APA Reference Page
The main and simple purpose of the APA reference page is to ensure that the reader can locate and retrieve the sources cited in the paper. And because sources come in many different shapes and sizes, APA has guidelines on page structure for different kinds of publications that need to be attributed.
Table of Content
- 1 Basic Rules of an APA Reference Page
- 2 Example Reference Page
Basic Rules of an APA Reference Page
Before delving into specific types, here are some basic rules to take note of when writing an APA reference page.
- The reference page should appear at the end of the paper. It should be separated from the last page of text.
- Each source cited in the paper should appear twice—it should be cited in the actual text and then listed on the reference page.
- The page should be labeled “References,” centered at the top of the page and without any formatting (do not bold, italicize, underline or use quotation marks). As in the rest of the body text, an APA reference page should be double-spaced.
- All lines after the first line of each entry should be indented half an inch from the left margin. This is called the hanging indentation.
- Alphabetize, according to last name, the entries on the reference list. If an author has multiple articles, list down in chronological order from oldest to newest.
- Author’s name should follow the format: last name and then initials of the first and middle name (if provided). If there are two authors, use the ampersand instead of using “and.” If there are up to seven authors, list down the last name followed by initials. If there are more than seven authors, write down the first six and then use ellipses after the sixth author’s name. After the ellipses, write down the last author’s name.
- Maintain the punctuation used in journals. Capitalize all major words.
- Italicize titles of longer works. These include books and journals.
- For shorter works such as essays and journal articles, do not bold, italicize, underline or put quotation marks.
- When attributing books, chapters, articles or Web pages, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title or subtitle. You may also capitalize the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and, of course, proper nouns. In a hyphenated compound word, do not capitalize the first letter of the second word.
- When citing location, use the postal abbreviation format without period. For example: NY for New York or MD for Maryland.
- When referencing a Web page with no author, cite the title of the article followed by the year it was written in parentheses. Also indicate the date it was retrieved and the URL. For example: Retrieved October 21, 2013, from http://www.website.com/
Example Reference Page
For more visual guidelines especially on the elements of the page structure, here are some sample APA reference pages.
Notice that the entry has four essential elements: the author’s name, the year of the publication, the title and additional information on the publication.
When creating your APA reference page, do not forget to list down even the non-print sources such as interviews or documentaries. There are specific rules for each source so it is important to identify the type of material you used to determine which formatting rules apply.
Admittedly, this is a bit more tedious than doing a non-APA reference page but this is something that can be done with a lot of help along the way. This process ensures that your paper gives proper credit to the people and their body of work which have been instrumental in the creation of your own.
Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts
Welcome to the Purdue OWL
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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.
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
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 .
Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format / APA Reference Page
How to Format an APA Reference Page
In APA, the “Works Cited” page is referred to as a “Reference List” or “Reference Page.” “Bibliography” also may be used interchangeably, even though there are some differences between the two.
If you are at the point in your article or research paper where you are looking up APA bibliography format, then congratulations! That means you’re almost done.
In this guide, you will learn how to successfully finish a paper by creating a properly formatted APA bibliography. More specifically, you will learn how to create a reference page . The guidelines presented here come from the 7 th edition of the APA’s Publication Manual .
A note on APA reference page style: In this guide, “bibliography” and “references” may be used interchangeably, even though there are some differences between the two. The most important thing is to use the label “References” when writing your paper since APA style recommends including a reference page.
Here’s a run-through of everything this page includes:
Difference between an APA bibliography and a reference page
What about annotated bibliographies, understanding apa reference page format, apa reference page formatting: alphabetizing by surname, q: what should not be on an apa reference page.
The difference between a bibliography and a reference page is a matter of scope. A bibliography usually includes all materials and sources that were used to write the paper. A reference page, on the other hand, only includes entries for works that were specifically cited in the text of the paper.
There are some cases in which a professor or journal might request an annotated bibliography . An annotated bibliography is basically a reference page that includes your comments and insights on each source.
An annotated bibliography can be a document all on its own, or part of a bigger document. That means creating an annotated bibliography by itself could be an assignment, or you may have to include one as part of your research paper, journal submission, or other project.
If you do need to add an APA annotated bibliography , it goes after the reference page on its own page, inside the appendices.
A properly formatted APA reference page begins on a new page, after the end of the text. It comes before any figures, tables, maps, or appendices. It’s double-spaced and features what’s called a hanging indent , where the first line of each reference is not indented, and the second line of each reference is indented 0.5 inches. The reference page is also labeled with a bold, center-justified, and capitalized “References.”
To summarize, the reference page should be:
- Placed on its own page, after the text but before any tables, figures, or appendices.
- In the same font as the rest of the paper.
- Double-spaced the whole way through (including individual references).
- Formatted with hanging indents (each line after the first line of every entry indented 0.5 inches).
- Labeled with a bold, center-justified, and capitalized “References.”
Note: You can use the paragraph function of your word processing program to apply the hanging indent.
