Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.
To see a side-by-side comparison of the three most widely used citation styles, including a chart of all APA citation guidelines, see the Citation Style Chart.
General APA Guidelines
Your essay should be typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
Include a page header (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. To create a page header/running head, insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.
Major Paper Sections
Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. Please note that on the title page, your page header/running head should look like this:
Pages after the title page should have a running head that looks like this:
After consulting with publication specialists at the APA, OWL staff learned that the APA 6th edition, first printing sample papers have incorrect examples of Running heads on pages after the title page. This link will take you to the APA site where you can find a complete list of all the errors in the APA's 6th edition style guide.
Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends that your title be no more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.
Beneath the title, type the author's name: first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).
Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation, which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.
Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting, italics, underlining, or quotation marks).
Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph double-spaced. Your abstract should be between 150 and 250 words.
You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.
How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA
Contributors' names and the last edited date can be found in the orange boxes at the top of every page on the OWL.
Contributors' names (Last edited date). Title of resource. Retrieved from http://Web address for OWL resource
Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
In-Text Citations: The Basics
Reference citations in text are covered on pages 169-179 of the Publication Manual. What follows are some general guidelines for referring to the works of others in your essay.
Note: APA style requires authors to use the past tense or present perfect tense when using signal phrases to describe earlier research, for example, Jones (1998) found or Jones (1998) has found...
APA citation basics
When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, for example, (Jones, 1998), and a complete reference should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.
If you are referring to an idea from another work but NOT directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your in-text reference. All sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.
In-text citation capitalization, quotes, and italics/underlining
- Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names and initials: D. Jones.
- If you refer to the title of a source within your paper, capitalize all words that are four letters long or greater within the title of a source: Permanence and Change. Exceptions apply to short words that are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs: Writing New Media, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
(Note: in your References list, only the first word of a title will be capitalized: Writing new media.)
- When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word: Natural-Born Cyborgs.
- Capitalize the first word after a dash or colon: "Defining Film Rhetoric: The Case of Hitchcock's Vertigo."
- Italicize or underline the titles of longer works such as books, edited collections, movies, television series, documentaries, or albums: The Closing of the American Mind; The Wizard of Oz; Friends.
- Put quotation marks around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles, articles from edited collections, television series episodes, and song titles: "Multimedia Narration: Constructing Possible Worlds"; "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry."
If you are directly quoting from a work, you will need to include the author, year of publication, and the page number for the reference (preceded by "p."). Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.
According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (p. 199).
Jones (1998) found "students often had difficulty using APA style" (p. 199); what implications does this have for teachers?
If the author is not named in a signal phrase, place the author's last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.
She stated, "Students often had difficulty using APA style" (Jones, 1998, p. 199), but she did not offer an explanation as to why.
Place direct quotations that are 40 words, or longer, in a free-standing block of typewritten lines, and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same place you would begin a new paragraph. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.
Jones's (1998) study found the following:
Students often had difficulty using APA style,
especially when it was their first time citing sources. This difficulty could be attributed to the fact that many students failed to purchase a style manual or to ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)
Summary or paraphrase
If you are paraphrasing an idea from another work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference, but APA guidelines encourage you to also provide the page number (although it is not required.)
According to Jones (1998), APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners.
APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (Jones, 1998, p. 199).
In-Text Citations: Author/Authors
APA style has a series of important rules on using author names as part of the author-date system. There are additional rules for citing indirect sources, electronic sources, and sources without page numbers.
Citing an Author or Authors
A Work by Two Authors: Name both authors in the signal phrase or in the parentheses each time you cite the work. Use the word "and" between the authors' names within the text and use the ampersand in the parentheses.
A Work by Three to Five Authors: List all the authors in the signal phrase or in parentheses the first time you cite the source. Use the word "and" between the authors' names within the text and use the ampersand in the parentheses.
In subsequent citations, only use the first author's last name followed by "et al." in the signal phrase or in parentheses.
Six or More Authors: Use the first author's name followed by et al. in the signal phrase or in parentheses.
Unknown Author: If the work does not have an author, cite the source by its title in the signal phrase or use the first word or two in the parentheses. Titles of books and reports are italicized or underlined; titles of articles, chapters, and web pages are in quotation marks.
Note: In the rare case the "Anonymous" is used for the author, treat it as the author's name (Anonymous, 2001). In the reference list, use the name Anonymous as the author.
Organization as an Author: If the author is an organization or a government agency, mention the organization in the signal phrase or in the parenthetical citation the first time you cite the source.
If the organization has a well-known abbreviation, include the abbreviation in brackets the first time the source is cited and then use only the abbreviation in later citations.
Two or More Works in the Same Parentheses: When your parenthetical citation includes two or more works, order them the same way they appear in the reference list (viz., alphabetically), separated by a semi-colon.
Authors With the Same Last Name: To prevent confusion, use first initials with the last names.
Two or More Works by the Same Author in the Same Year: If you have two sources by the same author in the same year, use lower-case letters (a, b, c) with the year to order the entries in the reference list. Use the lower-case letters with the year in the in-text citation.
Introductions, Prefaces, Forewords, and Afterwords: When citing an Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterwords in-text, cite the appropriate author and year as usual.
(Funk & Kolln, 1992)
Personal Communication: For interviews, letters, e-mails, and other person-to-person communication, cite the communicator's name, the fact that it was personal communication, and the date of the communication. Do not include personal communication in the reference list.
Citing Indirect Sources
If you use a source that was cited in another source, name the original source in your signal phrase. List the secondary source in your reference list and include the secondary source in the parentheses.
Note: When citing material in parentheses, set off the citation with a comma, as above. Also, try to locate the original material and cite the original source.
If possible, cite an electronic document the same as any other document by using the author-date style.
Unknown Author and Unknown Date: If no author or date is given, use the title in your signal phrase or the first word or two of the title in the parentheses and use the abbreviation "n.d." (for "no date").
