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How to format apa citations

How to format apa citationsAPA Style is widely used by students, researchers, and professionals in the social and behavioral sciences. The Scribbr APA Citation Generator automatically generates accurate references and in-text citations for free.

This citation guide outlines the most important citation guidelines from the 7th edition APA Publication Manual (2020). Scribbr also offers free guides for the older APA 6th edition, MLA Style, and Chicago Style.

Table of contents

  1. APA in-text citations
  2. APA references
  3. Formatting the APA reference page
  4. Free lecture slides
  5. Frequently asked questions

APA in-text citations

The basics

In-text citations are brief references in the running text that direct readers to the reference entry at the end of the paper. You include them every time you quote or paraphrase someone else’s ideas or words.

An APA in-text citation consists of the author’s last name and the year of publication (also known as the author-date system). If you’re citing a specific part of a source, you should also include a locator such as a page number or timestamp. For example: (Smith, 2020, p. 170) .

Parenthetical vs. narrative citation

The in-text citation can take two forms: parenthetical and narrative. Both types are generated automatically when citing a source with Scribbr’s APA Citation Generator.

  • Parenthetical citation: According to new research … (Smith, 2020) .
  • Narrative citation: Smith (2020) notes that …

Multiple authors and corporate authors

The in-text citation changes slightly when a source has multiple authors or an organization as an author. Pay attention to punctuation and the use of the ampersand (&) symbol.

Author type Parenthetical citation Narrative citation
One author (Smith, 2020) Smith (2020)
Two authors (Smith & Jones, 2020) Smith and Jones (2020)
Three or more authors (Smith et al., 2020) Smith et al. (2020)
Organization (Scribbr, 2020) Scribbr (2020)

Missing information

When the author, publication date or locator is unknown, take the steps outlined below.

Missing element What to do Parenthetical citation
Author Use the source title.* (Source Title, 2020)
Date Write “n.d.” for “no date”. (Smith, n.d.)
Page number Either use an alternative locator or
omit the page number.
(Smith, 2020, Chapter 3) or
(Smith, 2020)

*Format the title in the same way as in the corresponding reference entry (either italicized or, if the title in the reference entry is not italicized, placed in quotation marks). Use title case capitalization. For court cases, use italics in the in-text citation but not in the reference entry.

APA references

The basics

APA references generally include information about the author, publication date, title, and source. Depending on the type of source, you may have to include extra information that helps your reader locate the source.

Reference examples

Citing a source starts with choosing the correct reference format. Use Scribbr’s Citation Example Generator to learn more about the format for the most common source types. Pay close attention to punctuation, capitalization, and italicization.

Missing information

It is not uncommon for certain information to be unknown or missing, especially with sources found online. In these cases, the reference is slightly adjusted.

Missing element What to do Reference format
Author Start the reference entry with the source title. Title. (Date). Source.
Date Write “n.d.” for “no date”. Author. (n.d.). Title. Source.
Title Describe the work in square brackets. Author. (Date). [Description]. Source.

Are your APA in-text citations flawless?

The AI-powered APA Citation Checker points out every error, tells you exactly what’s wrong, and explains how to fix it. Say goodbye to losing marks on your assignment!

A references list is a formatted list of all sources you cited within your paper. Any time you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or include information that you’ve read from an outside source, you must include that source in your references list, correctly formatted in APA style. For help making a References list, view our Annotated References List.

For help citing different types of sources, refer to our downloadable formatting guide:

See these guides if you need to format an MLA Works Cited page or a Chicago Style Bibliography page.

What information goes in an APA References list?

Each item in your references list requires general publication information, including but not limited to:

  • Author’s name
  • Year of publication
  • Title
  • Source

Because there are many types of sources, additional information may be required. You will see the most common kinds of sources in the sample references list below.

What are the key rules of creating an APA References list?

There are unique formatting rules to follow for each reference entry, but generally, remember these key rules for the whole references list:

  • Center the word “References” in bold font at the top of a new page.
  • Double spacing is used throughout this page.
  • Alphabetize entries by authors’ last names.
  • Create a hanging indent for each individual source you add to the list. A hanging indent is where the second and all the following lines of a paragraph are indented more than the first. To make a hanging indent, highlight your citation and use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+T.

