Research Guides

Citing Sources: APA

A guide to major citation styles, and tips for writing & citing

APA

About APA

Developed by the American Psychological Association, this style is most widely used for research papers in psychology and social sciences.

Citing a source in this style consists of two parts:

  1. An in-text citation
  2. reference list entry

See How to Format In-Text CitationsHow to Format the Reference List, and the Examples in the left navigation for details.

Note: 7th ed. of APA Publication Manual coming in October 2019!

How to Format In-Text Citations

For more detailed information see Publication Manual sections 6.11-6.21.

An in-text citation provides your reader with two pieces of information:

  1. The last name(s) of the author(s) from the corresponding reference list entry
  2. The date of the cited information

Standard Formatting of the In-Text Citation

  • Insert the author's last name and the year of publication in the sentence or in parentheses.

    Myrick (2015) examined the guilty pleasures of watching Internet cats.

    Viewing online cats could help to regulate emotions, much like pet therapy in real life (Myrick, 2015).

  • Multiple Authors: join names with & in the parenthetical reference and reference list. Use "and" in sentences.
    • 2 authors: cite both names every time.
    • 3-5 authors: cite all authors the first time and then use the first author's last name and et al. for subsequent references. However, if shortening the authors leads to multiple references with the same author-date form, use as many subsequent names as needed, followed by a comma and et. al, to make it unique.
    • 6 or more authors: use only the first author's last name and et al. for all citations. If shortening the authors leads to multiple references with the same author-date form, use as many subsequent names as needed, followed by a comma and et. al, to make it unique.

    (Hinsch & Sheldon, 2013)... Hinsch and Sheldon (2016) found....

    (Nabi, Finnerty, Domschke, & Hull, 2006) ..... Nabi et al. (2006) demonstrated ....

  • For primary authors with the same last name, include their initials in all text citations, even if the publications are from different years.

    (J. Moher, 2012 )

    (M. Moher & Feigenson, 2013)

  • No Author
    • Check to see if an organization or group authored the content. Use their name in place of a personal author. Use the full name each time if using an abbreviation would not be readily understood by your reader.

      Children with bipolar disorder are treated in similar ways as adults (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015).

    • If there is no organization, use the first few words of the title of the corresponding reference list entry. Put double quotation marks around titles of articles, chapters, and web pages; use italics for book titles, brochures, and reports.

      Polls show that black workers approve of labors unions more than white workers ("Black Workers Matter," 2016).

  • No Date: use n.d. in place of the date.

When to Include Page Numbers

For more detailed information see Publication Manual sections 6.03-6.10.

When paraphrasing, APA style does not require page numbers in the in-text citation. However, authors are encouraged to include page numbers if it will help the reader locate the relevant information in longer texts. Consult with your professor regarding the need for page numbers for paraphrased information.

For direct quotations, the author, year and page number must be included. The page number can be given in parentheses at the end of the exact quotation or incorporated into the in-text citation.

Newman (1994) concluded "sibling conflict is so common that its occurrence is taken for granted" (p. 123).

Such findings have prompted one researcher to conclude, “Sibling conflict is so common that its occurrence is taken for granted” (Newman, 1994, p. 123).

For direct quotations from sources without page numbers, use paragraph numbers, if visibly numbered in the document. Otherwise, use the heading name and count the number of paragraphs after the heading to the paragraph containing the quotation.

(Smith, 2016, para. 1)

(Lee 2015, Discussion section, para. 4)

How to Format the Reference List

The reference list provides the full details on the sources you used in the research for your paper.

Each entry should include the following reference components:

  • Author
  • Publication Date
  • Title
  • Publication information

See the examples in the left navigation for the required elements for each type of source. Continue reading below for details on formatting each reference component and ordering the reference list.


Formatting of Reference Components

For more information see: Publication Manual, 6.27, 184.

  • Invert the names of all authors (the last name followed by initials).
  • Keep author names in the order they appear on the document.
  • Put commas between the names.
  • Precede the last author with an ampersand (&).

