Your Ultimate APA Format Guide & Generator
What is APA?
APA stands for the American Psychological Association, which is an organization that focuses on psychology. They are responsible for creating APA Style.
What is APA Citing?
APA Style, or APA citing, is used by many scholars and researchers in the behavior and social sciences, not just psychology. APA Style is a way to format citations. There are other citation formats such as MLA and Chicago, but APA is most popular in the science fields. Following the same standard format for citations allows readers to understand the types of sources used in a project and also understand their components.
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is currently in its 6th edition. It outlines proper ways to organize and structure a research paper, explains grammar guidelines, and also how to properly cite sources. This page focuses on how to create APA citations.
We cite sources for many reasons. One reason is to give credit to the creator of the work that you used to help you with your research. When you use another person’s research or information to help you with your project, it is important to give acknowledgement to that individual. This is one way to prevent plagiarism. Another reason why we create citations is to provide a standard way for others to understand and possibly explore the sources we used. To learn more about citations, check out this page on crediting work. Click here to learn more on how to be careful of plagiarism.
What does APA Style look like?
There are two types of citations in APA. In-text citations are found in the body of the project and are used when adding a direct quote or paraphrase into your work. Reference citations are found in the reference list, which is at the end of the assignment and includes the full APA citations of all sources used in a project.
Depending on the types of sources that you used for your project, the format you use for your citations is different for each source type. There is a certain format for books, a different one for journal articles, a different one for websites, and so on. Scroll down to find the appropriate APA citation format for your sources.
Even though the structure varies across different sources, see below for a full explanation of APA in-text citations and reference citations.
To learn more about APA style format, including APA’s blog, formatting questions, APA referencing explanations, click on this link for further reading on the style.
APA Citing Basics
In Text Citations Overview:
When using a direct quote or paraphrasing information from a source, include an in-text citation in the body of your project, immediately following it.
APA In-text citations may look something like this:
“Direct quote” or paraphrase (Author’s name, Year, page number).
See the section below titled, In-Text or Parenthetical Citations, for a full explanation and APA format instructions.
Full APA Citations Overview:
Each source used to help with the gathering of research or information for your project is listed as a full citation in the reference list, which is usually the last part of a project.
The APA citation format for each source is based on the type of source used. Scroll down to see examples of some common source formats.
Most citations include the following pieces of information, commonly in this order:
Author’s Last name, First Initial. (Date published). Title of Source. Location of Publisher: Publisher. Retrieved from URL
To determine the exact format for your full APA citations, scroll down to the section titled, “Common ALA Examples.”
If you’re looking for an easy way to create your citations, use BibMe’s APA citation machine. Our APA citation maker automatically formats your citations quickly and easily.
APA Citation Components:
How to Structure Authors in APA:
Authors are displayed in reverse order: Last name, First initial, Middle initial, followed with a period.
In an APA citation, include all authors shown on a source. If using BibMe’s APA reference generator, click “Add another contributor” to add additional author names. Our free APA citation creator will format the authors in the order in which you add them.
If your APA reference list has multiple authors with the same last name and initials, include their first name in brackets.
Brooks, G. [Geraldine]. (2005). March.
Brooks, G. [Gwendolyn]. (1949). Annie Allen.
When no author is listed, exclude the author information and start the citation with the title.
When citing an entire edited book, place the names of editors in the author position and follow it with Ed. or Eds. in parentheses. See below for examples of citing edited books in their entirety and also chapters in edited books.
How to Structure Publication Dates in APA:
Place the date that the source was published in parentheses after the name of the author. For periodicals, include the month and day as well. If no date is available, place n.d. in parentheses.
How to Structure the Title in APA:
For book titles: Only capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title and the same for the subtitle in your APA citation. Capitalize the first letter for any proper nouns as well. Place this information in italics. End it with a period.
Example: Gone with the wind.
For articles and chapter titles: Only capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title and the same for the subtitle. Capitalize the first letter for any proper nouns as well. Do not italicize the title or place it in quotation marks. End it with a period.
Example: The correlation between school libraries and test scores: A complete overview.
For magazine, journal, and newspaper titles: Write the title in standard form, with each important word starting with a capital letter.
The Boston Globe
If you believe that it will help the reader to understand the type of source, such as a brochure, lecture notes, or an audio podcast, place a description directly after the title. Only capitalize the first letter.
New World Punx. (2014, February 15). A state of trance 650 [Audio file]. Retrieved from https://soundcloud.com/newworldpunx/asot650utrecht
How to Structure Publication Information in APA:
For books and sources that are not periodicals: Give the city and state (or city and country if outside of the U.S.) for the place of publication. Abbreviate the state name using the two-letter abbreviation. Place a colon after the location.
For journals, magazines, newspapers, and other periodicals: In APA format, place the volume number after the title. Italicize this information. Place the issue number in parentheses and do not italicize it. Afterwards, include page numbers.
Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 57(1), 79-82.
If you’re citing a newspaper article, include p. or pp. before the page numbers.
