A Comprehensive Guide to APA Citations and Format
Overview of this Guide:
This page provides you with an overview of APA format. Included is information about referencing, various citation formats with examples for each source type, and other helpful information.
If you’re looking for MLA format, check out Citation Machine’s MLA Guide. Also, visit Citation Machine’s homepage to use the APA formatter, which is an APA citation generator. See more across the site.
Being Responsible While Researching
When you’re writing a research paper or creating a research project, you will probably use another individual’s work to help develop your own assignment. A good researcher or scholar uses another individual’s work in a responsible way. This involves indicating that the work of other individuals is included in your project, which is one way to prevent plagiarism.
Plagiarism? What is it?
The word plagiarism is derived from the latin word, plagiare, which means “to kidnap.” The term has evolved over the years to now mean the act of taking another individual’s work and using it as your own, without acknowledging the original author. Be careful of plagiarism! Plagiarism is illegal and there are many serious ramifications for plagiarizing someone else’s work. Thankfully, plagiarism can be prevented. One way it can be prevented is by including citations in your research project. Want to make these citations quickly and easily? Try Citation Machine’s automatic citation generator, which is found on our homepage.
All about Citations
Citations should be included in research projects, or any added anytime you use another individual’s work in your own assignment. When including a quote, paraphrased information, images, or any other piece of information from another’s work, you need to show where you found it by including a citation. This guide explains how to make citations.
There are two types of APA citations. The first type of citation, which is called in-text, or parenthetical citations, are included when you’re adding information from another individual’s work into your own project. When you add text word-for-word from another source into your project or take information from another source and place it in your own words and writing style (known as paraphrasing), you must make an in-text citation. These citations are short in length and are placed in the main part of your project, directly after the borrowed information.
The other type of citations, which are called reference citations, are found at the end of your research project, usually on the last page. Included on this reference list page are the full citations for any in-text citations found in the body of the project. These citations are listed in alphabetical order, one after the other.
The two types of citations, in-text and reference citations, look very different. In-text citations include three items: the last name(s) of the author, the year the source was published, and the page or location of the information. Reference citations include more information such as the name of the author(s), the year the source was published, the title of the source, and the URL or page range.
Why is it Important to Include Citations?
Including citations in your research projects is a very important component of the research process. When you include citations, you’re being a responsible researcher. You’re showing readers that you were able to find valuable, high-quality information from other sources, place them into your project where appropriate, all while acknowledging the original authors and their work.
Information About APA
Who Created It?
The American Psychological Association is an organization created for individuals in the psychology field. With close to 116,000 members, they provide educational opportunities, funding, guidance, and research information for everything psychology related. They also have numerous high-quality databases, peer-reviewed journals, and books that revolve around mental health.
The American Psychological Association is also credited with creating their own specific citation style, which is a popular way to create citations. This citation format is used by individuals not only in the psychology field, but many other subject areas as well. Education, economics, business, and social sciences also use this citation style quite frequently. Click here for more information.
Why Was This Style Created?
This format was first developed in 1929 in order to form a standardized way for researchers in the science fields to document their sources. Prior to the inception of these standards and guidelines, individuals were recognizing the work of other authors by including bits and pieces of information, in random order. There wasn’t a set way to format citations. You can probably imagine how difficult it was to understand the sources that were used for research projects!
Having a standard format for citing sources allows readers to glance at a citation and easily locate the title, author, year published, and other critical pieces of information needed to understand a source.
Click here to learn more about why the American Psychological Association created this citation style.
The Evolution Of This Style
This citation style is currently in its 6th edition and was released in 2009. In previous versions of APA format, researchers and scholars were required to include the date that an electronic resource was accessed. In addition, names of databases were included, and only the name of the city was included in the publication information.
Now, it is no longer required to include the date of access as well as the name of the database in an APA citation. The full location, including the city AND state (or the city and country if it’s an international publisher) is included in the citation.
In 2013, the American Psychological Association released a revised manual just for electronic resources. This was released due to the increase in the amount of technological advances and resources.
The Appearance of Citations
There are two types of citations: in-text (or parenthetical citations) and complete reference citations.
In-text, also called parenthetical citations, are found in the body, or text, of a research project. They’re included after a direct quote or paraphrase. See the next section below to learn more about how to format and include in-text citations in your project.
Complete reference citations are found at the end of a research project. These reference citations are longer and include all of the information needed to locate the source yourself. Full citations for all of the in-text citations are found here.