    Dillard, J. P., & Shen, L.
    Guastello, D., Braun, S., Gutierrez, J., Johnston, K., & Olbinski, B.

  • For groups or institutions as authors, use their full name. Follow the name with a period.

    National Institute of Mental Health.

  • For works with no author, move the title to the author position. Follow the title with a period.

    Black workers matter.

For more information see: Publication Manual, 6.28, 185.

  • Put the year the work was published or produced in parentheses.
    • For magazines, newspapers, and newsletters, give the year and exact date (month, month and day, or season) of publication, separated by a comma.

      (2016, January).
      (2016, March 7).
      (2016, Summer).

    • If the source has no date, put n.d. (meaning no date) in the parentheses.

      (n.d.).

  • End the component with a period.

For more information see: Publication Manual, 6.29, 185-186.

  • Article or chapter title:
    • Capitalize the first word of the title, subtitle, and any proper nouns.
    • Do not enclose in quotation marks or italicize.
    • Finish the component with a period.

      Factors influencing infants’ ability to update object representations in memory.

  • Journal, magazine, or newsletter title:
    • Give the full periodical title (do not use abbreviations).
    • Capitalize major words in the title.
    • Italicize the title.
    • End the component with a comma, unless there is no volume, in which case a period is used.

      Computers in Human Behavior,

  • Books and reports
    • Capitalize the first word of title, subtitle, and any proper nouns.
    • Italicize the title.
    • End the component with a period.

      The media equation: How people treat computers, television, and new media like real people and places.

For more information see: Publication Manual, 6.30, 186-187.

  • Journals, magazines, and newsletters
    • Put the volume number after the title.
    • Italicize the volume number.
    • If the journal re-starts its page numbering with each issue, include the issue number in parentheses directly after the volume number with no space in between; do not italicize it.
    • Put the inclusive pages of the article.
    • End with a period.

      Computers in Human Behavior, 52, 168–176.
      Parenting for High Potential, 5(3), 2-4.

  • Books and reports
    • Give publisher's location using the city and state or city and country, if outside the U.S.
      • Use U.S. postal abbreviations for states and territories.
      • For university presses, do not include the state as part of the location if it is in the university's name.
      • If more than one location is listed, use the first or the publisher's home office, if indicated.
    • Put a colon after the location.
    • Give the publisher's name.
      • Omit superfluous terms such as "Publishers," "Inc.," and "Co." that don't help to identify the publisher. Retain the words "Books" and "Press."
      • Spell out the names of associations, companies, and university presses.
      • If the author is the same as the publisher, put "Author" as the publisher.
      • End the component with a period.

        New York, NY: Guilford Press.
        Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
        Washington, DC: Author.


Formatting and Ordering the Reference List

For more information see: Publication Manual, 2.11, 37 and 6.25, 181-183.

  • Start a new page for the reference list.
  • Center the word References on the page.
  • Double space the entries.
  • Use the hanging indent feature of your word processor to indent the second and subsequent lines of the entries.
  • Arrange in alphabetical order by last name of the first author
    • Alphabetize letter by letter, but keep in mind that "nothing precedes something."

      Brown, L. (2016).
      Brownfield, G. (2015).
      Browning, R. (2013).

  • single-author: arrange chronologically (earliest one first)

    Brown, L. (2013).
    Brown, L. (2016).

  • same first author, but different co-authors: come after the single-author entries for the first author and then alphabetically by the last name of the second author (or third or fourth author, if the order of co-authors match exactly).

    Oliver, M. B. (2003).
    Oliver, M. B., Ash, E., & Woolley, J. K. (2013).
    Oliver, M. B., Ash, E, Woolley, J. K., Shade, D. D., & Kim, K. (2014).

  • same authors in the same order: arrange chronologically.

    Feigenson, L., & Carey, S. (2003).
    Feigenson, L., & Carey, S. (2005).

  • same author(s) and same date: arrange alphabetically by title and add lowercase letters a, b, c, immediately after the date in the parentheses.