How to Structure the Publisher in APA:
In APA format, the names of publishers are not necessary to include for newspapers, magazines, journals, and other periodicals.
For books and other sources: It is not necessary to type out the name of the publisher exactly as it is shown on the source. Use a brief, but understandable form of the publisher’s name. Exclude the terms publishers, company, and incorporated. Include Books and Press if it is part of the publisher’s name. End this information with a period.
Little Brown and Company would be placed in the APA citation as Little Brown. Oxford University Press would be placed in the citation as Oxford University Press
How to Structure Online sources:
For sources found online, after the publication information, add a period. Then, add: Retrieved from URL
Do not place a period after the URL.
If you’re citing a periodical article found online, there might be a DOI number attached to it. This stands for Direct Object Identifier. If your article does indeed have a DOI number, use this instead of the URL as the DOI number is static and never changes. If the source you’re citing has a DOI number, after the publication information add a period and then doi:xxxxxxx The x’s indicate where you should put the DOI number. Do not place a period after the DOI number. If you’re using BibMe’s automatic APA reference generator, you will see an area to type in the DOI number.
Lobo, F. (2017, February 23). Sony just launched the world’s fastest SD card. Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2017/02/23/sony-sf-g-fastest-sd-card/?utm_cid=mash-prod-nav-sub-st#ErZKV8blqOqO
Chadwell, F.A., Fisher, D.M. (2016 April-June). Creating open textbooks: A unique partnership between Oregon State University libraries and press and open Oregon State. Open Praxis, 8(2), 123-130. doi:EJ1103945
APA Citations Format and Examples:
Citations for Print Books:
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year published). Title of book.
Saenz, B.A. (2012). Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe.
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Citations for E-Books found online:
Author’s Last name, F.M. (Year published). Title of book. Retrieved from URL
Colwin, L. (2014). Happy all the time.. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=EemmBAAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&dq=happy&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=happy&f=false
Notice that for e-books, publication information is excluded from the citation.
Citations for Chapters in Edited Books:
Chapter author’s last name, F.M. (Year published). Title of chapter. In F.M. Last name of Editor (Ed.), Title of book (p. x or pp. x-x). Location: Publisher. doi:xxxxxxx
Longacre, W.A., Ayres, J.E. (1968). Archeological lessons from an Apache wickiup. In S.R. Binford L.R. Binford (Eds.), Archeology in cultural systems (pp. 151-160). Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=vROM3JrrRa0C=PP1=archeology=PR9#v=onepage=archeology=false
Citations for Edited Books:
Editor, A.A. (Ed.). (Year published). Title of edited book. Location: Publisher.
Gupta, R. (Ed.). (2003). Remote sensing geology. Germany: Springer-Verlag.
Citations for Websites:
Author’s Last name, F.M. (Year published). Title of article or page. Retrieved from URL
Mardell, M. (2017). Facing the robotic revolution. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-39028030
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Citations for Journal Articles found Online:
Author’s Last name, F.M. (Date published). Title of article. Title of journal, volume number(issue number), page range. doi:xxxxxx
Spreer, P., Rauschnabel, P.A. (2016, September). Selling with technology: Understanding the resistance to mobile sales assistant use in retailing. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 36(3), 240-263. doi:10.1080/08853134.2016.1208100
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Citations for Newspapers found Online:
Author’s Last name, F.M. (Year, Month Day). Title of article. Title of Newspaper. Retrieved from URL
Khullar, D. (2017, February 22). Bad hospital design is making us sicker. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://nyti.ms/2lujQ76
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In Text and Parenthetical Citations
What is an APA In Text Citation or Parenthetical Citation?
The purpose of APA in text and parenthetical citations is to give the reader a brief idea as to where you found your information, while they’re in the middle of reading or viewing your project. You may include direct quotes in the body of your project, which are word-for-word quotes from another source. Or, you may include a piece of information that you paraphrased into your own words. These are called parenthetical citations. Both direct quotes and paraphrased information include an in text citation directly following it. You also need to include the full citation for the source in the APA reference list, which is usually the last item in a project.
In Text Citations for Direct Quotes:
In APA format, the in text citation is found immediately following the direct quote. It should include the page number or section information to help the reader locate the quote themselves.
Buck needed to adjust rather quickly upon his arrival in Canada. He states, “no lazy, sun-kissed life was this, with nothing to do but loaf and be bored. Here was neither peace, nor rest, nor a moment’s safety” (London, 1903, p. 25).
In Text Citations for Paraphrased Information:
When taking an idea from another source and placing it in your own words, it is not necessary to include the page number, but you can add it if the source is large and you want to direct readers right to the information.
At the time, papyrus was used to create paper, but it was only grown and available in mass quantities in Egypt. This posed a problem for the Greeks and Romans, but they managed to have it exported to their civilizations. Papyrus thus remained the material of choice for paper creation (Casson, 2001).
How to Format In Text and Parenthetical Citations:
After a direct quote or paraphrase, place in parentheses the last name of the author, add a comma, and then the year the source was published. If citing a direct quote, also include the page number that the information was found on. Close the parentheses and add a period afterwards.
