APA References Style

Robert Harris
Version Date: November 22, 2010



This article covers the APA-style for bibliographic citation of the sources you used in your paper.

Guideline 1: Basic reference.
The References page has the following features:
•    It includes all the sources cited in the paper but no works not cited. It is a list of references—works referred to in the paper, not a bibliography of the subject or even a list of works you consulted but did not use.
•    Entries use a hanging indent, with all lines after the first line being indented about half a dozen spaces (half an inch in a typical paper using eleven or twelve point type).
•    Entries are alphabetized by the author’s last name, or if a corporate author or no author, by the first significant word in the title. That is, do not alphabetize by An or The.



Guideline 2: Typical book.
Book references feature these characteristics:
•    The elements are separated by periods, and a period concludes the entry.
•    The book title is in italics.
•    The title has an initial capital letter, but the remainder of the words are in lowercase, except for the first word of a subtitle and any proper nouns.
•    The place of publication is the city, not the state. (Sometimes this is confusing because so many books are published in New York, which is both a city and a state.)
•    The authoritative title of a book is the title page, not the cover or dust jacket. Occasionally there will be a variation.
•    Multiple authors are connected with an ampersand, and presented last name first with commas separating the names (Example 2).
•    Note the placement and style of the edition number (Example 2) and of Ed. for an editor (Example 3).

Example 1
Last name, Initial(s). (Year). Book title: Subtitle. City of Publication: Publisher.

Doe, J. S., Jr. (2004). Interrupted speech in American discourse: Communication by intrusion. London: Social Behavior Press.

Example 2
Doe, J. S., & Smith, A. B. (2006). Introduction to quantum tunneling: A holistic approach (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Einstein Technical Publishers.

Example 3
Jones, R. (Ed.). (2008). The influence of music on human behavior and decision making. New York: Aspects Publishers.


Guideline 3: Typical article.
Follow these examples for articles in printed periodicals. Note carefully the use of italics and capitalization.
•    The title of the article in the periodical is not placed within quotation marks.
•    The title of the article in the periodical has an initial capital letter, but the remainder of the words are in lowercase except for the first word of a subtitle and any proper nouns.
•    The name of the periodical has initial capitals on all major words.
•    The name of the periodical and the volume number are in italics, but the page numbers are in Roman type.
•    The page numbers include the beginning and ending page of the article, not merely the page or pages you cited in your paper.
•    With multiple authors, all are presented last name first, with commas separating the names (Example 5).
•    If the article includes a digital object identifier (DOI), include that at the end of the reference (Example 6). No further retrieval information is necessary. (There is no period after the end of a DOI.)
•    An article in a book lists the editors by initials first, then last name (Example 7).

Example 4
Last name, Initial(s). (Year). Article title: Subtitle. Periodical Title, Volume, Start page-End page.

Doe, J. (2008). Computer simulation of laboratory rat behavior: Anomalies in the Frimpson experiments. Journal of Computer Interdynamics, 18, 112-122.

Example 5
Smith, J. P., Frimpson, L. L., & Doe, R. N. (2006). Conclusions of randomness versus unidentified causation. International Journal of Probabilistic Analysis, 77, 454-487.

Example 6
Smith, D. (2005). Psychic investment and commitment to fakes: The rejection of unwelcome news about the valued. Decision Making, 87, 233-245. doi: 10.4111/7890-9-1234567

Example 7
Brown, A. N. (2010). Interpersonal factors affecting dieting outcomes: A multivariate analysis. In B. R. Jones & W. O. Smith (Eds.), Essays in sociometrics (pp. 233-267). New York: Abacus Press.



Guideline 4: Typical article retrieved from the Web.
Provide the same information in the same order as for a printed article, with the following additions:
•    If the article includes a digital object identifier (DOI), include that at the end of the reference (Example 8). No further retrieval information is necessary because the DOI is unique to that source. (There is no period after the end of a DOI.)
•    If the article does not include a DOI, include the URL (uniform resource locator) of the journal’s home page after the phrase Retrieved from. There is no period at the end of the URL (Example 9).
•    If the article comes from a source that lacks the organization of a standard periodical such as a journal, include the full URL of the referenced page. Do not add a period at the end of the URL (Example 10).
•    If each issue of the periodical starts over with page 1, include the issue number in parentheses after the volume number, as in 39(4). Note that the parentheses and issue number are in Roman, not Italic type (Example 9).
•    Many Web sites omit some bibliographic information, such as author, date, or both. In such cases, list the reference by the sponsoring organization’s name (Example 10). Use n.d. (with no spaces between) for no date (Example 10).

Example 8
Last name, Initial(s). (Year). Article title: Subtitle. Periodical Title, Volume, Start page-End page. doi:

Doe, J. P. (2003). Survey of freshmen attitudes towards work-study. Journal of Work Study Studies, 99, 77-88. doi: 10.4321/1234-5678.910.11

Example 9
Smith, X. P., Jones, P. R., & Brown, D. D. (2008, September 4). Controlling prescription demand in a high-pressure advertising environment. Advertising Research Newsletter, 44(9). Retrieved from http://www.adresnews.com

Harris, Robert. (2010, November 22). APA references style.  Retrieved from http://www.virtualsalt.com/APA-References.html
[Note: You'd think that the entry would list the Web site, Virtualsalt, after the article title. But APA apparently doesn't want ordinary Web sites listed, only journals and periodicals (like Time or the New York Times.)]

Example 10
Health4You (n.d.). Not so forever young: Boomers confront their wrinkles. Retrieved from http://www.health4You.net/aging/pdf/boomers34.pdf

Guideline 5: Typical database.
Articles retrieved from aggregated databases are referenced as online journal articles, and as such, no database information is needed, except when the article is from a journal no longer published and housed in an electronic archive such as JSTOR. In this latter case, include the database name.

Example 11
Last name, Initial(s). (Year). Article title. Periodical Title, Volume, Pages. Retrieved from database

Doe, J. (2008). Advertising and the demand curve. Journal of Media Practices, 54, 344-365. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org

Guideline 6: No Author
When the source shows no author, start with the title. In the bibliography, alphabetize the entry by the first significant word (that is, do no alphabetize by The or A).

Example 12
Procter and Gamble paint? Sony frozen food? Are there limits to brand extension? (2009, August 31). Denver Daily Examiner, pp. C1, C12.






See Also
APA In-Text Citation Style
MLA In-Text Citation Style
MLA Works Cited Page Style

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About the author:
Robert Harris is a writer and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the college and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com