The APA style consists of rules and conventions for formatting term papers, journal articles, books, etc., in the behavioural and social sciences. This user guide explains how to cite references in APA style, both within the text of a paper and in a reference list, and gives examples of commonly used types of references.
Citations in the Text:
- Placement of citations: The in-text citation is to be placed before the period except for a direct quote in block form where it is after the period.
- Single author: Use the author’s last name, year.
(Buckingham, 2012) OR Buckingham (2012) showed that…
- Two authors: Use both authors’ last names each time, separated by an ampersand if in parentheses. Include the year as noted below.
(Patton & Thibodeau, 2013) OR In their study, Patton and Thibodeau (2013)…
- Three to five authors: Use all authors’ names the first time the reference occurs; in subsequent citations, include only the first author followed by “et al.” Include the year as noted below.
First citation: (Al-Habian, Harikumar, Stocker, Langlands, & Selway, 2014) OR Al-Habian, Harikumar, Stocker, Langlands, and Selway (2014) conclude…
Subsequent citations: (Al-Habian et al., 2014) OR Al-Habian et al. (2014) concluded…
- Six or more authors: Use only the first author followed by et al. and the year. If two references with the same year shorten to the same form, cite the name of the first author and as many of the subsequent authors as necessary to distinguish the two references, followed by a comma and et al.
(Aho et al., 2013) OR Aho et al. (2013) state…
- Groups as authors: Corporation/association/government names are given in full in the first citation, and may be abbreviated thereafter if the name is long and the abbreviation is familiar or readily understandable.
First citation: (Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists [CAMRT], 2012) OR The report by Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT, 2012) …
If abbreviating, subsequent citation: (CAMRT, 2012) OR The CAMRT (2012) also encouraged…
- No listed author: When a work has no author, cite the first few words of the title and the year. Use double quotation marks around the title of an article, a chapter, or a web page and italicize the title of a periodical, a book, a brochure, or a report.
(“Study Finds,” 2012) OR The book Code Blue (1999) …
- Personal communication: These can be emails, personal interviews, telephone conversations, class notes, class handouts that are not posted, etc. Do not include them in the reference list as they are not recoverable by others; instead cite the initials and last name of the person and date of communication as noted below.
(T. K. Lutes, personal communication, December 12, 2014) OR T.K. Lutes (personal communication, December 12, 2014) claimed…
- Internet sources may, in time, be deleted, changed, or moved, so it is a good idea to save or keep a hard copy for your records. Also, take care to critically evaluate the reliability of the information.
- Direct quotes: Incorporate short quotes of fewer than 40 words into the text and place quotation marks around the quote. Quote 40 or more words in a double-spaced block of text indented ½” from the left margin, without quotation marks. Give specific page numbers. For online material without page numbers, give a paragraph number, heading and paragraph number, or other specific location information.
On the References Page:
- The last page of your paper is entitled References. Reference lists should be double spaced and entries have a hanging indent.
- Order of entries: Each reference is listed only once. List all references in alphabetical order by the surname of the first author. If the author is an organization, alphabetize by the first significant word of the name. If there is no author, alphabetize by the first significant word of the title. When alphabetizing, “nothing precedes something”, so Brown, J. R., precedes Browning, A. R.
- Authors: List the author’s last name, followed by a comma and initials separated by periods and spaces. When listing two to seven authors, place commas between them and use an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name. If the number of authors exceeds seven, list the first six then insert three ellipses and add the last author’s name. For edited books, place the editors’ names in the author position and follow the last editor with (Ed.) or (Eds.) in parentheses after the last author’s name. For edited books where the reference is to a chapter written by individual authors, list the authors of the chapter first, then the year as usual, and the chapter title, followed by “In”, the editors’ names (initial(s), period, space, last name), then (Eds.), and the book title in italics.
- Date: The year goes after the authors, in parentheses and followed by a period, for example (2003). If no year is identified, use (n.d.).
