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Citation Styles: APA

About APA

The American Psychological Association (APA) has created a set of citation rules and formatting guidelines for scholarly writing, used mostly in the social sciences. 

APA In-Text Citation

What is an In-Text Citation?
An in-text citation is a citation within your writing that shows where you found your information, facts, quotes, and research. All in-text citations require the same basic information:

  • Author’s last name (no first names or initials)
  • Year of publication (or “n.d.” if there is “no date”:(LastName, n.d., p.#))
  • Page or paragraph number (for direct quotations only)

How do I format an In-Text Citation?
There are two main ways to format an in-text citation.

1. Put all the citation information at the end of the sentence. Example: "The systematic development of literacy and schooling meant a new division in society, between the educated and the uneducated” (Cook-Gumperz, 1986, p. 27).

  • Place direct quotes within quotation marks.
  • Use parentheses to enclose the in-text citation.
  • Use commas to separate the last name, year, and page number within the in-text citation.

2. Place the period after the citation. Include some of the citation information as part of the sentence:

Example: According to Cook-Gumperz (1986), “The systematic development of literacy and schooling meant a new division in society, between the educated and the uneducated” (p. 27).

  • Use a signal phrase that includes the author's last name.
  • After the last name, state the publication year within parentheses.
  • After the quote, state the page number with parentheses.
  • Place the period after the citation.

Making a References List

What is a References list?
A references list is a formatted list of all sources you cited within your paper. Any time you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or include information that you’ve read from an outside source, you must include that source in your references list.

What information goes in a References list?
Each item in your references list requires general publication information, including but not limited to:

  • Author’s name
  • Year of publication
  • Title
  • Publication or publisher
  • URL of the source

Because so many sources appear online and do not have publication dates or even authors, additional information may be required, including retrieval data and corporate author information. 

What are the key rules of creating a References list?
There are unique formatting rules to follow for each reference entry, but generally, remember these key rules for the whole references list:

  • Center the word “References” at the top of the new page. The page should have the essay title and page number in the header, as on all the other essay pages.
  • Double space every line—no additional spacing required.
  • Alphabetize entries by authors’ last names.
  • Create a hanging indent for each individual source you add to the list. A hanging indent is where the second and all the following lines of a paragraph are indented more than the first.