Sources Without Page Numbers
When an electronic source lacks page numbers, you should try to include information that will help readers find the passage being cited. When an electronic document has numbered paragraphs, use the abbreviation "para." followed by the paragraph number (Hall, 2001, para. 5). If the paragraphs are not numbered and the document includes headings, provide the appropriate heading and specify the paragraph under that heading. Note that in some electronic sources, like Web pages, people can use the Find function in their browser to locate any passages you cite.
Note: Never use the page numbers of Web pages you print out; different computers print Web pages with different pagination.
Footnotes and Endnotes
APA does not recommend the use of footnotes and endnotes because they are often expensive for publishers to reproduce. However, if explanatory notes still prove necessary to your document, APA details the use of two types of footnotes: content and copyright.
When using either type of footnote, insert a number formatted in superscript following almost any punctuation mark. Footnote numbers should not follow dashes ( — ), and if they appear in a sentence in parentheses, the footnote number should be inserted within the parentheses.
When using the footnote function in a word-processing program like Microsoft Word, place all footnotes at the bottom of the page on which they appear. Footnotes may also appear on the final page of your document (usually this is after the References page). Center the word “Footnotes” at the top of the page. Indent five spaces on the first line of each footnote. Then, follow normal paragraph spacing rules. Double-space throughout.
Content Notes provide supplemental information to your readers. When providing Content Notes, be brief and focus on only one subject. Try to limit your comments to one small paragraph.
Content Notes can also point readers to information that is available in more detail elsewhere.
Copyright Permission Notes
If you quote more than 500 words of published material or think you may be in violation of “Fair Use” copyright laws, you must get the formal permission of the author(s). All other sources simply appear in the reference list.
Follow the same formatting rules as with Content Notes for noting copyright permissions. Then attach a copy of the permission letter to the document.
If you are reproducing a graphic, chart, or table, from some other source, you must provide a special note at the bottom of the item that includes copyright information. You should also submit written permission along with your work. Begin the citation with “Note.”
Note. From “Title of the article,” by W. Jones and R. Smith, 2007, Journal Title, 21, p. 122. Copyright 2007 by Copyright Holder. Reprinted with permission.
Reference List: Basic Rules
Your reference list should appear at the end of your paper. It provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source you cite in the body of the paper. Each source you cite in the paper must appear in your reference list; likewise, each entry in the reference list must be cited in your text.
Your references should begin on a new page separate from the text of the essay; label this page "References" centered at the top of the page (do NOT bold, underline, or use quotation marks for the title). All text should be double-spaced just like the rest of your essay.
- All lines after the first line of each entry in your reference list should be indented one-half inch from the left margin. This is called hanging indentation.
- Authors' names are inverted (last name first); give the last name and initials for all authors of a particular work for up to and including seven authors. If the work has more than seven authors, list the first six authors and then use ellipses after the sixth author's name. After the ellipses, list the last author's name of the work.
- Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.
- For multiple articles by the same author, or authors listed in the same order, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to most recent.
- Present the journal title in full.
- Maintain the punctuation and capitalization that is used by the journal in its title.
- For example: ReCALL not RECALL or Knowledge Management Research & Practice not Knowledge Management Research and Practice.
- Capitalize all major words in journal titles.
- When referring to books, chapters, articles, or Web pages, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns. Do not capitalize the first letter of the second word in a hyphenated compound word.
- Italicize titles of longer works such as books and journals.
- Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles or essays in edited collections.
- Please note: While the APA manual provides many examples of how to cite common types of sources, it does not provide rules on how to cite all types of sources. Therefore, if you have a source that APA does not include, APA suggests that you find the example that is most similar to your source and use that format. For more information, see page 193 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).
Reference List: Author/Authors
The following rules for handling works by a single author or multiple authors apply to all APA-style references in your reference list, regardless of the type of work (book, article, electronic resource, etc.)
Last name first, followed by author initials.
Berndt, T. J. (2002). Friendship quality and social development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 7-10.
List by their last names and initials. Use the ampersand instead of "and."
Wegener, D. T., & Petty, R. E. (1994). Mood management across affective states: The hedonic contingency hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 1034-1048.
Three to Seven Authors
List by last names and initials; commas separate author names, while the last author name is preceded again by ampersand.
Kernis, M. H., Cornell, D. P., Sun, C. R., Berry, A., Harlow, T., & Bach, J. S. (1993). There's more to self-esteem than whether it is high or low: The importance of stability of self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 1190-1204.
More Than Seven Authors
List by last names and initials; commas separate author names. After the sixth author's name, use an ellipses in place of the author names. Then provide the final author name. There should be no more than seven names.
Miller, F. H., Choi, M. J., Angeli, L. L., Harland, A. A., Stamos, J. A., Thomas, S. T., . . . Rubin, L. H. (2009). Web site usability for the blind and low-vision user. Technical Communication, 57, 323-335.
Organization as Author
American Psychological Association. (2003).
Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary (10th ed.).(1993). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
NOTE: When your essay includes parenthetical citations of sources with no author named, use a shortened version of the source's title instead of an author's name. Use quotation marks and italics as appropriate. For example, parenthetical citations of the source above would appear as follows: (Merriam-Webster's, 1993).
Two or More Works by the Same Author
Use the author's name for all entries and list the entries by the year (earliest comes first).
Berndt, T. J. (1981).
Berndt, T. J. (1999).
When an author appears both as a sole author and, in another citation, as the first author of a group, list the one-author entries first.
Berndt, T. J. (1999). Friends' influence on students' adjustment to school. Educational Psychologist, 34, 15-28.
Berndt, T. J., & Keefe, K. (1995). Friends' influence on adolescents' adjustment to school. Child Development, 66, 1312-1329.
References that have the same first author and different second and/or third authors are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the second author, or the last name of the third if the first and second authors are the same.
Wegener, D. T., Kerr, N. L., Fleming, M. A., & Petty, R. E. (2000). Flexible corrections of juror judgments: Implications for jury instructions. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 6, 629-654.
Wegener, D. T., Petty, R. E., & Klein, D. J. (1994). Effects of mood on high elaboration attitude change: The mediating role of likelihood judgments. European Journal of Social Psychology, 24, 25-43.
