26 July, 2020

13 minutes read

Author:  Mathieu Johnson

How to Cite in APA (APA Citation Guide)

It goes without saying that no matter how skilled you are at crafting quality academic papers, you won't be able to get the highest grade unless you use proper citation format. And frankly speaking, a lot of students miss this point. They hastily throw an essay together without paying any attention to the correctness of the format they use. Well, too bad for them! If you don't want to risk your grades and aim to achieve the highest results with your writing, don't hesitate to read our guide on how to use APA format and implement it.

Apa citation guide

It goes without saying that no matter how skilled you are at crafting quality academic papers, you won't be able to get the highest grade unless you use proper citation format. And frankly speaking, a lot of students miss this point. They hastily throw an essay together without paying any attention to the correctness of the format they use. Well, too bad for them! If you don't want to risk your grades and aim to achieve the highest results with your writing, don't hesitate to read our guide on how to use APA format and implement it.

What is APA?

APA is an acronym for the American Psychological Association. When discussing citation methods, APA refers to a method developed by this organization to give credit to sources used in a paper.  There are lots of rules when citing, so we’ve created an APA in-text citation guide to help.

Where are APA Citations Used?

The APA citation method is used mainly in papers written for social science disciplines. Such disciplines include sociology, psychology, economics and other behavior-oriented sciences. While the APA citation format is most common in these disciplines, it can be used in other ones as well. It’s always a good idea to ask your professor’s preference for citations is if it is not in the assignment rubric. Other standard citation methods include MLA and Chicago.

APA in-text citations are used any time an essay writer includes a source in his or her paper. They should be added immediately following a direct quotation or paraphrase of the source material. The APA citation format allows readers to understand the source of information consistently.

How Important is it to Cite Properly?

It is crucial to cite sources properly. Failing to do so results in plagiarism, which is a major offense in college and universities across the globe. Plagiarizing may lead to not only a zero for the assignment but expulsion from the university.

Citing sources properly may seem tedious, but it’s quite simple if you use an APA citation guide. The up to date Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is in its 7th edition. It clearly outlines how to create citations for dozens of possible sources – from a magazine article to an interview.

What Does APA Citation Look Like?

APA Citation Guide 1

Great question! There are two components to proper APA citation: in-text citations and reference citations. In-text citations directly follow the source material within the APA style paper to give credit to the author. Reference citations appear in the dedicated section and provide all the necessary data for the reader to pursue further study.

To properly cite sources, you’ll need some key pieces of information. The citation method of each source differs, which is why following the APA Publication Manual is so important. The source’s title, author, and publication date are just a few of the elements required.

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When drafting a paper, it’s a good idea to use an APA in-text citation guide as you go along. Doing so prevents you from accidentally misattributing sources later. In-text citations are relatively easy. They require the author’s name and the publication details.

APA In-Text Citation Format

In-text citations are relatively easy. They require the author’s name, publication year of the information, page number and the title.

After incorporating a direct quotation (source material word-for-word) or paraphrasing (condensing source material into your own words), an in-text citation should directly follow:

“Direct quotation sentence” (Author’s last name, year) or “paraphrase” (Author’s last name, year) Example: (Smith, 2011)

If the work has two authors, the citation would appear like this: (Smith & Roxup, 2011)

If the work has up to five authors, use the ampersand between all names. For more than five authors, use the lead author’s name followed by et al. Example: (Smith et al., 2011).

If the source is on a single page, use p. 23.

If the source is on multiple pages, use pp. 23-43.

Now, let’s cover the variety of APA citation use cases.

General APA Citation Format Conventions

APA Citation Guide 2

Let’s break down APA citation a little further.

Structuring Authors in APA

The author’s name will appear the Last name first. Correctly applied, the author’s name will appear like this: Last name, First initial, Middle initial (if given).

Example:  Smith, J. M.

Many published works may have editors.  If you are citing an edited work, replace the author’s name with the editor(s).  After the editor place “Ed.” to let the reader know the work was edited.  If there is a group of editors, place “Eds.” after the names.

If a work does not have an author’s name, begin with the title.

Structuring Publication Date in APA

Including the publication date is required because some works are reissued.  The date should appear in parentheses after the author’s name. For recurring publications, such as magazines or journals, the month and day should additionally be included. If no date can be found, place “n.d.” in the parentheses.

Structuring Titles in APA

Despite the overall trend, titles are cited differently according to APA guidelines.

Books: Capitalize the first letter of the first word.  Repeat for a subtitle.  Capitalize any proper names.  The entire title should be in italics.  Follow the title with a period.

Example: To kill a mockingbird.

Magazines, journals, newspapers: Title should appear in standard formatting; capitalize each important word.  Italicize the title.

Example: The New York Times

Articles and chapter titles: similar to books, capitalize only the first letter of the first word. Repeat if a subtitle exists. All proper nouns should be capitalized. Quotation marks and italics should not be used with these sources.

