information on citing other types of sources including online media, audiovisual media, and more.
Create an Annotation for Each Source
Normally a bibliography contains only references' information, but in some cases you might decide to create an annotated bibliography. An annotation is a summary or evaluation of the source.
An annotation is a brief description of approximately 150 words describing the information in the source, your evaluation of its credibility, and how it pertains to your topic. Writing one of these for each piece of research will make your writing process faster and easier.
This step helpful in determining which sources to ultimately use in your paper. Your instructor may also require it as part of the assignment so they can assess your thought process and understanding of your topic.
Reasons to Write a Bibliography
One of the biggest reasons to create an APA format bibliography is simply to make the research and writing process easier.
If you do not have a comprehensive list of all of your references, you might find yourself scrambling to figure out where you found certain bits of information that you included in your paper.
A bibliography is also an important tool that your readers can use to access your sources.
While writing an annotated bibliography might not be required for your assignment, it can be a very useful step. The process of writing an annotation helps you learn more about your topic, develop a deeper understanding of the subject, and become better at evaluating various sources of information.
The following is an example of an APA format bibliography by the website EasyBib:
There are many online resources that demonstrate different formats of bibliographies, including the American Psychological Association website . Purdue University's Online Writing Lab also has examples of formatting an APA format bibliography. Check out this video on their YouTube channel which provides detailed instructions on formatting an APA style bibliography in Microsoft Word.
You can check out the Purdue site for more information on writing an annotated APA bibliography as well.
A Word From Verywell
If you are taking a psychology class, you may be asked at some point to create a bibliography as part of the research paper writing process. Even if your instructor does not expressly require a bibliography, creating one can be a useful way to help structure your research and make the writing process easier.
For psychology majors , it can be helpful to save any bibliographies you have written over the course of your studies so that you can refer back to them later when studying for exams or writing papers for other psychology courses.
Masic I. The importance of proper citation of references in biomedical articles. Acta Inform Med . 2013;21(3):148–155. doi:10.5455/aim.2013.21.148-155
Cornell University Library. How to prepare an annotated bibliography: The annotated bibliography .
American Psychological Association. How do you format a bibliography in APA Style?
American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . 7th Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2020.
By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
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How to Write an APA Bibliography
APA 7 style guidelines require a reference list of all the sources you included in your research paper. APA references follow the author-date style of citation. You may be asked to create an annotated APA bibliography, however. This could be a separate assignment or part of the larger research project. This goes above and beyond the basic reference list with a brief discussion of each entry.
Reference List Instructions
Start the reference list on the page following your report, after appendices, or any other supporting material. Follow these steps to write the perfect APA bibliography .
Format each citation entry by following these rules :
- List authors by last name, first name initial, and middle name initial (e.g., Doe, J. J.).
- Do not spell out first or middle name(s).
- Capitalize only the first letter of the title and subtitle of the article or book.
- Italicize titles of journals or books.
- Use an ampersand before the final author on works with multiple authors.
Format your bibliography page by following these rules:
- Use References as the title, centered at the top of the page.
- Double-space your text.
- Include the running head (optional for students in APA 7).
- Include the page number.
- Follow the letter by letter alphabetizing method .
Example APA Bibliography Page
AGING BRAIN (Professional Papers Only)
Beal, M. F. (2003). Mitochondria, oxidative damage, and inflammation in Parkinson’s disease. Academic Science 991. 120-13 . Health Informatics Journal , 13 (2), 155-6.
Chase, M. H. (1999, September 24). Too often the elderly don’t get the drugs or care they need. Wall Street Journal . 31.
Kidd, P. M. (1999). A review of nutrients and botanicals in the integrative management of cognitive dysfunction. Alternative Medicine 4 (3). 144-161.
Morrison, J. H., & Hof, P. R. (1997). Life and death of neurons in the aging brain. Science, 278 (5337), 412-419. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7012/cafb15a5d6e03caafc71d70d47971ded391b.pdf
Perlmutter, D., & Colman, C. (2004). The better brain book . Riverhead Books.
APA Annotated Bibliography
You may be required to write an APA annotated bibliography . Follow the same formatting rules as above; however, include all sources consulted and add an evaluative or summary annotation of each source listed.
Example Citation Entry
Egendorf, L. K. (Ed.). (2002). An aging population: Opposing viewpoints . Greenhaven Press.
This book on aging in the United States provides twenty-three short essays organized into chapters. Each chapter covers a different theme with writers presenting opposing arguments. For example, there are pro and con articles on whether older people are hurting the economy. This is a good book to read on aspects of the aging population. It is not an in-depth look but provides some good arguments, which lead to further research and discussion.
Follow your teacher’s instructions while writing and researching your APA format school paper even if it’s different than what you’ve learned about formal APA style.
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APA Citation Newspaper Article Examples
Apa video citation examples, putting apa references in alphabetical order, apa block quote format.
Purdue Online Writing Lab College of Liberal Arts
Welcome to the Purdue OWL
This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.
Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.
Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style can be found here .
Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.
You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel .
General APA Guidelines
Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. Include a page header (also known as the “ running head ”) at the top of every page. For a professional paper, this includes your paper title and the page number. For a student paper, this only includes the page number. To create a page header/running head , insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.
The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual requires that the chosen font be accessible (i.e., legible) to all readers and that it be used consistently throughout the paper. It acknowledges that many font choices are legitimate, and it advises writers to check with their publishers, instructors, or institutions for guidance in cases of uncertainty.
While the APA Manual does not specify a single font or set of fonts for professional writing, it does recommend a few fonts that are widely available. These include sans serif fonts such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, and 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode as well as serif fonts such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, 10-point Computer Modern.
Major Paper Sections
Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page , Abstract , Main Body , and References .
Note: APA 7 provides slightly different directions for formatting the title pages of professional papers (e.g., those intended for scholarly publication) and student papers (e.g., those turned in for credit in a high school or college course).
The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name , and the institutional affiliation . A professional paper should also include the author note . A student paper should also include the course number and name , instructor name , and assignment due date .
Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. The title should be centered and written in boldface. APA recommends that your title be focused and succinct and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.
Beneath the title, type the author's name : first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).
Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation , which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.
A professional paper should include the author note beneath the institutional affiliation, in the bottom half of the title page. This should be divided up into several paragraphs, with any paragraphs that are not relevant omitted. The first paragraph should include the author’s name, the symbol for the ORCID iD, and the URL for the ORCID iD. Any authors who do not have an ORCID iD should be omitted. The second paragraph should show any change in affiliation or any deaths of the authors. The third paragraph should include any disclosures or acknowledgements, such as study registration, open practices and data sharing, disclosure of related reports and conflicts of interest, and acknowledgement of financial support and other assistance. The fourth paragraph should include contact information for the corresponding author.
A student paper should not include an author note.
