APA Format and Documentation

 

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Papers in social sciences departments are generally written following American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines. You will document your sources in two places: immediately after the borrowed information appears in the project (called in-text citation) and in a reference list at the end of the project. --In the following sections, some of the details of APA formatting and citations are explained, but you must be aware that these examples only provide a brief gloss of common citation rules and examples. More complex situations may not be covered or further assistance might be helpful for a complete citation of the source or situation. For the most accurate, effective citations, you should always consult a current copy of the official citation style handbook, via places such as the library or Writing Center. -- The following information is from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition), Rules for Writers and A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker, and from Purdue University's Online Writing Lab.

Paper Format

Font: use something standard and easily readable, such as Times New Roman, size 12.

Margins/spacing: use one inch on all sides and double space throughout.

Title page: state full paper title, your name, and the school’s name (on separate lines) in the upper third of the page; an “Author’s Note” at the bottom may also include course title or department, instructor’s name, and other information as requested.

Headers: select the “different first page” option in the header. On the cover page, left align the words Running head: followed by a shortened version of the essay title in all caps. Place page number flush to the right. On all subsequent pages, use that shortened version of the title (without the words Running head) and page, both right aligned.

Abstract: if an abstract is requested, it should begin a new page after the cover page with the centered title Abstract followed on the next line with an unindented brief synopsis of the paper.

Essay: begin a new page with the title of the essay, centered, then on the next line start the body of the discussion, left aligned, with the first line of each new paragraph indented.

No empty or excess space should be left unless a new page is needed (such as with the Abstract or References).

Sections: major section headings need to be centered and bold, using standard capitalization; subsections should be left aligned and bold.

For an example of APA formatting, see the Purdue OWL's sample paper. For a step-by-step walkthrough of how to implement APA formatting in a document, see this video by David Taylor

In-Text Citations

In-text citation provides a brief note or signal within the sentence that source material is used. This note identifies the source and other important information about the source or the material. When adding in-text citation to notes or projects, remember that every sentence requires its own in-text citation; a note at the end of a paragraph or section cannot cite the material clearly or properly. For APA in-text citations, the content that is typically used is the author's last name and the year. Also include a page number for direct quotations or for paraphrases that are confined to one page. Where and how this information is provided can vary depending on the structure of the sentence, but here are some general examples: 

Stating the author in a signal phrase, without page: According to Author (date), this claim is made.

Stating the author in a signal phrase, with page: According to Author (date), this claim is made (p. #).

Stating data at the end, without page: This claim is made (Author, date).

Stating data at the end, with page: This claim is made (Author, date, p. #).

Note that in these examples, all punctuation is placed correctly and should not be changed or moved. Commas separate key pieces of information, pages are prefaced with p and a period, and the period for the overall sentence is placed after the citation. Use the same punctuation at all times.

 If the source has no author, then the in-text citation will typically be the next major piece of information about the source (see the reference citation to identify what that information should be). It will often be the title of the article or source. In the in-text citation, use a shortened (but clear) version of the title in either a signal phrase or in parentheses, using correct formatting as required for that source type (an “Article Title” would be quoted while a Book Title would be italicized):

Stating the title in a signal phrase, without page: According to “Article Title” (date), this claim is made.

Stating the title at the end, without page: This claim is made (“Article Title,” date).

Tips and Rules for In-Text Citation

Authors are generally referred to by last name only, omitting initials, titles, or honors, even if the source includes them.

Present these names in the order the source includes them without rearranging them.

When a source has two authors, name both. Naming them in a signal phrase should use the word and spelled out: The research conducted by Author and Author (date) …. Naming them in the parentheses should use the ampersand (&): (Author & Author, date, p. #).

When a source has three to five authors, you must name all authors with the first use. Any further references to the source should give the first author only followed by et al.: The observations made by Author et al. (date) ….

When a source has six or more authors, use et al. phrasing every time, even the first.

If a source doesn’t have an author and needs to be listed by title, use quotation marks (or italics as needed) and capitalize any words of the title more than four letters long.

If a source doesn’t have paginated sections, leave out page and use paragraph number. If the source doesn’t have pre-numbered paragraphs, then leave out paragraph number and no further location detail is needed.

If a source doesn’t have a date, use n.d. to indicate this.

Sometimes a source will quote another source (this is called an indirect source). Be sure to follow APA rules carefully to illustrate who said what (see the example below).

