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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.

General format

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association provides guidance for formatting your essay, paper or manuscript. The following information was taken from the 7th edition of the Manual. Please refer to pages 44-45 of the manual for more formatting information.

Page Header and Numbers: All pages in your essay should contain page numbers at the top right of every page. Only manuscripts being submitted for publication need to contain a running head which is an abbreviated version of the paper's title in the header.

Font: Options for the types of font APA recommends include 12-pt Times New Roman as well as Calibri and Arial in 11-pt, Please use the same font and font size throughout your essay (except for tables and figures - see below). . 

Line Spacing: Double spacing should occur throughout the entire document, including title page, reference list, and quotations of 40 or more words (see below). There should not be additional spacing before or after headings. There are a few exceptions to double spacing such as in tables and figures (see below).

Margins: Please use 2.54-cm (1-in) margins on all sides, including top, bottom, left and right.

Paragraph Alignment and Indentation: Paragraphs should be aligned to the left of the page (left justified). The text on the right margin will be uneven (i.e. do not use full justification). The first line of each paragraph should be indented 1/2 in. For consistency throughout your paper, click your Tab key one time

(APA, 2020, pp. 44-45)

Title page (student paper)

The title page for a student paper includes the following elements: page number, the title of your paper, the names of all authors of the paper, the name of the university attended, the course abbreviation and name, instructor name, and assignment due date. Your instructor can include other requirements for your assignment such as a student number so it is best to check with them. Please refer to pages 30-37 of the manual for more title page information including what elements to include on a professional paper submitted for publication.

Title:

  • Should be bolded, centered, and be 3-4 lines (double spaced) down from the top margin of the paper.
  • Put a double-spaced blank line between the title and the author(s) names.
  • The paper title also appears at the top of the first page of your paper.

Author Name(s):

  • Should be centered, beneath the title, and one double-spaced blank line, and be in the format of first name, middle initial, and last name.
  • Do not include titles, honorifics, or degrees.
  • Multiple authors:
    •     ​Order the names of authors based on their contributions (i.e. the one that did the most work should be listed first).
    •     Write all of the names on the same line (flowing onto additionally lines if needed).

Author Affiliation:

  • Should be centered, beneath the author(s) names and identify where they worked or studied when the paper was written.
  • Include the name of the department and the name of the institution separated by a comma.
    • Example:  School of Nursing, University of British Columbia

Course Name:

  • Include the course abbreviation, number, and full course name name centered and below the Author Affiliation.

Instructor:

  • Include the full name (first, any middle initial that they use, and last) of the course instructor(s) centered and below the Course Name. Include the instructor's title and /or degree (i.e. Dr., Professor, or PhD) if that is their preference.

Due Date:

  •     Place the month, date, and year after the Instructor(s) name(s) of the date the assignment was due.

EXAMPLE

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Headings

Heading Levels: Headings in your paper can help organize and develop your argument as well as signal to your reader what type of information will be presented in a given section. Do not start you paper with the heading Introduction as it it assumed that the beginning of your essay is already the introduction. APA provides formatting guidance for 5 levels of headings. These levels correspond to subheadings for instance you would use a level 2 heading if you wanted to put headings under a level 1 heading.

Level Format
1

Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading

     Begin the text after the heading on a new line as a new paragraph.

2

Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading

     Begin the text after the heading on a new line as a new paragraph.

3

Left-aligned, Boldface, Italicized, Upper and Lowercase Heading

     Begin the text after the heading on a new line as a new paragraph.

4      Indented, Boldface, Upper and Lowercase Heading, Ending With a Period. Begin the text after the heading on the same line as the heading and continue as a regular paragraph.
5      Indented, Boldface, Italicized, Upper and Lowercase Heading, Ending With a Period. Begin the text after the heading on the same line as the heading and continue as a regular paragraph.

(APA, 2020, pp. 47-49)

Additionally, see the Headings Levels Template: Student Papers, created by the APA to demonstrate what each heading would look like in an APA paper.