References List Examples

Expand the options below for help formatting your references list entries in APA format.

This is a guide to the 7th Edition of APA style, which is a recent update to the APA citation style.

Your lecturer may prefer APA 6th Edition. Check your subject outline to see which version of APA you have been asked to use. If the subject outline does not specify which APA edition you should be using, please check with your lecturer.

If you are supposed to use APA 6th Edition, please go to the APA (6th Edition) Referencing Guide:

Everything must match!

How to format apa citationsRemember, you have to cite every piece of information that came from another source, whether or not it is in your own words. Everything cited in the text must appear in the reference list, and everything in your reference list must be something you have referred to in text. Make sure you don't have anything in one place that isn't in the other.

Setting out the reference list

Notes on the layout for your reference list:

Layout of page:

  • The reference list starts on a new page, after your assignment and before any appendices. Place the word "References", centered, in bold, at the top of the page. APA does not require other formatting for the title of your reference page (like underlining), but check with your lecturer.
  • Each entry in the reference list has a hanging indent, so that the first line of the entry is flush with the left margin, but all other lines are indented (this is the opposite of the paragraph structure in the body of your essay).
    Tip: You can do this easily by selecting your references, and pressing Ctrl + T on a PC, or Command (⌘) + T on a Mac. (For Word Online, see the instructions for creating a hanging indent here: https://libanswers.jcu.edu.au/faq/266638).

Order of references:

  • For APA the reference list is arranged in alphabetical order of authors' surnames.
  • Arrange by first author's name, then by second author if you have the same first author, etc. (check the page on Authors for how to lay out the reference if you have more than one author).
  • If a reference has no author, list it alphabetically according to the title. Ignore the words 'A', 'An' and 'The' at the beginning of a corporate author or title for deciding where it fits alphabetically.
  • If there are two references by the same author, list them in order of publication date with the older one first.
    For example:
    Bloggs, J. S. (n.d.).
    Bloggs, J. S. (2016).
    Bloggs, J. S. (2018a).
    Bloggs, J. S. (2018b, September).
    Bloggs, J. S. (in press).
    • N.B. A year without a date is considered to be "older" than a year with a date ("nothing comes before something"), so 2018 will go before 2018, September – and a month without a day will go before a month with a day, so 2018, September will go before 2018, September 12. Please note that the year only is required in-text, so you will need to follow the advice below whenever you have multiple citations in the same year.
    • N.B. If you have a full date, only use the title to order the references if the date is identical. Always use 'a', 'b', etc after the year, if more than one work has been published by the same author in the same year, as this is used in the in-text referencing, e.g. (2019a, April 12), (2019b, March 23).
      For example:

    Format of titles:

    • APA uses sentence case for all titles except for journal titles.
    • Begin each title and subtitle with a capital letter, but only names should be capitalised for all titles other than journal titles.

    Example reference list

    Below is an example of a reference list formatted in APA style. Mouse over the references to find more information about writing a reference list.

    This list has been single spaced for this guide, but you will probably be asked to double-space your assignment, and that includes the reference list.

    References

    Note: the DOIs and URLs in the reference list above should be hyperlinked to the appropriate page, but the code for hyperlinking and the code for mousover text was not compatable. In your reference list, make sure your DOIs and URLs are hyperlinked to the relevant page.

    Word automatically generates a bibliography from the sources you used to write your paper. Each time you add a new citation to your document, Word adds that source so that it appears in the bibliography in the proper format, such as MLA, APA, and Chicago-style.

    Add a citation after a quote

    On the References tab , in the Citations & Bibliography group, click the arrow next to Style.

    Click the style that you want to use for the citation and source.

    Click at the end of the sentence or phrase that you want to cite.

    Click Insert Citation and then select Add New Source.

    In the Create Source box, type in the citation details, and then click OK.

    How to format apa citations

    When you’ve completed these steps, the citation is added to the list of available citations. The next time you quote this reference, you don’t have to type it all out again, just click Insert Citation and select the citation you want to use.