Two or More Works by the Same Author in the Same Year
If you are using more than one reference by the same author (or the same group of authors listed in the same order) published in the same year, organize them in the reference list alphabetically by the title of the article or chapter. Then assign letter suffixes to the year. Refer to these sources in your essay as they appear in your reference list, e.g.: "Berdnt (1981a) makes similar claims..."
Berndt, T. J. (1981a). Age changes and changes over time in prosocial intentions and behavior between friends. Developmental Psychology, 17, 408-416.
Berndt, T. J. (1981b). Effects of friendship on prosocial intentions and behavior. Child Development, 52, 636-643.
Introductions, Prefaces, Forewords, and Afterwords
Cite the publishing information about a book as usual, but cite Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword (whatever title is applicable) as the chapter of the book.
Funk, R., & Kolln, M. (1998). Introduction. In E. W. Ludlow (Ed.), Understanding English grammar (pp. 1-2). Needham, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Reference List: Articles in Periodicals
APA style dictates that authors are named last name followed by initials; publication year goes between parentheses, followed by a period. The title of the article is in sentence-case, meaning only the first word and proper nouns in the title are capitalized. The periodical title is run in title case, and is followed by the volume number which, with the title, is also italicized. If a DOI has been assigned to the article that you are using, you should include this after the page numbers for the article. If no DOI has been assigned and you are accessing the periodical online, use the URL of the website from which you are retrieving the periodical.
Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages. http://dx.doi.org/xx.xxx/yyyyy
Article in Journal Paginated by Volume
Journals that are paginated by volume begin with page one in issue one, and continue numbering issue two where issue one ended, etc.
Harlow, H. F. (1983). Fundamentals for preparing psychology journal articles. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 55, 893-896.
Article in Journal Paginated by Issue
Journals paginated by issue begin with page one every issue; therefore, the issue number gets indicated in parentheses after the volume. The parentheses and issue number are not italicized or underlined.
Scruton, R. (1996). The eclipse of listening. The New Criterion, 15(3), 5-13.
Article in a Magazine
Henry, W. A., III. (1990, April 9). Making the grade in today's schools. Time, 135, 28-31.
Article in a Newspaper
Unlike other periodicals, p. or pp. precedes page numbers for a newspaper reference in APA style. Single pages take p., e.g., p. B2; multiple pages take pp., e.g., pp. B2, B4 or pp. C1, C3-C4.
Schultz, S. (2005, December 28). Calls made to strengthen state energy policies. The Country Today, pp. 1A, 2A.
Note: Because of issues with html coding, the listings below using brackets contain spaces that are not to be used with your listings. Use a space as normal before the brackets, but do not include a space following the bracket.
Letter to the Editor
Moller, G. (2002, August). Ripples versus rumbles [Letter to the editor]. Scientific American, 287(2), 12.
Baumeister, R. F. (1993). Exposing the self-knowledge myth [Review of the book The self-knower: A hero under control, by R. A. Wicklund & M. Eckert]. Contemporary Psychology, 38, 466-467.
Reference List: Books
Basic Format for Books
Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.
Note: For "Location," you should always list the city and the state using the two letter postal abbreviation without periods (New York, NY).
Calfee, R. C., & Valencia, R. R. (1991). APA guide to preparing manuscripts for journal publication. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Edited Book, No Author
Duncan, G. J., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (Eds.). (1997). Consequences of growing up poor. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
Edited Book with an Author or Authors
Plath, S. (2000). The unabridged journals. K. V. Kukil (Ed.). New York, NY: Anchor.
Laplace, P. S. (1951). A philosophical essay on probabilities. (F. W. Truscott & F. L. Emory, Trans.). New York, NY: Dover. (Original work published 1814)
Note: When you cite a republished work, like the one above, in your text, it should appear with both dates: Laplace (1814/1951).
Edition Other Than the First
Helfer, M. E., Kempe, R. S., & Krugman, R. D. (1997). The battered child (5th ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Article or Chapter in an Edited Book
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. In A. A. Editor & B. B. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pages of chapter). Location: Publisher.
Note: When you list the pages of the chapter or essay in parentheses after the book title, use "pp." before the numbers: (pp. 1-21). This abbreviation, however, does not appear before the page numbers in periodical references, except for newspapers.
O'Neil, J. M., & Egan, J. (1992). Men's and women's gender role journeys: A metaphor for healing, transition, and transformation. In B. R. Wainrib (Ed.), Gender issues across the life cycle (pp. 107-123). New York, NY: Springer.
Wiener, P. (Ed.). (1973). Dictionary of the history of ideas (Vols. 1-4). New York, NY: Scribner's.
Reference List: Other Print Sources
An Entry in an Encyclopedia
Bergmann, P. G. (1993). Relativity. In The New Encyclopedia Britannica. (Vol. 26, pp. 501-508). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica.
Work Discussed in a Secondary Source
List the source the work was discussed in:
Coltheart, M., Curtis, B., Atkins, P., & Haller, M. (1993). Models of reading aloud: Dual-route and parallel-distributed-processing approaches. Psychological Review, 100, 589-608.
NOTE: Give the secondary source in the references list; in the text, name the original work, and give a citation for the secondary source. For example, if Seidenberg and McClelland's work is cited in Coltheart et al. and you did not read the original work, list the Coltheart et al. reference in the References. In the text, use the following citation:
Yoshida, Y. (2001). Essays in urban transportation. Dissertation Abstracts International, 62, 7741A.
Lastname, F. N. (Year). Title of dissertation (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Name of database. (Accession or Order Number)
Lastname, F. N. (Year). Title of dissertation (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Name of Institution, Location.
National Institute of Mental Health. (1990). Clinical training in serious mental illness (DHHS Publication No. ADM 90-1679). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
For information about citing legal sources in your reference list, see the University of Nebraska, Kearney page on Citing Legal Materials in APA Style.
Report From a Private Organization
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Practice guidelines for the treatment of patients with eating disorders (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Schnase, J. L., & Cunnius, E. L. (Eds.). (1995). Proceedings from CSCL '95: The First International Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Reference List: Electronic Sources (Web Publications)
Please note: There are no spaces used with brackets in APA. When possible, include the year, month, and date in references. If the month and date are not available, use the year of publication. Please note, too, that the OWL still includes information about print sources and databases for those still working with these sources.