Q: What font am I supposed to use for the reference page or bibliography?
The APA reference page/bibliography should be in the same font as the rest of your paper. However, APA Style does not actually call for one specific font. According to Section 2.19 of the Publication Manual , the main requirement is to choose a font that is readable and accessible to all users. Some of the recommended font options for APA style include:
- Sans serif fonts: Calibri (11pt), Arial (11pt), or Lucida (10pt).
- Serif fonts: Times New Roman (12pt), Georgia (11pt), or Normal/Computer Modern (10pt).
Q: What are the margins supposed to be for the reference page or bibliography?
Aside from the 0.5 inch hanging indent on the second line of each reference entry, you do not need to modify the margins of the reference page or bibliography. These should be the same as the rest of your paper, which according to APA is 1-inch margins on all sides of the page. This is the default margin setting for most computer word processors, so you probably won’t have to change anything.
Q: What information goes into an APA style reference page or bibliography?
An APA style reference page should include full citations for all the sources that were cited in your paper. This includes sources that were summarized, paraphrased, and directly quoted. Essentially, if you included an in-text citation in your paper, that source should also appear in your reference list. The reference list is organized in alphabetical order by author.
The formatting for reference list citations varies depending on the kind of source and the available information. But for most sources, your reference list entry will include the following:
- The last name(s) and initials of the author(s).
- The date the source was published (shown in parentheses).
- The title of the source in sentence case. The title should be in italics if the source stands on its own (like a book, webpage, or movie).
- The name of the periodical, database, or website if the source is an article from a magazine, journal, newspaper, etc. Names of periodicals are usually italicized; names of databases and websites usually are not.
- The publisher of the source and/or the URL where the source can be found.
Here are a few templates and examples for how common sources should be formatted in an APA style reference list. If your source is not found here, there is also a guide highlighting different APA citation examples .
Citing a Book
Author’s last name, Author’s first initial. Author’s middle initial. (Year of publication). Title of work . Publisher.
James, Henry. (2009). The ambassadors . Serenity Publishers.
Citing a Journal
Author’s last name, Author’s first initial. Author’s middle initial. (Year, Month Date published). Article title. Journal Name , Volume(Issue), page number(s). https://doi.org/ or URL (if available)
Jacoby, W. G. (1994). Public attitudes toward government spending. American Journal of Political Science , 38(2), 336-361. https://doi.org/10.2307/2111407
Citing a Website
Author’s last name, Author’s first initial. Author’s middle initial. (Year, Month Date published). Article title or page title . Site Name. URL
Limer, E. (2013, October 1). Heck yes! The first free wireless plan is finally here . Gizmodo. https://gizmodo.com/heck-yes-the-first-free-wireless-plan-is-finally-here
Next, let’s take a look at a real example of a properly formatted APA reference page to see how these pieces come together.
APA reference page example
Creating an APA reference page is actually a lot easier than creating a bibliography with other style guides. In fact, as long as you are aware of the formatting rules, the reference page practically writes itself as you go.
Below is an example reference page that follows the guidelines detailed above. EasyBib also has a guide featuring a complete APA style sample paper , including the reference page.
All APA citations included in the reference page should be ordered alphabetically, using the first word of the reference entry. In most cases, this is the author’s surname (or the surname of the author listed first, when dealing with citations for sources with multiple authors ). However, there are times when a reference entry might begin with a different element.
Creating an alphabetized reference page or bibliography might seem like a simple task. But when you start dealing with multiple authors and similar last names, it can actually get a little tricky. Fortunately, there are a few basic rules that can keep you on track.
The “nothing precedes something” rule
When the surnames of two or more authors begin with the same letters, the “nothing precedes something” rule is how to figure it out. Here is an example of how it works.
Imagine your reference page includes the authors Berg, M.S. and Bergman, H.D. The first four letters of each author are the same. The fifth letters are M and H respectively. Since H comes before M in the alphabet, you might assume that Bergman, H.D. should be listed first.
APA Style requires that “nothing precede something,” which means that Berg will appear before Bergman. Similarly, a James would automatically appear before a Jameson, and a Michaels before a Michaelson.
Disregard spaces and punctuation marks
If a surname has a hyphen, apostrophe, or other punctuation mark, it can be ignored for alphabetization purposes. Similarly, anything that appears inside of parentheses or brackets should be disregarded.
Ordering multiple works by the same author
It is not uncommon for a research paper to reference multiple books by the same author. If you have more than one reference entry by the same person, then the entries should be listed chronologically by year of publication.
If a reference entry has no year of publication available, then it should precede any entries that do have a date. Here’s an example of a properly alphabetized order for multiple entries from the same author:
Guzman, M.B. (n.d.).
Guzman, M.B. (2016).
Guzman, M.B. (2017).
Guzman, M.B. (2019).
Guzman, M.B. (in press).
“In press” papers do not yet have a year of publication associated with them. All “in press” sources are listed last, like the one shown above.
