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APA Citation Guide

A brief guide to using the APA Citation Style, with links to further resources.

Creating a Reference List

See Chapter 9, Reference List, pages 281-309 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

The reference list at the end of a paper provides the information necessary to identify and retrieve each work cited in the text. A reference list in APA style is different from a bibliography. Include only reference to sources cited in your paper.  Proper citations usually include the author, publication date, title, and publisher information.

Format of the Reference List

See section 9.43 on pp. 303-309 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

The following guidelines will help you properly format your reference list in APA style:

  • Begin the reference list on a new page after the text.
  • Place the section label "References" in bold at the top of the page, centered.
  • Order the reference list entries alphabetically by author. 
  • Double-space the entire reference list (both within and between entries).
  • Apply a hanging indent of 0.5 in. to each reference list entry, meaning that the first line of the reference list is flush left and subsequent lines are indented 0.5 in. from the left margin. Use the paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program to apply the hanging indent. 

Four Elements of a Reference

See "Basic Principles of Reference List Entries" from the APA Style Blog or sections 9.4-9.6 on pp. 283-285 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

A reference generally has four elements, author, date, title, and source. Each element answers a question:

  • Author: Who is responsible for this work?
  • Date: When was this work published?
  • Title: What is this work called?
  • Source: Where can I retrieve this work? 

Examples of where to find reference information for a journal article

From "Basic Principles of Reference List Entries" by the American Psychological Association, 2020, APA Style Blog. Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association. 

Format of Individual Author Names

See "Elements of Reference List Entries" from the APA Style Blog or sections 9.7-9.12 on pp. 285-289 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Format all individual author names in the reference list by providing the surname first, followed by a comma and the author's initials. 

One author: 

Use one space between initials 

Author, A. A.

Two authors:

Use a comma to separate an author's initials from additional authors names. Use an ampersand (&) before the final author's name. 

Author, A. A., & Author B. B. 

Three to 20 authors:

Provide surnames and initials for up to and including 20 authors. 

Author, A. A., Author B. B., & Author C. C.

21 or more authors:

When there are 21 or more authors, include the first 19 authors' names, insert an ellipsis (but no ampersand), and then add the final author's name. 

Author, A. A., Author B. B., Author, C. C., Author, D. D., Author, E. E., Author, F. F., Author, G. G., Author, H. H., Author, I. I., Author, J. J., Author, K. K., Author, L, L, Author, M. M., Author, N. N., Author, O. O., Author, P. P., Author, Q. Q., Author, R. R., Author, S. S., ... Author, Z. Z.