APA Citation Guide

Andrew Newman
Updated on

Usually, students in the field of social sciences use the American Psychological Association (APA) style to cite their sources. APA is typically used in research papers in the discipline of economics, sociology, political science, social psychology, and social anthropology.

This blog will provide particular directions on ways of organizing and appropriately citing various types of sources in APA format – along with citation illustrations. If you wish to live up to high academic standards, avoid plagiarism, and cite your sources according to the latest APA style rules, this guide will aid you in doing that.

The following guide is based on the most recent 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

APA Referencing Basics: Reference List

The list of all the sources one has used in a paper is called a reference list. As different citation styles such as MLA and Chicago name their lists as works cited and bibliography respectively, APA calls it a reference list. There are particular rules regarding organizing the reference list you need to follow in order to make it easier for a reader to navigate your essay and look for cited sources:

  • First, the reference page should always be last in your essay. At the top of the page, place the word “references” and center it. Make it boldface. Ensure that the text on this page should have double-spacing like the rest of the essay.
  • In the reference list, first appears the author’s last name followed by the first name.
  • Every source on the reference page must start on a new line. In case the source occupies more than one line, all the lines following the first one must be indented one-half inch from the left.
  • At all times, write each title in full, ensure to stick to punctuation and capitalizations used by the author.
  • Suppose there are multiple works by the same author; they should be listed in chronological order, from the earliest to the latest.
  • This new edition expects students to add the URL or DOI’s of all the sources in the reference list.
  • The label “DOI” is no longer used for entries that include DOI.
  • The word retrieved from should be used when adding the URL and DOI.
  • The sources should be arranged in alphabetic order on the reference page according to the authors’ last names ( or the first author, if there are multiple authors for one source).
  • Titles of lengthier sources, like books and journals, should be italicized.

APA Referencing Basics: In-Text Citation

  • Two authors. An in-text citation entails naming both authors in the parentheses once the idea is completed. Rather than using “and,” use an ampersand (&) to join the two last names. Afterward, add a coma and incorporate the year of publication.

Example

(James & Kameron, 2014)

In case you decide to use a signal phrase, you should use “and” and only put the year of publication in parentheses:

Example :

According to James & Kameron (2014), the religious writings were based on…

  • Three, four, or five authors. All authors should be listed irrespective of whether you decide to do an in-text citation or signal phrase while citing your quote or information. List all of them except the last one -using commas. The last one should have a comma and ampersand in front of it, followed by the year:

Example:

(Brown, Herbert, Shakespeare, & Donne, 2018)

In case you cite the authors for the second time, include the first name followed by “et al.” and the year rather than listing all of the authors:

Example:

(Brown et al., 2018)

  • Six or more authors. You are not required to list all of the authors in the in-text citation in such a case. Instead, in the parentheses or a signal phrase, put the last name of the first author and “et al.” followed with the year. This is the right way to do an in-text citation for a publication with multiple authors:

Example:

(Milton et al. (2018) argue that…

(Milton et al., 2018)

  • No authors. In a circumstance where some of your sources do not have an author, you should do the in-text citation using the name of the publication. You should include the two first words of the source’s name in quotation marks in parentheses, followed by the year. This also applies to signal phrase in-text citation, but without the use of parenthesis.

Example:

Corporate wear the company’s brand image and professionalism (“The Benefits, 2016)

  • Citing authors with multiple works from the same year. In an exceptional case where you are citing multiple works by the one author that also have the same publication date, you should use lower-case letters after the year (a, b, c, etc.)-depending on the order the sources are put in the reference list:

Example:

The research suggests that family income also plays a role in a child’s education (James, 2015a).

James’s research also suggests (2015b)…

  • Citing multiple works in one parenthesis. If the information you paraphrased originates from a combination of different sources, you need to incorporate all of them in the parentheses of your in-text citation. You should arrange them in alphabetical order similar to that rendered in the reference list:

Example:

(Milton, 2015; James, 2018)

  • Citing a group or organization. In a case where the author of a publication is not an individual instead of an organization or group, you should include the full name of the organization, along with the year of publication, in the parentheses of your in-text citation:

Example:

According to the World Health Organization(2020), washing hands and wearing masks prevent the spread of the Corona Virus.