The format for citations varies, but some use this general format:
Author’s Last name, First initial. (Date published). Title. Retrieved from URL
Researchers and scholars must look up the proper citation format for the source that they’re attempting to cite. Books have a certain format, websites have a different format, periodicals have a different format, and so on. Scroll down to find the proper format for the source you’re citing.
If you would like to cite your sources automatically, Citation Machine is a citation generator that will make the citation process much easier for you.
In-Text & Parenthetical Citations
In-text, or parenthetical citations, are included in research projects in three instances: When using a direct quote, paraphrasing information, or simply referring to a piece of information from another source.
Quite often, researchers and scholars use a small amount of text, word for word, from another source and include it in their own research projects. This is done for many reasons. Sometimes, another author’s words are so eloquently written that there isn’t a better way to rephrase it yourself. Other times, the author’s words can help prove a point or establish an understanding for something in your research project. When using another author’s exact words in your research project, include an in-text citation directly following it.
In addition to using the exact words from another source and placing them into your project, in-text citations are also added anytime you paraphrase information. Paraphrasing is when you take information from another source and rephrase it, in your own words.
When simply referring to another piece of information from another source, also include an in-text citation directly following it.
In-text citations are found after a direct quote, paraphrased information, or reference. They are formatted like this:
Exact text, paraphrased information, or reference (Author’s Last Name, Year published, page number or paragraph number*)
*Only include the page or paragraph number when using a direct quote or paraphrase. This information is included in order to help the reader locate the exact portion of text themselves. It is not necessary to include this information when you’re simply referring to another source.
Here’s are some examples of in-text citations:
“Well, you’re about to enter the land of the free and the brave. And I don’t know how you got that stamp on your passport. The priest must know someone” (Tóibín, 2009, p. 52).
Student teachers who use technology in their lessons tend to continue using technology tools throughout their teaching careers (Kent & Giles, 2017).
If including the author’s name in the sentence, only include the year in the in-text citation.
According to a study done by Kent and Giles (2017), student teachers who use technology in their lessons tend to continue using technology tools throughout their teaching careers.
The full references, or citations, for these sources can be found on the last part of a research project, titled the “Reference List.”
While this guide’s intent is to help you understand and develop citations on your own, there are many citation tools available on Citation Machine. Head to our homepage to learn more.
Click here to learn more about crediting work.
Reference List Citation Components
As stated above, reference list citations are the full citations for all of the in-text citations found in the body of a research project. These full citations are listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last names. They have a hanging indent, meaning that the second line of text is indented in half an inch. See examples below to see what a hanging indent looks like.
The format for citations varies based on the source type, but some citations use this general format:
Author’s Last name, First initial. (Date published). Title. Retrieved from URL
Learn more about each component of the reference citation and how to format it in the sections that follow.
The names of authors are written in reverse order. Include the initials for the first and middle names. End this information with a period.
Last name, F. M.
Doyle, A. C.
Two or More Authors
When two or more authors work together on a source, write them in the order in which they appear on the source, using this format:
Last name, F. M., Last name, F. M., Last name, F. M., Last name, F. M., & Last name, F. M.
Kent, A. G., & Giles, R. M. Thorpe, A., Lukes, R., Bever, D. J, & He, Y.
If there are 8 or more authors listed on a source, only include the first 6 authors, add three ellipses, and then add the last author’s name.
Roberts, A., Johnson, M. C., Klein, J., Cheng, E. V., Sherman, A., Levin, K. K. , ...Lopez, G. S.
If you plan on using a free APA citation tool, such as Citation Machine, the names of the authors will format properly for you.
Directly after the author’s name is the date the source was published. Include the full date for newspapers, the month and year for magazine articles, and only the year for journals and all other sources. If no date is found on the source, include the initials, n.d. for “no date.”
Narducci, M. (2017, May 19). City renames part of 11th Street Ed Snider Way to honor Flyers founder. The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved from http://www.philly.com/
If using Citation Machine, our citation generator will add the correct format for you automatically.
When writing out titles for books, articles, chapters, or other nonperiodical sources, only capitalize the first word of the title and the first word of the subtitle. Names of people, places, organizations, and other proper nouns also have the first letter capitalized.
For books and reports, italicize the title in the citation.
Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Roots: The saga of an American family.
For articles and chapters in APA referencing, do not italicize the title.
Wake up the nation: Public libraries, policy making, and political discourse.
For newspapers, magazines, journals, newsletters, and other periodicals, capitalize the first letter in each word and italicize the title.
The Seattle Times.
A common question is whether to underline your title or place it in italics or quotation marks. In this citation style, titles are never underlined or placed in quotation marks. They are either placed in italics or not. Here’s a good general rule: When a source sits alone and is not part of a larger whole, place the title in italics. If the source does not sit alone and is part of a larger whole, do not place it in italics.
