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References in APA Style

The following guidelines for APA-style references come from Chapters 6 and 7 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 6th ed. Where applicable, the manual sections are included in brackets.

Periodicals - Print Format

In academia, a periodical is a resource like a journal that contains several articles by numerous authors. Each volume or issue is published regularly, typically by an organization comprised of experts in a field who review and edit the work before publication. [7.01]

Author, A. A. (Publication Date). Full title of the article: Including subtitle. Title of Periodical, volume (issue), first page-last page. doi:xx.xxxxxxxxxxx

  • For guidelines on how to format multiple authors, see the section on books.
  • Write out the full month: (2018, February 20)
  • Article Title: Only capitalize the first word, the first word after a colon, and proper nouns. Do not use quotation marks or other special formatting. [6.29]
  • Periodical Title: Italicize the periodical title and capitalize all major words. [6.29]
  • Journal of American Nutrition, 5,
  • Journal of Consumer Psychology, 16 (4),
  • Page Range: Include the first and last page of the source without “p.” or “pp.” except for newspaper articles. [7.01]
  • DOI: The doi, digital object identifier, is an identifying number for journal articles. [6.31]

Books – Print Format

Beyond traditional texts like reference, course, or discipline-specific books, use the following guidelines when referencing a chapter from a book like an edited book, a collection of article-length works by different authors in one text. [7.02]

Author, A. A. (Publication Year). Full title of the book: Including subtitle. Location: Publisher.

  • Use the ampersand (&) in place of the word “and” before the final author when there is more than one.
  • If a source has eight or more authors, include the first six, insert an ellipsis, and then include the final author’s name.
  • If the author is identified as anonymous, use that word in place of an author’s name.
  • If no author is identified, move the source’s title to the author position before the date followed by a period.
  • Publication Year: Include the year in parentheses followed by a period. [6.28]
  • Book: The essential Aldo Leopold: Quotations and commentaries
  • Book Chapter: Wildlife ecology and management: Building the foundations of wildlife conservation
  • Location: Include city and country or city and U.S. state abbreviation. [6.30]
  • Publisher: Identify publishers by title, excluding terms like company or incorporated. [6.30]

Electronic Sources

Electronic sources fall into two basic categories: those with print versions like electronic books and those without print forms like websites, blogs, podcasts, or films. For most sources with print versions, include the same information as a print source (see the book and periodical sections), a brief description of the format/medium in brackets, and the URL or doi if available. [6.31]

For purely electronic sources like webpages, discussion board comments, or audio files, include as much information as possible so a reader can find the source. Because the APA manual does not provide specific guidelines for all electronic material, follow the recommendations for similar sources.

  • Producer, P. P. (Producer), Director, D. D. (Director), & Writer, W. W. (Writer)
  • If none of this information is available, use the source’s title in place of the author.
  • Dates for electronic sources (posting date, copyright, update, etc.) can change like when an organization updates a page or removes content. Always check source content before submitting the document to ensure readers can find the material. [6.32]
  • Use n.d. when no date is available.
  • Retrieval Date: Do not include the date you found the source unless, as with wikis, the information may change over time. [6.32]
  • Be careful to distinguish between website and webpage titles, e.g. the difference between Wikipedia and a specific Wikipedia entry on nanotechnology.
  • Common forms include: [Audio podcast], [Video file], [Online forum], [Web log] (blog), [Electronic mailing list], [DVD], [Motion picture], [CD], [PowerPoint slides], [Computer software], [Tape recording], [Lecture notes], etc.
  • Database: Do not include database (EBSCOhost, Google Scholar, ERIC, etc.) information in most cases. [6.32]
  • Do not stylize (underline, color in blue, etc.) the URL, and do not include a period after it. [6.32]
  • Check links before submission so readers can find the material.

Reference List Order

Use the following guidelines when organizing sources in a reference list. [6.25]

  • Alphabetize: Alphabetize sources according to the first significant word in each entry: first author’s last name, first word in an organization title, first significant word in a source title, etc.
  • Same First Author: When using several sources by the same first author, formatting depends on the number of authors the source has and how many are the same.

Take Quiz MLA Works Cited

  • Punctuation
  • Organization
  • General Document Format
  • Formatting Visuals
  • In-text Citations
  • Bias-free Language
  • Formal and Informal Style
  • Sentence Structure

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Reference List: Basic Rules

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This resourse, revised according to the 7 th  edition APA Publication Manual, offers basic guidelines for formatting the reference list at the end of a standard APA research paper. Most sources follow fairly straightforward rules. However, because sources obtained from academic journals  carry special weight in research writing, these sources are subject to special rules . Thus, this page presents basic guidelines for citing academic journals separate from its "ordinary" basic guidelines. This distinction is made clear below.

