Writing and Communication Center

APA Formatting

APA (American Psychological Association) is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. APA style requires both in-text citations and a reference list. For every in-text citation there should be a full citation in the reference list. The examples of APA styles and formats listed here include many of the most common types of sources used in academic research.

The information here is set according to the standards of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed.

APA In-Text Citations

For all in-text citations except for those following block quotations, the reference is placed immediately before the final punctuation mark of the sentence that refers to that source. In all citations, elements (such as author, publication year, and page number) are separated from each other by commas.

In-text citations allow the reader to connect your specific references to the claims and quotes within your paper.  What you include in your in-text citation will vary based on the type of source.

Short Quotations

When directly quoting from a work, include the author, year of publication, and the page number (p. #) for the reference.

According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style,    
especially when it was their first time" (p. 199).

She stated, "Students often had difficulty using APA style," but she did not offer an explanation as to why (Jones, 1998, p. 199).

Long Quotations

Direct quotations longer than 40 words should go in a free-standing block of text without quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented five spaces from the left margin maintaining double space. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.

Jones's (1998) study found the following:

     Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time
     citing sources. This difficulty could be attributed to the fact that many students
     failed to purchase a style manual or to ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)

Summarizing or Paraphrasing

When paraphrasing an idea from another work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference. APA guidelines encourage you to provide the page number, though it is not required.

According to Jones (1998), APA style can be a difficult citation format for first-time learners, so it is important to consult the proper resources to ensure accuracy.

APA Author/Authors

How to create reference list entries based on works with single or multiple authors.

The format of your reference entries will vary based on the number of authors. Apply the guidelines below to your entries as necessary.

One author

List the last name first, followed by author initials.

Barnes, J. (2006). Quality of social development. Directions in Social Psychology, 11, 7-10.

Two authors

Use the ampersand (&) instead of "and."

Barnes, J., & Nichols, E. H. (2004). Mood management for schizoaffective disorder
     states. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 66, 1034-1048.

Three to seven authors

Commas separate author names.

Barnes, J., Nichols, E.H., Sun, C. R., Berry, A., & Harlow, T. (1993).
     Self-esteem stability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65,

More than seven authors

Miller, F. H., Choi, M. J., Angeli, L. L., Harland, A. A., Stamos, J. A.,
     Thomas, S. T., . . . Rubin, L. H. (2009). Web site usability
     for the blind and low-vision user. Technical Communication, 57, 323-335.

Two or more sources by the same author

If you have more than one article by the same author, single-author references or multiple-author references with the exact same authors in the exact same order are listed in order by the year of publication, starting with the earliest.

Weller, S. (2003).

Weller, S. (2007).

Unknown author

Movers and shakers. (2006, July 31). Newberry Observer, pp. B13, B15.

APA References List

Some examples of citations for print resources as they may appear in a reference page in APA style. The examples are meant to be illustrative and do not encompass every possible situation.

Note: titles of periodicals (newspapers, journals, magazines) are capitalized as they normally are; book titles and article titles have only the first word of the title (and of any subtitles), as well as proper nouns, capitalized. Use single spaces between all words/items within each citation.

The APA References page lists the bibliographic information for all of the sources you cite in your paper. These examples follow the instructions outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. This page contains examples of the most commonly used types of sources used in the social sciences. 

  • The references list should begin on a new page titled "References" (with no quotation marks, underlining, etc.), centered at the top of the page. It should be double-spaced just like the rest of your paper.
  • Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the first word of each entry.
  • Use initials for authors' first and middle names.
  • If your reference extends past the first line, every line after should have a hanging indent; the equivalent of one tab space.
  • Italicize the main title (of a book, journal, etc).
  • Capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title and subtitle (except journal articles).

Pay careful attention to the content and format of each entry below; APA has very specific guidelines regarding punctuation and capitalization.

Article in Journal Paginated by Volume

Harlow, H. F. (1983). Fundamentals for preparing psychology journal
     articles. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 55, 893-896.

Berndt, T. J. (2002). Friendship quality and social development. Current Directions
Psychological Science, 11, 7-10.

Article in a Magazine

Henry, W. A., III. (1990, April 9). Making the grade in today's schools. Time, 135,

Article or Chapter in an Edited Book

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. In A. 
     Editor & B. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pages chapter). Location:    

Article from an Online Periodical

Provide retrieval date only if information is subject to change (as in blogs and wikis).

Bernstein, M. (2002). 10 tips on writing the living Web. A List Apart: For People
     Who Make Websites
, 149. Retrieved May 2, 2006,
     from http://www.alistapart.com/articles/writeliving

Article from a Database

Smyth, A. M., Parker, A. L., & Pease, D. L. (2002). A study of enjoyment of peas.
     Journal of Abnormal Eating, 8 (3). Retrieved February 20, 2003, from
     PsycARTICLES database.

Newspaper Article

Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of article. Title of Newspaper. Retrieved
     from http://www.someaddress.com/fullurl/

Blog and Video Blog Entries

Dean, J. (2008, May 7). When the self emerges: Is that me in the mirror? Message
     posted to http://www.spring.org.uk/the1sttransport.

Smith, T. (2004, September 26). Psychology Video Blog #3 [Video File]. Video
     posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqM90eQi5-M


Calfee, R. C., & Valencia, R. R. (1991). APA guide to preparing manuscripts
     for journal publication
. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Edited Book (no author)

Duncan, G. J., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (Eds.). (1997). Consequences of growing
     up poor
.  New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Encyclopedia Entry

Bergmann, P. G. (1993). Relativity. In The new encyclopedia britannica (Vol. 26,
     pp. 501-508). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.

Government Document

National Institute of Mental Health. (1990). Clinical training in serious mental
(DHHS Publication No. ADM 90-1679). Washington, DC: U.S.
     Government Printing Office.

Review of a Book

Zacharek, S. (2008, April 27). Natural women [Review of the book Girls like us by
     S. Weller]. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com

Online Encyclopedia or Dictionary (no author)

Feminism. (n.d.) In Encyclopeida Britannica online. Retrieved March 16, 2008,
     from http://www.britannica.com

Interviews, Email and Other Personal Communication

These types of sources are not included in your reference list. Instead, parenthetically cite the communicator's name, the fact that it was personal communication, and the date of the communication in your main text only.                         

(E. Robbins, personal communication, January 4, 2001).

Article on a Website (no date)

Taylor, T.K. (n.d.). Shared Experiences: Life in the Barraks. Retrieved August 23,
     2008, from http://www.litb.com/shared.htm

Additional resources

APA Handout
Most of your questions answered on the printable handout.

Secondary Sources
If you use a source that was cited in another source, name the original source in your signal phrase. List the secondary source in your reference list and include the secondary source in the parentheses.

Johnson argued that...(as cited in Smith, 2003, p. 102).

Note: When citing material in parentheses, set off the citation with a comma, as above. Also, try to locate the original material and cite the original source.

Purdue OWL: APA Sample Paper

Purdue OWL: Additional APA Resources