Books, movies, journals, and television shows are placed in italics since they stand alone. Songs on an album, episodes of television shows, chapters in books, and articles in journals are not placed in italics since they are smaller pieces of larger wholes.
Citation Machine’s citation generator will format the title in your citations automatically.
Additional Information about the Title
If you feel it would be helpful to include additional information about the source type, include this information in brackets immediately following the title. Use a brief descriptive term and capitalize the first letter.
Kennedy, K., & Molen, G. R. (Producers), & Spielberg, S. (Director). (1993). Jurassic Park [Motion picture]. USA: Universal.
Besides [Motion picture], other common notations include:
- [Audio podcast]
- [Letter to the editor]
- [Television series episode]
- [Facebook page]
- [Blog post]
- [Lecture notes]
- [PowerPoint presentation]
- [Video file]
If you are using Citation Machine, additional information about the title is automatically added for you.
Information About the Publication
For books and reports, include the city and state, or the city and country, of the publisher’s location.
- Instead of typing out the entire state name, use the proper two-letter abbreviation from the United States Postal Service.
- Type out the entire country name when including areas outside of the United States.
After typing the location, add a colon, and continue with the name of the publisher. It is not necessary to include the entire name of the publisher. It is acceptable to use a brief, intelligible form. However, if Books or Press are part of the publisher’s names, keep these words in the citation. Other common terms, such as Inc., Co., Publishers, and others can be omitted.
For newspapers, journals, magazines, and other periodicals, include the volume and issue number after the title. The volume number is listed first, by itself, in italics. The issue number is in parentheses immediately after it, not italicized.
Giannoukos, G., Besas, G., Hictour, V., & Georgas, T. (2016). A study on the role of computers in adult education. Educational Research and Reviews, 11(9), 907-923. http://dx.doi.org/10.5897/ERR2016.2688
If the publisher is a college or university, and the location name matches part of the school’s information, exclude the publisher information from the citation.
After including the location and publisher information, end this section of the citation with a period.
London, England: Pearson.
New York, NY: Perseus Books.
Electronic Source Information:
For online sources, the URL or DOI (Direct Object Identifier) are included at the end of a citation.
DOI numbers are often created by publishers for journal articles and other periodical sources. They were created in response to the problem of broken or outdated links and URLs. When a journal article is assigned a DOI number, it is static, and will never change. Because of its permanent characteristic, DOIs are the preferred type of electronic information to include in APA citations. When a DOI number is not available, include the source’s URL.
For DOIs, include the number in this format:
For URLs, type them in this format:
Retrieved from http://
Other information about electronic sources:
- If the URL is longer than a line, break it up before a punctuation mark.
- Do not place a period at the end of the citation.
- It is not necessary to include retrieval dates, unless the source changes often over time (like in a Wikipedia article).
- It is not necessary to include the names of databases
If using Citation Machine to develop your citation, the online publication information will be automatically replaced by the DOI. Citation Machine will properly cite your online sources for you.
Click here for more information about the basics of APA.
Citation Examples for Sources
Print Books with One Author:
Author Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year Published). Title of work. Location: Publisher.
Dickens, C. (1942). Great expectations. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead.
Print Books with Two or More Authors:
Last name, First initial. Middle initial., Last name, First initial. Middle initial., & Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Date). Title. Location: Publisher.
Goldin, C. D., & Katz, L. F. (2008). The race between education and technology. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Matthews, G., Smith, Y., & Knowles, G. (2009). Disaster management in archives, libraries and museums. Farnham, England: Ashgate.
Chapters in Books:
When citing a chapter in an edited book, use the following format:
Structure for Chapters in Edited Books in Print:
Last name of chapter author, First initial. Middle initial. (Year published). Chapter title. In First initial. Middle initial. Last name of Editor (Ed.), Book Title (pp. xx-xx). Publishing City, State: Publisher.
Example for Chapters in Edited Books in Print:
De Abreu, B.S. (2001). The role of media literacy education within social networking and the library. In D. E. Agosto & J. Abbas (Eds.), Teens, libraries, and social networking (pp. 39-48). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Structure for Chapters in Edited Books, found Online:
Last name of chapter author, First initial. Middle initial. (Year published). Chapter title. In First initial. Last name of Editor (Ed.), Book title [E-reader version, if used] (pp. xx-xx). doi:10.xxxx/xxxxxx or Retrieved from http://xxxx
Example for Chapters in Edited Books, found Online:
Lobo, R. F. (2003). Introduction to the structural chemistry of zeolites. In S. Auerbach, K. Carrado, & P. Dutta (Eds.), Handbook of zeolite science and technology (pp. 65-89). Retrieved from https://books.google.com
If you’re still unsure about how to cite a chapter in a book, use Citation Machine’s free citation generator to help you. Your citations will automatically format properly for you.