Note again that page headers/page numbers (described above for professional and student papers) also appear at the top of the title page. In other words, a professional paper's title page will include the title of the paper flush left in all capitals and the page number flush right, while a student paper will only contain the page number flush right.
Student APA title page
Title page for a student paper in APA 7 style.
Professional paper APA title page
Title page for a professional paper in APA 7 style.
Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center and bold the word “Abstract” (no italics, underlining, or quotation marks).
Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced. Your abstract should typically be no more than 250 words.
You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.
Abstracts are common in scholarly journal articles and are not typically required for student papers unless advised by an instructor. If you are unsure whether or not your work requires an abstract, consult your instructor for further guidance.
APA Abstract Page
Abstract page for a student paper in APA 7 style.
Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.
How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA
The page template for the new OWL site does not include contributors' names or the page's last edited date. However, select pages still include this information.
In the absence of contributor/edit date information, treat the page as a source with a group author and use the abbreviation "n.d." for "no date":
Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). Title of resource. Purdue Online Writing Lab. http://Web address for OWL resource
Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). General Writing FAQs. Purdue Online Writing Lab. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/general_writing_faqs.html
The generic APA citation for OWL pages, which includes author/edit date information, is this:
Contributors' names. (Last edited date). Title of resource . Site Name. http://Web address for OWL resource
This page has been archived and is no longer being updated regularly.
How do you format a bibliography in APA Style ® ?
Go to 7th edition guidelines
APA Style ® calls for a list of references instead of a bibliography.
The requirements of a reference list are that all references cited in the text of a paper must be listed alphabetically by first author's last name in the list of references and that all references listed must be cited within the text.
A bibliography, however, typically includes resources in addition to those cited in the text and may include annotated descriptions of the items listed.
In general, the list of references is double-spaced and listed alphabetically by first author's last name. For each reference, the first line is typed flush with the left margin, and any additional lines are indented as a group a few spaces to the right of the left margin (this is called a hanging indent ).
APA Publications and Communications Board Working Group on Journal Article Reporting Standards. (2009). Reporting standards for research in psychology: Why do we need them? What might they be? American Psychologist, 63 , 839–851. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.63.9.839
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Citation Styles: A Brief Guide to APA, MLA and Turabian
Sample bibliography: apa.
- Journal Articles
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- In Text Citations
- Sample Bibliography: MLA
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- Creating an Annotated Bibliography
The basic format for a book citation requires listing the author's name, the title of the book, the publisher's name, and the date of publication. Edited books, when cited in full, will list the editor's name instead of an author’s name.
Becsey, L., Wachsberger, P., Samuels, S., et al (Directors). (2008). In the valley of Elah . [DVD]. Warner Home Video.
Ginsberg, J. P., Ayers, E., Burriss, L., & Powell, D. A. (2008). Discriminative delay Pavlovian eye-blink conditioning in veterans with and without post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders , 22 , 809-823. https://doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2007.08.009
Glantz, A. (2009). The war comes home: Washington's battle against America's veterans . University of California Press.
Jakupcak, M., Luterek, J., Hunt, S., Conybeare, D., & McFall, M. (2008). Post-traumatic stress and its relationship to physical health functioning in a sample of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans seeking post-deployment VA health care. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease , 196 , 425-428.
Jensen, G. & Wiest, A. A. (2001). War in the age of technology myriad faces of modern armed conflict . New York University Press.
Killgore, W. D. S., Cotting, D. I., Thomas, J. L., Cox, A. L., McGurk, D., Vo, A. H., et al. (2008). Post-combat invincibility: Violent combat experiences are associated with increased risk-taking propensity following deployment. Journal of Psychiatric Research , 42 (13), 1112-1121. https://doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.01.001
Monson, C. M., Fredman, S. J., & Adair, K. C. (2008). Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder: Application to operation enduring and Iraqi freedom veterans. Journal of Clinical Psychology , 64 , 958-971. https://doi:10.1002/jclp.20511
Paulson, D. S., & Krippner, S. (2007). Haunted by combat : Understanding PTSD in war veterans including women, reservists, and those coming back from Iraq . Praeger Security International.
Tanielian, T. L., Jaycox, L., & Rand Corporation. (2008). Invisible wounds of war: Psychological and cognitive injuries, their consequences, and services to assist recovery . Rand.
United States. Congress. House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. (2007). Working in a war zone: Post traumatic stress disorder in civilians returning from Iraq . G.P.O.
Van Winkle, C. (2009). Soft spots: A marine's memoir of combat and post-traumatic stress disorder . St. Martin's Press.
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Writing a Bibliography: APA Format
Below are standard formats and examples for basic bibliographic information recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA). For more information on the APA format, see http://www.apastyle.org .
Your list of works cited should begin at the end of the paper on a new page with the centered title, References . Alphabetize the entries in your list by the author's last name, using the letter-by-letter system (ignore spaces and other punctuation.) Only the initials of the first and middle names are given. If the author's name is unknown, alphabetize by the title, ignoring any A, An , or The .
For dates, spell out the names of months in the text of your paper, but abbreviate them in the list of works cited, except for May, June, and July. Use either the day-month-year style (22 July 1999) or the month-day-year style (July 22, 1999) and be consistent. With the month-day-year style, be sure to add a comma after the year unless another punctuation mark goes there.
Underlining or Italics ?
When reports were written on typewriters, the names of publications were underlined because most typewriters had no way to print italics. If you write a bibliography by hand, you should still underline the names of publications. But, if you use a computer, then publication names should be in italics as they are below. Always check with your instructor regarding their preference of using italics or underlining. Our examples use italics.
All APA citations should use hanging indents, that is, the first line of an entry should be flush left, and the second and subsequent lines should be indented 1/2".
Capitalization, Abbreviation, and Punctuation
The APA guidelines specify using sentence-style capitalization for the titles of books or articles, so you should capitalize only the first word of a title and subtitle. The exceptions to this rule would be periodical titles and proper names in a title which should still be capitalized. The periodical title is run in title case, and is followed by the volume number which, with the title, is also italicized.
If there is more than one author, use an ampersand (&) before the name of the last author. If there are more than six authors, list only the first one and use et al . for the rest.
Place the date of publication in parentheses immediately after the name of the author. Place a period after the closing parenthesis. Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works within longer works.
Allen, T. (1974). Vanishing wildlife of North America . Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.
Boorstin, D. (1992). The creators: A history of the heroes of the imagination . New York: Random House.
Nicol, A. M., & Pexman, P. M. (1999). Presenting your findings: A practical guide for creating tables . Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Searles, B., & Last, M. (1979). A reader's guide to science fiction . New York: Facts on File, Inc.
Toomer, J. (1988). Cane . Ed. Darwin T. Turner. New York: Norton.
Encyclopedia & Dictionary
Bergmann, P. G. (1993). Relativity. In The new encyclopedia britannica (Vol. 26, pp. 501-508). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.
Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary (10th ed.). (1993). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
Pettingill, O. S., Jr. (1980). Falcon and Falconry. World book encyclopedia . (pp. 150-155). Chicago: World Book.
Tobias, R. (1991). Thurber, James. Encyclopedia americana . (p. 600). New York: Scholastic Library Publishing.
Magazine & Newspaper Articles
Harlow, H. F. (1983). Fundamentals for preparing psychology journal articles. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 55 , 893-896.
Henry, W. A., III. (1990, April 9). Making the grade in today's schools. Time, 135 , 28-31.
Kalette, D. (1986, July 21). California town counts town to big quake. USA Today, 9 , p. A1.
Kanfer, S. (1986, July 21). Heard any good books lately? Time, 113 , 71-72.
Trillin, C. (1993, February 15). Culture shopping. New Yorker , pp. 48-51.
Website or Webpage
Online document: Author's name. (Date of publication). Title of work . Retrieved month day, year, from full URL Note: When citing Internet sources, refer to the specific website document. If a document is undated, use "n.d." (for no date) immediately after the document title. Break a lengthy URL that goes to another line after a slash or before a period. Continually check your references to online documents. There is no period following a URL. Note: If you cannot find some of this information, cite what is available.
Devitt, T. (2001, August 2). Lightning injures four at music festival. The Why? Files . Retrieved January 23, 2002, from http://whyfiles.org/137lightning/index.html
Dove, R. (1998). Lady freedom among us. The Electronic Text Center . Retrieved June 19, 1998, from Alderman Library, University of Virginia website: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/subjects/afam.html Note: If a document is contained within a large and complex website (such as that for a university or a government agency), identify the host organization and the relevant program or department before giving the URL for the document itself. Precede the URL with a colon.
Fredrickson, B. L. (2000, March 7). Cultivating positive emotions to optimize health and well-being. Prevention & Treatment , 3, Article 0001a. Retrieved November 20, 2000, from http://journals.apa.org/prevention/volume3/pre0030001a.html
GVU's 8th WWW user survey . (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2000, from http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/usersurveys/survey1997-10/
Health Canada. (2002, February). The safety of genetically modified food crops . Retrieved March 22, 2005, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/protection/biologics_genetics/gen_mod_foods/genmodebk.html
Hilts, P. J. (1999, February 16). In forecasting their emotions, most people flunk out. New York Times . Retrieved November 21, 2000, from http://www.nytimes.com
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APA (American Psychological Association) style is most frequently used within the social sciences, in order to cite various sources. This APA Citation Guide provides the general format for in-text citations and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 7th ed.
In APA style, two citations are used to cite a source:
- A short citation used in the text (called the in-text citation ).
- A full citation (called the reference ) in the reference list at the end of a paper.
The in-text citation is a short citation that is placed next to the text being cited. The in-text citation lets the reader know that the information came from the cited source. The reference list entry provides complete details of a source and is shown at the end of a document.
In order to properly cite a source in APA style, you must have both citation types in your paper. Every in-text citation has a reference list entry. Every reference list entry has at least one (maybe more) corresponding in-text citation.
The basic elements needed for an in-text citation are the author’s surname and the publication year . Sometimes, page numbers are also included, especially when quotes are mentioned in the text. In-text citations are mentioned in the text in two ways: as a narrative citation or a parenthetical citation.
Narrative citations are incorporated into the text and act as a part of the sentence. Usually, narrative citations use the author’s name in the text and the publication year is enclosed in parenthesis after the name. An example of a narrative citation for one author is given below:
Barbarin (2013) examined socioemotional learning in African boys.
Parenthetical citations add the author’s name and the publication year at the end of the sentence in parenthesis. An example of a parenthetical citation is given below:
Inhibition and working memory in young children were studied extensively (Aase, 2014).
When are page numbers are included?
Page numbers are referred to within in-text citations when quotes are used. Examples of both narrative citations and parenthetical citations are given below.
Ahmed (2004, p. 44)
Ahmed (2004, pp. 53–56)
(Ahmed, 2004, p. 44)
(Ahmed, 2004, pp. 53–56)
Examples of in-text citations
Here are a few examples of in-text citations for a different number of authors:
Use the surname of the author in in-text citations. Use a comma before the publication year in parenthetical citations.
Separate the author surnames with an “and” in narrative citations. Use an ampersand symbol (&) in parenthetical citations.
Popescu and Pennacchiotti (2010)
(Popescu & Pennacchiotti, 2010)
Three or more authors
Use the first author surname name followed by et al.
van Dijck et al. (2018)
(van Dijck et al., 2018)
Treat the group author similar to how you would treat author names.
Auger Collaboration (2003)
(Auger Collaboration, 2018)
If there is no author for the source, use the source title in place of the author’s name. In general, sources with no author appear as parenthetical citations.
When you add such in-text citations, you will either italicize the text or place it in quotations. If the source title is italicized in the reference list entry, italicize the title in the in-text citation. If the title is not italicized, place it in quotation marks.
( Nothing here , 1997)
Parenthetical, journal article:
(“Examination of parrotfish impact on coral reefs,” 2018)
Reference list entries
Reference list entries are also called full citations. There are four main details that most reference list entries have:
- The author field.
- The publication year.
- The title of the work ( italicized or in “quotation marks”).
- The source from where the reference can be obtained (e.g., URL, DOI, etc.).
Depending on the source type, you will also need additional details like volume number, publication title, contributors, medium, etc.
Examples of reference list entries
Below are a few examples of different types of reference entries along with their templates. The examples given are for one author. Note that “F” and “M” in the templates denote the first and the middle initials of an author’s name.
The title of the book is set in italics and sentence case.
Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the book . Publisher.
Ahmed, S. (2014). The cultural politics of emotion . Edinburgh University Press.
The title of the article is in sentence case. The first word of a subtitle is capitalized. The journal title and the volume number are set in italics. If an article has a DOI it should always be included. Use “https://doi.org/” before the DOI. If there is no DOI for an online journal, include the URL instead. Do not use a period after the DOI or URL.
Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume (issue), page range. URL or DOI
Collins, R. (2004). Rituals of solidarity and security in the wake of terrorist attack. Sociological Theory, 22 (1), 53–87. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9558.2004.00204.x
Newspaper or magazine article
Newspaper and magazine articles take the same style. The title of the article is in plain text and sentence case; the title of the newspaper or the magazine is set in italics. Follow the format given in the template and example for setting the date, month, and year.
Surname, F. M. (Date of publication). Title of the article. Title of the Newspaper or Magazine . URL
TNN. (2021, July 18). Parents have a habit of comparing kids to others but you don’t need to. The Times of India . https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com//home/sunday-times/parents-have-a-habit-of-comparing-kids-to-others-but-you-dont-need-to/articleshow/84507857.cms
The webpage title is in plain text, while the Website name is set in italics. Follow the format given in the template and example for setting the date, month, year, and URL.