Article From an Online Periodical
Online articles follow the same guidelines for printed articles. Include all information the online host makes available, including an issue number in parentheses.
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Online Periodical, volume number(issue number if available). Retrieved from
Bernstein, M. (2002). 10 tips on writing the living Web. A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 149. Retrieved from http://www.alistapart.com/articles/writeliving
Online Scholarly Journal Article: Citing DOIs
Please note: In August of 2011 the formatting recommendations for DOIs changed. DOIs are now rendered as an alpha-numeric string which acts as an active link. According to The APA Style Guide to Electronic References, 6th edition, you should use the DOI format which the article appears with. So, if it is using the older numeric string, use that as the DOI. If, however, it is presented as the newer alpha-numeric string, use that as the DOI. The Purdue OWL maintains examples of citations using both DOI styles.
Because online materials can potentially change URLs, APA recommends providing a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), when it is available, as opposed to the URL. DOIs are an attempt to provide stable, long-lasting links for online articles. They are unique to their documents and consist of a long alphanumeric code. Many-but not all-publishers will provide an article's DOI on the first page of the document.
Note that some online bibliographies provide an article's DOI but may "hide" the code under a button which may read "Article" or may be an abbreviation of a vendor's name like "CrossRef" or "PubMed." This button will usually lead the user to the full article which will include the DOI. Find DOI's from print publications or ones that go to dead links with CrossRef.org's "DOI Resolver," which is displayed in a central location on their home page.
Article From an Online Periodical with DOI Assigned
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range. doi:0000000/000000000000 or http://dx.doi.org/10.0000/0000
Brownlie, D. (2007). Toward effective poster presentations: An annotated bibliography. European Journal of Marketing, 41, 1245-1283. doi:10.1108/03090560710821161
Wooldridge, M.B., & Shapka, J. (2012). Playing with technology: Mother-toddler interaction scores lower during play with electronic toys. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 33(5), 211-218. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2012.05.005
Article From an Online Periodical with no DOI Assigned
Online scholarly journal articles without a DOI require the URL of the journal home page. Remember that one goal of citations is to provide your readers with enough information to find the article; providing the journal home page aids readers in this process.
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number. Retrieved from http://www.journalhomepage.com/full/url/
Kenneth, I. A. (2000). A Buddhist response to the nature of human rights. Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 8. Retrieved from http://www.cac.psu.edu/jbe/twocont.html
Article from a Database
Please note: APA states that including database information in citations is not necessary because databases change over time (p. 192). However, the OWL still includes information about databases for those users who need database information.
When referencing a print article obtained from an online database (such as a database in the library), provide appropriate print citation information (formatted just like a "normal" print citation would be for that type of work). By providing this information, you allow people to retrieve the print version if they do not have access to the database from which you retrieved the article. You can also include the item number or accession number or database URL at the end, but the APA manual says that this is not required.
If you are citing a database article that is available in other places, such as a journal or magazine, include the homepage's URL. You may have to do a web search of the article's title, author, etc. to find the URL.
For articles that are easily located, do not provide database information. If the article is difficult to locate, then you can provide database information. Only use retrieval dates if the source could change, such as Wikis. For more about citing articles retrieved from electronic databases, see pages 187-192 of the Publication Manual.
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range. Retrieved from http://www.someaddress.com/full/url/
Smyth, A. M., Parker, A. L., & Pease, D. L. (2002). A study of enjoyment of peas. Journal of Abnormal Eating, 8(3), 120-125. Retrieved from
If you only cite an abstract but the full text of the article is also available, cite the online abstract as any other online citations, adding "[Abstract]" after the article or source name. However, if the full text is not available, you may use an abstract that is available through an abstracts database as a secondary source.
Paterson, P. (2008). How well do young offenders with Asperger Syndrome cope in custody?: Two prison case studies [Abstract]. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 36(1), 54-58.
Hendricks, J., Applebaum, R., & Kunkel, S. (2010). A world apart? Bridging the gap between theory and applied social gerontology. Gerontologist, 50(3), 284-293. Abstract retrieved from Abstracts in Social Gerontology database. (Accession No. 50360869)
Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of article. Title of Newspaper. Retrieved from
Parker-Pope, T. (2008, May 6). Psychiatry handbook linked to drug industry. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/psychiatry-handbook-linked-to-drug-industry/?_r=0
Electronic books may include books found on personal websites, databases, or even in audio form. Use the following format if the book you are using is only provided in a digital format or is difficult to find in print. If the work is not directly available online or must be purchased, use "Available from," rather than "Retrieved from," and point readers to where they can find it. For books available in print form and electronic form, include the publish date in parentheses after the author's name. For references to e-book editions, be sure to include the type and version of e-book you are referencing (e.g., "[Kindle DX version]"). If DOIs are available, provide them at the end of the reference.
De Huff, E. W. (n.d.). Taytay’s tales: Traditional Pueblo Indian tales. Retrieved from http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/dehuff/taytay/taytay.html
Davis, J. (n.d.). Familiar birdsongs of the Northwest. Available from http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio? inkey=1-9780931686108-0
To cite Kindle (or other e-book formats) you must include the following information: The author, date of publication, title, e-book version, and either the Digital Object Identifer (DOI) number, or the place where you downloaded the book. Please note that the DOI/place of download is used in-place of publisher information.
Here’s an example:
Chapter/Section of a Web Document or Online Book Chapter
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. In Title of book or larger document (chapter or section number). Retrieved from http://www.someaddress.com/full/url/
Engelshcall, R. S. (1997). Module mod_rewrite: URL Rewriting Engine. In Apache HTTP Server version 1.3 documentation (Apache modules). Retrieved from http://httpd.apache.org/docs/1.3/mod/mod_rewrite.html
Peckinpaugh, J. (2003). Change in the Nineties. In J. S. Bough and G. B. DuBois (Eds.), A century of growth in America. Retrieved from GoldStar database.
NOTE: Use a chapter or section identifier and provide a URL that links directly to the chapter section, not the home page of the Web site.
