APA citation style refers to the rules and conventions established by the American Psychological Association for documenting sources used in a research paper. APA style requires both in-text citations and a reference list. For every in-text citation there should be a full citation in the reference list and vice versa.
The examples of APA styles and formats listed on this page include many of the most common types of sources used in academic research. For additional examples and more detailed information about APA citation style, refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and the APA Style Guide to Electronic References.
Also, for automatic generation of citations in appropriate citation style, use a bibliographic citation management program such as Refworks or EndNote. You can find more information on this in our Citation Management page.
Reference Citations in Text
In APA style, in-text citations are placed within sentences and paragraphs so that it is clear what information is being quoted or paraphrased and whose information is being cited.
Works by a single author
The last name of the author and the year of publication are inserted in the text at the appropriate point.
from theory on bounded rationality (Simon, 1945)
If the name of the author or the date appear as part of the narrative, cite only missing information in parentheses.
Simon (1945) posited that
Works by multiple authors
When a work has two authors, always cite both names every time the reference occurs in the text. In parenthetical material join the names with an ampersand (&).
as has been shown (Leiter & Maslach, 1998)
In the narrative text, join the names with the word "and."
as Leiter and Maslach (1998) demonstrated
When a work has three, four, or five authors, cite all authors the first time the reference occurs.
Kahneman, Knetsch, and Thaler (1991) found
In all subsequent citations per paragraph, include only the surname of the first author followed by "et al." (Latin for "and others") and the year of publication.
Kahneman et al. (1991) found
Works by associations, corporations, government agencies, etc.
The names of groups that serve as authors (corporate authors) are usually written out each time they appear in a text reference.
(National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2007)
When appropriate, the names of some corporate authors are spelled out in the first reference and abbreviated in all subsequent citations. The general rule for abbreviating in this manner is to supply enough information in the text citation for a reader to locate its source in the Reference List without difficulty.
Works with no author
When a work has no author, use the first two or three words of the work's title (omitting any initial articles) as your text reference, capitalizing each word. Place the title in quotation marks if it refers to an article, chapter of a book, or Web page. Italicize the title if it refers to a book, periodical, brochure, or report.
on climate change ("Climate and Weather," 1997)
Guide to Agricultural Meteorological Practices (1981)
Anonymous authors should be listed as such followed by a comma and the date.
on climate change (Anonymous, 2008)
Specific parts of a source
To cite a specific part of a source (always necessary for quotations), include the page, chapter, etc. (with appropriate abbreviations) in the in-text citation.
(Stigter & Das, 1981, p. 96)
If page numbers are not included in electronic sources (such as Web-based journals), provide the paragraph number preceded by the abbreviation "para." or the heading and following paragraph.
(Mönnich & Spiering, 2008, para. 9)
References cited in the text of a research paper must appear in a Reference List or bibliography. This list provides the information necessary to identify and retrieve each source.
- Order: Entries should be arranged in alphabetical order by authors' last names. Sources without authors are arranged alphabetically by title within the same list.
- Authors: Write out the last name and initials for all authors of a particular work. Use an ampersand (&) instead of the word "and" when listing multiple authors of a single work. e.g. Smith, J. D., & Jones, M.
- Titles: Capitalize only the first word of a title or subtitle, and any proper names that are part of a title.
- Pagination: Use the abbreviation p. or pp. to designate page numbers of articles from periodicals that do not use volume numbers, especially newspapers. These abbreviations are also used to designate pages in encyclopedia articles and chapters from edited books.
- Indentation*: The first line of the entry is flush with the left margin, and all subsequent lines are indented (5 to 7 spaces) to form a "hanging indent".
- Underlining vs. Italics*: It is appropriate to use italics instead of underlining for titles of books and journals.
Two additional pieces of information should be included for works accessed online.
- Internet Address**: A stable Internet address should be included and should direct the reader as close as possible to the actual work. If the work has a digital object identifier (DOI), use this. If there is no DOI or similar handle, use a stable URL. If the URL is not stable, as is often the case with online newspapers and some subscription-based databases, use the home page of the site you retrieved the work from.
- Date: If the work is a finalized version published and dated, as in the case of a journal article, the date within the main body of the citation is enough. However, if the work is not dated and/or is subject to change, as in the case of an online encyclopedia article, include the date that you retrieved the information.
* The APA has special formatting standards for the use of indentation and italics in manuscripts or papers that will be typeset or submitted for official publication. For more detailed information on these publication standards, refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, or consult with your instructors or editors to determine their style preferences.
** See the APA Style Guide to Electronic References for information on how to format URLs that take up more than one line.
Articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers
References to periodical articles must include the following elements: author(s), date of publication, article title, journal title, volume number, issue number (if applicable), and page numbers.
Journal article, one author, accessed online
Journal article, two authors, accessed online
Journal article, more than two authors, accessed online
Article from an Internet-only journal
Journal article from a subscription database (no DOI)
Magazine article, in print
Kluger, J. (2008, January 28). Why we love. Time, 171(4), 54-60.
Newspaper article, no author, in print
Newspaper article, multiple authors, discontinuous pages, in print
References to an entire book must include the following elements: author(s) or editor(s), date of publication, title, place of publication, and the name of the publisher.
No Author or editor, in print
One author, in print
Two authors, in print
Corporate author, author as publisher, accessed online
References for dissertations should include the following elements: author, date of publication, title, and institution (if you accessed the manuscript copy from the university collections). If there is a UMI number or a database accession number, include it at the end of the citation.
Dissertation, accessed online
Essays or chapters in edited books
References to an essay or chapter in an edited book must include the following elements: essay or chapter authors, date of publication, essay or chapter title, book editor(s), book title, essay or chapter page numbers, place of publication, and the name of the publisher.
Encyclopedias or dictionaries and entries in an encyclopedia
References for encyclopedias must include the following elements: author(s) or editor(s), date of publication, title, place of publication, and the name of the publisher. For sources accessed online, include the retrieval date as the entry may be edited over time.
Encyclopedia set or dictionary
Article from an online encyclopedia
Research reports and papers
References to a report must include the following elements: author(s), date of publication, title, place of publication, and name of publisher. If the issuing organization assigned a number (e.g., report number, contract number, or monograph number) to the report, give that number in parentheses immediately after the title. If it was accessed online, include the URL.
Government report, accessed online
Government reports, GPO publisher, accessed online
Technical and/or research reports, accessed online
Document available on university program or department site
References to audio-visual media must include the following elements: name and function of the primary contributors (e.g., producer, director), date, title, the medium in brackets, location or place of production, and name of the distributor. If the medium is indicated as part of the retrieval ID, brackets are not needed.
Television show from a series
Undated Web site content, blogs, and data
For content that does not easily fit into categories such as journal papers, books, and reports, keep in mind the goal of a citation is to give the reader a clear path to the source material. For electronic and online materials, include stable URL or database name. Include the author, title, and date published when available. For undated materials, include the date the resource was accessed.
Professional Web site
Data set from a database
Entire Web site
When citing an entire Web site (and not a specific document on that site), no Reference List entry is required if the address for the site is cited in the text of your paper.
For more detailed information on APA citation style such as information on articles in press, journal special issues and supplements, translations, et cetera, see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and the APA Style Guide to Electronic References.
Other citation guides and useful Web sites:
Prepared by Cornell University Library PSEC Documentation Committee
November 2002; Revised April 2011