For other situations involving in-text citation that aren’t covered here, please consult a more detailed handbook.

Examples of APA In-Text Citation at Work

A Standard Quotation

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

A Standard 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, p. 40).

A Work with Two Authors

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).

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

A Work with Three to Five Authors

First use: Eggen, Kauchak, and Harder (1979) define a hypothesis as “a tentative generalizing inference which is based upon the data available at the moment” (p. 27).

Any other use: Eggen et al. (1979) define a hypothesis as “a tentative generalizing inference which is based upon the data available at the moment” (p. 27).

Alternatively: A hypothesis is defined as “a tentative generalizing inference which is based upon the data available at the moment” (Eggen et al., 1979, p. 27).

Note: during the course of a writing project, you may add/remove material (for instance, the first use of the article above may be deleted during revision, leaving what was the second use now as the first). Since this citation style depends on when/where these authors are used in the essay, it may help to highlight or otherwise call attention to sources with 3-5 authors so that the citations can be checked or revised easily.

Indirect Source

The overall source is by Myers. Within the piece, though, Myers quotes or cites Smith. Important: the idea is created by Smith but you found it in Myers’s discussion. This clarification of who created what is vital to correctly credit the creator.

Smith illustrates that the tangible is still unknowable (as cited in Myers, 2003, p. 57).

This is important because attributing the source to Smith will lead the reader to look for the citation of Smith’s work in the reference page, which isn’t effective (as the correct source is actually Myers). Similarly, if the idea is simply attributed to Myers, this is inaccurate. While the idea appeared in Myers’s work, the claim is actually Smith’s.

Electronic Source with No Author and No Date

A report of the habits of college you revealed that the regular study and review resulted in the higher grades (“College You,” n.d.).

References

In APA, the citation list is called References, and the following formatting rules should be used:

Start on a new page with the word References centered at the top of the page.

Double-space the entire page/list.

Alphabetized entries by last name (or first word of the citation, if no author is listed). If there are two works by the same author, arrange that author’s works by date.

Hanging indent all citations (meaning the first line is not indented but any subsequent lines of the citation are). This feature can be selected quickly using Ctrl/Command T for the highlighted material. Otherwise, use the Help feature of the word processor to find how to enable this option if the quick command doesn’t work.

No empty or extra spaces are needed between entries.

Note: the examples below illustrate only the citation for that source. You should always realize that the sources you find may have other features or information that must be taken into account in your own citations. These are merely basic examples to illustrate what proper citation looks like or may entail. However, the punctuation and placement of information on the citations below is correct and should be emulated logically.

Basic Print Book

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

Author, I., & Author, I. (Year). Title of book. City, ST: Publisher.

Authors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial). Date is given in parentheses. The book title is italicized and capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below). City and state (or country) of publication is given, followed by a colon and the publishing company’s name.

Book with Editor(s) Instead of Author

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

Author, I. (Ed.). (Date). Title of book. City, ST: Publisher.

Editors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial). The clarification of Eds. is given in parentheses (short for Editors—use Ed. for only one editor). Date is given in parentheses. The book title is italicized and capitalized properly. City and state (or country) of publication is given, followed by a colon and the publishing company’s name.

Book with Author(s) and Editor(s)

McLuhan, M. (2003). Understanding me: Lectures and interviews (S. McLuhan & D. Staine, Eds.). Toronto, Ontario, Canada: McClelland & Stewart.

Author, I., & Author, I. (Date). Title of book (I. Name, Ed.). City, ST: Publisher.

Authors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial). Date is given in parentheses. The book title is italicized and capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below). In parentheses, editors are placed in traditional order, with Ed. or Eds. after. City and state (or country) of publication is given, followed by a colon and the publishing company’s name.

A Revised Edition

Kennedy, X. J., Kennedy, D. M., & Muth, M. F. (2014). The Bedford Guide for College Writers (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Author/editors, I. (Year). Title of book (#rd ed.). City, ST: Publisher.

Authors/editors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial). Date is given in parentheses. The book title is italicized and capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below). In parentheses, edition number is given. City and state (or country) of publication is given, followed by a colon and the publishing company’s name.

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, MN: University of Minneapolis Press.

Author, I., & Author, I. (Year). Title of article or chapter. In I. Name (Ed.), Title of book (pp. #-#). City, ST: Publisher.