Online Book Reviews
Cite the information as you normally would for the work you are quoting. (The first example below is from a newspaper article; the second is from a scholarly journal.) In brackets, write "Review of the book" and give the title of the reviewed work. Provide the web address after the words "Retrieved from," if the review is freely available to anyone. If the review comes from a subscription service or database, write "Available from" and provide the information where the review can be purchased.
Zacharek, S. (2008, April 27). Natural women [Review of the book Girls like us]. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/27/books/review/Zachareck
Castle, G. (2007). New millennial Joyce [Review of the books Twenty-first Joyce, Joyce's critics: Transitions in reading and culture, and Joyce's messianism: Dante, negative existence, and the messianic self]. Modern Fiction Studies, 50(1), 163-173. Available from Project MUSE Web site: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/modern_fiction_studies/toc/mfs52.1.html
Dissertation/Thesis from a Database
Biswas, S. (2008). Dopamine D3 receptor: A neuroprotective treatment target in Parkinson's disease. Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations. (AAT 3295214)
Online Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
Often encyclopedias and dictionaries do not provide bylines (authors' names). When no byline is present, move the entry name to the front of the citation. Provide publication dates if present or specify (n.d.) if no date is present in the entry.
Feminism. (n.d.). In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/724633/feminism
Online Bibliographies and Annotated Bibliographies
Jürgens, R. (2005). HIV/AIDS and HCV in Prisons: A Select Annotated Bibliography. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/alt_formats/hpb-dgps/pdf/intactiv/hiv-vih-aids-sida-prison-carceral_e.pdf
Point readers to raw data by providing a Web address (use "Retrieved from") or a general place that houses data sets on the site (use "Available from").
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2008). Indiana income limits [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.huduser.org/Datasets/IL/IL08/in_fy2008.pdf
Graphic Data (e.g. Interactive Maps and Other Graphic Representations of Data)
Give the name of the researching organization followed by the date. In brackets, provide a brief explanation of what type of data is there and in what form it appears. Finally, provide the project name and retrieval information.
Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment. (2007). [Graph illustration the SORCE Spectral Plot May 8, 2008]. Solar Spectral Data Access from the SIM, SOLSTICE, and XPS Instruments. Retrieved from http://lasp.colorado.edu/cgi-bin/ion-p?page=input_data_for_ spectra.ion
Qualitative Data and Online Interviews
If an interview is not retrievable in audio or print form, cite the interview only in the text (not in the reference list) and provide the month, day, and year in the text. If an audio file or transcript is available online, use the following model, specifying the medium in brackets (e.g. [Interview transcript, Interview audio file]):
Butler, C. (Interviewer) & Stevenson, R. (Interviewee). (1999). Oral History 2 [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from Johnson Space Center Oral Histories Project Web site: http:// www11.jsc.nasa.gov/history/oral_histories/oral_histories.htm
Online Lecture Notes and Presentation Slides
When citing online lecture notes, be sure to provide the file format in brackets after the lecture title (e.g. PowerPoint slides, Word document).
Hallam, A. Duality in consumer theory [PDF document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site: http://www.econ.iastate.edu/classes/econ501/Hallam/
Roberts, K. F. (1998). Federal regulations of chemicals in the environment [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://siri.uvm.edu/ppt/40hrenv/index.html
Nonperiodical Web Document or Report
List as much of the following information as possible (you sometimes have to hunt around to find the information; don't be lazy. If there is a page like http://www.somesite.com/somepage.htm, and somepage.htm doesn't have the information you're looking for, move up the URL to http://www.somesite.com/):
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of document. Retrieved from http://Web address
Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderland, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
NOTE: When an Internet document is more than one Web page, provide a URL that links to the home page or entry page for the document. Also, if there isn't a date available for the document use (n.d.) for no date.
To cite a YouTube video, the APA recommends following the above format.
Computer Software/Downloaded Software
Do not cite standard office software (e.g. Word, Excel) or programming languages. Provide references only for specialized software.
Ludwig, T. (2002). PsychInquiry [computer software]. New York: Worth.
Software that is downloaded from a Web site should provide the software’s version and year when available.
Hayes, B., Tesar, B., & Zuraw, K. (2003). OTSoft: Optimality Theory Software (Version 2.1) [Software]. Available from http://www.linguistics.ucla.edu/people/hayes/otsoft/
E-mails are not included in the list of references, though you parenthetically cite them in your main text: (E. Robbins, personal communication, January 4, 2001).
Online Forum or Discussion Board Posting
Include the title of the message, and the URL of the newsgroup or discussion board. Please note that titles for items in online communities (e.g. blogs, newsgroups, forums) are not italicized. If the author's name is not available, provide the screen name. Place identifiers like post or message numbers, if available, in brackets. If available, provide the URL where the message is archived (e.g. "Message posted to..., archived at...").
Frook, B. D. (1999, July 23). New inventions in the cyberworld of toylandia [Msg 25]. Message posted to http://groups.earthlink.com/forum/messages/00025.html
Blog (Weblog) and Video Blog Post
Include the title of the message and the URL. Please note that titles for items in online communities (e.g. blogs, newsgroups, forums) are not italicized. If the author’s name is not available, provide the screen name.
J Dean. (2008, May 7). When the self emerges: Is that me in the mirror? [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.spring.org.uk/the1sttransport
Psychology Video Blog #3 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqM90eQi5-M
Please note that the APA Style Guide to Electronic References warns writers that wikis (like Wikipedia, for example) are collaborative projects that cannot guarantee the verifiability or expertise of their entries.
OLPC Peru/Arahuay. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2011 from the OLPC Wiki: http://wiki.laptop. org/go/OLPC_Peru/Arahuay
For all podcasts, provide as much information as possible; not all of the following information will be available. Possible addition identifiers may include Producer, Director, etc.
Bell, T., & Phillips, T. (2008, May 6). A solar flare. Science @ NASA Podcast. Podcast retrieved from http://science.nasa.gov/podcast.htm
For all podcasts, provide as much information as possible; not all of the following information will be available. Possible addition identifiers may include Producer, Director, etc.