    How to format apa citations

    Important: APA and MLA can change their formats, so you’ll want to ensure that these format versions meet your requirements. You can create your own updated version of a style or build custom styles. For more information see Bibliography & Citations 102 – Building Custom styles.

    Create a bibliography from your sources

    If you want to create a bibliography from your sources, do the following:

    Click where you want to insert a bibliography. Typically, they are at the end of a document.

    On the References tab, in the Citations & Bibliography group, click Bibliography.

    Similar to the Table of Contents builder in Word, you can select a predesigned bibliography format that includes a title, or you can just click Insert Bibliography to add the citation without a title.

    If you want to learn more about using citation placeholders and editing sources, take a look at Create a bibliography. Or, if you want to export your bibliography sources to another computer, check out this post on the Microsoft Word blog.

    APA 6th Edition citation style fix procedure.

    APA style uses the author’s name and publication date. If you have multiple citations from the same author, there is a known Word bug where the citation generator fills in the publication title when it’s not supposed to. If this happens to you, here’s how to fix the problem:

    In the Word document, click the citation.

    Click the down-arrow, and then click Edit Citation.

    How to format apa citations

    Click the Title checkbox, and then click OK.

    APA and MLA can change their formats, so you’ll want to ensure that these format versions meet your requirements. You can create your own updated version of a style or build custom styles. For more information see Bibliography & Citations 102 – Building Custom styles.

    If you are using the APA 5th Edition citation style, there’s one issue you should be aware of. APA style uses the author’s name and publication date. If you have multiple citations from the same author, there is a known Word 2010 bug where the citation generator fills in the publication title when it’s not supposed to. If this happens to you, see the section entitled, ‘APA 5th Edition citation style fix procedure below.

    Add a citation after a quote

    In your Word document, click on the References tab in the Ribbon.

    In the Citations & Bibliography group, click the arrow next to Style.
    How to format apa citations

    Click the style that you want to use for the citation and source.

    Click at the end of the sentence or phrase that you want to cite.

    Click Insert Citation and then select Add New Source.

    Type in the citation details and then click OK.
    How to format apa citations

    When you’ve completed these steps, the citation is added to the Insert Citation button, so the next time you quote this reference, you don’t have to type it all out again.
    How to format apa citations

    Create a bibliography from your sources

    If you want to create a bibliography from your sources, do the following:

    Click where you want to insert a bibliography. Typically they are at the end of a document.

    On the References tab, in the Citations & Bibliography group, click Bibliography.

    Much like the Table of Contents builder in Word, you can select a predesigned bibliography format that includes a title or you can just click Insert Bibliography to add the citation without a title.
    How to format apa citations

    If you want to learn more about using citation placeholders and editing sources, take a look at Creating a bibliography in Word 2010. Or if you want to export your bibliography sources to another computer, check out this post on the Microsoft Word blog.

    APA 5th Edition citation style fix procedure

    APA style uses the author’s name and publication date. If you have multiple citations from the same author, there is a known Word 2010 bug where the citation generator fills in the publication title when it’s not supposed to. If this happens to you, here’s how to fix the problem:

    In the Word document, click the citation.

    Click the down-arrow and then click Edit Citation.
    How to format apa citations

    Click the Title checkbox and then click OK.
    How to format apa citations

    You can’t automatically generate citations in Word Online. Word Online preserves the bibliography in your document, but it doesn’t provide a way to create one.

    Instead, if you have the desktop version of Word, select Open in Word to open the document.

    How to format apa citations

    When you’re done and you save the document in Word, you’ll see the table of contents when you reopen the doc in Word Online.

    Beckett, S. T. (2008). The science of chocolate (2nd ed.). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Royal Society of Chemistry.