    Bartsch, A. (2012a). As time ....
    Bartsch, A. (2012b) Emotional gratification...

Alphabetize by first initial.

Moher, J. (2012).
Moher, M., & Feigenson, L. (2013).

 

Alphabetize by the first significant word; do not abbreviate name.

Moher, J. (2012).
National Institute of Mental Health. (2015).
Oliver, M. B. (2003).

How do I deal with ___?

Missing citation elements

In general, if one of the core citation elements is missing, you may skip that element in the works-cited entry.

  • No author:
    • Determine whether an organization is responsible for the content. If so, use that organization's name as the author. (MLA Handbook 25, 55-56)
    • For unknown author, start the works-cited entry with the title, and use the title in place of the author in the in-text citation. (MLA Handbook 24, 55-56)
  • No page number: For the in-text citation use explicitly numbered parts of the work (paragraphs, sections, chapters). Use author (or title) alone if there are no numbered parts. (MLA Handbook 56)
  • Use square brackets: if you know information, such as publisher or date, that doesn't appear in the source, enclose the information in square brackets.
    • Use "circa": if you supply a date that is approximate. Example: [circa 2014]
    • Use ?: if you are uncertain about the information you provide. Example: [2014?]

More than one author

  • List authors in order they appear on title page
  • Use the word "and," not an ampersand (&)
  • For works with three or more authors:
    • For the in-text citation: use the first author's last name followed by et al. (Smith et al. 23). (MLA Handbook 116)
    • For the works-cited list: invert the first author's name, follow with a comma and et al. Smith, John, et al. (MLA Handbook 22)

Using a source quoted in a secondary source

It is always better to consult the original source, but if it cannot be obtained, cite the secondary source in the works-cited list. If you are citing a quotation, use "qtd. in" (quoted in) in the in-text citation.  Example: (qtd. in Smith 22). (MLA Handbook 124)

Examples: Books, Chapters

Book

For more information see: Publication Manual, chapter 7.02, pp. 202-205.

Format

Print Book

Author, A. A. (Year). Book title. Location: Publisher. 

Ebook

Author, A. A. (Year). Book title. Location: Publisher. Retrieved from http://xxx.xxx.xxx

Examples

Anderson, A. (2018). Psyche and ethos: Moral life after psychology. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Brace, L. (2018). The politics of slavery. Edinburgh, United Kingdom: Edinburgh University Press. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt1tqxvk1 

Whetham, E. H. & Currie, J. I. (1969). The economics of African countries. London, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.


Chapter in a Book

Format

Author, A. A. (Year). Chapter or entry title. In A. Editor, & B. Editor (Eds.), Book title (pp. xx-xx). Location: Publisher.

Examples

Loxley, J. (2018). The 1970s: Shocks, stagflation, and the second UN decade of development. In J. A. Ocampo, A. Chowdhury, & D. Alcarón (Eds.), The world economy through the lens of the United Nations (pp. 86-117). Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Markus, H., & Oyserman, D. (1989). Gender and thought: The role of the self-concept. In M. Crawford, & M. Gentry (eds.), Gender and thought: Psychological perspectives (pp. 100-127). New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.


Book with editor but no author

For more information see: Publication Manual, chapters 6.27 and 7.02, pp. 184, 202-205.

Format

Editor, A. A. (Ed.). Book title. Location: Publisher.

Example

Ferber, M. A. & Nels, J. A. (Eds.). (1993). Beyond economic man: Feminist theory and economics. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

 

Examples: Articles

Journal Articles

For more information see: Publication Manual, chapter 7.01, pp. 198-202.

Format

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Journal, vv, pp-pp. doi:xx.xxxx/xxxxxx

The vv after the title of the journal is the volume number; pp is the pages. If no DOI is assigned and you retrieved it online, give the URL of the journal's home page.