Section Labels: Special headings called section labels are used for certain parts of a paper. These labels start on a new page, are on their own line at the top of the page where the section starts, and are in bold and centered. Common sections include:

The Title of your Paper
References
Appendix A (and so on for subsequent appendices)

(APA, 2020, p. 49)

Lists (seriation)

APA provide guidelines on how to present lists to help the reader see the organization of key elements within sections, paragraphs and/or sentences in a paper. APA allows for three types of seriated lists: (a) lettered lists, (b) numbered lists, and (c) bulleted lists. In general, when a list is in a sentence use commas to separate items but if any item already contains a comma use semicolons.

Lettered Lists: Use a lettered list when you want to present a series within a sentence or paragraph. Each item is preceded with a letter within parentheses.  Note that this form or seriation may not draw as much of the reader's attention as a bulleted or numbered list.

Articles were included if they met all of the following criteria: (a) based on empirical research, (b) included an abstract, (c) targeted new graduates within one year of graduation, (d) contained sufficient detail describing the formal new graduate nurse transition program, (e) focused on acute care settings, and (f) published in English.

Numbered Lists: Use a numbered list to display complete sentences or paragraphs where a specific order or numbered procedure is necessary. In terms of format, use a number (Arabic numeral directly followed by a period, then the first word of the entry should be capitalized and then end each sentence with a period or other punctuation.

EXAMPLE
The recipe said to:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together the brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract.
3. Add the almond flour, salt, baking soda, chocolate chips and mix.

Bulleted Lists: Numbered lists may imply unwanted chronology or priority among the items (i.e. is #1 may be seen as more important than #2), to order items without these implications use bullets instead. Bullets may take the form of small circles, squares, or dashes - be consistent throughout. There are some formatting rules depending on if the items in your list are complete sentences or not or if they are long and complex. 

Complete sentences: If items in your bulleted list are complete sentences begin them with capital letters and end with a period.

EXAMPLE
There are several formatting tips that APA provides for the essay title on the title page:
●  Your title should be bolded, centered, and be 3-4 lines (double spaced) down from the top margin of the paper.
●  There should be a double-spaced blank line between the title and the author(s) names.
●  The paper title should also appear at the top of the first page of your paper.

Incomplete sentences: If items in your bulleted list are incomplete sentences, sentence fragments or short phrases, begin each item with a lowercase letter and use no punctuation after the items (see below). Please see page 191 of The Manual for additional guidance on how to format lists with longer phrases or a mix of phrases and complete sentences.

EXAMPLE
Each child at the birthday party received the following:
●  a large soft drink
●  three slices of pizza
●  a small tummy ache

(APA, 2020, pp. 189-191)

Tables and figures

Only include tables and figures in your essay if the information can not be communicated in the text of your paper. Tables are generally used to show numerical or textual information while figures tend to be more graphical representations such as a chart, graph, photograph, or drawing. The APA Manual devotes a considerable amount of the manual to providing formatting guidance for tables (see pages 195-224) as well as figures (see pages 225-250). See below for some common formatting tips.  

Numbers and Titles: Each table and/or figure that you place in your paper is numbered consecutively (Table 1., Table 2., etc). Number your tables and figures in the order they are first mentioned in your text beginning with Table (or Figure) 1. Table or figure numbers should be in bold and flush to the left one double-spaced line above the table or figure title. Titles for tables and figures should be brief, clear, and explanatory. The titles of table and figures are italicized and flush left and in title case (e.g. Reasons Why Individuals Like Wine).

Referring to Them in the Text: In your paper refer to every table or figure that you have inserted. Do not write "the figure above" or "the table below" or "the figure on page 4." Instead refer to the table or figure number and use this as an opportunity to tell your reader what to look for eg. "as shown in Figure 1 there is a clear correlation ..." or "... of the results of the testing (see Table 1)." In general only refer to the table or figure number and not the title.

Reprinting or Adapting: If you did not create the table or figure yourself, for instance if you found it on the internet, you must include a copyright attribution in a note below the table or figure. A copyright attribution is used instead of an in-text citation. In addition, each work should also be listed in the reference list. Please see pages 390-391 in the Manual for example copyright attributions.

Placement: Figures and tables may be placed either within the text of your paper or all together at the end of your document after the reference list. In either location tables and figures should be aligned to the left margin (not centered). When embedding in the text position them after a paragraph break, preferably the paragraph in which they are referred to, with a double spaced blank line between the table or figure and the text. If you are choosing to include figures and tables after your reference list place each one on a separate page.

