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Citing In APA Format

Updated on December 2, 2012

There are different citation styles for referencing sources in an essay or report, including Chicago and MLA. However, the style I used the most was APA, which stands for American Psychological Association. This style is typically used for citing sources in social science fields and is helpful because it is simple and can be used for a variety of source types.

General Guidelines

Essay Format

Your paper should be typed and double-spaced on 8.5x11'' white paper with a 1" margin on the top, bottom, and sides of the paper. Use a standard typeface such as Times New Roman or Arial, and 12-point font.

Also, include a header at the top of the page (if using Microsoft Word, go to Insert, then to "Header"). On the left side, put the title of your essay, and on the right put the page number.

In-Text Citation

In your paper, you can either paraphrase the source or use a direct quote. If you are using a direct quote, be sure to use quotation marks around the quote. For a long quote of 40 words or more, indent the quote an additional 1/2 inch from the left; quotation marks are not needed. See the example below, using the author name Smith, last edited date of 2012, and page numbers 110-115.

According to Smith (2012):

This is a long quote of 40 words or more. This is a long quote of 40 words or more. This is a long quote of 40 words or more. This is a long quote of 40 words or more.

When citing a source in your paper, you need to include the name(s) of the source, the year the source was last edited, and the page number(s). Below are examples of three ways you can do this.

  • According to Smith (2012), "Quote" (pps. 110-115).
  • Smith (2012) stated "Quote" (pps. 110-115).
  • It was stated, "Quote" (Smith, 2012, pps. 110-115).

Reference List

While there are some differences in citation the various types of sources (books, electronic sources, etc.), there is a basic format for APA citation:

Last name of author, Initial of first name, middle initial if there is one. (Year last edited). Title. Website address.

Adjustments will need to be made for the different source types. Below are the general adjustments needed for common types, but review the resources below for details and for specific or special situations.

  • Periodicals: Add the title of the periodical (meaning a magazine, newspaper, encyclopedias, etc), volume number, issue number, and the pages that were used.

    Last name of author, Initial of first name, middle initial. (Year last edited). Title. Title of periodical, volume number (issue number), pages used.

  • Books: Add the location and name of the publisher.

    Last name of author, Initial of first name, middle initial. (Year last edited). Title.
    Location of publisher: Publisher name.

  • Online: If the source is online, use the guidelines above and simply add the URL of the source. For instance, for an online periodical, see below:

    Last name of author, Initial of first name, middle initial. (Year last edited). Title. Title of periodical, volume number (issue number), pages used. Retrieved from www...

    If the source is an online periodical from a database vendor and has a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number:

    Last name of author, Initial of first name, middle initial. (Year last edited). Title. Title of periodical, volume number (issue number), pages used. doi:0000000/000000000000 or

There are basic rules for constructing the reference list:

  • Alphabetize the sources by the name of the source. If the name of the source is an organization rather than a person, use the first word of the organization name for alphabetizing the source. If there is more than one entry for an author, put in order of the year it was last edited.
  • For each source, indent all of the lines after the first line by 1/2 inch.
  • Italicize titles if they are longer sources, like books rather than short articles.


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    • Natashalh profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Oh, goodness, I need this. My favorite is Turabian, but I have to use APA for a couple of things this month. Ugh. It's very different from Turabian in basically every way!

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 

      6 years ago from United States

      Thanks for this Hub. I only use MLA for my students but need to have something to show them about how to do APA. Voted up and pinned!

    • anupma profile image

      Dr Anupma Srivastava 

      6 years ago from India

      For my thesis completion, I go through MLA style.

      I heard about this APA style, but did not read it. Informative hub. Thanks for sharing.


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