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Cite Your Sources: APA

Tools for creating bibliographies in MLA, APA, Chicago, and other styles.

What is APA Style?

APA format is a citation style created by the American Psychological Association. It is used for research papers in many college classes, including Social Science classes. The style manual for APA is in the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association by the American Psychological Association Staff. The seventh edition was published in October 2019.

General Guidelines for APA

General guidelines for American Psychological Association citation style:

  • Center the word References one inch from the top of the page, on a new page, at the end of the paper. References should be in bold.
  • Double-spacing is used between, as well as within, each entry.
  • Use a hanging indent: begin the first line of each entry at the left margin, and indent all subsequent lines of an entry one-half inch (5 spaces).
  • List reference sources alphabetically by author’s last name. If the source has no author, alphabetize by the first significant word in the title ignoring the word A, An, or The.
  • List author by last name, then a comma, followed by first and second initials (if available).
  • Place publication year in parentheses ( ) following the author(s)’ name(s).
  • Use italics for titles of books, journals, newspapers, encyclopedias, or websites.
  • Capitalize only certain words in the title on the References page: the first word, the first word in a subtitle, and all proper nouns. However, when referring to a work within the body of the paper, capitalize all major words of four letters or more.
  • Separate the author(s)’ name(s), the date (in parentheses), the title, and the publication information with periods.
  • Acceptable fonts now include: 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode. Serif fonts such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or normal (10-point) Computer Modern (the default font for LaTeX) are also acceptable.
  • Use “they” as a singular pronoun. The manual advises writers to use “they” for a person whose gender is unknown or irrelevant.
  • Use “person-first” language whenever possible. For example, “a child with autism” is generally preferable to “autistic” or “an autistic child.”
  • Use one space after a period at the end of a sentence unless an instructor says otherwise.
  • Use quotation marks around linguistic examples rather than highlighting these examples with italics. For example, one might write that a computer user should press the “A” key, rather than press the A key.
  • In the references list, up to 20 authors should now be included in an entry.
  • Digital object identifiers (DOIs) and URLs are now both presented as hyperlinks for electronic sources. The label “DOI:” is no longer used for entries that include a DOI.
  • If your document is to be viewed electronically, hyperlinks should be active.
  • The words “Retrieved from” (preceding the URL or DOI) are now only used when a retrieval date is also provided in the citation.

In-text Citations

In-text parenthetical citations: Whenever you use a quotation, a paraphrase, or a summary, you should give the author’s last name (or the title if no author is included) and the year in parentheses; if no date is provided, use the abbreviation “n.d.” for no date. You should also add the page number if you are using a quotation from a printed source. A parenthetical source for a quotation from a printed source might look like this: (Ross, 2020, p. 42).

Parenthetical/In-text Citation: (Mallon, 1989) or (Mallon, 1989, p. 13), if a direct quotation is used.

If the author is not named in the signal phrase, place the author’s name, the year, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation. Example: Bolton (2020) pointed out that students who do not use libraries often find frustration in their research efforts (p. 74).

For more examples, consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2019).

All sources with three authors or more are now attributed in-text using the name of the first author followed by “et al.”

Example APA Citations

Book by one author
Mallon, T. (1989). Stolen words: Forays into the origins and ravages of plagiarism. Ticknor and Fields.
Book by two or more authors
Lathrop, A., & Foss, K. (2000). Student cheating and plagiarism in the internet era. Libraries Unlimited.
E-Book from library database
Schmid, D. (2014). Natural born celebrities: Serial killers in American culture. Ticknor & Fields.
Article from a reference book (if no author is listed start with the title)
Cooper, J. M. (1998). Socrates. In Routledge encyclopedia of philosophy (Vol. 9, pp. 8-19). Routledge.
Entry in an online reference work
Graham, G. (2005). Behaviorism. In E.N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Fall 2007 ed.).
Book with an organization as the author
American Psychiatric Association. (2015). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5 (5th ed.). Author.
An article or chapter in an edited book (anthology)
Crews, H. (2009). Why I live where I live. In G.H. Muller, & H.S. Wiener (Eds.), The short prose reader (12th ed.) (pp. 307-310). McGraw-Hill.
Print Articles:  
Article from a journal (if no author is listed, start with the title)
Giaquinto, R. A. (2009-2010). Instructional issues and retention of first-year students. Journal of College Student Retention, 11(2), 267-285. (Special Note:11” is the volume number, and “2” is the issue number.)
Article from a magazine (if no author is listed, start with the title)
Posnanski, J. (2009, December 28). The running back, the cheerleader, and what came after the greatest college football game ever. Sports Illustrated, 111(26), 58-64.
Article from a newspaper (if no author is listed, start with the title)
Nearing, B. (2009, December 16). State energy plan: Less is more. Times Union, D1-D2.
Online Articles:  
Article (with a digital object identifier number) from a database
Ohman, A., &  Mineka, S. (2001, July). Fears, phobias, and preparedness: Toward an evolved module of fear and fear learning. Psychological Review, 108(3), 483-522.
Article from a database without a doi
Weeks, J. (2013, February 22). Coastal development. CQ Researcher, 23(8), 181-204. 
Web page (if no author is listed, start with the title)
Baldwin, C. (2020, February 18). Help for National History Day research. NASA.
DVD/ Motion Picture/ Film
Mulligan, R. (Director). (1962). To kill a mockingbird. [Film]. Universal Pictures.
Video streaming from subscription database
Lumet, S. (Director). (1957). 12  angry men [Video]. Swank Digital Campus.
Episode from a series streaming
Kruener, P. (Writer), & Dzilvelis, P. (Director). (2010). The potato (Season 16, Episode 3) [TV series episode]. In D. Cambou (Producer), Modern marvels. A&E Television. Films on Demand.
YouTube Video
AsapSCIENCE. (2019, September 23). We stayed awake for 36 hours and it changed our faces [Video]. YouTube.
TED Talk
Lindenberger, E. (2019, April). Why we need to fight misinformation about vaccines [Video]. TEDxMidAtlantic.
Joel, B. (1989). We didn’t start the fire [Song]. On Storm front. Columbia.
Painting, sculpture or photograph retrieved from Artstor
Rockwell. N. (1943). Freedom from want. [Oil on canvas for posters]. Artstor.
Painting, sculpture or photograph retrieved online
Cezanne, P. (1890). Still life with apples and a pot of primroses [Painting]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Podcast episode (audio)
Clark, J. (Host). (2015, September 10). How chili peppers work [Audio podcast episode]. In How stuff works. NPR.
Brokaw, T. [@tombrokaw]. (2012, January 22). SC demonstrated why all the debates are the engines of this campaign [Tweet]. Twitter.

HVCC Writing and Research Center (WRC) APA 7 Handouts

Online Help with APA

What is a doi?

What is a digital object identifier, or doi?

A digital object identifier (doi) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency ( the International DOI Foundation) to identify content and provide a persistent link to it's location on the Internet. The publisher assigns a doi when the article is published and made available electronically.

We recommend that when doi's are available, you include them for both print and electronic sources. The doi is typically located on the first page of the electronic journal, near the copyright notice. The DOI will be included in the citation of articles found in our databases.

Sample APA Paper

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