E-Books Found on a Website:
Author Last Name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year Published). Title of work [E-reader version]. http://dx.doi.org/xxxx or Retrieved from http://xxxx
Auster, P. (2007). The Brooklyn follies [Nook version]. Retrieved from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/
E-Books found on a Database:
- Only the first letter of the first word and any proper nouns in the title should be capitalized.
- A DOI (digital object identifier) is basically a number that links a source to its location on the Internet. This number isn’t always provided, but if it is, it’s very important to include it in your citation.
Author Last Name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year Published). Title of work. http://dx.doi.org/xxxx or Retrieved from http://xxxx
Baloh, P., & Burke, M. E. (2007). Attaining organizational innovations. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-72804-9_30
To cite your e-books automatically, use the “Book” form on Citation Machine, click “Manual entry mode,” and click the “E-book” tab. Citation Machine formats your citation properly following APA bibliography guidelines.
Journal articles in Print:
Author Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year Published). Title of article. Title of Periodical, Volume(Issue), page range.
Gleditsch, N. P., Pinker, S., Thayer, B. A., Levy, J. S., & Thompson, W. R. (2013). The forum: The decline of war. International Studies Review, 15(3), 396-419.
Journal Articles Online:
- If your source is found online, but there is no DOI provided, you can include the URL instead.
- A DOI (digital object identifier) is basically a number that links a source to its location on the Internet. This number isn’t always provided, but if it is, you should include it in your citation rather than including a URL.
- Unlike previous editions, the 6th edition does not require including a retrieval date or date accessed for online sources. A retrieval date is only necessary if the source is likely to change (ex. Wikipedia).
Author Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year Published). Title of article. Title of Periodical, Volume(Issue), page range. http://dx.doi.org/xxxx
Sahin, N. T., Pinker, S., Cash, S. S., Schomer, D., & Halgren, E. (2009). Sequential processing of lexical, grammatical, and phonological information within Broca’s area. Science, 326(5951), 445-449. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sicence.1174481
If you need additional help citing your journal articles, our APA reference generator will cite your sources automatically for you.
Newspaper Articles in Print:
Author's Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year, Month Day Published). Title of article. Title of Newspaper, page range.
Frost, L. (2006, September 14). First passengers ride monster jet. The Salt Lake Tribune, p. A2.
Page numbers: If the article is only one page long, use ‘p.’ For any articles longer than one page, use ‘pp.’
- If an article appears on non-sequential pages, separate each page number with a comma.
- Example: pp. D4, D5, D7-D8
Newspaper Articles found Online:
Author Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year, Month Date Published). Title of article. Title of Newspaper. Retrieved from newspaper homepage URL
Whiteside, K. (2004, August 31). College athletes want cut of action. USA Today. Retrieved http://www.usatoday.com
Magazine Articles in Print:
Author Last Name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year, Month Published). Title of article. Title of Magazine, Volume(Issue), page range.
Quammen, D. (2008, December). The man who wasn’t Darwin. National Geographic Magazine, 214(6), 106.
Author Last Name, First initial. (Year, Month Date Published). Title of webpage. Retrieved from URL
Example of an APA format website:
Austerlitz, S. (2015, March 3). How long can a spinoff like ‘Better Call Saul’ last? Retrieved from http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-long-can-a-spinoff-like-better-call-saul-last/
Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year, Month, Date of blog post). Title of blog post [Blog post]. Retrieved from URL
McClintock Miller, S. (2014, January 28). EasyBib joins the Rainbow Loom project as we dive into research with the third graders [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://vanmeterlibraryvoice.blogspot.com
On Citation Machine’s form for blogs, you have the option to choose from standard, audio, and video blogs. Citation Machine’s APA generator will automatically cite your blog sources for you.
TV and Radio Broadcasts
Writer Last Name, First initial. Middle initial. (Writer), & Director Last Name, First initial. (Director). (Year aired). Title of episode [Television or Radio series episode]. In First initial. Producer’s Last name (Executive producer), TV or Radio series name. City, State of original channel: Channel.
Lin, K. (Writer), & Coles, J. D. (Director). (2014). Chapter 18 [Television series episode]. In Bays, C. (Executive producer), House of cards. Washington, D.C.: Netflix.
If using Citation Machine’s citation generator, television and radio broadcasts use the same form.