Scott, D. (Producer). (2007, January 5). The community college classroom [Episode 7]. Adventures in Education. Podcast retrieved from http://www.adveeducation.com
For more help with citing electronic sources, please use these links:
- Documenting Electronic Sources
- APA style web site's coverage of electronic references
- APA Frequently Asked Questions
Reference List: Other Non-Print Sources
Interviews, Email, and Other Personal Communication
No personal communication is included in your reference list; instead, parenthetically cite the communicator's name, the phrase "personal communication," and the date of the communication in your main text only.
Basic reference list format:
Producer, P. P. (Producer), & Director, D. D. (Director). (Date of publication). Title of motion picture [Motion picture]. Country of origin: Studio or distributor.
Note: If a movie or video tape is not available in wide distribution, add the following to your citation after the country of origin: (Available from Distributor name, full address and zip code).
A Motion Picture or Video Tape with International or National Availability
Smith, J. D. (Producer), & Smithee, A. F. (Director). (2001). Really big disaster movie [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.
A Motion Picture or Video Tape with Limited Availability
Harris, M. (Producer), & Turley, M. J. (Director). (2002). Writing labs: A history [Motion picture]. (Available from Purdue University Pictures, 500 Oval Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907)
Television Broadcast or Series Episode
Writer, W. W. (Writer), & Director, D. D. (Director). (Date of broadcast or copyright). Title of broadcast [Television broadcast or Television series]. In P. Producer (Producer). City, state of origin: Studio or distributor.
Single Episode of a Television Series
Writer, W. W. (Writer), & Director, D. D. (Director). (Date of publication). Title of episode [Television series episode]. In P. Producer (Producer), Series title. City, state of origin: Studio or distributor.
Wendy, S. W. (Writer), & Martian, I. R. (Director). (1986). The rising angel and the falling ape [Television series episode]. In D. Dude (Producer), Creatures and monsters. Los Angeles, CA: Belarus Studios.
Important, I. M. (Producer). (1990, November 1). The nightly news hour [Television broadcast]. New York, NY: Central Broadcasting Service.
A Television Series
Bellisario, D. L. (Producer). (1992). Exciting action show [Television series]. Hollywood, CA: American Broadcasting Company.
Songwriter, W. W. (Date of copyright). Title of song [Recorded by artist if different from song writer]. On Title of album [Medium of recording]. Location: Label. (Recording date if different from copyright date).
Taupin, B. (1975). Someone saved my life tonight [Recorded by Elton John]. On Captain fantastic and the brown dirt cowboy [CD]. London, England: Big Pig Music Limited.
For more about citing audiovisual media, see pages 209-210 of the APA Publication Manual 6th Edition, second printing.
For information about citing legal sources in your reference list, see the Westfield State College page on Citing Legal Materials in APA Style.
It's always best to consult the Publication Manual first for any APA question. If you are using APA style for a class assignment, it's a good idea to consult your professor, advisor, TA, or other campus resources for help with using APA style—they're the ones who can tell you how the style should apply in your particular case. For extraordinary questions that aren't covered clearly in the style manual or haven't been answered by your teacher or advisor, contact us via email by using our OWL tutor email form.
Here are some print resources for using APA style. Click The Purdue OWL does not make any profit from nor does it endorse these agencies; links are merely offered for information. Most of these books are probably available in your local library. From the American Psychological Association:
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition) (ISBN 13: 978-1-4338-0561-5; ISBN 10: 1-4338-0561-8)
- Mastering APA Style: Instructor's Resource Guide (ISBN: 1557988900)
- Mastering APA Style: Student's Workbook and Training Guide (ISBN: 143380557X)
- Presenting Your Findings: A Practical Guide for Creating Tables (ISBN: 143380705X)
- Displaying Your Findings: A Practical Guide for Creating Figures, Posters, and Presentations (ISBN: 1433807076X)
From other publishers:
- Writing With Style: APA Style Made Easy (ISBN: 084003167X)
- Writing With Style: APA Style for Social Work (ISBN: 084003198X)
Online Resources from the APA
Other Online Resources: Documenting and Referencing Sources
- Citing Legal Materials in APA Style (Westfield State College)
Types of APA Papers
There are two common types of papers written in fields using APA Style: the literature review and the experimental report. Each has unique requirements concerning the sections that must be included in the paper.
A literature review is a critical summary of what the scientific literature says about your specific topic or question. Often student research in APA fields falls into this category. Your professor might ask you to write this kind of paper to demonstrate your familiarity with work in the field pertinent to the research you hope to conduct.
A literature review typically contains the following sections:
- Title page
- Introduction section
- List of references
Some instructors may also want you to write an abstract for a literature review, so be sure to check with them when given an assignment. Also, the length of a literature review and the required number of sources will vary based on course and instructor preferences.
NOTE: A literature review and an annotated bibliography are not synonymous. If you are asked to write an annotated bibliography, you should consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for the APA Format for Annotated Bibliographies.
In many of the social sciences, you will be asked to design and conduct your own experimental research. If so, you will need to write up your paper using a structure that is more complex than that used for just a literature review. We have a complete resource devoted to writing an experimental report in the field of psychology here.
This structure follows the scientific method, but it also makes your paper easier to follow by providing those familiar cues that help your reader efficiently scan your information for:
- Why the topic is important (covered in your introduction)
- What the problem is (also covered in your introduction)
- What you did to try to solve the problem (covered in your methods section)
- What you found (covered in your results section)
- What you think your findings mean (covered in your discussion section)
Thus an experimental report typically includes the following sections.
- Title page
- Appendices(if necessary)
- Tables and/or figures (if necessary)
Make sure to check the guidelines for your assignment or any guidelines that have been given to you by an editor of a journal before you submit a manuscript containing the sections listed above.
As with the literature review, the length of this report may vary by course or by journal, but most often it will be determined by the scope of the research conducted.
If you are writing a paper that fits neither of these categories, follow the guidelines about General Format, consult your instructor, or look up advice in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
When submitting a manuscript to a journal, make sure you follow the guidelines described in the submission policies of that publication, and include as many sections as you think are applicable to presenting your material. Remember to keep your audience in mind as you are making this decision. If certain information is particularly pertinent for conveying your research, then ensure that there is a section of your paper that adequately addresses that information.