Social distancing is another way of curbing the pandemic (WHO, 2020).

  • Citing a secondary source. To cite a source found within another source, you should name your source in the signal phrase. Afterward, mention the secondary source in parentheses, followed by the phrase “as cited,” the year of publication and the page number:

Example:

Brown recommends that…(as cited in Kameron,2014, p.45)

Below is a vivid illustration of how you mention sources in the signal phrase as well as the parentheses for the first time in the paper.

Below is a vivid illustration of how you mention sources in the signal phrase as well as the parentheses for the second time in the paper.

How to Cite Different Source Types

This section will guide you on how to cite different printed and digital sources.

How to Cite a Book in APA Format

  • Citing a book in print. Citing a book follows this particular format:

Author, A.A.(Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letters also for subtitles. Location: Publisher.

First and foremost, write the author’s last name, followed by a comma, then initial (s). In the parenthesis, put the year of publication. Afterward, the title of the book. Italicize the title, ensuring that the only capitalized letters are the first letters of the title and subtitle. Then you should include the location of where the book was published, along with the publisher, separated by a semicolon:

Citation example:

Kiyosaki, R.T (2017). Rich Dad Poor Dad[ 2nd Edition].Scottsdale, AZ; Plata Publishing.

  • Citing an e-book from an e-reader. Suppose your source is a book from an e-reader like Sony Reader, Nook, or the Kindle, the following information has to be included: the author, date of publication in parentheses, title, e-book version, and the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number or place where you downloaded the book. This information is used instead of the information of the publisher.

Citation example:

Housel, M. (2020). The psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, greed, and happiness [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

  • Citing a book found in a database. For example, suppose the book you are using in your essay comes from a school library database or an online database, you should cite it in the following format: the author’s last name, initial (s ), italicized name of the publication, “retrieved from,” followed by a link to the website. If the book you are using has to be purchased, we recommend using “available from” instead of “retrieved from.”

Citation Example:

De-Puff, E.W.(n.d.). Indian Lifestyle: Traditions and myths. Retrieved from https :// digital.library.sdsu.edu/indians.html

How to Cite a Journal Article in APA Format 

  • Citing a journal article in print. You should follow this specific format when citing a printed article: author with initial (s), date of publication in parenthesis, title, journal’s name (italicized), volume number (italicized), issue number, and the page range:

Citation Example:

Scraton, J.(2008). The eclipse of understanding. The New Yorker Style, 21(4), 5-13.

  • Citing a journal article found online. According to the APA format guide, suppose the journal article was found online, the following format should be used: author with initial (s), date of publication in parentheses, title, journal’s name, volume number (italicized), issue number, page range, and DOI.

A DOI, or Digital Object Identifier, is a tool used in the APA format rather than a URL. This is because URLs usually change, resulting in the readers not retrieving a specific online source. On the other hand, DOIs have a long-lasting link that is unique to a particular article. Therefore, the use of URLs is permitted when the DOI is unavailable.

Author, B.B., & Author, C.C.(Date of application). Title of article. Title of Journal, Volume number (issue number, if available), page range. DOI: 0000000/00000000 or https: doi.org/10.000/0000

Citation example:

Miles, C.(2009). French economics: An annotated bibliography. European Journal of Marketing, 41, 1245-1283. doi: 10.1980/030906710821161

How to Reference a Newspaper in APA Format

  • Citing a newspaper article in print. Following the APA format guide, an article retrieved from a newspaper in print should be cited as follows: Author, year and month of publication, the name of the article, the name of the newspaper (italicized), and pages;

Citation example:

Brown, K. (2010, June 23). Fields have grown to thrive. The Country Today, pp. 1A, 2A.