Note:  Because the information on this page pertains to virtually all citations, we've highlighted one important difference between APA 6 and APA 7 with an underlined note written in red.  For more information, please consult the   Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , (7 th  ed.).

Formatting a Reference List

Your reference list should appear at the end of your paper. It provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source you cite in the body of the paper. Each source you cite in the paper must appear in your reference list; likewise, each entry in the reference list must be cited in your text.

Your references should begin on a new page separate from the text of the essay; label this page "References" in bold, centered at the top of the page (do NOT underline or use quotation marks for the title). All text should be double-spaced just like the rest of your essay.

Basic Rules for Most Sources

  • All lines after the first line of each entry in your reference list should be indented one-half inch from the left margin. This is called hanging indentation.
  • All authors' names should be inverted (i.e., last names should be provided first).
  • For example, the reference entry for a source written by Jane Marie Smith would begin with "Smith, J. M."
  • If a middle name isn't available, just initialize the author's first name: "Smith, J."
  • Give the last name and first/middle initials for all authors of a particular work up to and including 20 authors ( this is a new rule, as APA 6 only required the first six authors ). Separate each author’s initials from the next author in the list with a comma. Use an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name. If there are 21 or more authors, use an ellipsis (but no ampersand) after the 19th author, and then add the final author’s name.
  • Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.
  • For multiple articles by the same author, or authors listed in the same order, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to most recent.
  • Note again that the titles of academic journals are subject to special rules. See section below.
  • Italicize titles of longer works (e.g., books, edited collections, names of newspapers, and so on).
  • Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as chapters in books or essays in edited collections.

Basic Rules for Articles in Academic Journals

  • Present journal titles in full.
  • Italicize journal titles.
  • For example, you should use  PhiloSOPHIA  instead of  Philosophia,  or  Past & Present   instead of  Past and Present.
  • This distinction is based on the type of source being cited. Academic journal titles have all major words capitalized, while other sources' titles do not.
  • Capitalize   the first word of the titles and subtitles of   journal articles , as well as the   first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and   any proper nouns .
  • Do not italicize or underline the article title.
  • Deep blue: The mysteries of the Marianas Trench.
  • Oceanographic Study: A Peer-Reviewed Publication

Please note:  While the APA manual provides examples of how to cite common types of sources, it does not cover all conceivable sources. If you must cite a source that APA does not address, the APA suggests finding an example that is similar to your source and using that format. For more information, see page 282 of the   Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 7 th  ed.

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APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.) | Generator, Template, Examples

Published on November 6, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on August 23, 2022.

The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual provides guidelines for clear communication , citing sources , and formatting documents. This article focuses on paper formatting.

Generate accurate APA citations with Scribbr

Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines:

  • Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Double-space all text, including headings.
  • Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches.
  • Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.).
  • Include a page number on every page.

APA format (7th edition)

Let an expert format your paper

Our APA formatting experts can help you to format your paper according to APA guidelines. They can help you with:

  • Margins, line spacing, and indentation
  • Font and headings
  • Running head and page numbering

writing apa style references

Table of contents

How to set up apa format (with template), apa alphabetization guidelines, apa format template [free download], page header, headings and subheadings, reference page, tables and figures, frequently asked questions about apa format.

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writing apa style references

References are ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name. If the author is unknown, order the reference entry by the first meaningful word of the title (ignoring articles: “the”, “a”, or “an”).

Why set up APA format from scratch if you can download Scribbr’s template for free?

Student papers and professional papers have slightly different guidelines regarding the title page, abstract, and running head. Our template is available in Word and Google Docs format for both versions.

  • Student paper: Word | Google Docs
  • Professional paper: Word | Google Docs

In an APA Style paper, every page has a page header. For student papers, the page header usually consists of just a page number in the page’s top-right corner. For professional papers intended for publication, it also includes a running head .

A running head is simply the paper’s title in all capital letters. It is left-aligned and can be up to 50 characters in length. Longer titles are abbreviated .

APA running head (7th edition)

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

APA headings have five possible levels. Heading level 1 is used for main sections such as “ Methods ” or “ Results ”. Heading levels 2 to 5 are used for subheadings. Each heading level is formatted differently.

Want to know how many heading levels you should use, when to use which heading level, and how to set up heading styles in Word or Google Docs? Then check out our in-depth article on APA headings .

APA headings (7th edition)

The title page is the first page of an APA Style paper. There are different guidelines for student and professional papers.

Both versions include the paper title and author’s name and affiliation. The student version includes the course number and name, instructor name, and due date of the assignment. The professional version includes an author note and running head .

For more information on writing a striking title, crediting multiple authors (with different affiliations), and writing the author note, check out our in-depth article on the APA title page .

