This guide is intended as an introduction to the American Psychological Association (APA) Style for references and citations. Be sure to consult the Publication Manual of the APA or the APA Style website for detailed standards and procedures.
As a general rule, use APA style in psychology, education, and other social sciences.
How-to Create References: Journal articles and other periodicals, Books and reference works, Edited book chapters and entries in reference works
When you reference another source use an in-text citation in the body of your paper (or in a table, figure, footnote, or appendix) to briefly identify the cited work. APA Style uses the author–date citation system, in which a brief in-text citation directs readers to a full reference list entry.
In-text citations may be parenthetical or narrative.
The author name and publication date appear in parentheses.
The author name is incorporated into the text as part of the sentence and the year follows in parentheses.
(American Psychological Association [APA], 2020)
(Author's Last Name, Year).
Example: (Spring, 2018)
A quotation is when you replicate another author's work or your own previously published work word-for-word. In APA style, a page number is necessary when using quotes.
If a quotation is less than 40 words, it is considered a short quotation and should be integrated into your text and enclosed within double quotation marks. Any sentence punctuation goes after the closing parenthesis of the citation.
If you're directly quoting more than 40 words, use a blockquote. Block quotes don't need quotation marks. Instead, indent the text 1/2" as a visual cue that you are citing. The parenthetical citation goes after the punctuation of the quote.
Tip: Use direct quotes sparingly! Focus on summarizing the findings from multiple research studies. In the sciences and social sciences, only use the exact phrasing or argument of an individual when necessary.
Paraphrasing or summarizing the main findings or takeaways from a research article is the preferred method of citing sources in an APA paper. Always include the last name of the author(s) and the year of the article, so your reader can find the full citation in the reference list. Page numbers are not needed in APA style when paraphrasing or summarizing.
In-text citations differ depending on the number of authors listed for a work, and if there is a group author.
The following table shows the basic in-text citation styles:
|Parenthetical citation||Narrative citation|
(McGuigan & Lehrer, 2007)
McGuigan & Lehrer (2007)
|Three or more authors||
(Scherwitz et al., 2005)
Scherwitz et al. (2005)
Group author with abbreviation
First citation *
(National Association of Social Workers [NASW], 2008)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW, 2008)
|Group author without abbreviation||
(Freebird Meditations, 2012)
Freebird Meditations (2012)
*State the acronym for a group author only once in the text, using either the parenthetical or the narrative format. Afterward, use the abbreviation for all mentions of the group in the text. Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.
Include the complete citation at the end of your paper in a references section. References are organized by the author's last name in alphabetic (A-Z) order. Use an hanging indent to separate each list item.
References for all works follow the pattern of author, date, title, and source.
Additionally, references follow one of two format patterns.
Works that stand alone use the italic title format pattern.
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date). Title of the work. Source where you can retrieve the work. URL or DOI if available
Works that are part of a greater whole use the italic source format pattern.
Author, A. A. (Publication Date). Title of the work. Source where you can retrieve the work. DOI or URL if available
Each document type in the Publication Manual (e.g., journal article, book, webpage) uses only one format pattern.
If citing a...
Ashing‐Giwa, K. T., Padilla, G., Tejero, J., Kraemer, J., Wright, K., Coscarelli, A., Clayton, S., Williams, I., & Hills, D. (2004). Understanding the breast cancer experience of women: A qualitative study of African American, Asian American, Latina and Caucasian cancer survivors. Psycho‐Oncology, 13(6), 408-428. https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.750
Note: Use this format to cite articles from online newspapers (i.e. New York Times, Washington Post). Treat articles from online news sites (i.e. NPR, CNN) like a webpage.
Shine, T. M. (2021, June 29). The Great American Reboot. The Washington Post Magazine. https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2021/06/29/i-went-las-vegas-test-whether-i-was-really-ready-life-other-side-pandemic/?itid=sf_lifestyle-magazine
Schmidt, N. A., & Brown, J. M. (2017). Evidence-based practice for nurses: Appraisal and application of research (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC.
McCormack, B., McCance, T., & Maben, J. (2013). Outcome evaluation in the development of person-centred practice. In B. McCormack, K. Manley, & A. Titchen (Eds.), Practice development in nursing and healthcare (pp. 190-211). John Wiley & Sons.
Kennedy, M. (2018, October 15). To prevent wildfires, PG&E pre-emptively cuts power to thousands in California. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2018/10/15/657468903/to-prevent-wildfires-pg-e-preemptively-cuts-power-to-thousands-in-california
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Preventing HPV-associated cancers. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/basic_info/prevention.htm/
Los Angeles County Deptartment of Public Health. (2017, January). Key indicators of health by service planning area. http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/ha/
Valentin, E. R. (2019, Summer). Narcissism predicted by Snapchat selfie sharing, filter usage, and editing [Master's thesis, California State University Dominguez Hills]. CSU ScholarWorks. https://scholarworks.calstate.edu/concern/theses/3197xm925?locale=en
For information about citing images visit Finding and Using Image Resources.
The APA Publication Manual, 7th Edition specifies conventions for formatting papers. Below are sample papers formatted in APA 7 style.
Learn how to format your essay properly, following the APA Guidelines (7th ed.).
This page was created by Erica Huff with excerpts from CSUDH University Library's Citation Guide used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
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