- Title: Capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title, and the first word in the subtitle. The rest of the title is in lower-case, with the exception of proper names. A book or journal title is italicized; an article or chapter title is not italicized and is not put in quotation marks. If there is an edition for a book, it appears directly after the title, abbreviated, in parentheses, and followed by a period, for example (3rd ed.).
- Publication information: Books: After the title (and edition if applicable), place a period and space, then enter the place of publication. Use the city and state if it is in the U.S. (use the state postal abbreviation, e.g., NY or CA) or the city and country if it is not in the U.S. Follow this with a colon and space, then the name of the publisher (omit words like Publisher, Co., and Inc.). If the author is also the publisher, use the word Author to indicate the publisher.
- Publication information: Journals: After the journal title written in full and italicized, place a comma and a space, volume number (italicized), issue number in parentheses if available, comma, and the page range, followed by a period. The issue number and page range are not italicized.
- Pages: For journal articles, give the entire page range of an article, not the specific page on which the information was found. For books, no page numbers are given, with two exceptions: the page number of a dictionary/reference book entry is included as well as the page range of a chapter with its own author in an edited book.
- Information specific to online sources: In general, include the same information in the same order as you would for print material and then add retrieval information so others can locate the sources.
Note: The majority of scholarly publications such as peer-reviewed journals participate in the DOI System. Online sources often are moved, changed or deleted. The DOI (digital object identifier) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned to individual articles; it also provides a persistent link to the location of the article on the Internet. The DOI can typically be found prominently displayed on the database landing page of an article or on the first page of an article.
- If a DOI exists for an article it should be supplied for retrieval. It should be placed at the end of the reference after the period and a space; do not place a period after the DOI string. Books may also have DOIs. E.g., doi:10.xxxxxxxx or http://dx.doi.org/10.xxxx/xxxx
- If a DOI does not exist for an article, provide the home page URL of the journal, not the URL for the article, not the URL for the database; do not place a period after the URL.
Retrieved from http://xxxxxxx.xxx
- If a DOI does not exist for a book, provide the home page URL of the book if the book is directly available online; provide the database home URL if the book is accessed via a password-protected database.
- Do not include a retrieval date unless the information may change over time, e.g., wikis, documents that get updated.
- For an online version of a print book, after the title, indicate in square brackets the eBook version used, e.g., [Adobe Digital Editions version] or [Kindle DX version]
See below for reference examples.
For more information on style and lists of examples, consult:
- Publication Manual of the American Medical Association, PE/1475/PUB/2010 (Reference)
- The APA Style Help page
- Purdue Owl APA page
Notes: Bolded headings are for the purposes of this handout only; they would not appear on an actual reference page. The entries would be listed in alphabetical order on an actual reference page.
Journal article, up to 7 personal author(s):
Al-Habian, A., Harikumar, P. E., Stocker, C. J., Langlands, K., & Selway, J. L. (2014). Histochemical and immunohistochemical evaluation of mouse skin histology: Comparison of fixation with neutral buffered formalin and alcoholic formalin. Journal of Histotechnology, 37(4), 115-124.
Electronic journal article with DOI, 8 or more personal authors:
Aho, M., Irshad, B., Ackerman, S. J., Lewis, M., Leddy, R., Pope, T. L., . . . Cunninham, J. E. (2013). Correlation of sonographic features of invasive ductal mammary carcinoma with age, tumor grade, and hormone-receptor status. Journal of Clinical Ultrasound, 41(1), 10-17. doi:10.1002/jcu.21990
Electronic journal article, no DOI (DOI not available):
Poling, J., Kelly, L., Chan, C., Fisman, D., & Ulanova, M. (2014). Hospital admission for community-acquired pneumonia in a First Nations population. Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine, 19(4), 135-141. Retrieved from http://www.srpc.ca/resources_cjrm_current.html
Book, personal author(s):
Buckingham, L. (2012). Molecular diagnostics: Fundamentals, methods and clinical applications. (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.
Book or pamphlet, organization as both author and publisher:
College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario. (2011). Standards of practice. Toronto, Canada: Author.