Author or Organization Name. (Year, Month Day of Publication ). Webpage title. Title of the Website. URL
Lamberth, H. (2021, August 12). Binge drinking is problem drinking: How to get back in control. PSYCOM . https://www.psycom.net/binge-drinking-problem-drinking
The video title is set in sentence case and italicized. The first word after a colon is capitalized. The word “Video” is enclosed in brackets after the video title. This is followed followed by the word “YouTube.” Finally, the link is given. Note that a period is not given after the URL.
Uploader’s name, F. (Year, Month Day Published). Video title [Video]. YouTube. URL
Ananta, P. (2021, February 21). APJ Abdul Kalam inspirational quotes [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjfL51RFL2k
Reference entries for different number of authors
The number of authors in the source decides how the author name(s) will be set in the references list. Here, you will see many journal references with different numbers of authors.
List the author name followed by the publication year.
Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume (issue), page range.
Spitka, T. (2017). Mediating among mediators: Building a consensus in multilateral interventions. International Negotiation, 23 , 1–30.
Separate the author names by an ampersand. Use a comma between the first author’s initial and the ampersand symbol.
Author Surname, F. M., & Author Surname, F. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume (issue), page range. DOI or URL
Bernstein, B., & Solomon, J. (1999). Pedagogy, identity and the construction of a theory of symbolic control: Basil Bernstein questioned by Joseph Solomon. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20 (2), 265–279. https://doi:10.1080/01425699995443
When you add two organizations in the author field, do not use a comma before the ampersand.
Organization 1 & Organization 2. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume (issue), page range. DOI or URL
American Psychological Association & American Psychological Society. (2020). Psychology of children. Journal of Child Psychology, 34 (23), 1–12.
List all author names. Do not forget to insert an “ampersand” before the last author. The example given below is for three authors.
Author Surname, F. M., Author Surname, F. M., & Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume (issue), page range. DOI or URL
Pyysiäinen, J., Halpin, D., & Guilfoyle, A. (2017). Neoliberal governance and ‘responsibilization’ of agents: Reassessing the mechanisms of responsibility-shift in neoliberal discursive environments. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 18 (2), 215–235. https://doi:10.1080/1600910X.2017.1331858
More than 20 authors
List the names of the first 19 authors followed by an ellipsis. Add the final author name after the ellipsis but without the ampersand symbol before the last author name.
Author Surname1, F. M., Author Surname2, F. M., Author Surname3, F. M., Author Surname4, F. M., Author Surname5, F. M., Author Surname6, F. M., Author Surname7, F. M., Author Surname8, F. M., Author Surname9, F. M., Author Surname10, F. M., Author Surname11, F. M., Author Surname12, F. M., Author Surname13, F. M., Author Surname14, F. M., Author Surname15, F. M., Author Surname16, F. M., Author Surname17, F. M., Author Surname18, F. M., Author Surname19, F. M,¼ Last Author name, F. M. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume (issue), page range. DOI or URL
Fox, J., Harper, D., Bird, A., Kindler, F. A., Feng, H.-G., Seng, A. L., Sevel, K., Ed, E., Nell, A., Ten, T., Elin, K. J., Thomas, A., Thendy, S., Fall, W., Fint, E., Gurdy, A. K., Dondy, D., Egert, E., Nanda, A. L., ¼ Long, G. (2015). Pedagogising knowledge: Bernstein’s theory of the pedagogic device. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 23 (4), 571–582.
For additional information on APA format, select from one of the source types below. For help creating APA citations, check out the BibMe APA citation generator.
- How to cite a Book in APA
- How to cite a Magazine in APA
- How to cite a Newspaper in APA
- How to cite a Website in APA
- How to cite a Journal Article in APA
- How to cite a Film in APA
- How to cite an Interview in APA
- How to cite a Lecture in APA
- How to cite a TV Show / Radio Broadcast in APA
- How to cite an Encyclopedia in APA
- How to cite a Photograph in APA
- APA 7 Updates
- In-Text Citation Basics
- Reference Page
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As per Section 8.17 from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , for any work that has three or more authors, the name of the first author and “et al.” should be used as in-text citation. The Latin phrase “et al” means “and others” and is used to reduce the citation length.
Example In-Text Citation Entry:
No stretch of reason can categorize cultural appropriation as imaginary (Rahim et al., 2020).
Sometimes, the same set of initial authors and the same publication year appear in a paper. In such rare circumstances, as per Section 8.18 of the APA manual, write out as many names as needed to differentiate between these similar references.
Example In-Text Citation Entries:
Miller, John, Reighstag et al. (2018)
Miller, John, Amudsen, et al. (2018)
As per Section 8.21 and Table 8.1 of the APA Publication Manual , a citation for a group author may be abbreviated in in-text citations. It is not compulsory to do so; however, if the group author is well known or if it appears at least thrice in the paper, then the name of the group may be abbreviated.
Parenthetical in-text citation template and example:
(Full Name of the Group [Abbreviation], year)
(National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2018)
Whether it is a narrative or parenthetical in-text citation, the full name of the group should be mentioned in the first instance, along with the abbreviation.
Narrative in-text citation examples:
The American Psychological Association (APA, 2017) argues that… (first instance)
As per the APA (2017), it is standard practice that… (subsequent instances)
- Plagiarism and grammar
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A comprehensive guide to apa citations and format, overview of this guide:.
This page provides you with an overview of APA format, 7th edition. Included is information about referencing, various citation formats with examples for each source type, and other helpful information.
If you’re looking for MLA format , check out the Citation Machine MLA Guide. Also, visit the Citation Machine homepage to use the APA formatter, which is an APA citation generator, and to see more styles .
Being responsible while researching
When you’re writing a research paper or creating a research project, you will probably use another individual’s work to help develop your own assignment. A good researcher or scholar uses another individual’s work in a responsible way. This involves indicating that the work of other individuals is included in your project (i.e., citing), which is one way to prevent plagiarism.
Plagiarism? What is it?
The word plagiarism is derived from the Latin word, plagiare , which means “to kidnap.” The term has evolved over the years to now mean the act of taking another individual’s work and using it as your own, without acknowledging the original author (American Psychological Association, 2020 p. 21). Plagiarism can be illegal and there can be serious ramifications for plagiarizing someone else’s work. Thankfully, plagiarism can be prevented. One way it can be prevented is by including citations and references in your research project. Want to make them quickly and easily? Try the Citation Machine citation generator, which is found on our homepage.
All about citations & references
Citations and references should be included anytime you use another individual’s work in your own assignment. When including a quote, paraphrased information, images, or any other piece of information from another’s work, you need to show where you found it by including a citation and a reference. This guide explains how to make them.