    Branch, S., Ramsay, S., & Barker, M. (2008). The bullied boss: A conceptual exploration of upwards bullying. In A. Glendon, B. M. Thompson & B. Myors (Eds.), Advances in organisational psychology (pp. 93-112). Retrieved from http://www.informit.com.au/humanities.html

    Cioe, J. (2012). The normal distribution [Lecture notes]. Retrieved from http://moodle.vle.monash.edu.au

    Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). Available from http://www.austlii.edu.au

    Department of Health and Ageing. (2012). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health performance framework 2012 report. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/oatsih-hpf-2012-toc

    MacIntyre, S. (2008, August). Participation in the classroom, productivity in the workforce: Unfulfilled expectations. Paper presented at the 13th Australian Council for Educational Research Conference, Brisbane Qld. Retrieved from research.acer.edu.au/research_conference_2008/8

    Preston, R. (2010). Observations in acute care: Evidence based approach to patient safety. British Journal of Nursing 19, 442-447. Retrieved from http://www.britishjournalofnursing.com

    Ramsey, J. K., & McGrew, W. C. (2005). Object play in great apes: Studies in nature and captivity. In A. D. Pellegrini & P. K. Smith (Eds.), The nature of play: Great apes and humans (pp. 89-112). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    Sievers, W. (1966). Monash University [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/15565401 q=monash&c=picture&versionId=18284000

    Tranquilli, A. L., Lorenzi, S., Buscicchio, G., Di Tommaso, M., Mazzanti, L. & Emanuelli, M. (2014). Female fetuses are more reactive when mother eats chocolate. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 27(1), 72-74. doi:10.3109/14767058.2013.804053

    Winter, J., Hunter, S., Sim, J., & Crome, P. (2011). Hands-on therapy interventions for upper limb motor dysfunction following stroke. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2011(6). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006609.pub.2

    Wolchik, S. A., West, S. G., Sandler, I. N., Tein, J., Coatsworth, D., Lengua, L., . Griffin, W. A. (2000). An experimental evaluation of theory-based mother and mother-child programs for children of divorce. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(5), 843–856. doi:10.1037//0022-006X.68.5.843

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    APA Style (7th ed.) formatting checklist

    If you're reviewing your APA Style formatting before you submit your document for grading or publication, see below for 10 common problem areas. Please note that there may be differing expectations based on the document type and audience (e.g., course essay, dissertation, journal article); if you are unsure of what formatting is expected in your document, check with your instructor, program head, or journal editor before you submit the document. To see examples of the 10 items listed in this checklist, please refer to the Annotated Student Sample Paper by the American Psychological Association.

    1. Running head

    In previous editions of the APA Style manual, the running head was a required piece of formatting in the page header. In the 7th edition of the manual, the running head is "required only for manuscripts being submitted for publication. Running heads are not required for student papers unless the instructor or institution requests them [emphasis added]" (American Psychological Association [APA], 2020, p. 37). If you are submitting a manuscript for publication, please refer to the "Running Head" section in Page Header for more information.

    2. Page numbering

    The APA Style rules direct authors to start page numbering at "1" on the title page in the top right corner of the page, flush right (APA, 2020, p. 44). The page numbers should continue in that position to the last page of the document. As a student author, you may encounter instructors who prefer that page numbering starts at "2" on the second page of text, which is an academic convention. This convention for starting page numbers is particularly common in major research project, theses, and dissertations that have a set title page with required formatting. If you're unsure of what approach to take in your document, please check with your instructor for their preference.

    3. Essay title appears at the top of the first page of text

    In addition to appearing on the title page, the title of the essay should also appear at the top of the first full page of text and should be centred, in title case, and bolded (APA, 2020, p. 39). See page two in the Annotated Student Sample Paper for an example of this formatting. The title of the document should be considered a section label, not a section heading (APA, 2020, p. 49).

    4. The introductory paragraph or section should not be labelled

    Since the first paragraph or section of a document is assumed to be the introduction, "the heading 'Introduction' is not needed. Do not begin a paper with an 'Introduction' heading" (APA, 2020, p. 47). The first section heading after the introductory paragraph or section should be a Level 1 heading (APA, 2020, p. 47).

    5. Use double line spacing throughout the text

    Use double line spacing throughout the text, including "the title page, abstract, text, headings, block quotations, reference list, table and figure notes, and appendices" (APA, 2020, p. 45); extra lines should not be inserted before or after section headings or between paragraphs (APA, 2020, p. 45). For exceptions to double line spacing, please see Line Spacing.

