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Cite Your Sources: APA

What is APA style?

  • Uses the author and year in parentheses as the in-text citation.
  • Preferred by many writers in the social sciences.

Note: Information in this guide is based on the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. This manual is now available as an eBook.

How do I format my in-text citations?

A. Parenthetical and narrative in-text citations

  • In-text citations have two formats: parenthetical and narrative.
  • In parenthetical citations, the author name and year of publication appear in parentheses.
  • Include the author's last name and year of publication, separated by a comma and enclosed in brackets.
    • This hypothesis was tested (Smith, 2010).
  • In narrative citations, the author appears in the text of the sentence and the date appears in parentheses immediately after the author name.
  • Include an in-text citation in the text immediately following the information that is being referenced.
    • Smith (2010) tested this hypothesis.
  • In some cases, the author and date might both appear in the narrative. In these cases, do not use parentheses.
    • In 2010, Smith tested this hypothesis.
  • If there is no author, use the first words from the title of the article or book. For an article title use quotation marks, and for a book title use italics. 
    • ("Effects of Alcoholism," 2015)
    • (Studies of Alcohol, 1999)

B. In-text citations: more than one author and group authors

  • When there are two authors, use the ampersand (&) in the parenthetical citation, but not in the sentence.
    • (Novak & Gowin, 1984)
    • Novak and Gowin (1984) reported...
  • When there are three or more authors, use “et al.” in the parenthetical citation and in the sentence. Note the comma in the parentheses.  
    • (Winters et al., 1984)
    • Winters et al. (1984) reported...
  • When there is a group author with an abbreviation (such as an organization), define the abbreviation only in the first citation, and for all subsequent citations use the abbreviation.
    • First citation: (Canadian Mental Health Association [CMHA], 2019)
    • Subsequent citations: (CMHA, 2019)
    • First citation: The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA, 2019)…
    • Subsequent citations: CMHA (2019)

C. In-text citations and page numbers

  • Although it is not necessary to provide a page or paragraph number in the citation for a paraphrase, you can include one to help readers find the relevant passage in a long work, such as a book. You can add a comma after the year, and then insert the page number. 
    • (Zelickson & Robbins, 1986, p. 24)
  • When using a direct quotation, always provide the author, year, and page number in the in-text citation. For a single page, use the abbreviation “p.” and for multiple pages, use the abbreviation “pp.”
    • (Feng, 2017, p. 78)
    • (Feng, 2017, pp. 59-67)
    • (Feng, 2017, pp. 46, 52)

D. Repeating in-text citations in a paragraph

  • Once you have used a narrative citation in a paragraph, do not repeat the year in subsequent narrative citations in that same paragraph.
    • First narrative citation in paragraph: Meyer (2016) found that…
    • Subsequent narrative citations: Meyer discovered…; She noticed that…
  • However, continue to include the year in all parenthetical citations:

    • e.g., Meyer (2016) reported that Type 2 diabetes was primarily due to obesity and lack of exercise in people who are genetically predisposed. Meyer also found that this type makes up about 90% of cases of diabetes. The other 10% is due primarily to diabetes mellitus type 1 and gestational diabetes (Meyer, 2016).

How do I format my reference list?

  • The reference list should be placed at the end of your paper on a separate page entitled "References".
  • Put the list in alphabetical order by author. Double-space the list, and use a hanging indent to format all entries.
  • Titles of books and periodicals should always be in italics; titles of articles should be in regular type without quotation marks.
  • List authors by "Last name, First initials."
  • If there's no author, start with the article title.
  • If your article has a Digital Object Identifier or DOI, you should include this number instead of the website URL. Do not include a date of retrieval when using the DOI.
  • Format both DOIs and URLS as hyperlinks that begin with “https://” or “http://” and omit the words “Retrieved from” or “Accessed from.”

Article in a journal or periodical (print)

In-text citation:

... (Sobell, Cunningham, & Sobell, 1996).

Reference list:

Author(s), A. A. (Date). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume(issue), page–page.

Sobell, L. C., Cunningham, J. A., & Sobell, M. B. (1996). Recovery from alcohol problems with and without treatment: Prevalence in two population surveys. American Journal of Public Health, 86, 966-972.

Article in a journal or periodical (online)

In-text citation:

... (McKay & Zakanis, 2009).

Reference list:

  • Many publishers now assign a Digital Object Identifier or DOI to articles.
  • If your article has one, you should include this number instead of the website URL.
  • Do not include retrieval dates unless the source material may change over time (e.g., Wikis). 
  • If your article has a DOI, it will be on the first page of the article or in the full record display on the database page of the search engine you are using. If the article has a DOI, the reference will look like this:

Online article with a DOI

Author, A. A. (Date). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume(issue), page-page.

McKay, M., & Zakanis, K. (2009). The impact of treatment on HPA axis activity in unipolar major depression. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 44(2), 183-192. j.jpsychires.2009.01.012

Online article without a DOI

Author, A. A. (Date). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume(issue), page-page. URL

Patterson, Q. S. (1999). Psychology and the student. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 23(3), 225-227.

Book - one author

In-text citation:

… was tested (Smith, 2010).
… was tested (Statistics Canada, 2008).

Reference list:

Author, A. A. (Date). Title (Edition). Publisher Name.

Rosenthal, R. (1987). Meta-analytic procedures for social research (2nd ed.). SAGE Publications.

Generative AI (e.g. ChatGPT)

Follow your professor's instructions when considering the use of generative AI tools (such as ChatGPT). If you have permission to use these programs, please cite the AI content (ideas and/or words) you incorporate into your text. Your professor might provide instructions for citing outputs from generative AI sources. If this is the case, please follow the instructions provided.

If you have been asked to use the APA Style Guide for all citations, The American Psychological Association (APA) released instructions for citing generative AI content in a blog post on April 7, 2023. The Writing Services team will continue to monitor announcements from APA for further updates.

Resources to help with writing

Guide: Plagiarism and Academic IntegrityGuide: Cite Your SourcesLink to Guide: Write clearly: Grammar

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