APA style citations are added in the body of a research paper or project and references are added to the last page.
Citations , which are called in-text citations, are included when you’re adding information from another individual’s work into your own project. When you add text word-for-word from another source into your project, or take information from another source and place it in your own words and writing style (known as paraphrasing), you create an in-text citation. These citations are short in length and are placed in the main part of your project, directly after the borrowed information.
References are found at the end of your research project, usually on the last page. Included on this reference list page is the full information for any in-text citations found in the body of the project. These references are listed in alphabetical order by the author's last name.
An APA in-text citation includes only three items: the last name(s) of the author(s), the year the source was published, and sometimes the page or location of the information. References include more information such as the name of the author(s), the year the source was published, the full title of the source, and the URL or page range.
Why is it important to include citations & references
Including APA citations and references in your research projects is a very important component of the research process. When you include citations, you’re being a responsible researcher. You’re showing readers that you were able to find valuable, high-quality information from other sources, place them into your project where appropriate, all while acknowledging the original authors and their work.
Common ways students and scholars accidentally plagiarize
Believe it or not, there are instances when you could attempt to include in-text and full references in the appropriate places, but still accidentally plagiarize. Here are some common mistakes to be aware of:
Mistake #1 - Misquoting sources: If you plan to use a direct quote, make sure you copy it exactly as is. Sure, you can use part of the full quote or sentence, but if you decide to put quotation marks around any words, those words should match exactly what was found in the original source. Here’s a line from The Little Prince , by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”
Here’s an acceptable option:
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves,” stated de Saint-Exupéry (1943, p. 3).
Here’s a misquote:
“Grown-ups barely ever understand anything by themselves,” stated de Saint-Exupéry (1943, p. 3).
Notice the slight change in the words. The incorrect phrasing is an instance of accidental plagiarism.
Mistake #2 - Problems with paraphrasing: When we paraphrase, we restate information using our own words and writing style. It’s not acceptable to substitute words from the original source with synonyms.
Let’s use the same sentence from The Little Prince .
A correct paraphrase could be:
de Saint-Exupéry (1943) shares various ways adults frustrate children. One of the biggest being that kids have to explain everything. It’s too bad adults are unable to comprehend anything on their own (p. 3).
An incorrect paraphrase would be:
de Saint-Exupéry (1943) shares that adults never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for kids to be always and forever clarifying things to them (p.3).
Notice how close the incorrect paraphrase is from the original. This is an instance of accidental plagiarism.
Make sure you quote and paraphrase properly in order to prevent accidental plagiarism.
If you’re having a difficult time paraphrasing properly, it is acceptable to paraphrase part of the text AND use a direct quote. Here’s an example:
de Saint-Exupery (1943) shares various ways adults frustrate children. One of the biggest being that kids have to explain everything, and “it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” (p. 3).
Information About APA
Who created it.
The American Psychological Association is an organization created for individuals in the psychology field. With close to 121,000 members, they provide educational opportunities, funding, guidance, and research information for everything psychology-related. They also have numerous high-quality databases, peer-reviewed journals, and books that revolve around mental health.
The American Psychological Association is also credited with creating their own specific citation and reference style. Today, this format is used by individuals not only in the psychology field, but many other subject areas as well. Education, economics, business, and social sciences also use APA style quite frequently. Click here for more information . This guide covers general information about the style, but is not affiliated with the American Psychological Association.
Why was this style created?
This format was first developed in 1929 to form a standardized way for researchers in science fields to document their sources. Prior to the inception of these standards and guidelines, individuals were recognizing the work of other authors by including bits and pieces of information in random order. There wasn’t a set way to format citations and references. You can probably imagine how difficult it was to understand the sources that were used for research projects!
Having a standard format for citing sources allows readers to glance at a citation or APA reference and easily locate the title, author, year published, and other critical pieces of information needed to understand a source.
The evolution of this style
The guide below is based on APA style 7th edition, which was released in 2020. In previous versions of APA format, researchers and scholars were required to include the publisher location for books and the date that an electronic resource was accessed. Both are no longer required to be included.
Details on the differences between the 6th and 7th editions is addressed later in this guide.
Citations & References
The appearance of citations & references.
The format for references varies, but most use this general format:
%%Author’s Last name, First initial. (Date published). Title . URL
Researchers and scholars must look up the proper format for the source that they’re attempting to cite. Books have a certain format, websites have a different format, periodicals have a different format, and so on. Scroll down to find the proper format for the source you’re citing or referencing.
If you would like help citing your sources, CitationMachine.com has a citation generator that will help make the APA citation process much easier for you. To start, simply click on the source type you're citing:
- Journal articles
An APA in-text citation is included in research projects in three instances: When using a direct quote, paraphrasing information, or simply referring to a piece of information from another source.
Quite often, researchers and scholars use a small amount of text, word for word, from another source and include it in their own research projects. This is done for many reasons. Sometimes, another author’s words are so eloquently written that there isn’t a better way to rephrase it yourself. Other times, the author’s words can help prove a point or establish an understanding for something in your research project. When using another author’s exact words in your research project, include an APA in-text citation directly following it.
In addition to using the exact words from another source and placing them into your project, these citations are also added anytime you paraphrase information. Paraphrasing is when you take information from another source and rephrase it, in your own words.
When simply referring to another piece of information from another source, also include a citation directly following it.
Citations in the text are found near a direct quote, paraphrased information, or next to a mention of another source. To see examples of some narrative/ parenthetical citations in action, look at the image above, under “All About Citations & References.”
Note: *Only include the page or paragraph number when using a direct quote or paraphrase. Page numbers have a p. before the number, pp. before the page range, and para. before the paragraph number. This information is included to help the reader locate the exact portion of text themselves. It is unnecessary to include this information when you’re simply referring to another source.
Examples of APA in-text citations:
“Well, you’re about to enter the land of the free and the brave. And I don’t know how you got that stamp on your passport. The priest must know someone” (Tóibín, 2009, p. 52).
Student teachers who use technology in their lessons tend to continue using technology tools throughout their teaching careers (Kent & Giles, 2017, p. 12).
If including the author’s name in the sentence, place the year in the parentheses directly next to his or her name. Add the page number at the end, unless it’s a source without any pages or paragraph numbers (See Section 8.10 of the Publication manual for more details).
In-text citation APA example:
According to a study done by Kent and Giles (2017), student teachers who use technology in their lessons tend to continue using technology tools throughout their teaching careers.
The full references, or citations, for these sources can be found on the last part of a research project, titled the “References.”
Here’s how to create in-text citations for specific amounts of authors:
APA citation with no author
When the source lacks an author’s name, place the title, year, and page number (if available) in the text. The title should be in italics if it sits alone (such as a movie, brochure, or report). If the source is part of a whole (as many web pages and articles are), place the title in quotation marks without italics (See Section 8.14 of the Publication manual ).