    Check the spacing settings in your word processing program to set line spacing to double spacing without any extra spaces before or after each line:

    6. Margins

    Set all margins to 1 in. or 2.54 cm (APA, 2020, p. 45). If different margins are required due to publication requirements (e.g., a thesis or dissertation that will be published in print), please follow the publisher's requirements.

    7. Paragraph formatting

    Paragraphs should be left aligned with a ragged right edge, and the first line of every paragraph should be indented 0.5 in.or 1.27 cm (APA, 2020, p. 45). If you're working in Microsoft Word, use the Paragraph settings to set up the left alignment and an automatic indent of the first line:

    8. Punctuation after quotations

    When a quotation ends a sentence, the period after a short quotation of 39 words or fewer appears after the citation (APA, 2020, p. 271). The period after a block quotation of 40 words or more appears before the citation (APA, 2020, p. 172). See Where Does the Period Go After a Quotation in APA Style? for more information.

    9. Section headings

    Section headings should not be labelled with letters or numbers (APA, n.d., Levels of Heading section). Level 1 headings should be centred, bolded, and in title case (APA, 2020, p. 48). Level 2 headings should be flush left, bolded, and in title case (APA, 2020, p. 48). Level 3 headings should be flush left, bolded, in title case, and italicized (APA, 2020, p. 48). See below for examples:

    Level 1 Heading

    Level 2 Heading

    Level 3 Heading

    See What Are the APA Rules for Section Headings? for more information. If you're using Microsoft Word's automatic table of contents function, use Styles to format section headings so the headings will appear in the table of contents. See Customize or Create New Styles and Insert a Table of Contents.

    10. References page

    The references should begin on a new page (APA, 2020, p. 303). The page should be titled “References”, and the title, which is a section label, not a section heading, should be centred and bolded (APA, 2020, p. 303). All references should be double spaced with a 0.5 in or 1.27 cm hanging indent (APA, 2020, p. 303):

    To see sample references with this formatting, please see the references in the Annotated Student Sample Paper by the American Psychological Association. See How Should I Format my References in APA Style? for more information.

    For extensive information on specific aspects of APA Style formatting, including examples, please search WriteAnswers by keyword.

    Learn to write your research paper using the APA format.

    In 1929, the APA format was developed as a way to make the communication of scientific ideas more comprehensive and consistent. Since then, the APA (American Psychological Association) style has become a common method of citing sources in psychology, education, and the social sciences.

    APA Format Basics

    • Definition of APA Format
    • Guidelines
    • Title Page Guidelines
    • Example
    • The Abstract
    • References
    • Changes in the 6th Edition

    Definition of APA Format

    When presenting scholarly written materials, social and behavioral scientists use the APA format. This writing style provides its writers with the necessary guidelines to present scientific research in a clear, concise manner. As a result, complex scientific ideas can be understood by its audience.

    APA Format Guidelines

    • Double-space the text of your paper.
    • 1 inch margins
    • Font size should be 12 pt.
    • Font style should be Times New Roman.
    • Essay should include: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
    • Title page should include: Title of the paper, authors name, & institutional affiliation.

    APA Format: Title Page Guidelines

    • Include the page header
    • Center the title in the upper half of the page.
    • Title should be no more than 12 words in length
    • Titles do not contain abbreviations.
    • All text on the title page should be double-spaced.
    • Author’s name: first name, middle initial(s), and last name.
    • Institutional affiliation below the author’s name.

    How to format apa citations

    APA Format example of aTitle Page.

    Learn how MindView makes APA formatting easier. Click here.

    APA Format: The Abstract

    The abstract is a brief summary of the main points and purpose of the paper. It is typically 150-250 words in length and includes the abbreviations and acronyms that are used throughout the paper. The abstract must be titled “Abstract.” Unlike all of the other paragraphs in an APA format paper, the abstract is not indented.

    How to format apa citations

    APA Format example of an Abstract page.

    Learn how MindView makes APA formatting easier. Click here.

    APA Format: References

    • The reference list is on a separate page with a center title “References.”
    • Do not underline or italicize “References.”
    • Reference entries must be in alphabetical order.
    • All references included in the paper must be included in the reference list.
    • The 2nd and subsequent lines of each works cited entry must be indented one-half inch from the left margin.