Examples

Anderson, P. M., Butcher, K. F., Hoynes, H. W., & Schanzenbach, D. W. (2016). Beyond income: What else predicts very low food security among children? Southern Economic Journal, 82(4), 1078–1105. https://doi.org/10.1002/soej.12079

Chen, S. H., Hua, M., Zhou, Q., Tao, A., Lee, E. H., Ly, J., & Main, A. (2014). Parent–child cultural orientations and child adjustment in Chinese American immigrant families. Developmental Psychology, 50(1), 189–201. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032473


Magazine Articles

For more information see: Publication Manual, chapter 7.01, pp. 198-202.

Format

Author, A. A. (Year, Month). Title of article. Title of Magazine, vv(ii), pp-pp.

The vv after the title of the magazine is the volume number, ii is the issue number, and pp is the pages. If you retrieved it online, include the URL.

Examples

Clay, R. A. (2019, August). Moving assessment out of the clinic. Monitor on Psychology, 50(7). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/07-08/moving-assessment

Tufekci, Z. (2019, July 1). False promise. Wired, 27(7), 20.


Newspaper Articles

For more information see: Publication Manual, chapter 7.01, pp. 198-202.

Format

Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of article. Title of Newspaper, pp. xx, xx.

For newspapers, include "p." or "pp." before the page numbers. If the article appears on discontinuous pages, give all page numbers, separated by a comma. If retrieved online, include "Retrieved from" statement and the URL.

Examples

Finucane, M. (2019, May 14). Study looks at creative peaks. Boston Globe, p. B.2.

Murray, M. M. (2019, July 23). Why are native Hawaiians protesting against a telescope? New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/22/us/hawaii-telescope-protest.html

Examples: Websites, Blogs, Social Media

Websites

For more information see: APA Style Blog

Format

Author, A. (Year, Month Day). Title of document [Format description]. Retrieved from http://www.xxx.xxx

"Format description" is only necessary if it is something out of the ordinary, such as a brochure or data file. Italicize the title if the item stands alone (such as a report, brochure, or data set) versus being part of a larger whole (such as a news story). If you are not sure, don't italicize. See APA Style Blog for more information.

Example

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2019, August 1). HHS Secretary Azar statement on National Immunization Awareness Month [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2019/08/01/azar-statement-on-national-immunization-awareness-month.html


Blog Posts

For more information see: APA Style Blog and Publication Manual, chapter 7.11, example 76, p. 215.

Format

Author, A. [screen name or given name]. (Year, Month Day). Title. [Content form]. Retrieved from http://xxx.xxx.xxx

Example

Hong, S. (2019, August 5). Do yield curve inversions predict recessions in other countries? [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.stlouisfed.org/on-the-economy/2019/august/yield-curve-inversions-predict-recessions-other-countries


Social Media

For more information see: APA Style Blog

Format

Author, A. [Social media identity]. (Year, Month Day). Title [Content form]. Retrieved from http://xxx.xxx.xxx

Example

Wellesley College [Wellesley]. (2019, July 25). How can #editwars and #vandalism turn a common good for the free flow of information into a tool for molding political bias? Computer science professor @enimust and Khonzodakon Umarova ’20 discuss their research about the Wikipedia pages of news sources [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Wellesley/status/1154383860731396096

 

Examples: Music, Film, TV, Images

 

Music Recording

For more information see: APA Style Blog and Publication Manual, chapter 7.07, pp. 209-210.

Format

Songwriter, A. A. (Copyright year). Title of song [Recorded by B. B. Artist if different from writer]. On Title of Album [Medium of recording]. Location: Label. (Date of recording if different from song copyright date)

If the songwriter and recording artist are the same, skip the "Recorded by" statement.

Example

Robinson, J. M., Friedman, M., Fredriksson, R., Trantor, J., & Michaels, J. (2018). Make Me Feel. On Dirty Computer [Compact disc]. New York, NY: Bad Boy Records.


Film

For more information see: Publication Manual, chapter 7.07, pp. 209-210.

Format

Producer, A. A. (Producer), & Director, B. B. (Director). (Year). Title of film [Motion picture]. Country of Origin: Studio.

