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APA Citation Style Guide

This guide will support you in creating common citation formats in the APA (American Psychological Association) Style - 7th edition.

Introduction

This guide is based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition. It will assist you by providing examples for:

  • formatting in-text citations
  • formatting a reference list
  • structuring your paper for course work

Not all of your questions will be answered here, as we have focused on commonly used sources and formatting.


For more detailed information and other examples:

  • consult the APA Publication Manual (link below)
  • contact your subject librarian
  • consult the APA Style Blog - great for searching for examples not listed in the 7th edition
  • check Purdue OWL's website for other examples

Note: The ebook version of the Publication Manual is not available for sale to libraries.

Why and when we cite

Why we cite

When we write a paper, we gather background information and build arguments drawing on the work, knowledge, ideas, expressions, and reportings of others.

This information is found in many places -- journal articles, books, YouTube videos, blogs, maybe even in an email. Whatever the source, we are required to acknowledge who or what that source is when we refer to the work in our own.

We may refer to another person's work for many reasons. These include:

  • setting the stage for your position on a topic;
  • demonstrating support for an idea by another person;
  • demonstrating an opposing viewpoint.

When we cite

Citations create necessary links, directing your reader to the source you're crediting. We make an in-text citation that links to our reference list at the end of our document, which then links to the original source.

For this reason, when we talk about citations, we're talking about two different instances, once in the body of our text -- In-text citations -- once at the end of our text -- the reference list.

Terms and definitions

DOI. A digital object identifier, a persistent and unique number set to link back to that one resource located online. 


URL. A uniform resource locator, a link to a resource located online. It can be updated over time and often not considered to be persistent, although examples of permanent URLs do exist. 


Common academic research databases. These include most databases available through the library, where materials are not uniquely located and may be available through multiple databases (e.g. PsycINFO, Academic Search Complete, MEDLINE, Google Scholar, ProQuest eBook Central, etc.). Alternatively, a database that contains unique information needs to be listed in your citation, and is not considered to be common (e.g. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and UpToDate) (APA, 2020, p. 297).


Article number. If an online journal article does not have page numbers, it often has an article number instead. You can list this as you would page numbers for the article. 


Live link. In this edition of APA, links in citations are meant to be live. This means that users can click on them and a new window will open and take them to the resource. Previously, the links were to only be written as text and not linked. 

In-text citations

In-text citations should always appear right after the content you are summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting. They only include a minimal amount of information, but create a link to a more fulsome citation at the end of your document.

In-text citations are composed of 2, sometimes 3, elements: the author(s)' last name(s), the date of publication, and, if quoting, the page number(s). If the quote spans multiple pages, use pp. instead of p.

The format is as follows:

  • (Author, YYYY)
  • (Author, YYYY, p. #)
  • (Author, YYYY, pp. ##-##)

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing, or summarizing, takes two forms. Either you indicate in your sentence that an author has said something (narrative), or you write something, and then attribute that to the author in brackets at the end of the idea (parenthetical).

Narrative in-text citation: Raimi (2018) outlines the risks and benefits of fracking through an economic analysis and energy security benefits.

Parenthetical in-text citation: Several benefits and risks can be identified in the implementation of fracking for oil extraction. Considerations include regulation, water pollution, tremors etc. (Raimi, 2018).


Quoting

When quoting, you also need to include the page number. Again, a quote can be phrased in two ways:

Narrative in-text citation: According to Raimi (2018) the “social risks of increased oil and gas production has been widely debated in the news media, without a nuanced understanding of the environmental and economic factors" (p. 145).

Parenthetical in-text citation: As has been argued elsewhere, the “social risks of increased oil and gas production has been widely debated in the news media, without a nuanced understanding of the environmental and economic factors" (Raimi, 2018, p. 145).


No date

Sometimes there is no date of publication provided. If this is the case you would use n.d. instead.

Narrative in-text citation: Raimi (n.d.) outlines the risks and benefits of fracking through an economic analysis and energy security benefits.

Parenthetical in-text citation: Several benefits and risks can be identified in the implementation of fracking for oil extraction. Considerations include regulation, water pollution, tremors etc. (Raimi, n.d.).


More than one author

Use the following table as a guide (modified from APA, 2020, p. 266):

# of Authors Narrative Example Parenthetical Example
1 Bradley (2017) (Bradley, 2017)
2 Janmaat and Rahimova (2018) (Janmaat & Rahimova, 2018)
3 or more Mei et al. (2018) (Mei et al., 2018)

Group author with abbreviation

First citation

Subsequent citations

 

Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC, 2019)

CISC (2019)

 

(Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC), 2019)

(CISC, 2019)

Group author without abbreviation Foundry (2020) (Foundry, 2020)

Reference list

Some general rules to consider when creating your reference list:

  • Every source used in your in-text citations needs to be listed as part of your reference list, in alphabetical order by author(s)' last names.
  • The word References should appear at the top of your reference list, and it should be centred and bolded on the page
  • Titles should be written in sentence case, that is, capitalize the first word and only subsequent proper nouns. If the title is broken up by a colon (:), capitalize the first word after the colon.
  • List all authors in the order that they appear in the source.
  • For several works by the same first author cite them in your reference list by year of publication with the earliest first. 
  • For several works by the same author with the same year of publication, first try to find a more specific date of publication. If dates are still the same, order alphabetically by title and assign a letter suffix to the year (Smith, 2004a)
  • If there is no date of publication, use the abbreviation (n.d.).
  • The second line should be indented a tab's distance. This is called a hanging indent.
    • For more help with creating hanging indents in Word, please check out Microsoft Office's webpage.