Structure of an APA format citation in the text narratively, with the author's name missing:
Title of Source (Year) or “Title of Source” (Year)
Structure of an APA style format citation, in parentheses at the end of the sentence, with the author’s name missing: (Title of Source, Year) or (“Title of Source,” Year)
Structure for one author
In the text, narratively: Last name of Author (Year)...(page number).
In parentheses, at the end of the sentence: (Last name of Author, Year, page number).
Structure for two authors
Place the authors in the order they appear on the source. Only use the ampersand in the parenthetical citations (see Section 8.17 of the Publication manual ). Use ‘and’ to separate the author names if they’re in the text of the sentence.
In the text, narratively: Last name of Author 1 and Last name of Author 2 (Year)....(page number).
In parentheses, at the end of the sentence: (Last name of Author 1 & Last name of Author 2, Year, page number).
Structure for three or more authors
Only include the first listed author’s name in the first and any subsequent citations. Follow it with et al.
(Last name Author 1 et al., Year, page number)
(Agbayani et al., 2020, p. 99)
Last name of Author 1 et al. (Year)...(page).
Agbayani et al. (2020)...(p. 99)
One author, multiple works, same year
What do you do when you want to cite multiple works by an author, and the sources all written in the same year?
Include the letters ‘a’ ‘b’ ‘c’ and so on after the year in the citation.
Writers can even lump dates together.
Example: Jackson often studied mammals while in Africa (2013a, 2013b).
On the APA reference page, include the same letters in the full references.
Groups and organizations
Write out the full name of the group or organization in the first citation and place the abbreviation next to it in brackets. If the group or organization is cited again, only include the abbreviation. If it doesn’t have an abbreviation associated with it, write out the entire organization’s name each and every time (see Section 8.21 of the Publication manual ).
First APA citation for an organization with an abbreviation: (World Health Organization [WHO], Year)
World Health Organization (WHO, Year)
Notice in the example directly above, the name of the organization is written out in full in the text of the sentence, and the abbreviation is placed in parentheses next to it.
Subsequent APA citations in the text for an organization with an abbreviation: (WHO, Year) OR WHO (Year)
All citations in the text for an organization without an abbreviation: (Citation Machine, Year) or Citation Machine (Year)
One in-text citation, multiple works
Sometimes you’ll need to cite more than one work within an in-text citation. Follow the same format (author, year) format but place semicolons between works (p. 263).
(Obama, 2016; Monroe et al., 1820; Hoover & Coolidge, 1928)
Reminder: There are many citation tools available on CitationMachine.com. Head to our homepage to learn more, check out our APA citation website, and cite your sources easily! The most useful resource on our website? Our APA citation generator, which doesn’t just create full references, it’s also an APA in-text citation website! It’ll do both for you!
Click here to learn more about crediting work .
Reference list citation components
References display the full information for all the citations found in the body of a research project.
Some things to keep in mind when it comes to the references:
- All references sit together on their own page, which is usually the last page(s) of a paper.
- Title the page ‘References’
- Place ‘References’ in the center of the page and bold it. Keep the title in the same font and size as the references. Do not italicize, underline, place the title in quotation marks, or increase the font size.
- The entire page is double spaced.
- All references are listed in alphabetical order by the first word in the reference, which is usually the author’s last name. If the source lacks an author, alphabetize the source by the title (ignore A, An, or The)
- All references have a hanging indent, meaning that the second line of text is indented in half an inch. See examples throughout this guide.
- Remember, each and every citation in the text of the paper MUST have a full reference displayed in the reference list. The citations in the text provide the reader with a quick glimpse about the sources used, but the references in the reference list provide the reader with all the information needed to seek out the source themselves.
Learn more about each component of the reference citation and how to format it in the sections that follow. See an APA sample paper reference list at the end of this entire section.
The names of authors are written in reverse order. Include the initials for the first and middle names. End this information with a period (see Section 9.8 of the Publication manual ).
Format: Last name, F. M.
- Angelou, M.
- Doyle, A. C.
Two or more authors
When two or more authors work together on a source, write them in the order in which they appear on the source. You can name up to 20 authors in the reference. For sources with 2 to 20 authors, place an ampersand (&) before the final author. Use this format:
Last name, F. M., & Last name, F. M.
Last name, F. M., Last name, F. M., Last name, F. M., Last name, F. M., & Last name, F. M.
Kent, A. G., Giles, R. M., Thorpe, A., Lukes, R., Bever, D. J., & He, Y.
If there are 21 or more authors listed on a source, only include the first 19 authors, add three ellipses, and then add the last author’s name.
Roberts, A., Johnson, M. C., Klein, J., Cheng, E. V., Sherman, A., Levin, K. K. , ...Lopez, G. S.
If you plan on using a free APA citation tool, like the one at CitationMachine.com, the names of the authors will format properly for you.
If the source lacks an author, place the title in the first position in the reference (Section 9.12 of the Publication manual ). When the source’s title begins with a number (Such as 101 Dalmatians ), place the reference alphabetically as if the number was spelled out. 101 Dalmatians would be placed in the spot where ‘One hundred’ would go, but keep the numbers in their place.
Additionally, if the title begins with the words ‘A’, ‘An,’ or ‘The,’ ignore these words and place the title alphabetically according to the next word.
See the “Titles” section below for more information on formatting the title of sources.
On an APA reference page, corporate authors are always written out in full. In the text of your paper, you may have some abbreviations (such as UN for United Nations), but in the full references, always include the full names of the corporation or organization (following Section 9.11 of the official Publication manual ).
%%United Nations. (2019). Libya: $202 million needed to bring life-saving aid to half a million people hit by humanitarian crisis. https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/02/1031981
Publication date & retrieval date
Directly after the author’s name is the date the source was published. Include the full date for newspapers and magazine articles, and only the year for journals and all other sources. If no date is found on the source, include the initials, n.d. for “no date.”
%% Narducci, M. (2017, May 19). City renames part of 11th Street Ed Snider Way to honor Flyers founder. The Philadelphia Inquirer . http://www.philly.com/
If using our APA Citation Machine, our citation generator will add the correct format for you automatically.
Giving a retrieval date is not needed unless the online content is likely to be frequently updated and changed (e.g., encyclopedia article, dictionary entry, Twitter profile, etc.).
%%Citation Machine [@CiteMachine]. (n.d.). Tweets [Twitter profile]. Twitter. Retrieved October 10, 2019, from https://twitter.com/CiteMachine
When writing out titles for books, articles, chapters, or other non-periodical sources, only capitalize the first word of the title and the first word of the subtitle. Names of people, places, organizations, and other proper nouns also have the first letter capitalized. For books and reports, italicize the title in the APA citation.
Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Roots: The saga of an American family.
For articles and chapters in APA referencing, do not italicize the title.