In this example, the article/chapter is written by someone other than the book editor (this is common in anthologies or collections). Authors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial). Note: the author of the article or chapter is stated here; this will differ from the author/editor of the overall book, which will come later. Date is given in parentheses. The chapter or article title is presented without quotes and capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below). Start the next section with In (noting that the article is found in the book about to be named) and then the book authors/editors are stated in normal order, followed by a comma and the book title, which is italicized and capitalized properly. In parentheses, note the page range of the article or chapter. City and state (or country) of publication is given, followed by a colon and the publishing company’s name.

Article or Chapter in a Book

Hacker, D. & Sommer, N. (2011). Academic writing. In A writer’s reference (pp. 67-108). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Authors/editors, I. (Year). Title of article or chapter. In Title of book (pp. #-#). City, ST: Publisher.

In this example, the book overall is written or edited by the same person/people throughout. Authors/editors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial. If editors are named here, include Ed. or Eds. as shown in the editor examples above. Date is given in parentheses. The chapter or article title is presented without quotes and capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below). Start the next section with In (noting that the article is found in the book about to be named) and then the book title, which is italicized and capitalized properly. In parentheses, note the page range of the article or chapter. City and state (or country) of publication is given, followed by a colon and the publishing company’s name.

Note: if any of these books are accessed via online methods (general web or database), then the citation will be largely the same with digital object identifier (DOI) or Retrieved from http://... at the end.

Evaluating Journals

Journals come in two major types:

1) Paginated by volume: the journals for the entire year have pages that are numbered continuously through, with an issue starting at the page number where the previous issue left off (e.g., Issue 1 runs from 1-459, so Issue 2 runs from 460-900).

2) Paginated by issue: each issue of the journal has page numbers that start over at 1 each time.

The two styles are cited slightly differently, so be aware of the practice of the journal in question.

Print Article in a Journal Paginated by Volume

Boivin, J. (2003). A review of psychosocial interventions in infertility. Social Science and Medicine, 57, 2325-2343.

Author, I. (Date). Article title. Journal Title, V, #-#.    

Authors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial). Date is given in parentheses; include as much date information as the source provides. The article title is presented without quotes or italics and capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below). Journal or publication title is listed next in italics, using proper capitalization. Volume number is given after, also in italics. Since this is paginated by volume, this reference includes the volume number (57), but does not need the issue number. After volume, start and end page of the article is stated. Note: This is a print journal article (one accessed in actual paper format from the publisher). An article accessed via database or the web needs to be cited using the format below.

Print 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.

Author, I. (Date). Article title. Journal Title, V(I), #-#.

Authors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial). Date is given in parentheses; include as much date information as the source provides. The article title is presented without quotes or italics and capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below). Journal or publication title is listed next in italics, using proper capitalization. Volume number is given after, also in italics. Since this is paginated by issue, this reference includes the issue number (1) as well, which is not italicized. After volume, start and end page of the article is stated. Note: This is a print journal article (one accessed in actual paper format from the publisher). An article accessed via database or the web needs to be cited using the format below.

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

Author, I. (Date). Article title. Journal Title, V(I), #-#. Doi: #

Authors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial). Date is given in parentheses; include as much date information as the source provides. The article title is presented without quotes or italics and capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below). Journal or publication title is listed next in italics, using proper capitalization. Volume number is given after, also in italics. If the journal is paginated by issue, also include the issue number, which is not italicized. If journal is paginated by volume, then omit issue number. After volume/issue, start and end page of the article is stated. End the citation with the DOI number.

Journal Article without DOI

Heng, G. (1998). Cannibalism, the first crusade, and the genesis of medieval romance. Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 10(1), 98-175. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/

Author, I. (Date). Article title. Journal Title, V(I), #-#. Retrieved from URL

Authors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial). Date is given in parentheses; include as much date information as the source provides. The article title is presented without quotes or italics and capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below). Journal or publication title is listed next in italics, using proper capitalization. Volume number is given after, also in italics. If the journal is paginated by issue, also include the issue number, which is not italicized. If journal is paginated by volume, then omit issue number. After volume/issue, start and end page of the article is stated. End the citation with a simplified version of the URL for the database or website the article came from.