APA title page - student version (7th edition)

The abstract is a 150–250 word summary of your paper. An abstract is usually required in professional papers, but it’s rare to include one in student papers (except for longer texts like theses and dissertations).

The abstract is placed on a separate page after the title page . At the top of the page, write the section label “Abstract” (bold and centered). The contents of the abstract appear directly under the label. Unlike regular paragraphs, the first line is not indented. Abstracts are usually written as a single paragraph without headings or blank lines.

Directly below the abstract, you may list three to five relevant keywords . On a new line, write the label “Keywords:” (italicized and indented), followed by the keywords in lowercase letters, separated by commas.

APA abstract (7th edition)

APA Style does not provide guidelines for formatting the table of contents . It’s also not a required paper element in either professional or student papers. If your instructor wants you to include a table of contents, it’s best to follow the general guidelines.

Place the table of contents on a separate page between the abstract and introduction. Write the section label “Contents” at the top (bold and centered), press “Enter” once, and list the important headings with corresponding page numbers.

The APA reference page is placed after the main body of your paper but before any appendices . Here you list all sources that you’ve cited in your paper (through APA in-text citations ). APA provides guidelines for formatting the references as well as the page itself.

Creating APA Style references

Play around with the Scribbr Citation Example Generator below to learn about the APA reference format of the most common source types or generate APA citations for free with Scribbr’s APA Citation Generator .

Formatting the reference page

Write the section label “References” at the top of a new page (bold and centered). Place the reference entries directly under the label in alphabetical order.

Finally, apply a hanging indent , meaning the first line of each reference is left-aligned, and all subsequent lines are indented 0.5 inches.

APA reference page (7th edition)

Tables and figures are presented in a similar format. They’re preceded by a number and title and followed by explanatory notes (if necessary).

Use bold styling for the word “Table” or “Figure” and the number, and place the title on a separate line directly below it (in italics and title case). Try to keep tables clean; don’t use any vertical lines, use as few horizontal lines as possible, and keep row and column labels concise.

Keep the design of figures as simple as possible. Include labels and a legend if needed, and only use color when necessary (not to make it look more appealing).

Check out our in-depth article about table and figure notes to learn when to use notes and how to format them.

APA table (7th edition)

The easiest way to set up APA format in Word is to download Scribbr’s free APA format template for student papers or professional papers.

Alternatively, you can watch Scribbr’s 5-minute step-by-step tutorial or check out our APA format guide with examples.

APA Style papers should be written in a font that is legible and widely accessible. For example:

  • Times New Roman (12pt.)
  • Arial (11pt.)
  • Calibri (11pt.)
  • Georgia (11pt.)

The same font and font size is used throughout the document, including the running head , page numbers, headings , and the reference page . Text in footnotes and figure images may be smaller and use single line spacing.

You need an APA in-text citation and reference entry . Each source type has its own format; for example, a webpage citation is different from a book citation .

Use Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator to generate flawless citations in seconds or take a look at our APA citation examples .

Yes, page numbers are included on all pages, including the title page , table of contents , and reference page . Page numbers should be right-aligned in the page header.

To insert page numbers in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, click ‘Insert’ and then ‘Page number’.

APA format is widely used by professionals, researchers, and students in the social and behavioral sciences, including fields like education, psychology, and business.

Be sure to check the guidelines of your university or the journal you want to be published in to double-check which style you should be using.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Streefkerk, R. (2022, August 23). APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.) | Generator, Template, Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from

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APA Style 7th Edition

  • Single Author
  • Two Authors
  • Three to 20 Authors
  • More Than 20 Authors
  • Hyphenated Name
  • Hyphenated Surname
  • Two-part Surname
  • Names with Suffixes such as Jr. and III
  • Author - Malay Names (without family names)
  • Author - Chinese Names
  • Author - Chinese Names with English Names
  • Author - Indian & Sikh Names (without surname / family name)
  • Inherited Names
  • Conferred titles
  • Local Government Institution as Author
  • Foreign Government Institution as Author
  • Unique Corporate Body Names
  • Organization as Author
  • Group Authors (If more than one organization as author)
  • Conference Names with Numbers
  • Author Unavailable
  • Page Numbers
  • Narrative Citations
  • Parenthetical Citations
  • Combining Citations

Articles in Periodicals


  • Secondary Source

Government Document

  • Private Organization Report
  • Conference Papers
  • Electronic Source
  • Webpages and Websites

Computer Software / Mobile Apps

Other Non-Print Sources

Social Media

Reference Format

Electronic Sources

Basic Format for Books

1 Author : 

Author Surname / Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial.  (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for 

     subtitle. Publisher

2 Authors :

Author, A. A. &  Author,   B. B.     (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Publisher

With Edition :

Author,  A . A.,  & Author, B. B.   (Year or publication) .  Title of book   (edition).  Publisher.