Wake up the nation: Public libraries, policy making, and political discourse.
For newspapers, magazines, journals, newsletters, and other periodicals, capitalize the first letter in each word and italicize the title.
The Seattle Times.
A common question is whether to underline your title or place it in italics or quotation marks in the reference list. Here’s a good general rule: When a source sits alone and is not part of a larger whole, place the title in italics. If the source does not sit alone and is part of a larger whole, do not place it in italics.
Books, movies, journals, and television shows are placed in italics since they stand alone. Songs on an album, episodes of television shows, chapters in books, and articles in journals are not placed in italics since they are smaller pieces of larger wholes.
The Citation Machine citation generator will format the title in your citations automatically.
Additional information about the title
If you feel it would be helpful to include additional information about the source type, include a descriptive noun or two in brackets immediately following the title. Capitalize the first letter.
%%Kennedy, K., & Molen, G. R. (Producers), & Spielberg, S. (Director). (1993). Jurassic Park [Film]. USA: Universal.
Besides [Film], other common notations include:
- [Audio podcast]
- [Letter to the editor]
- [Television series episode]
- [Facebook page]
- [Blog post]
- [Lecture notes]
- [PowerPoint presentation]
- [Video file]
If you are using Citation Machine citing tools, additional information about the title is automatically added for you.
For books and reports, include the publisher name but not the location (see Section 9.29 of the Publication manual ). Older editions of the style required the city, state and/or country, but this hasn't been the case since the 7th edition was released.
It is not necessary to include the entire name of the publisher. It is acceptable to use a brief, intelligible form. However, if Books or Press are part of the publisher’s names, keep these words in the reference. Other common terms, such as Inc., Co., Publishers, and others can be omitted.
For newspapers, journals, magazines, and other periodicals, include the volume and issue number after the title. The volume number is listed first, by itself, in italics. The issue number is in parentheses immediately after it, not italicized. There is no space after the closing parenthesis and before the volume number.
%%Giannoukos, G., Besas, G., Hictour, V., & Georgas, T. (2016). A study on the role of computers in adult education. Educational Research and Reviews , 11 (9), 907-923. https://doi.org/10.5897/ERR2016.2688
After including the publisher information, end this section with a period.
Electronic source information:
For online sources, the URL or DOI (Direct Object Identifier) are included at the end of an APA citation.
DOI numbers are often created by publishers for journal articles and other periodical sources. They were created in response to the problem of broken or outdated links and URLs. When a journal article is assigned a DOI number, it is static and will never change. Because of its permanent characteristic, DOIs are the preferred type of electronic information to include in APA citations. When a DOI number is not available, include the source’s URL (see Section 9.34 in the Publication manual ).
For DOIs, include the number in this format:
For URLs, type them in this format:
http:// or https://
Other information about electronic sources:
- If the URL is longer than a line, break it up before a punctuation mark.
- Do not place a period at the end of the citation/URL.
- It is unnecessary to include retrieval dates, unless the source changes often over time (like in a Wikipedia article).
- It is not necessary to include the names of databases
If using the Citation Machine APA citation website autocite features, the online publication information will be automatically replaced by the DOI. The Citation Machine APA template will properly cite your online sources for you.
Make sure you run your completed paper through the Citation Machine Plus smart proofreader, which scans for grammar, spelling, and plagiarism. Whether it’s an adjective , verb , or pronoun out-of-place, our technology helps edits your paper for you!
An APA annotated bibliography is a full bibliography that includes a small note for each reference citation. Each note should be short (1-2 paragraphs) and contain a summary or your evaluation about each source. When creating your citations on CitationMachine.net, there is a field at the bottom of each form to add your own annotations.
Follow the publication manual guidelines on paper format and writing style. Let your instructor guide other details about your annotations. Still confused? Read our guide on annotated bibliographies .
These types of projects look different depending on the style you’re using. Use the link at the top of the page to access resources related to the Modern Language Association’s style. Here’s information related to Chicago citation style .
Need help with the design and formatting of your paper? Look no further! This section provides the ins and outs of properly displaying the information in your APA essay.
- Times New Roman, 12-point size.
- Calibri, Arial, or Georgia, 11-point size
- Lucida, Sans Unicode, or Computer Modern, 10-point size
- Indents = Every paragraph should start with an indent.
- Margins = 1 inch around the entire document
- Spacing = Double space everything!
Arrange your pages in this order:
- Page 1 - APA Title Page (see below for information on the title page)
- Page 2 - Abstract (If your professor requests one)
- Page 3 - First page of text
- References begin on their own page. Include the list of references on the page after the text.
- Tables and figures
Keep in mind that the order above is the recommendation for papers being submitted for peer review. If you’re writing an APA style paper for a class, your professor may be more lenient about the requirements. Also, if you’re submitting your paper for a specific journal, check the requirements on the journal’s website. Each journal has different rules and procedures.
Just a little nudge to remind you about the Citation Machine Plus smart proofreader. Whether it’s a conjunction or interjection out of place, a misspelled word, or an out of place citation, we’ll offer suggestions for improvement! Don’t forget to check out our APA citation maker while you’re at it!
In older editions of APA, running heads were required for all papers. Since the 7th edition, that’s changed.
- Student paper: No running head
- Professional paper: Include a running head
The running head displays the title of the paper and the page number on all pages of the paper. This header is found on every page of a professional paper (not a student paper), even on the title page (sometimes called an APA cover page) and reference list (taken from Section 2.8 of the Publication manual ).
It's displayed all in capital letters at the top of the page. Across from the running head, along the right margin, is the page number.
- Use the header feature in your word processor. Both Google Docs and Word have these features available.
- Use one for the recommended fonts mentioned under "Page formatting."
A title page, sometimes called an APA cover page, graces the cover of an essay or paper. An APA title page should follow rules from Section 2.3 of the official Publication manual and include:
- Page number, which is page 1
- Use title case and bold font
- The title should be under 12 words in length
- The title should be a direct explanation of the focus of the paper. Do not include any unnecessary descriptors such as “An Analysis of…” or “A Study of…”
- Exclude any labels such as Mr., Ms., Dr, PhD...
- Name of the school or institution
- Course number and/or class name
- Name of your instructor, including their preferred honorifics (e.g., PhD, Dr., etc.)
- Paper’s due date
- If this is a professional paper, also include a running head. If this is a student paper, do not include one.
Follow the directions for the running head and page number in the section above. Below the running head, a few lines beneath, and centered in the middle of the page, should be the title. The next line below is the author’s name(s), followed by the name of the school or institution, the class or course name, your instructor’s name, and the paper’s due date.
All components on this page should be written in the same font and size as the rest of your paper. Double space the title, names, name of school or institution, and all other information on the page (except for the running head and page number).