Electronic Source: Non-periodical Web Document with Author Listed

Mikuriya, T. H. (n.d.). Physical, mental, and moral effects of marijuana: The Indian hemp drugs commission report. In Schaffer Library of Drug Policy. Retrieved from http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/effects.htm

Author, I. (Date). Title of the article or page. In Website Name. Retrieved from URL

Authors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial). Date is given in parentheses; include as much date information as the source provides. The article title is presented without quotes or italics and capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below). Website title is listed next in italics, using proper capitalization, stated after the word In. Note: to find the website name, it is sometimes necessary to go to the site’s home page, navigating away from the specific article/document. End the citation with the URL for website the article came from.

Electronic Source: Non-periodical Web Document with no Author

National Confectioners Association. (2014). State of the industry. In CandyUSA. Retrieved from http://www.candyusa.com/data-insights/state-of-the-confectionery-industry/

Organization in place of author. (Date). Title of the article or page. In Website Name. Retrieved from URL.

APA format and documentation. (2015, October.). In Webster University. Retrieved from http://www.webster.edu/academic-resource-center/writingcenter/writing-tips/apa.html

Title of the article or page. (Date). In Website Name. Retrieved from URL

When no author is stated, organization name may be utilized instead. All other citation information is stated like the example with author. For no author and no clear or appropriate organization name, use the next piece of information (other than date) and place it first—in this case, the title of the article or webpage, capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below. Date is given in parentheses; include as much date information as the source provides. Website title is listed next in italics, using proper capitalization, stated after the word In. Note: to find the website name, it is sometimes necessary to go to the site’s home page, navigating away from the specific article/document. End the citation with the URL for website the article came from.

Electronic Source: Non-periodical Web Document with no Author or Date Listed

Plagiarism prevention. (n.d.). In Webster University. Retrieved from http://www.webster.edu/academic-resource-center/plagiarism_prevention/

Title of the article or page. (n.d.). In Website Name. Retrieved from URL

When no author is stated, use the next piece of information (other than date) and place it first—in this case, the title of the article or webpage, capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below. Date is given in parentheses; include as much date information as the source provides. Website title is listed next in italics, using proper capitalization, stated after the word In. Note: to find the website name, it is sometimes necessary to go to the site’s home page, navigating away from the specific article/document. End the citation with the URL for website the article came from.

Electronic Source: Article from an Online Periodical

Lee, C. (2015, October 23). The Clydesdales return to A-B commercials [Electronic version]. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved from http://www.stltoday.com/

Author, I. (Date). Title of article [version type, if any]. Periodical Title. Retrieved from URL

Authors are presented in inverted order (Last then Initial). Date is given in parentheses; include as much date information as the source provides. The article title is presented without quotes or italics and capitalized properly (see Tips and Rules below). Periodical title is listed next in italics, using proper capitalization, stated after the word In. If the periodical is a journal or magazine, volume/issue/page information may be needed, presented in the same style as those shown above. End the citation with the URL for website the article came from. Note: this citation model is for an article found on the basic web, not a database.

Tips and Rules for References

Authors’ first names are presented with initial only, even if the source shows them in full. Omit any titles or honors. State as many initials as the author has names (such as middle or maiden). State last name first then initials for all authors. 

One author: Last, I.

Two authors: Last, I., & Last, I. 

Three authors (or more): Last, I., Last, I., & Last, I. 

List authors in the order they are stated by the source; do not rearrange them in any way.

Use italics for the following data: book titles and subtitles, journal titles and volume, newspaper and magazine titles, and website titles

Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle for books and the titles of short pieces (like an article, essay, webpage, or other small piece). All other words should be lowercase. The exception to this rule is that proper names should remain capitalized.

Capitalize words within the titles of journals, newspapers, magazines, and websites if they are four or more letters long. Note: this does not apply to the titles of books or short works; see above.

Do not use quotation marks for the titles of articles or other short works in the reference list—however, do so if referring to those works in the body of the essay or in in-text citation.

If multiple publication cities are provided, list only the first.

Use p. or pp. to indicate page numbers in newspaper articles and items in edited books, but not for articles in magazines and journals.

Include a digital object identifier (DOI) for any source accessed online (if it has one); otherwise, use Retrieved from http:// … and do not use a final period after the URL.

Include an accessed date (Retrieved Date from http:// …) only if the online source is likely to change. Otherwise, just use URL.

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.


[Material adapted and updated by Laura Hardin Marshall, Oct. 2015]

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