    How to format apa citations

    APA Format example of an References page.

    APA Format Changes in the 6th Edition

    The APA format was originally used by psychologists. In more recent times, students and writers have adopted the APA format as a way to present their research. The increase in APA writers required the American Psychological Association to create an APA style manual written for a broader audience. As a result, the APA released the 6th edition in June 2009. The APA format changes found in this edition are as follows:

    • Title on title page located on top half of page instead of center of page.
    • Abstract should be within 120-250 words.
    • Abstract title should not be bold.
    • Reference title should not be bold.
    • Section headings within paper should be bold.
    • Bullets may be used.
    • Font style must be Times New Roman.
    • Font size must be 12 pt.
    • Keep publishers name in brief form (Do not include Publishers, Co., or Inc.)
    • No date required in reference list for electronic source.
    • Provide the location of publication for each published reference.

    In October 2009, a second printing of the APA style manual was released. This printing contains numerous corrections for errors that were found in the first printing of the 6th edition. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the second printing of the 6th edition is referred to when following the APA guidelines.

    APA format is the official style used by the American Psychological Association External link .

    APA style is used primarily in the social sciences and communicates data in a concise style that precisely describes material, makes the relationship between ideas or data as clear as possible, is generally in the active voice, and utilizes the past tense. In addition to being scientific and precise, you must use bias-free and inclusive language when writing in APA style. Your role is to be objective, to be conscious of word choice, and to avoid discriminatory language.

    The font should remain the same throughout the paper. Options include 11-point sans-serif fonts, such as Calibri or Arial, and 12-point serif fonts, such as Times New Roman. Ultimately, check with your instructors about their font preferences. All text, including block quotes and the references section, should be double spaced.

    Margins

    Margins should be 1 inch from top, bottom, right, and left edges of the paper.

    Header

    The header includes only a page number at the top right-hand corner of the page. Student papers usually don’t require a running head External link , as seen in professional APA papers, unless requested by the instructor.

    Title page

    Title pages include the paper title (in bold) followed by an extra space, the author (your name), affiliation (department and college), course number and name, instructor, and due date.

    The body may be divided into sections and subsections; following the body is the reference section and any end materials such as appendices.

    Crediting sources

    Crediting sources ensures that students avoid plagiarism. Whenever you use words, facts, statistics, diagrams, charts, drawings, or ideas that are not your own within your paper, you must cite the source. Whether you quote, paraphrase, or summarize a single phrase or a whole chapter, you must acknowledge the original author no matter how much of the source you use or how often you use it.

    In-text citations

    In-text citations are included in the body of the paper. They identify the source by the author and its date of publication. Citations always correspond with an entry in the references section at the end of the paper. The two types of in-text citations, narrative and parenthetical, are shown below in the paraphrase and direct quotation examples.

    Paraphrase

    Paraphrasing means summarizing relevant information from a source. This method of borrowing is more commonly used in APA papers than quotations because it allows a writer to maintain their objective voice and combine the source’s ideas with their own. Paraphrases are always cited both in the text of the paper and in the reference page.

    Paraphrase example using the narrative citation method

    The author’s last name is built into the sentence and the year of publication is shown in parentheses.

    Rogers (1994) compared younger and older adults’ perceptions of economic stress.

    Paraphrase example using the parenthetical citation method

    The citation information is included at the end of the paraphrase in parenthesis.

    In some instances, the hierarchical level at which employees worked significantly impacted their behavior in work groups (Mellers, Ortiz, & Smoot, 2006).

    Direct quotations

    Direct quotations are limited in APA style papers. Instead, you should paraphrase whenever possible to blend borrowed information with your context and voice. The APA Publication Manual, 7 th Edition notes that a writer should use direct quotations “when reproducing an exact definition, when an author has said something memorably or succinctly, or when you want to respond to exact wording.” The author, years, and page number (or section identifier) is always paired with quoted material through the narrative or parenthetical citation format.

    Short quotation example

    This example uses the parenthetical in-text citation format.

    In several double-blind experiments, “‘the placebo effect’ . . . disappeared when behaviors were studied in this manner” (Miele, 1993, p. 276).