Notes: Notes are placed flush left below the table or figure. Introduce notes with an italicize Note followed by a period. These notes contain information to clarify the contents of the figure or table. Notes can be general, specific, and probability. Please refer to page 203 in the Manual for more information regarding table notes and page 229 for figure notes. 

Table Formatting: Ensure each column in your table has a heading. Capitalize only the first letter of the first word of all headings. Headings should not be much wider than the widest entry. In general you would include solid horizontal;lines in your table above and below the headings and after the last row. Do not include vertical lines between the columns or boxes around individual cells.

Figure Formatting: Use a simple sans serif font such as Arial or Calibri with font size no smaller than 8 points and no larger than 14. Axis labels on graphs should be parallel to their axes in title case. You may use colour but try to limit the number of different shades. Avoid the use of grid lines and 3-D effects. Figure legends explain symbols, line styles, etc., and are integral to understanding the figure and should use the same lettering that appear in the rest of the figure. Legends should be within or below the image and words in the legend should use title case.

EXAMPLE

Please see the Sample Tables and Sample Figures pages from the APA Style website for specific examples of how to format different types of tables and figures.

Long quotes

If you are using a direct quote from a source and the quote is 40 or more words in length there are special formatting considerations. You will need to treat it as a block that is not enclosed by quotation marks within the body of your narrative. Instead, the block should start on a new line and be indented 0.5 in. from the left margin. The block quote should be double spaced with no additional space before or after the block. As you would for a shorter quotation you should cite either the author and year before the quotation in your narrative with the page number(s) appearing after, or cite the author, year, and page number(s) in a parenthetical citation after the quotation. An important difference between short quotes and quotes over 40 words is that whatever element of the citation you place after the quote it is placed after the quotation's final punctuation.

Block Quotation with Parenthetical Citation:

Researchers have investigated the effects of new graduate nurse transition programs:

While the quality of existing evidence was quite variable, it was clear that new graduate nurse transition programs ease the move from student to practitioner. Perhaps the most significant finding of this review was the strong influence of bundled strategies that enhanced the quality of preceptor support and positively influenced the new graduate nurse transition experience. (Rush et al., 2019, p. 156)

Block Quotation with Narrative Citation:

Rush et al., (2019) described the evidence regarding the effects of new graduate nurse transition programs:

While the quality of existing evidence was quite variable, it was clear that new graduate nurse transition programs ease the move from student to practitioner. Perhaps the most significant finding of this review was the strong influence of bundled strategies that enhanced the quality of preceptor support and positively influenced the new graduate nurse transition experience. (p. 156)

(APA, 2020, pp. 272-273)

Repeated citations

As a rule you should include author(s) and the date for every in-text citation. However, if you are citing from the same source within the same paragraph repeatedly you do not need to repeat the year in subsequent narrative citations. Please note that this does not apply to parenthetical citations where you must continue to include the year. In the example below note that the first time the source is cited in the paragraph as part of the sentence, the citation of the author’s name and year are used but when it is used a second time the year is not included.

EXAMPLE

In a comprehensive review of the literature Pesut et al. (2020) identified a relative lack of literature in light of the expansion of euthanasia internationally. However, Pesut et al. did report that of the literature available a broad range of positions for nurses to consider as they reflect on their own participation in medical assistance in dying was available.

(APA, 2020, p. 265)

Citing specific parts of a source

To cite parts of sources where page numbers are not readily available include an author-date citation plus information about the specific part you are referring to. Sources without page numbers include, but are not limited to: paragraphs on webpages, tables, figures, footnotes, timestamp of videos or podcasts as well as slide numbers in PowerPoint presentations. For religious works with numbered parts (e.g. chapters, verses, etc.) cite the part instead of a page number.

EXAMPLE

(Lomness, 2020, para 2)
(King James Bible, 1769/2017, 1 Cor. 13:1)
(Nancy Holmes, 2020, 9:32)
(Shakespeare, 1623/1995, 1.3.36-37).

(APA, 2020, p. 264)