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About APA Style

In 1929, a group of psychologists, anthropologists, and business managers got together and created a set of style guidelines in order to make scientific writing more standardized. Why? They figured it would make it more consistent, and easier to read. They published that first set of style guidelines in a journal; the article was 7 pages long.

Well, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, as it is now called, has gotten longer ever since. These days, the APA style guidelines are used by social and behavioral sciences, health care, natural sciences, humanities, and more.

If you're majoring in something like psychology, you'll have to make sure your papers are set up and formatted correctly, as the APA wants. But in plenty of classes the instructors will just want you to make your citations in the APA style. That's what we're showing you below.

In-Text Citations

APA format uses the author-date method.

(author's last name, year source was published)

Ex.: (Lopez, 2022)


When you've used a direct quote:

(author, year, p. # )

Ex.: (Harris, 2013, p. 26)


(author, year,  pp. # - #)

Ex.: (Garcia, 1989, pp. 452-453)


If you use a 'signal phrase'

if you mention the name of the author or authors in the sentence right before the in-text citation, you can leave the name out and just put the year.

Ex.: As Linda Cooper noted, "It was egregious." (2007, p. 6)


If your source has no page numbers

  • pick a substitute for page numbers that makes sense for your source
  • ex.: paragraph, a chapter number, a section number, a table number, a verse

Ex.: "It was the worst case of dropsy I'd ever seen," Dr. Fang recalled. (2019, para. 6)


When you used a long quotation / block quote:

If your quote is 40 words or more, you add it as a block quote.

  • Start quote on new line
  • Indent a half inch from the left margin
  • No quote marks, just that indentation
  • Type your quotation
  • If there's more than one paragraph, make sure the first line of each new paragraph is also a half inch in
  • The in-text citation goes at the end, after the period.


When you paraphrase

(author, year) - you don't need the page number(s) because it's not a direct quote.

Ex.: The author clearly had no fond memories of grade school. (SIlverman, 1962)

Compare to a direct quote version (author, year, pg.#):

"My grade school years were HELL! If I never go back to that dilapidated schoolhouse, it'll be too soon!" (Silverman, 1962, p. 356)

Reference List: Books

Basic Format

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Publisher Name. DOI (if available)


  • DOI = Digital Object Identifier (Better than URLs for getting back to documents on the internet)
  • If it has a DOI use it (even if you used a print version)
  • Print version with no DOI? Add nothing (neither DOI nor URL)
  • Don't use a URL if it has a DOI; just use that DOI
  • The only time you use a URL is if an online version from a website doesn't have a DOI
  • If all it has is a URL and that URL doesn't work, handle it like a citation with missing information
  • Basic format of a DOI:
    • If you are using a source that has older forms of the way DOIs used to be formatted, change that DOI to the current format


Edited book, no author

Editor, E. E. (Ed.). (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Publisher. DOI (if available)

Edited Book with an Author or Authors

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle (E. Editor, Ed.). Publisher. DOI (if available)


Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle (T. Translator, Trans.). Publisher. (Original work published YEAR) DOI (if available)

Edition Other Than the First

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle (# edition). Publisher. DOI (if available)

Article or Chapter in an Edited Book

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. In E. E. Editor & F. F. Editor (Eds.), Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle (pp. pages of chapter). Publisher. DOI (if available)

Multi-volume Work

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle (Vol. #). Publisher. DOI (if available)

Reference List: Articles

Basic Format

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



Article from a Print Journal (Single author)

Format: Author's last name, A. A.. (Publication Date). "Article Title", Journal Title, Volume Number. Issue Number: Pages-Pages. The medium of Publication.

Example:  Klassen, Pamela E. (2004). "The Robes of Womanhood: Dress and Authenticity Among African American Methodist Women in the Nineteenth Century". Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation. vol.14, (1), pp.39-82. Print.

Article from Print Journal (Multiple authors)

Multiple authors - For a work with up to 20 authors, include all of the in the reference. When the work has 21 or more authors, include only the first 19 names, an ellipsis and the final author. 

Format: Author's last name, A. A.., Author's last name, B. B., and Author's last name, C. C.  (Publication Date)  "Article Title", Journal Title, Volume Number. Issue Number, Pages-Pages. The medium of Publication.

Example: Hibel, J., Farkas, G., and Morgan, P. (2010). "Who Is Placed into Special Education?" Sociology of Education, Volume 83, 4, pp. 312-332. Print.

Reference List: Website

Basic Format

Author's last name, A.A (Year of publication). "Article Title", Website Title, Publication Date. The Medium of retrieval. Retrieval Date. URL. 

References Page: How It Should Look

The References page formatted the APA way

Even if your professor is just having you do APA citations (and doesn't need the whole paper to be APA-formatted), this is how your page of References should look:

  • Starts on separate page
  • Title is always: References, in bold, centered
  • Double-spaced
  • When a citation runs over a line, second line is indented 0.5 inches (MS Word's default)
  • In alphabetical order by author's last name
  • Every in-text citation has to point to one of the References

Official APA Style Support from the American Psyhologicl Association

Find it at:

  • The Reserve Desk (Access Services Desk)

Other Format/Citation Support from the APA:

Our Other Favorite Online APA Style Guides