Article or Chapter in an Edited Book :

Author, A. A. , & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. In A. Editor & B. Editor (Eds.), Title of book

     (pages of chapter). Publisher.

Author, A. A. (Date of publication). Title of book. Publisher. m/full/url/.

The APA style dictates that authors are named last name followed by initials; publication year goes between parentheses, followed by a period. The title of the article is in sentence-case, meaning only the first word and proper nouns in the title are capitalized. The periodical title is run in title case, and is followed by the volume number which, with the title, is also italicized or underlined.

Journals paginated by issue begin with page one in every issue. Therefore, the issue number gets indicated in parentheses after the volume. The parentheses and issue number are not italicized or underlined.

Author , A. A. , Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article . Title of Periodical , volume number  (issue number),


Author Surname,  Initials.,  &  Author, B. B.  (Year of Publication).   Title of article.  Title of Encyclopedia.  Publisher.



Author Last Name,  Initials.  (Year of Publication).   Title of article.  In Author or Editor  with (Ed.) or (Eds.),  Title of

     Encyclopedia  (Vols. xx, pp. xx-xx). Publisher.

Work Discussed in a Secondary Source

Author Last Name, A. A. , & Author Last Name, B. B. (Year of Publication). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume

     number (issue number), pages.

If the author is sub-division use as the author and mention the parent organization.

When the author / organization and the website name are the same, omit the website name.

Report from a Private Organization

Author & publisher same.

Omit the publisher from the reference to avoid repetition.

Conference Paper

Article with DOI:

Author Surname / Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Date of publication) . Title of article. Title of Journal, volume

     number, page range. 0

Article without DOI:

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Online Periodical, volume number (issue

     number if available).http://www.somead

Magazine Article (Online)

Author,  A. A.   (Date of publication).  Title of article.   Title of Magazine. m/fullurl

Newspaper Article (Online)

Author,  A. A.   (Date of publication).  Title of article.   Title of Newspaper,  page number(s),


Webpage & Website

Author or Group name. (Date of publication). Title of page . Site name (if applicable).


Author, A. A., & Author, B. B (Date of publication). Title of work (Version) [Computer software/Mobile app]. Publisher. m/full/url/

Interviews fall into three categories: published interviews, personal interviews, and research participant interviews. However, only published interviews require a formal citation in your reference list. To cite a published interview, follow the format for the reference type (e.g., magazine article, podcast episode). Cite a personal interview as a personal communication.

Personal Communications

Any communication that cannot be directly retrieved by a reader is considered “personal communication.” Emails, phone conversations, text messages, and social media messages are all examples of personal communication.

Example :  (E. Robbins, personal communication, January 4, 2020).

Audiovisual Media

Audiovisual media may have both visual and audio components (e.g., films, TV shows, youTube videos), audio components only (e.g., music, speech recordings) or visual components only (e.g., artwork, PowerPoint slides, photographs). The reference examples are divided into those categories and follow the same format.

Producer, P. P. (Producer), & Director , D.D . (Director). (Date of publication) . Title of work [Description]. P roduction

     company. URL

Audio Works

Describe the audio work in square brackets--for example, "[Audio podcast episode]," "[Song]," and so forth in the title element of the reference. In the source element, provide the name of the label for music albums or singles; or the name of the streaming site that hosts an audio podcast. If you want to reproduce an audio work rather than just cite it, you may need to seek permission from the copyright owner.

Visual Works

Online Media / Social Media

Cite only original content from social media sites as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and so forth. Social media posts may contain text only, text with audiovisuals (e.g., photos, videos), or audiovisuals alone.

Author , A. A. [@username]. (Year, Month Date). Content of the post up to the first 20 words [Tweet]. Site Name . URL

Twitter Profile

Author, A. A . [@username]. (n.d.). Tweets [Twitter profile]. Retrieved Month Date, Year , from URL

Facebook Post

Au th or , A. A. [@username]. (Year, Month Date). Facebook [Status update]. Retrieved Month Date, Year, from URL

Facebook Page

Author , A. A . [@username]. (n.d.). Facebook [Facebook page]. Retrieved Month Date, Year, from URL

Instagram, Photo or Video

Author , A. A. [@username]. (Year, Month Date). Content of the post up to the first 20 words. [Video/Photograph]. Site

     Name. https://xxxxxx

Instagram Highlight

Name of Group [@username]. (n.d.). Highlight title [Highlight]. Instagram. Retrieved Month Date, Year, from


Online Forum Post

Author , A. A. & Name of Group [username]. (Year, Month Date). Title of post [Online forum post]. Publisher. m/full/url/.

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