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APA Citation Style

Formatting Reference Lists

See rules 6.22 to 6.32 of the APA Publication Manual for more information on the preparation of the reference list.

  • Check with your professor before modifying APA style for your assignment.
  • This format is also used for an APA annotated bibliography.

Formatting the Reference List

  • The list of sources at the end of the paper (bibliography) is called the reference list.
  • The reference list must include all references cited in the text of your paper.
  • Start a References list on a new page.
  • Entries should have a hanging indent of 1/2 inch or 5 spaces for the second and subsequent lines of each entry (as used in this guide).
  • Double-space your list of references unless you have been told to single-space to save space.
  • Disable URL hyperlinks (they should not appear underlined in a different colour.)
  • The chosen format should be consistent throughout the references.

Formatting References

  • When the author is a group (governmental department, agency, association or institution) use the full name rather than abbreviation.
  • When a work has no author the title moves into the author position.
  • When citing books, articles or chapters (not periodicals), capitalize only the first word of the title, the first word after a colon or period and any proper nouns. (Rule 6.29, p. 185)
  • It is rare that an issue number is included. It is used only if the journal is paginated separately by issue.
  • If more than one city of publication is listed in the book you are citing, use the first one listed.
  • For webpages, look for the date when the content was created. Do not use the website’s copyright date.
  • If there is no date of publication, use the abbreviation “(n.d.)”.
  • When citing webpages, be sure that it really is a webpage and not a journal article, or report that you found on the Internet.
  • A DOI (digital object identifier) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet. Not all journals have a DOI so please consult the APA Guide section on how to treat those citations.

Ordering References

  • Entries are in alphabetical order by the last name of the first author (Rule 6.25, p. 181)
    • Alphabetize letter by letter "Nothing precedes something" 'Brown, J. R.' comes before 'Browning, A. F.'
    • For the authors’ names, use surnames and initials: 'Smith, J.', not 'Smith, Jennifer'.
    • For several works by the same author cite them in your reference list by year of publication with the earliest first - Smith, A. (1999) ... Smith, A. (2002)
  • When the author is a group (governmental department, agency, association or institution) alphabetize by the first significant word in the name.
  • When a work has no author alphabetize by the first significant word in the title.

Sample APA Reference List

Common errors in APA reference lists

Authors names

  • Use surnames and initials.

Capitalization in title of an article or chapter.

  • Capitalize only the first word of the title, the first word after a colon or period and any proper nouns.

Volume and issue numbers

  • It is rare that an issue number is included. It is used only if the journal is paginated separately by issue.

Webpages

  • Be sure that it really is a webpage and not a journal article, or report that you found on the Internet.
  • Look for the date when the content was created. Do not use the website’s copyright date.

DOI (digital object identifier)


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