APA is the most commonly used to cite sources for health sciences and social sciences fields. This guide, revised according to the 7th edition of the APA manual, offers examples for in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and your reference list or bibliography page.
Why should I cite my sources?
To see examples of citations for multiple source types, see the handout APA Quick Sheet.
Papers constructed according to APA guidelines generally include the following elements:
In most cases, each of these elements will begin on a separate page, and it is important to note that not all academic papers will include all of these elements. Watch this short video from Excelsior OWL for set-by-step instructions on formatting an APA paper.
How you cite a working within your document varies depending on your writing style, whether you are quoting your source directly, and the type of source you are quoting.
In APA format, follow the author, date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, e.g., (Jones, 1998), and a complete reference should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.
If you are referring to an idea from another work but not directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference.
Here are some examples of in-text citations:
If you are directly quoting from a work, include the author, year of publication, and the page number for the reference (preceded by "p."). Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.
According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (p. 199). Jones (1998) found "students often had difficulty using APA style" (p. 199); what implications does this have for teachers? If the author is not named in a signal phrase, place the author's last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation. She stated, "Students often had difficulty using APA style," (Jones, 1998, p. 199), but she did not offer an explanation as to why.
Direct quotations longer than 40 words should be in a free-standing block of typewritten lines, and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented five spaces from the left margin. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation five spaces from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.
Jones's (1998) study found the following:
Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time citing sources. (p. 199)
When paraphrasing, make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference, but APA guidelines encourage you to also provide the page number (not required.)
According to Jones (1998), APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners.
APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (Jones, 1998, p. 199).
Two Authors: Name both authors in the signal phrase or in the parentheses each time you cite the work. Use the word "and" between the authors' names within the text and use the ampersand in the parentheses.
Three to Five Authors: List all the authors in the signal phrase or in parentheses the first time you cite the source.
In subsequent citations, only use the first author's last name followed by "et al." in the signal phrase or in parentheses.
Six or More Authors: Use the first author's name followed by et al. in the signal phrase or in parentheses.
Unknown Author: If the work does not have an author, cite the source by its title in the signal phrase or use the first word or two in the parentheses. Titles of books and reports are italicized or underlined; titles of articles and chapters are in quotation marks.
Organization as an Author: If the author is an organization or a government agency, mention the organization in the signal phrase or in the parenthetical citation the first time you cite the source.
If the organization has a well-known abbreviation, include the abbreviation in brackets the first time the source is cited and then use only the abbreviation in later citations.
Two or More Works in the Same Parentheses: When your parenthetical citation includes two or more works, order them the same way they appear in the reference list, separated by a semi-colon.
Personal Communication: For interviews, letters, e-mails, and other person-to-person communication, cite the communicator's name, the fact that it was personal communication, and the date of the communication. Do not include personal communication in the reference list.
If you use a source that was cited in another source, name the original source in your signal phrase. List the secondary source in your reference list and include the secondary source in the parentheses.
Note: When citing material in parentheses, set off the citation with a comma, as above.
When an electronic source lacks page numbers, you should try to include information that will help readers find the passage being cited. When an electronic document has numbered paragraphs, use the ¶ symbol, or the abbreviation "para." followed by the paragraph number (Hall, 2001, ¶ 5) or (Hall, 2001, para. 5). If the paragraphs are not numbered and the document includes headings, provide the appropriate heading and specify the paragraph under that heading. Note that in some electronic sources, like Web pages, people can use the Find function in their browser to locate any passages you cite.
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