Producer Last Name, First initial. Middle initial. (Producer), & Director Last Name, First initial. Middle initial. (Director). (Year Released). Title of film [Motion picture]. Country of origin: Studio.
Kurtz, G. (Producer), & Kershner, I. (Director). (1980). The emperor strikes back [Motion picture]. United States: 20th Century Fox.
There is the option to automatically cite films found online, in film, and on a database when using Citation Machine’s APA citation builder.
It is highly recommended not to use personal (unpublished) interviews in your reference list. Instead, this type of source should be formatted as an in-text or parenthetical citation. Here is an example of an in-text citation for a personal interview:
Structure: (Interviewee First initial., Last Name, personal communication, Date Interviewed)
Example: (D. Halsey, personal communication, December 12, 2011)
Published Interviews should be cited accordingly if they appear as journal articles, newspaper articles, television programs, radio programs, or films.
If your instructor requires a citation in the reference list, use the following structure:
Last Name, First initial. Middle initial. of Individual being interviewed (Year, Month Day Interviewed). Interview by F. I. Last name [Format of interview].
Halsey, D. (2011, December 12). Interview by S. L. Ferguson [In-person].
If you are planning on using Citation Machine, a note is displayed above the form stating that personal interviews are not typically cited in text.
Songs & Musical Recordings found Online
*Note: If the name of the songwriter is the same as the name of the recording artist, leave out the bracketed information located after the name of the song.
Last name, First initial. Middle initial. of Songwriter. (Year created). Song title [Recorded by First initial. Middle initial. Last name of the performer’s name or the name of the band]. On Album Title [Medium]. Retrieved from URL
Hedfors, A., Ingrosso, S., & Angello, S. (2012). Greyhound [Recorded by Swedish House Mafia]. On Until Now [Audio file]. Retrieved from https://open.spotify.com/track/0VffaI2jwQknRrxpECYHsF
If using Citation Machine, choose the form titled, “Music/Audio,” to automatically cite your songs and musical recordings. Our APA citation maker is free and easy to use.
Doctoral Dissertations found on a Database:
Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year published). Title of dissertation or thesis (Doctoral dissertation or Master’s thesis). Retrieved from Name of database. (Accession or Order No. xxxxxxx).
English, L. S. (2014). The influences of community college library characteristics on institutional graduation rates: A national study (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from American Doctoral Dissertations. (37CDD15DF659E63F).
If using Citation Machine, there is a form for dissertations that will automatically cite this source type for you.
Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Producer). (Year, Month Day). Title of podcast [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from URL
Goodwin, G. (Producer). (2016, February 11). History extra [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.historyextra.com/podcasts
If using Citation Machine’s APA format generator, choose the “Blog/Podcast,” form to cite your podcasts automatically.
Last name, First initial. Middle initial. [YouTube username]. (Year, Month Day of posting). Title of YouTube video [Video file]. Retrieved from URL
Damien, M. [Marcelo Damien]. (2014, April 10). Tiesto @ Ultra Buenos Aires 2014 (full set) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/mr4TDnR0ScM
If using our APA citation machine, choose the form titled, “Film” to automatically cite your YouTube videos.
Looking for a source type that is not on this guide? Here is another useful link to follow.
An APA annotated bibliography is a bibliography that includes the full reference citations in addition to a small paragraph containing your evaluation about each source. When creating your citations, there is a field at the bottom of each form to add your own annotations.
Looking to create an APA format title page? Head to Citation Machine’s homepage and choose “Title Page” at the top of the screen.
Click here for further reading on the style.
Find out more about the apa format
Add a citation after a quote
On the References tab , in the Citations & Bibliography group, click the arrow next to Style.
Click the style that you want to use for the citation and source.
Click at the end of the sentence or phrase that you want to cite.
Click Insert Citation and then select Add New Source.
In the Create Source box, type in the citation details, and then click OK.
When you've completed these steps, the citation is added to the list of available citations. The next time you quote this reference, you don't have to type it all out again, just click Insert Citation and select the citation you want to use.
Create a bibliography from your sources
If you want to create a bibliography from your sources, do the following:
Click where you want to insert a bibliography. Typically, they are at the end of a document.
On the References tab, in the Citations & Bibliography group, click Bibliography.
Similar to the Table of Contents builder in Word, you can select a predesigned bibliography format that includes a title, or you can just click Insert Bibliography to add the citation without a title.
If you want to learn more about using citation placeholders and editing sources, take a look at Create a bibliography. Or, if you want to export your bibliography sources to another computer, check out this post on the Microsoft Word blog.