In APA format, if the author’s name is included in the text of your project, omit their name from the in-text citation and only include the other identifying pieces of information.
Smith states that, “the Museum Effect is concerned with how individuals look at a work of art, but only in the context of looking at that work along with a number of other works” (2014, p. 82).
If your source has two authors, always include both names in each in-text citation.
If your source has three, four, or five authors, include all names in the first in-text citation along with the date. In the following in text citations, only include the first author’s name and follow it with et al.
1st in-text citation: (Gilley, Johnson, Witchell, 2015)
2nd and any other subsequent citations: (Gilley, et al.)
If your source has six or more authors, only include the first author’s name in the first citation and follow it with et al. Include the year the source was published and the page numbers (if it is a direct quote).
1st in-text citation: (Jasper, et al., 2017)
2nd and any other subsequent citations: (Jasper, et al., 2017)
If your source was written by a company, organization, government agency, or other type of group, include the group’s name in full in the first in text citation. In any in text citations following it, it is acceptable to shorten the group name to something that is simple and understandable.
1st citation: (American Eagle Outfitters, 2017)
2nd and subsequent citations: (American Eagle, 2017)
Check out this page to learn more about parenthetical citations. Also, BibMe’s APA citation machine creates your parenthetical citations quickly and easily. Towards the end of creating a full reference citation, you’ll see the option to create a parenthetical citation in the APA format generator.
Your APA Reference List:
The listing of all sources used in your project are found in the APA reference list, which is usually the last page or part of a project. Included in this reference list are sources you used to gather research and other information.
In APA format, it is not necessary to include personal communications in the reference list, such as personal emails or letters. These specific sources only need in-text citations, which are found in the body of your project.
All APA citations, or references, are listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.
If you have two sources by the same author, place them in order by the year of publication.
Thompson, H.S. (1971). Fear and loathing in Las Vegas: A savage journey to the heart of the American dream.
Thompson, H.S. (1998). The rum diary.
If there are multiple sources with the same author AND same publication date, place them in alphabetical order by the title.
Dr. Suess. (1958). The cat in the hat comes back. New York, NY: Random House.
Dr. Suess. (1958). Yertle the turtle. New York, NY: Random House.
In an APA citation, if a source does not have an author, place the source in alphabetical order by the first main word of the title.
Need help creating the citations in your APA reference list? BibMe’s APA formatter can help! Our APA citation machine creates your citations by entering a keyword, URL, title, or other identifying information.
How to Format Your Paper in APA:
Need to create APA format papers? Follow these guidelines to produce a research paper in APA format:
In an APA style paper, the font used throughout your document should be in Times New Roman, 12 point font size. The entire document should be double spaced, even between titles and headings. Margins should be 1 inch around the entire document and indent every new paragraph using the tab button on your keyboard.
Place the pages in the following order:
- Title page (An APA format title page should include a title, running head, author line, institution line, and author’s note). (Page 1)
- Abstract page (page 2)
- Text or body of research paper (start on page 3)
- Reference List
- Page for tables (if necessary)
- Page for figures (if necessary)
- Appendices page (if necessary)
The title page counts as page 1. Number the pages afterwards using Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, 4…).
What is a running head?
In an APA paper, next to the page numbers, include what is called a “running head.” The running head is a simplified version of the title of your paper. Place the running head in the top left corner of your project and place it in capital letters.
On the title page only, include the phrase: Running head
Title page example:
Running head: QUALITY LIBRARY PROGRAMS
For the rest of the paper or project, do not use the term, Running head.
Example of subsequent pages:
QUALITY LIBRARY PROGRAMS
Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and many other word processing programs allow you to set up page numbers and a repeated running head. Use these tools to make this addition easier for you!
If you’re looking for an APA sample paper, check out the other resources found on BibMe.
Using BibMe to Create Citations for your Reference List or Bibliography
Looking to cite your sources quickly and easily? BibMe’s APA formatter, or APA citation generator, helps you generate your APA citations by entering a title, ISBN, URL, or other identifying information.
Background Information and History of APA:
The American Psychological Association was founded in 1892 at Clark University, in Worcester, Massachusetts. APA style format was developed in 1929 by scholars from a number of different scientific fields and backgrounds. Their overall goal was to develop a standard way to document scientific writing and research.
Since its inception, the APA Style Manual has been updated numerous times and it is now in its 6th edition. The 6th edition was released in 2010. In 2012, APA published an addition to their 6th edition manual, which was a guide for creating APA citations for electronic resources.
Today, there are close to 118,000 APA members. There is an annual convention, numerous databases, and journal publications. Some of their more popular resources include the database, PsycINFO, and the publications, Journal of Applied Psychology and Health Psychology.
Helpful Tips for Your Citation
Our citation guides provide detailed information about all types of sources in MLA, APA, Chicago and Turabian styles.
If required by your instructor, you can add annotations to your citations. Just select Add Annotation while finalizing your citation. You can always edit a citation as well.
Remember to evaluate your sources for accuracy and credibility. Questionable sources could result in a poor grade!