APA Stylistics: Avoiding Bias
Researchers who use APA often work with a variety of populations, some of whom tend to be stereotyped by the use of labels and other biased forms of language. Therefore, APA offers specific recommendations for eliminating bias in language concerning race, disability, and sexuality.
Make Adjustments to Labels
Although you should avoid labeling whenever possible, it is sometimes difficult to accurately account for the identity of your research population or individual participants without using language that can be read as biased. Making adjustments in how you use identifiers and other linguistic categories can improve the clarity of your writing and minimize the likelihood of offending your readers.
In general, you should call people what they prefer to be called, especially when dealing with race and ethnicity. But sometimes the common conventions of language inadvertently contain biases towards certain populations - e.g. using "normal" in contrast to someone identified as "disabled." Therefore, you should be aware of how your choice of terminology may come across to your reader, particularly if they identify with the population in question.
You can find an in-depth discussion of this issue and specific recommendations for how to appropriately represent people in your text on the APA website on the following pages:
- Removing Bias in Language: Disabilities
- Removing Bias in Language: Race & Ethnicity
- Removing Bias in Language: Sexuality
Avoid Gendered Pronouns
While you should always be clear about the sex identity of your participants (if you conducted an experiment), so that gender differences are obvious, you should not use gender terms when they aren't necessary. In other words, you should not use "he," "his" or "men" as generic terms applying to both sexes.
APA does not recommend replacing "he" with "he or she," "she or he," "he/she," "(s)he," "s/he," or alternating between "he" and "she" because these substitutions are awkward and can distract the reader from the point you are trying to make. The pronouns "he" or "she" inevitably cause the reader to think of only that gender, which may not be what you intend.
To avoid the bias of using gendered pronouns:
- Rephrase the sentence
- Use plural nouns or plural pronouns - this way you can use "they" or "their"
- Replace the pronoun with an article - instead of "his," use "the"
- Drop the pronoun - many sentences sound fine if you just omit the troublesome "his" from the sentence
- Replace the pronoun with a noun such as "person," "individual," "child," "researcher," etc.
For more about addressing gender in academic writing, visit the OWL's handout on non-sexist language use.
Find Alternative Descriptors
To avoid unintentional biases in your language, look to the parameters of your research itself. When writing up an experimental report, describe your participants by the measures you used to classify them in the experiment, as long as the labels are not offensive.
Example: If you had people take a test measuring their reaction times and you were interested in looking at the differences between people who had fast reaction times and those with slow reaction times, you could call the first group the "fast reaction time group" and the second the "slow reaction time group."
Also, use adjectives to serve as descriptors rather than labels. When you use terms such as "the elderly" or "the amnesiacs," the people lose their individuality. One way to avoid this is to insert an adjective (e.g., "elderly people," "amnesic patients"). Another way is to mention the person first and follow this with a descriptive phrase (e.g., "people diagnosed with amnesia"), although it can be cumbersome to keep repeating phrases like this.
APA Stylistics: Basics
Writing in APA is more than simply learning the formula for citations or following a certain page layout. APA also includes the stylistics of your writing, from point of view to word choice.
Point of View and Voice
When writing in APA Style, you can use the first person point of view when discussing your research steps ("I studied ...") and when referring to yourself and your co-authors ("We examined the literature ..."). Use first person to discuss research steps rather than anthropomorphising the work. For example, a study cannot "control" or "interpret"; you and your co-authors, however, can.
In general, you should foreground the research and not the researchers ("The results indicate ... "). Avoid using the editorial "we"; if you use "we" in your writing, be sure that "we" refers to you and your fellow researchers.
It is a common misconception that foregrounding the research requires using the passive voice ("Experiments have been conducted ..."). This is inaccurate. Rather, you would use pronouns in place of "experiments" ("We conducted experiments ...").
APA Style encourages using the active voice ("We interpreted the results ..."). The active voice is particularly important in experimental reports, where the subject performing the action should be clearly identified (e.g. "We interviewed ..." vs. "The participants responded ...").
Consult the OWL handout for more on the distinction between passive and active voice.
Clarity and Conciseness
Clarity and conciseness in writing are important when conveying research in APA Style. You don't want to misrepresent the details of a study or confuse your readers with wordiness or unnecessarily complex sentences.
For clarity, be specific rather than vague in descriptions and explanations. Unpack details accurately to provide adequate information to your readers so they can follow the development of your study.
Example: "It was predicted that marital conflict would predict behavior problems in school-aged children."
To clarify this vague hypothesis, use parallel structure to outline specific ideas:
"The first hypothesis stated that marital conflict would predict behavior problems in school-aged children. The second hypothesis stated that the effect would be stronger for girls than for boys. The third hypothesis stated that older girls would be more affected by marital conflict than younger girls."
To be more concise, particularly in introductory material or abstracts, you should pare out unnecessary words and condense information when you can (see the OWL handout on Conciseness in academic writing for suggestions).
Example: The above list of hypotheses might be rephrased concisely as: "The authors wanted to investigate whether marital conflict would predict behavior problems in children and they wanted to know if the effect was greater for girls than for boys, particularly when they examined two different age groups of girls."
Balancing the need for clarity, which can require unpacking information, and the need for conciseness, which requires condensing information, is a challenge. Study published articles and reports in your field for examples of how to achieve this balance.
You should even be careful in selecting certain words or terms. Within the social sciences, commonly used words take on different meanings and can have a significant effect on how your readers interpret your reported findings or claims. To increase clarity, avoid bias, and control how your readers will receive your information, you should make certain substitutions:
- Use terms like "participants" or "respondents" (rather than "subjects") to indicate how individuals were involved in your research
- Use terms like "children" or "community members" to provide more detail about who was participating in the study
- Use phrases like "The evidence suggests ..." or "Our study indicates ..." rather than referring to "proof" or "proves" because no single study can prove a theory or hypothesis
As with the other stylistic suggestions here, you should study the discourse of your field to see what terminology is most often used.
