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APA Citation Style (7th Edition)

Reference List Basics

The guidelines on this page will help get you started. Consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition (in print: PE 1475 A52 2020), the APA style website, and the rest of this guide for more information and examples. 

General

  • A reference is made up of 4 elements: author, date, title and source.
  • List the sources you quoted or paraphrased in the text of the paper (with some exceptions).
  • References are arranged alphabetically by the authors' last names.
  • Double-space all entries.
  • Use hanging indent paragraph style: after the first line of each citation, indent 0.5" from the left margin.

Author

  • Authors' names are entered as follows: surname first, with initials for first and middle names, separated by commas, with an ampersand (&) before the last author's name. 
  • The “author” may be an editor, artist, group, etc. (Spell out corporate/group authors in full - no acronyms.)
  • If a resource has no author listed, the first word of the title goes in the author position, alphabetically in the list (ignoring initial articles such as A, The, An, etc.).

(See sections 9.7 to 9.12 of the APA Publication Manual, 7th ed.)

Date

  • The publication date format depends on the type of resource:
    • books, journals, and multimedia - include the year the item was published or produced; 
    • newspapers and magazines - give the year and exact date (2008, June 5).
  • If no date is available, use (n.d.).
  • An online retrieval date is only required for sources that are likely to change, such as Twitter profiles or Facebook pages.

(See sections 9.13 to 9.17 of the APA Publication Manual, 7th ed.)

Title

  • Capitalize only the first word in the title, proper nouns, and the first word after a colon or semicolon (sentence case); italicize the title.
  • For periodical / journal titles, capitalize all major words (title case); italicize the title and volume number.
  • For sources in other formats, include the description in square brackets. For example, Sophie's choice [Film].

(See sections 9.18 to 9.22 of the APA Publication Manual, 7th ed.)

Source

  • Electronic sources require a DOI or a URL. (For works in a library database with no DOI, only include the URL if specified by your instructor.)
  • Give the full names of book publishers, omitting endings such as "Co." or "Inc." Include "Books" or "Press" if part of the name. The publisher location is not required.
  • Use the abbreviation "p." or "pp." before page numbers for book chapters. For journal article page numbers, do not use "p." or "pp."

(See sections 9.23 to 9.37 of the APA Publication Manual, 7th ed.)

Reference List Exceptions

Every source cited in the text of your paper should have a corresponding entry in your reference list, with a few exceptions.

Personal communications:

include only an in-text citation formatted as follows: (T. Jones, personal communication, April 30, 2019).

Entire websites, social media feeds:

include the URL in parentheses, for example: (https://www.library.ualberta.ca/).

NOTE: If you are citing a particular webpage, tweet or Facebook post (rather than the site or feed as a whole), a reference list entry is required. See our page on citing Web Resources.