  • Citing a newspaper article found online is similar to a printed version, although the home address should be added. APA style format guidelines recommend using the homepage rather than the URL itself:

Author, C.C.(Year, Month Day ). Title of the article. Title of Newspaper. Retrieved from: https://www.Homeadress.com/

Example:

Harrison, G.(2012, August 2). Criminal justice newsletter. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://well.blogs.Nytimes. Com/

How to Reference a Magazine in APA Format

  • Citing a magazine article in print. According to the APA format guide, a magazine article in print is required to have the following structure: author, year and month of publication in parenthesis, the article’s title, the magazine’s name (italicized), issue number (italicized), and the page range:

Citation example:

Bush, C.C.,(2020, April). Online learning in schools. Time, 135, 36-46.

  • Citing a magazine article found online. Following the APA format guide, a magazine article found online should consist of these various elements: author, year and month of publication parenthesis, the article’s name, the magazine’s name (italicized), issue number (italicized), and page range, followed by DOI:

Author, C.C.,& Author, D, D., (Date of publication). Title of the article. Magazine’s name, issue number, page range. doi: 000000/00000000 or https://doi.org /11.0000/0000

Citation Example:

Laney, K.G.,( 2017, July). Cursive writing in elementary schools. Time, 143, 34-45.doi:10.1108/030935692378900

How to Cite a Movie/Film in APA Format

  • Citation a film/ citing a movie. In case you used a film as a source in your paper, it might be challenging to cite it. To do this according to the APA format guide, you need to add the following information in the reference page: producer’s name-followed by “producer” in parenthesis, director’s name -followed by “director” in the parenthesis, date of publication in parenthesis, title (italicized) followed by “motion picture” in brackets, country of origin and lastly, studio.

Producer, G.G.(producer), & Director, D.D (Director).(Date of publication). Motion picture’s title[ Motion picture]. Country of origin: Studio or distributor.

Citation example:

Washington, D., Black, T., & Wolf, D. (producers),  Wolfe, G.C.(Director). (2020). Ma Rainey’s black bottom[ Motion picture]. United States: Netflix

  • Citing a film from Youtube. If you come across a Youtube video that has relevant information about your paper, do not fail to include it. Based on the APA format guide, you should begin with the name of the person who published the video, followed by their nickname or username in brackets, date of publication in parentheses, the video’s name italicized, and the type of media in brackets, and the URL for it.

Last Name, F.M.[Username].(Year, Month Date). Title of video [Video file]. Retrieved from URL

Citation example:

Apolon, M .[marsolon].(2011, October 9). The tape 14 [Video file]. Retrieved from : https://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=6nyGC848/

How to Cite a T.V./Radio Broadcast in APA Format

  • Citing an episode from T.V. or a radio show. The following format should be followed when citing an episode from a T.V. or radio show: writer’s last name and initial(s), followed by (Director); the year of publication in parenthesis; the name of the episode; type of series; producer’s name, followed by (Producer); italicized title; city and state of origin; and studio or distributor’s name:

Writer, W.W.(Writer), & Director, D.D.(Director). (Date of publication). Title of episode[ Television series episode]. In P.Producer (Producer), Series title. City, state of origin: Studio or distributor.

Citation example:

Dick, L(Writer), & Yaitanes, G.(Director).(2009). Simple explanation[Television series episode]. In P. Attanasio(Executive producer), House, M.D.Los Angeles, CA: Fox Broadcasting.

How to Cite a Website in APA Format

  • Citing a website article with an author. For example, in a case where the article doesn’t originate from a magazine, newspaper of any type of periodical, according to the APA format guide, you should cite it as follows: author, date of publication in parenthesis, title, format description, and “retrieved from” with the URL:

Author, C.C. & Author, D.D.( Date of publication). Title page [format description when necessary]. Retrieved from https://www.someaddress.com/full/url/.

Citation example:

Eco, U.(2015). How to write a thesis [PDF file]. (Farina C.M. & Farina F., Trans.)

Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/How -to-write-a-thesis/…/Umberto +Eco-How+to+Write/

  • Citing a website without an author. Suppose the article does not have an author, cite it with the name of the page, date in parenthesis or “n.d” for “no date, “and retrieved from” with the URL:

Citation example:

Spotlight Resources. (n.d). Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/about/information/spotlight-resources.html/

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