    Reference(s)

    Reference(s) section is included in every APA paper that contains cited sources. This section makes it possible for readers to retrieve the actual sources that you’ve cited throughout your paper. The format of a reference entry depends on the type of source it is. .

    Reference example – Journal article with a DOI (APA Publication Manual, 7 th Edition)

    APA referencing – developed by the American Psychological Association – is used to cite sources in academic writing. But how does this system work? In this post, we take a look at APA citations according to the rules set out in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition.

    1. Basic APA Citations

    APA uses author–date citations (a form of parenthetical referencing). This means you cite a source by giving the surname of its author and the date of its publication in brackets:

    Many people use APA citations (Schreiber, 2001).

    As shown above, APA citations place a comma between the author’s name and the year. If the author is already named in the text, meanwhile, you only need to give the year in brackets:

    Schreiber (2001) states that many people use APA citations.

    This is the basic APA citation format for all sources with a single author.

    2. Sources with More than One Author

    For sources with two authors, include both surnames in citations. The names should be joined by an ampersand if they are cited in brackets, but not when they appear in the main text:

    Two is company (Schreiber & Harkin, 2011).

    According to Schreiber and Harkin (2011), two is company.

    When a source has three or more authors, use the first name plus “et al.”:

    Three is a crowd (Schreiber et al., 2014).

    You would then give the names of all authors in the reference list.

    3. Organizational Authors

    Some sources, such as the website of a business, won’t have a named individual as an author. When this occurs, you can name a company or organization as the author:

    Missing citations can affect your grades (Proofed, 2018).

    This is known as citing an “organizational author.” If there is no organizational author available either, though, you may have to give the title of the source in the citation instead of an author.

    4. Quoting Sources

    If you are quoting a source, you need to give a pinpoint citation. This means citing the page number(s) of the quoted passage:

    It is important to “provide evidence in essays” (Schreiber, 2001, p. 24).

    As shown above, you should give the page number(s) after a comma and “p.” when the author’s name is part of the citation. However, you should cite the page number separately when the author has been named in the text instead:

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    Schreiber (2001) says we must “provide evidence in essays” (p. 24).

    The key is that page numbers always appear after the quotation.

    5. Audiovisual Sources

    If you want to quote an audiovisual source, you need to cite a timestamp:

    The interviewee claimed that “video is the future” (Harkin, 2017, 21:34).

    Here, for example, the “21:34” in the citation shows that the quote comes from 21 minutes and 34 seconds into the recording. This replaces the page numbers cited when quoting a print source.

    6. Multiple Sources in One Citation

    You can, if required, cite more than one source in a single set of brackets. All you need to do is place a semicolon between the citations, which should be ordered alphabetically by author surname:

    There is strong agreement on this issue among experts (Harkin, 2001; Ptaszynski, 1998; Schreiber, 2010).

    Citing more than one source at the same time like this can be useful if you need to show that multiple sources support the same argument.

    7. Multiple Sources by the Same Author from the Same Year

    For most sources, the author’s surname and year of publication will be enough for the reader to find it in the reference list. However, if you are citing more than one source by the same author from the same year, you will need to provide extra information to help the reader.

    APA referencing does this by placing a letter after the year of publication:

    Publishing success can vary by year (Harkin, 2001a). Some years may see an author release multiple works, whereas other years may see them publish nothing at all (Harkin, 2001b).

    Here, we have two sources by Harkin from 2001. As such, we label these “2001a” and “2001b” in citations and in the reference list so readers can tell which citation points to which source.

    The letter used depends on the position of the source in the reference list, with sources from the same year ordered alphabetically by title.

    So, if we have two sources by Harkin from 2001, one called Analyzing APA and another called Myths of Referencing, the former would come first in the reference list and be cited as ‘2001a’, while the latter would come second and be cited as “2001b.”

    8. More than One Author with the Same Surname

    Finally, if you cite separate sources by two authors who happen to have the same surname, you should add a first initial to citations so that your reader can tell them apart:

    Some surnames are very common (A. Smith, 1984). This can lead to confusion between people with the same surname (B. Smith, 2004).

    Adding this initial will help readers find the sources in your reference list.