Example - Student Title Page APA:
Example - Professional Title Page APA:
If you’re submitting your paper to a journal for publication, check the journal’s website for exact requirements. Each journal is different and some may request a different type of APA format cover page.
Looking to create an APA format title page? Head to CitationMachine.com’s homepage and choose “Title Page” at the top of the screen.
An abstract briefly but thoroughly summarizes dissertation contents. It’s found in the beginning of a professional paper, right after the title page. Abstracts are meant to help readers determine whether to continue reading the entire document. With that in mind, try to craft the lead sentence to entice the reader to continue reading.
Here are a few tips:
- Be factual and keep your opinions out. An abstract should accurately reflect the paper or dissertation and should not involve information or commentary not in the thesis.
- Communicate your main thesis. What was the examined problem or hypothesis? A reader should know this from reading your abstract.
- Keep it brief. Stick to the main points and don’t add unnecessary words or facts. It should not exceed 250 words.
- Consider your paper’s purpose. It’s important to cater your abstract to your paper type and think about what information the target audience for that paper type would want. For example, an empirical article may mention methodology or participant description. A quantitative or qualitative meta-analysis would mention the different variables considered and how information was synthesized.
- Use verbs over noun equivalents, and active voice. Example: “There was research into…” becomes “We researched…”
- The abstract goes after the title page.
- It should have the same font (size and type) as the rest of the paper.
- It should stick to one page.
- Double-space all page text.
- Center and bold the word “Abstract” at the top of the paper.
- Don’t indent the first line of the abstract body. The body should also be in plain text.
- For the keywords, place it on the line after the abstract and indent the first line (but not subsequent lines). The word “Keywords:” is capitalized, italicized, and followed by a colon. The actual keywords are sentence case and in plan font.
- List each keyword one after the other, and separate them by a comma.
- After the last keyword, no ending punctuation is needed.
Tables & Figures
If your paper includes a lot of numerical information or data, you may want to consider placing it into a table or a figure, rather than typing it all out. A visual figure or simple, organized table filled with numerical data is often easier for readers to digest and comprehend than tons of paragraphs filled with numbers. Chapter 7 of the Publication manual outlines formatting for tables and figures. Let's cover the basics below.
If you’d like to include a table or figure in your paper, here are a few key pieces of information to keep in mind:
- At the end of the paper after the APA reference page
- In the text after it is first mentioned
- The table first mentioned in the text should be titled ‘Table 1.’ The next table mentioned in the text is ‘Table 2,’ and so on. For figures, it would be 'Figure 1,' 'Figure 2,' and so forth.
- Even though every table and figure is numbered, also create a title for each that describes the information it contains. Capitalize all important words in the title.
- For tables, do not use any vertical lines, only use horizontal to break up information and headings.
- Single spacing is acceptable to use in tables and figures. If you prefer double spacing your information, that is okay too.
- Do not include extra information or “fluff.” Keep it simple!
- Do not include the same exact information in the paper. Only include the complete information in one area—the table or the text.
- All tables and figures must be referenced in the text. It is unacceptable to throw a table or figure into the back of the paper without first providing a brief summary or explanation of its relevance.
Publication Manual 6th Edition vs 7th Edition
The 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association was released in 2009. The current 7th edition came out in the fall of 2019 and was designed to be more student focused, provide more guidance on accessibility, and address changes that have developed over the last 10 years.
Below, we’ve listed what we feel are the most relevant changes related to APA format.
Journals and DOIs
DOI stands for “digital object identifier.” Many journal articles use and have a unique DOI that should be included in a full citation.
When including a DOI in a citation, format it as a URL. Do not label it “DOI.” Articles without DOIs from databases are treated as print works. For example:
%%Gänsicke, B. T., Schreiber, M. R., Toloza, O., Fusillo, N. P. G., Koester, D., & Manser, C. J. (2019). Accretion of a giant planet onto a white dwarf star. Nature, 576 (7785), 61–64. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1789-8
%%Gänsicke, B. T., Schreiber, M. R., Toloza, O., Fusillo, N. P. G., Koester, D., & Manser, C. J. (2019). Accretion of a giant planet onto a white dwarf star. Nature, 576 (7785), 61–64. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1789-8
There are few new guidelines when you are citing a book. First, the publisher location no longer needs to be indicated.
%%Zack, P. O. (2001). The shoals of time. Bloomington, IN: First Books Library.
%%Zack, P. O. (2001). The shoals of time. First Books Library.
Second, the format of an ebook (e.g., Kindle, etc.) no longer needs to be indicated.
%%Niven, J. (2012). Ada Blackjack: A true story of survival in the Arctic [Kindle].
%%Niven, J. (2012). Ada Blackjack: A true story of survival in the Arctic .
Lastly, books from research databases without DOIs are treated the same as print works.
When using a URL in a citation, you no longer need to include the term “Retrieved from” before URLs (except with retrieval dates). The font should be blue and underlined, or black and not underlined.
%%Flood, A. (2019, December 6). Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010, figures show. The Guardian . Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/dec/06/britain-has-closed-almost-800-libraries-since-2010-figures-show
%%Flood, A. (2019, December 6). Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010, figures show. The Guardian . https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/dec/06/britain-has-closed-almost-800-libraries-since-2010-figures-show
Within a full APA citation, you may spell out up to 20 author names. For two to 20 authors, include an ampersand (&) before the name of the last author. For sources with 21 or more authors, structure it as follows:
Structure: First 19 authors’ names, . . . Last author’s name.
7th edition example: Washington, G., Adams, J., Jefferson, T., Madison, J., Monroe, J., Adams, J. Q., Jackson, A., Van Buren, M., Harrison, W. H., Tyler, J., Polk, J. K., Taylor, Z., Filmore, M., Pierce, F., Buchanan, J., Lincoln, A., Johnson, A., Grant, U. S., Hayes, R. B., Garfield, . . . Trump, D.
When creating an in-text citation for a source with 3 or more authors, use “et al.” after the first author’s name. This helps abbreviate the mention.
6th Edition: (Honda, Johnson, Prosser, Rossi, 2019)
7th Edition: (Honda et al., 2019)
Tables and Figures
Instead of having different formats for tables and figures, both use one standardized format. Now both tables and figures have a number, a title, name of the table/figure, and a note at the bottom.
If you’re still typing into Google “how to cite a website APA” among other related questions and keywords, click here for further reading on the style .
When you’re through with your writing, toss your entire paper into the Citation Machine Plus plagiarism checker , which will scan your paper for grammar edits and give you up to 5 suggestions cards for free! Worry less about a determiner , preposition , or adverb out of place and focus on your research!
American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) (2020). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000
Updated March 3, 2020
Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Wendy Ikemoto. Michele Kirschenbaum has been an awesome school librarian since 2006 and is an expert in citing sources. Wendy Ikemoto has a master’s degree in library and information science and has been working for Citation Machine since 2012.
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