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It doesn't matter if you are a first year student in college or a professor who has written many articles in journals, everyone uses guides to help them format their papers and citations in APA. This page can help to get you started with APA. For more info about formatting your paper and citations visit:
What is APA?
APA style was created by the American Psychological Association. It is a set of rules for publications, including research papers.
There are two parts to APA: In-text citations and the Reference list.
In APA, you must "cite" sources that you have paraphrased, quoted or otherwise used to write your research paper. Cite your sources in two places:
- In the body of your paper where you add a brief in-text citation.
- In the Reference list at the end of your paper where you give more complete information for the source.
How to Cite Different Types of Sources
Sample Paper & Reference List
Purdue Writing Center Sample APA Paper
This is a sample APA paper from OWL at Purdue with annotations to show you the different elements of APA style.
APA Sample Paper Templates
APA has a couple of sample papers showing student research papers. One of which includes annotations highlighting the elements of the APA style.
Quick Rules for an APA Reference List
Your research paper ends with a list of all the sources cited in the text of the paper. This is called References.
See an example in the "Sample Paper & Reference List" box on this page.
Here are eight quick rules for this list:
- Start a new page for your reference list (e.g., if your paper is 4 pages long, start your References on page 5).
- Center the title, References. The title should be capitalized and in bold.
- Double-space the list entries (including between and within references).
- Use a hanging indent for all references, meaning that the first line of each reference is flush left and subsequent lines are indented by 0.5 inch.
- Put your list in alphabetical order. Alphabetize the list by the first word in the citation. In most cases, the first word will be the author’s last name. Where the author is unknown, alphabetize by the first word in the title, ignoring the words a, an, the.
- For each author, give the last name followed by a comma and the first initial followed by a period.
- Italicize the titles of full works: books, audiovisual material, websites.
- Do not italicize titles of parts of works, such as: articles from newspapers, magazines, or journals / essays, poems, short stories or chapter titles from a book / chapters or sections of an Internet document. Instead, use quotation marks.
About In-Text Citations
In APA, in-text citations are inserted in the body of your research paper to briefly document the source of your information. Brief in-text citations point the reader to more complete information in the reference list at the end of the paper.
- In-text citations include the last name of the author followed by the year of publication enclosed in parentheses. Example: Here's a paraphrased sentence (Smith, 2018).
- If the author's name is not given, then use the title. Follow the same formatting that was used in the reference list. Example: This is a paraphrase ("Professional self-efficacy and job satisfaction," 2019).
Note: The period goes outside the brackets, at the end of your in-text citation.
In-Text Citation Depending on Number of Authors
|Number of Authors
||In-Text Citation Example
(Author's Last Name, Year)
Example: (Balogun, 2019)
(Author's Last Name & Author's Last Name, Year)
Example: (Boudreau & Gibbons, 2019)
|Three or more
(Author's Last Name et al., Year)
Example: (Basili et al., 2020)
Group author with abbreviation
(National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2020)