Ordering works with the same author and same date
If the same author has multiple entries with the same year of publication, you need to differentiate them with lowercase letters. Otherwise, the in-text citations in your paper will correspond to more than one reference page entry.
Same author and same year of publication
Here’s a look at how to use lowercase letters to differentiate between entries with the same author and same year of publication:
Guzman, M.B. (2020a).
Guzman, M.B. (2020b).
Guzman, M.B. (2020c).
These lowercase letters are assigned to make the in-text citations more specific. However, it does not change the fact that their year of publication is the same. If no month or day is available for any of the sources, then they should be ordered alphabetically using the title of the work.
When alphabetizing by title, ignore the words “A,” “An,”,and “The” if they’re the first word of the title.
Same author and same year of publication, with more specific dates
If more specific dates are provided, such as a month or day, then it becomes possible to order these entries chronologically.
Guzman, M.B. (2020b, April 2).
Guzman, M.B. (2020c, October 15).
Ordering authors with the same surname but different initials
Authors who share the same surname but have different first or middle names can be alphabetized by their first initial or second initial.
Guzman, R.L. (2015).
Ordering works with no listed author, or an anonymous author
If you have reference entries with no listed author, the first thing to double-check is whether or not there was a group author instead. Group authors can be businesses, task forces, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, etc.
If there is no individual author listed, then have another look at the source. If it is published on a government agency website, for instance, there is a good chance that the agency was the author of the work, and should be listed as such in the reference entry. You can read more about how to handle group authors in Section 9.11 of the Publication Manual .
What if the work is actually authored by “Anonymous”?
If the work you’re referencing actually has the word “Anonymous” listed as the author, then you can list it as the author and alphabetize it as if it were a real name. But this is only if the work is actually signed “Anonymous.”
What if there is no listed author and it’s definitely not a group author?
If you have confirmed that there is no individual or group author for the work, then you can use the work’s title as the author element in the reference entry. In any case where you’re using the work’s title to alphabetize, you should skip the words “A,” “An,” and “The.”
An APA reference page should not contain any of the following:
- The content of your paper (the reference page should start on its own page after the end of your paper).
- Entries for works for further reading or background information or entries for an epigraph from a famous person (the reference page should only include works that are referenced or quoted in your paper as part of your argument).
- Entries for personal communications such as emails, phone calls, text messages, etc. (since the reader would not be able to access them).
- Entries for whole websites, periodicals, etc. (If needed, the names of these can be mentioned within the body of your paper instead.)
- Entries for quotations from research participants (since they are part of your original research, they do not need to be included).
Published October 28, 2020.
APA Formatting Guide
- Annotated Bibliography
- Block Quotes
- et al Usage
- In-text Citations
- Multiple Authors
- Page Numbers
- Parenthetical Citations
- Reference Page
- Sample Paper
- APA 7 Updates
- View APA Guide
- Book Chapter
- Journal Article
- Magazine Article
- Newspaper Article
- Website (no author)
- View all APA Examples
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The following rules will help you identify when to use DOIs and when to use URLs in references:
- Use a DOI wherever available, be it a print version or online version.
- For a print publication that does not have a DOI, do not add a DOI or URL (even if a URL is available).
- For an online publication, if both a DOI and URL are given, include only the DOI.
- For online publications that only have a URL (and no DOI), follow the below recommendations:
- Add a URL in the reference list entry for publications from websites (other than databases). Double check that the URL will work for readers.
- For publications from most academic research databases, which are easily accessible, do not include a URL or database information in the reference. In this case, the reference will be the same as the print version.
- For publications from databases that publish limited/proprietary work that would only be available in that database, include the database name and the URL. If the URL would require a login, include the URL for the database home page or login page instead of the URL for the work.
- If a URL will not work for the reader or is no longer accessible, follow the guidance for citing works with no source.
To format your APA references list, follow these recommendations:
- Begin the references on a new page. This page should be placed at the end of the paper.
- All sides of the paper should have a 1-inch margin.
- Set the heading as “References” in bold text and center it.
- Arrange the reference entries alphabetically according to the first item within the entries (usually the author surname or title).
- Add a hanging indent of 0.5 inches (i.e., indent any line after the first line of a reference list entry).
See above for a visual example of a reference page and additional examples.
Multiple entries with the same author(s) are arranged by publication year. Entries with no dates first, then in chronological order. If the year published is also the same, a letter is added to the year and the entries are arranged alphabetically (after arrangement by year).
- Robin, M. T. (n.d.)
- Robin, M. T. (1987)
- Robin, M. T. (1989a)
- Robin, M. T. (1989b)
Single-author source and multi-author source that share one author. One-author entries are listed first even if the multi-author entries were published earlier.
- Dave, S. P., Jr. (2006)
- Dave, S. P., Jr., & Glyn, T. L. (2005)
For references with multiple authors that have the same first author but different subsequent authors, alphabetize the entries by the last name of the second author (or third if the first two authors are the same).
APA Citation Examples
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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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