How To Write APA References: A Beginners Introduction

If you are a college student or even a high school student, you may want to know or have to know how to reference in APA format. APA stands for the American Psychological Association. The APA guidelines are put forth in the APA manual in revised editions every couple of years. This reference manual sets the standard for peer reviewed publications and college writing norms across the world. The reference system was set up so that there would be structure in the reference section of the paper that everyone could understand easily.

Though you can buy an APA manual rather cheaply online, it is easier to keyword your search in a search engine looking for the specific citation that you wish to use. For instance, if you put in single author APA as a keyword in your search engine, you will several web pages that will give you a plethora of examples of APA references that will meet your needs.

A sample of an APA single reference is as follows:

Doe, J. (2009). How To Find APA References. Fantasy Publications. Retrieved on July 4, 2010 from

If you notice that the last name is indented five spaces into the reference and then only the first initial is used separated from the the last name by a period. Next comes the date in parenthesis followed by a period. Here is where it is different according to whether you are citing a book or peer reviewed article. The above sample is a citation for a book. The below is the same example if the citation was for an article.

Doe, J. (2009) How to find APA references. Scientific Today , 14(8). Retrieved on July 4, 2010 from EbscoHost database.

With both citations you start out the same, but in the peer reviewed literature you only capitalize the first letter of the first word and all proper nouns. In both citations, the publication or the publisher comes next. Here italics are used to make them stand out in both citations and in peer reviewed citations the volume and issue is listed.

Both citations also report when the citation was retrieved, because web pages are fickle and disappear. This will allow the reader to make adjustment in their research.

This is only a brief overview of the APA citation rules. For each type of publication and for each number of authors for that publication there are several rules that apply.


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