APA Documentation

Papers in social sciences departments are generally written following American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines. Documenting your sources gives credit to previous researchers whose work you are using in your paper. It also allows your readers to go to the source of your information if they wish to do more reading on the topic. You will document your source in two places: immediately after you use borrowed information and in a “References” page at the end of your paper. The following information is from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition), Rules for Writers, by Diana Hacker and from Purdue University's Online Writing Lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/.

In-Text Citations

For in-text citations, use the author's last name and the year. Include a page number for direct quotations. Begin an in-text citation with a signal phrase, which uses the author's name followed by the year in parenthesis.

The page number goes in parentheses at the end of the sentence — but before the period. If the author's name is not in the signal phrase, then include all information in parentheses at the end of the quote or paraphrase: (author, year, p. #)

Format for a Quotation

Humphrey (1959) insisted that “dancers love to suffer, and while they wallow in tragedy, they alienate and bore their audiences” (p. 40).

Format for a Paraphrase

The modern dance pioneer believed that many literary themes were inappropriate for dance because key relationships and ideas could not be succinctly portrayed to the audience (Humphrey, 1959).

A work with two authors

Use both authors' last names each time you cite the work. Use “and” in a signal phrase or “&”in parentheses.

Stolerman and O'Connor (1986) argue that it is better for a writer to discuss a narrow aspect of a large topic in detail than to attempt to discuss loose generalizations (p. 4).

A work with three to five authors

Use all authors' names the first time you cite their work. In following citations, only use the first author's name followed by the phrase “et al” (Latin for “and others”).

Eggen, Kauchak, and Harder define a hypothesis as “a tentative generalizing inference which is based upon the data available at the moment” (p. 27).

Indirect source

Sometimes your source will quote another source. When this happens, use the full name of the original author in your signal phrase. At the end of the quote or paraphrase, follow this format: (as cited in Myers, 2003, p. 57).

Electronic source with author and date

Cite an electronic source with the same information as a published work.

Hendricks (2009) argued ...

Electronic source with no author and no date

Give the title or a portion of the title in quotation marks, then the abbreviation n.d. for the "no date."

A report of the habits of college students revealed that the regular study and review resulted in the higher grades ("College students and Study Habits," n.d.).


Your references page should have the title “References” centered at the top of the page. References should be double-spaced and alphabetized by last name. If you have two works by the same author, further alphabetize those works by title. Italicize book titles and subtitles, but only capitalize the first word of the title and subtitle. Use p. or pp. to indicate page numbers in newspaper articles and items in edited books, but not for articles in magazines and journals.


Blom, L.& Chaplin, L. (1982). The intimate act of choreography.
     Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Book with editor(s) and no author

Barr, R. & Eversole, J. (Eds.). (2003). The fire chief's handbook.     
     Tulsa, OK: Fire Engineering/PennWell Corp.

Article or chapter in an edited book

Solomon, W. (1995). The site of newsroom labor: The division of     
      editorial practices. In H. Hardt & B. Brennen (Eds.), Newsworkers:
      Toward a history of the rank and file (pp. 110-134). Minneapolis: 
      University of Minneapolis Press.

Article in a journal paginated by volume 

(page numbers continue throughout year from issue to issue)

Boivin, J. (2003). A review of psychosocial interventions in infertility.
     Social Science and Medicine, 57, 2325-2343.   (Note: This reference
      includes the volume number (57), but does not need the issue

Article in a journal paginated by issue

Heng, G. (1998). Cannibalism, the first crusade, and the genesis of
      medieval romance. Differences-A Journal of Feminist Cultural
      Studies, 10(1), 98-175.  (Note: Volume number comes first and
      is in italics.)

Journal Article with DOI (digital object identifier)

Losko, H.A. (2009) Educating nurse planners: Taking continuing nursing
       education on the talk show circuit. The Journal of Continuing Education in
       Nursing, 40(9), 389-390. doi: 10.3928/00220124-20090824-08

Electronic source: Non-periodical web document with author listed

Mikuriya, Tod. (n.d.). Physical, mental, and moral effects of marijuana:
      The Indian hemp drugs commission report from
       http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/ library/effects.htm

Electronic source: Article from an online periodical

Ratcliffe, H. (2004, January 15). Money troubles. [Electronic version].
     St. Louis Post-Dispatch, pp. A1, A8.

Electronic source: Non-periodical web document with no author or date

College Students and Study Habits (n.d)  Retrieved from

For Further Guidance

There are many more variations, in both print and electronic resources. For full documentation guidelines, consult Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition), Rules for Writers by Diana Hacker or Purdue University's Online Writing Lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/.

Updated September 2009