Kumar, V., Abbas, A. K., & Aster, J. C. (Eds.). (2013). Robbins basic pathology (9th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders.
Book,editor(s), specific chapter with individual author(s):
Altobelli, N. (2013). Airway management. In R. Kacmarek, J. K. Stoller, & A. J. Heuer (Eds.), Egan’s fundamentals of respiratory care (10th ed., pp. 732-786). St. Louis, MO: Saunders Mosby.
Electronic version of print book, personal author(s):
Martin, A., Harbison, S., Beach, K., & Cole, P. (2012). An introduction to radiation protection (6th ed.) [Adobe Digital Editions version]. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/
Electronic-only book, organization as author:
OpenStax College (2013). Anatomy & physiology. Retrieved from https://openstaxcollege.org/textbooks/anatomy-and-physiology/get
Stedman’s medical dictionary for the health professions and nursing (7th ed.). (2012). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Entry in a print reference work:
Canadian Pharmacists Association. (2013). Atropine: Systemic. In CPS 2013: Compendium of pharmaceuticals and specialties (48th ed.). (pp. 297-299). Ottawa, Canada: Author.
Entry in an online reference work:
Canadian Pharmacists Association (2012). Methimazole. In eCPS. Retrieved February 6, 2015, from http://www.e therapeutics.ca/
Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 6, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus_epidemic_in_West_Africa
Carville, O. (2015, May 27). Health ‘snooping’ cases on the rise. Toronto Star, pp. GT1, GT4.
Electronic newspaper article:
Wisniewski, M. (2015, February 5). Five babies at Chicago daycare diagnosed with measles. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from www.theglobeandmail.com/
Legal material (note: APA does not comment on non-U.S. legislation) (no italics):
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, S.O. 2005, c.11. Retrieved from http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_05a11_e.htm
Report available on a web page:
Canadian Institute for Health Information (2010). Depression among seniors in residential care (Analysis in brief). Retrieved from https://secure.cihi.ca/free_products/ccrs_depression_among_seniors_e.pdf
Page on a website (no italics):
Alzheimer Society of Canada (2013). Benefits of staying active. Retrieved February 6, 2015 from http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/kfla/Living-with-dementia/Day-to-day-living/Staying-active/Benefits-of-staying-active
Streaming video (note: if real name is not available, use user name without brackets):
Allen, S., & Waerlop, I. [TheGaitGuys]. (2014, May 11). The Gait Guys talk about great toe dorsiflexion [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8O8TLtunUQ
Bickle, I. (2014). Swallowed foreign body [Radiograph]. Retrieved from http://radiopaedia.org/cases/swallowed-foreign-body-1
Blog post (no given name, so screen name is used as author) (no italics):
Munkee. (2013, March 19). In-111 pentetreotide imaging [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://nuclearmunkee.blogspot.ca/2013/03/in-111-pentetreotide-imaging.html
Poster presentation/session presented at a meeting or conference:
Chasman, J., & Kaplan, R. F. (2006, June). The effects of occupation on preserved cognitive functioning in dementia. Poster session presented at the 4th Annual Conference of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology, Philadelphia, PA.
From Michener’s Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure:
Plagiarism is the portrayal, claiming or use of another person’s work or ideas (sentence, thought, paragraph, intellectual property, data, drawings or images) without specific reference. In the academic world this is considered to be theft. It is dishonest and irresponsible and will result in serious consequences.
As you can see from the quote above, plagiarism is taking, using, and submitting the thoughts, writings, etc., of another person as your own. If a concept or theory is “common knowledge” in the field, e.g., one of the symptoms of measles is a rash, you do not need to provide a reference; if it is not common knowledge or if you are not sure, provide a reference. Examples of concepts that require a reference include discoveries, theories, controversies and opinions. Don’t forget to acknowledge the source of illustrations, charts, and tables of data. For more information, consult Michener’s Avoiding Plagiarism: Why Use References?