Example

Rudin, S., Bush, E., & O’Neill, E. (Producers), & Gerwig, G. G. (Director). (2017). Lady Bird [Motion picture]. United States: IAC Films.


Online Video

For more information see: APA Style Blog: Citing YouTube, APA Style Blog: Citing TED Talks, and Publication Manual, chapter 7.07, pp. 209-210.

Format

Author, A. A. [Screen name]. (Year, Month Day). Title of video [Video file]. Retrieved from http://xxx.xxx.xxx

Who you put as the author depends on where you viewed the video. If a person or organization that posted the video is needed to find the exact version you viewed, such as on YouTube, use them as the author.

Example

Della Flora, O. (2019, January). Creative ways to get kids to thrive in school [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/olympia_della_flora_creative_ways_to_get_kids_to_thrive_in_school


Television

For more information see: Publication Manual, chapter 7.07, pp. 209-210.

Format

Writer, A. A. (Writer), & Director, B. B. (Director). (Year). Title of episode [Television series episode]. In C. Executive producer (Executive producer), Title of television show. Location: Television Network.

Example

Miller, B. (Writer), & Morano, R. (Director). (2017). Offred [Television series episode]. In Ilene Chaiken (Executive producer), The Handmaid’s Tale. Toronto, Ontario: Hulu.


Image

For more information see: APA Style Blog

Format

Artist, A. A. (Year of creation). Title of work [Medium]. Location: Museum.

If the image was retrieved online, replace the location information with "Retrieved from" and the URL. If the image comes from a print source, cite that work (no need to include details about the image; just cite the page number in the in-text citation).

Example

Wiley, K. (2007). Officer of the Hussars [Painting]. Detroit, MI: Detroit Institute of Arts.


Podcast

See Publication Manual 7.07, pp. 209-210 and the APA Style Blog

Format

Person, A. A. (Role). (Year, Month Day). Title of episode. In A. A. Person [Role], Title of podcast [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://xxx.xxx.xxx

Example

Favreau, J. [Host]. (2019, July 26). 2020: Bernie Sanders on democratic socialism and Cardi B. In J. Favreau, J. Levitt, D. Pfeiffer, & T. Vietor [Hosts], Pod save America. Retrieved from https://crooked.com/podcast-series/pod-save-america/

Examples: Data Sets & Reports

Data Sets

For more information see: Publication Manual, chapter 7.08, pp. 210-211.

Format

Rightsholder, A. A. (Year). Title of data set [Data file and codebook]. Retrieved from http://xxx.xxx.xxx

Examples

Marshall, N., Roberts, J., & Robeson, W.W. (2013). Massachusetts early care and education and school readiness study, 2001-2008 [Data file and codebook]. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR33968.v1


Reports

For more information see: Publication Manual, chapter 7.03, pp. 205-206.

Format

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of report (Report No. xxx). Location: Publisher.

Corporate Author/Agency. (Year). Title of report (Report No. xxx). Retrieved http://xxx.xxx.xxx

Examples

Elliott, C., Worker, J., Levin, K., & Ross, K. (2019). Good governance for long-term low-emissions development strategies. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.   

Examples: Archival Materials

Archival Materials

For more information see: Publication Manual, chapter 7.10, pp. 212-214.

Format

Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of material [Description of Material]. Name of Collection (Call number, Box number, File name or number, etc.). Name of Repository, Location.

If there is no title on the document, include a description of the material in square brackets.

Examples

History department. (1974, December). First Semester Final Examination. History Department Records (30, box 1, folder 14). Wellesley College Archives, Wellesley, MA.

Publicity office. (1971). Slides for admissions representatives. [Photographic slides]. Publicity Office Records (1SD 1969-1975, box 21). Wellesley College Archives, Wellesley, MA.

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Acknowledgement

The Wellesley College Research & Instruction Team would like to thank the Williams College library team for agreeing to let us reuse and share their excellent resources.