Example: A study regarding the relationship between socioeconomic upbringing and test scores

Structuring Publication Information in APA

Provide the city and state if the work is published within the U.S.  If the work is outside the U.S. provide the city and country for the place of publication.  Use standard two letter abbreviations to represent the state.  A colon should appear following the location.

Example 1: Seattle, WA:

Example 2: Paris, France:

Publication information is a bit different for periodicals.  Since periodicals are published recurring, the data required is different.  For these sources, use the volume number, issue number, and pages of the article.  The italicized volume number precedes the issue number, which should appear in parentheses followed by the page numbers.  Newspaper sources require a p. or pp. prior to the page numbers.

Periodical Example: Journal of Enological Science, 34(5), 57-63.

Newspaper Example: The New York Times, 21(1), p.5.

Structuring Publisher in APA

Note that only some sources require a publisher in APA format.  Newspapers, magazines, journals, and other forms of periodicals do not require publisher information.  Publisher information need not be verbatim—simply shorten any long names to be understandable by the reader.

Example:  ANTS Hill Publishing House would appear as ANTS Hill

Structuring Online Sources in APA

For online sources, following the publication information, end with a period.  Then add the phrase “Retrieved from” and add the URL.  No punctuation should following the URL.  For journal articles with a DOI (Direct Object Identifier), use the DOI number instead of the URL.

Online Source Example: Retrieved from

Online Journal Article Example: DOI: and/orEJ1103945

APA Citation Examples

Here is how in-text citations look when being applied to different types of sources.

Print Book

Format: Author’s last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year published). Title of book.

Example: Smith, H.M. (2003). The benefits of owning a dog.


Format: Author’s last name, first initial, middle initial. (year published). Title of book.  Retrieved from URL.

Example: Gundry, S.R. (2017). The plant paradox.  Retrieved from

Online Journal Articles

Format: Author’s last name, first initial. Middle initial. (publication date). Title or article.  Title of journal, volume number (issue number), page range.  Doi:——————

Example: Smith, D.A.  (2015). Cognitive behavioral therapy for depression in children with autism. Psychology Today, 15 (3), 45-52.  DOI: 10.3323/w.2341-2015.09143.x


Format: Author’s last name, first initial. Middle initial. (publication date).  Title or article or page.  Retrieved from URL.

Example: Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from

Edited Books

Format: Editor’s last name, first initial. Middle initial.  (Ed.). (Year published). Title of edited book.  Location: Publisher.

Example: Jameson, J.H. (Ed.). (2011). Understanding your relationship.  New York: HarperCollins.

Chapters in Edited Books

Format: Chapter author’s last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year published). Chapter Title. In Editor’s First initial. Middle initial Last Name (Ed.), Title of book (page number(s)) Location: Publisher.

Example: Jones, M.K. (1998). Going home. In E.W. Brickingstock (Ed.), Tales of wayward immigrants (pp. 30-51). Philadelphia, PA: Random House.

Newspapers Found Online

Format: Author’s Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year, Month Day). Article Title.  Newspaper Title. Retrieved from URL

Example: Bennington, M.Q. (2016, June 12). Uncertain politics in trying times. The New York Times.  Retrieved from

Formatting a Paper Using APA Guidelines

APA format guidelines

The APA lists guidelines when formatting a research paper.  These formatting guidelines should be followed when drafting and before turning in the final paper:

  • Use Times New Roman 12 point font
  • Double Space the entire paper
  • Create 1-inch margins
  • Indent every paragraph using the Tab key

APA Reference Page Format

The APA Reference page follows the research paper. Its purpose is to provide a complete list of sources appearing in the APA style paper.  Additionally, it should include sources used to gather research but may not be cited.

All APA citations should be entered alphabetically according to the author’s last name.  If a source does not have an author, use the title.  If the paper used sources by the same author, order the reference entries by publication year.

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General APA Requirements

The APA further specifies the order in which aspects of the paper should be organized.  They are as follows:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Research paper
  • Reference List
  • Page for tables (optional)
  • Page for figures (optional)
  • Appendices page (optional)

For the optional aspects, include these only if necessary and required by the professor.  Number all the pages, beginning with the title page.  Formatting guidelines require that numbers be Arabic numbers (1,2,3…) not Roman numerals.

Check out an example of a complete APA formatted paper here.

Finally, in addition to numbering all pages, APA requires a “running head”.  This aspect appears on every page of the research paper in the top left.  It should always be in all capital letters.  However, it appears differently on the title page.  If the paper’s title is long, it should be shortened for the running head.




On the title page, include the phrase Running head; on subsequent pages, just include a shortened title in all caps.

Using the Help

While APA citation format may seem intimidating, don’t let it be. There are numerous available online resources at your disposal, including our academic writing guide. Use this information to boost your knowledge and awareness, and make sure to cite like a pro!

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