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APA Citations: APA: The Core Elements

A guide to writing and citing APA style

APA: The Core Elements


The reference list should be on a separate page at the end of the project with the label “References” centered at the top of the sheet.

  • All reference entries should be hanging; first line flush with left margin, each additional line shall be indented 5 spaces from left margin.
  • Reference entries should be double spaced.
  • Entries should be alphabetized by author’s last name. Unauthored entries should be alphabetized by the first significant title word.

Sample APA Reference Page from the Common Reference Examples Guide by the APA.


Author's and editor's names are always inverted. List the author's surname first, followed by a comma, then their initials and a period after them for up to and including 20 authors or editors. In instances where the references have two or more authors, use a serial comma after the previous authors initials before the ampersand (&). For editor(s), the abbreviation should be placed parenthetically after the name, e.g. (Ed.) or (Eds.) followed by a period.

  • Beckett, S.  
  • Bloom, H. (Ed.)
  • Partridge, M., & Quayle, B.

If there are two group authors, there is no need to use a serial comma before the ampersand (&) to separate the groups.

  • American Psychological Association & National Institute of Mental Health

For works with up to 20 authors, provide the surnames and initials of all authors. An ampersand should be place prior to the final author's name.

In resources where there are 21 or more authors, list the first 19 authors and then insert three ellipses (...) before adding the last author. 

Publication dates are always placed in parentheses immediately after the author(s) or editor(s) and are followed by a period. 

  • Evans, K. (2008).

If there is no publication date or if the publication date is unknown simply use n.d.: Pangloss, D. (n.d.).

Book titles should always be italicized. The first word of a title should be capitalized along with the first word of a subtitle. Proper nouns in the title are always capitalized.

  • Szanto, A. (Ed.). (2007). What Orwell didn't know: Propaganda and the new face of American politics.

Publishers are listed for books without including Co., Inc., Publishers, etc... in the entry. A period follows the listing.

  • Random House., Harvard University., Plain Press.

E-books from academic databases like OhioLink EBC, Ebsco E-books, Safari E-books, Salem E-books do not need to include a URL simply provide the publisher; however, works from other websites do need to include the URL. If a DOI is provided for the E-book, even if it is from an academic database be sure to include the DOI.

Journal, Magazine, and Newspaper titles are italicized and all major words in the journal title are capitalized. The titles of individual articles or essays from these sources are not italicized but should follow the APA title capitalization format.

  • Journal of Cognitive Dissonance Theory.

Citations for journal articles should include the italicized volume and issue number (if there is one) in parentheses followed by a comma then the page number. 

  • 39(13), 139-153.

In text citations are references to another author's work within the body of a paper. These citations can either be direct quotes or paraphrasing of the author's work. They are often referred to as parenthetical or narrative citations. In text citations can be incorporated into papers through two different techniques. The narrative citation uses the author's name in a signal phrase. A signal phrase informs the reader of an upcoming paraphrase or quote by using the author's or creator's name to segue into the material. In APA style, the publication year is listed immediately after the author or creator in parentheses.The publication year may be omitted in subsequent narrative citations within the same paragraph. The other technique is to use a parenthetical with the author's or creator's name and the publication date immediately after the paraphrase or quotation. Paraphrased passages do not require page numbers; however, if you feel pages numbers would help your reader locate the passage in a large work, you may include them after the publication date. Direct quotes require page numbers, along with author and publication date.  In the event that there is no pagination, the reader must be provided with a way to locate the quoted material.

Type of Citation

First narrative citation 

Subsequent citations 

First parenthetical

Subsequent parentheticals 

  One  author

Szanto (2007)

Szanto (2007)

(Szanto, 2007)

(Szanto, 2007) 

Two authors

Dudrah and Desai (2008)

Dudrah and Desai (2008)

(Dudrah & Desai, 2008)

(Dudrah & Desai, 2008) 

Three or more authors

Culver et al (2007) 

Culver et al. (2007)

(Culver et al., 2007)

(Culver et al., 2007) 

Group author without abbreviation Stanford University (2020) Stanford University (2020) (Stanford University, 2020) (Stanford University, 2020)

Group  author with abbreviation

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2009)

NIMH (2009)

(National Institute of

Mental Health [NIMH], 2009 )

(NIMH, 2009)

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