Avoiding Poetic Language
Writing papers in APA Style is unlike writing in more creative or literary styles that draw on poetic expressions and figurative language. Such linguistic devices can detract from conveying your information clearly and may come across to readers as forced when it is inappropriately used to explain an issue or your findings.
Therefore, you should:
- minimize the amount of figurative language used in an APA paper, such as metaphors and analogies unless they are helpful in conveying a complex idea
- avoid rhyming schemes, alliteration, or other poetic devices typically found in verse
- use simple, descriptive adjectives and plain language that does not risk confusing your meaning
APA Headings and Seriation
APA Style uses a unique headings system to separate and classify paper sections. There are 5 heading levels in APA. The 6th edition of the APA manual revises and simplifies previous heading guidelines. Regardless of the number of levels, always use the headings in order, beginning with level 1. The format of each level is illustrated below:
|1||Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Headings|
|2||Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading|
|3|| Indented, boldface, lowercase heading with a period. Begin body text after the period.
|4|| Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period. Begin body text after the period.
|5|| Indented, italicized, lowercase heading with a period. Begin body text after the period.
Thus, if the article has four sections, some of which have subsections and some of which don’t, use headings depending on the level of subordination. Section headings receive level one format. Subsections receive level two format. Subsections of subsections receive level three format. For example:
Method (Level 1)
Site of Study (Level 2)
Participant Population (Level 2)
Teachers. (Level 3)
Students. (Level 3)
Results (Level 1)
Spatial Ability (Level 2)
Test one. (Level 3)
Teachers with experience. (Level 4)
Teachers in training. (Level 4)
Test two. (Level 3)
Kinesthetic Ability (Level 2)
In APA Style, the Introduction section never gets a heading and headings are not indicated by letters or numbers. Levels of headings will depend upon the length and organization of your paper. Regardless, always begin with level one headings and proceed to level two, etc.
APA also allows for seriation in the body text to help authors organize and present key ideas. For numbered seriation, do the following:
- Move the navigation bar from the right to the left side of the OWL pages.
- Integrate branded graphics (the Writing Lab and OWL logos) into the text on the OWL homepage.
- Add a search box to every page of the OWL.
- Develop an OWL site map.
- Develop a three-tiered navigation system.
For lists that do not communicate hierarchical order or chronology, use bullets:
- "This version is easier to use."
- "Version two seems better organized."
- "It took me a few minutes to learn how to use this version, but after that, I felt more comfortable with it."
Authors may also use seriation for paragraph length text.
For seriation within sentences, authors may use letters:
Authors may also separate points with bullet lists:
- the OWL site map;
- integrating graphics with text on the OWL homepage;
- search boxes on all OWL pages except the orange OWL resources (that is pending; we do have a search page);
- moving the navigation bar to the left side of pages on all OWL resources except in the orange area (that is pending);
- piloting the first phase of the three-tiered navigation system, as illustrated in the new Engagement section.
APA PowerPoint Slide Presentation
Select the APA PowerPoint Presentation link in the Media box above to download slides that provide a detailed review of the APA citation style.
APA Sample Paper
Click on the link above in the Media box to download the pdf handout, APA Sample Paper.
APA Tables and Figures 1
The purpose of tables and figures in documents is to enhance your readers' understanding of the information in the document. Most word processing software available today will allow you to create your own tables and figures, and even the most basic of word processors permit the embedding of images, thus enabling you to include tables and figures in almost any document.
Necessity. Visual material such as tables and figures can be used quickly and efficiently to present a large amount of information to an audience, but visuals must be used to assist communication, not to use up space, or disguise marginally significant results behind a screen of complicated statistics. Ask yourself this question first: Is the table or figure necessary? For example, it is better to present simple descriptive statistics in the text, not in a table.
Relation of Tables or Figures and Text. Because tables and figures supplement the text, refer in the text to all tables and figures used and explain what the reader should look for when using the table or figure. Focus only on the important point the reader should draw from them, and leave the details for the reader to examine on her own.
Documentation. If you are using figures, tables and/or data from other sources, be sure to gather all the information you will need to properly document your sources.
Integrity and Independence. Each table and figure must be intelligible without reference to the text, so be sure to include an explanation of every abbreviation (except the standard statistical symbols and abbreviations).
Organization, Consistency, and Coherence. Number all tables sequentially as you refer to them in the text (Table 1, Table 2, etc.), likewise for figures (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.). Abbreviations, terminology, probability level values must be consistent across tables and figures in the same article. Likewise, formats, titles, and headings must be consistent. Do not repeat the same data in different tables.
- Is the table necessary?
- Is the entire table single- or double-spaced (including the title, headings, and notes)?
- Are all comparable tables presented consistently?
- Is the title brief but explanatory?
- Does every column have a column heading?
- Are all abbreviations; special use of italics, parentheses, and dashes; and special symbols explained?
- Are all probability level values correctly identified, and are asterisks attached to the appropriate table entries? Is a probability level assigned the same number of asterisks in all the tables in the same document?
- Are the notes organized according to the convention of general, specific, probability?
- Are all vertical rules eliminated?
- If the table or its data are from another source, is the source properly cited?
- Is the table referred to in the text?
Data in a table that would require only two or fewer columns and rows should be presented in the text. More complex data is better presented in tabular format. In order for quantitative data to be presented clearly and efficiently, it must be arranged logically, e.g. data to be compared must be presented next to one another (before/after, young/old, male/female, etc.), and statistical information (means, standard deviations, N values) must be presented in separate parts of the table. If possible, use canonical forms (such as ANOVA, regression, or correlation) to communicate your data effectively.
The following image illustrates the basic structure of tables.
Numbers. Number all tables with arabic numerals sequentially. Do not use suffix letters (e.g. Table 3a, 3b, 3c); instead, combine the related tables. If the manuscript includes an appendix with tables, identify them with capital letters and arabic numerals (e.g. Table A1, Table B2).
Titles. Like the title of the paper itself, each table must have a clear and concise title. When appropriate, you may use the title to explain an abbreviation parenthetically.
Example: Comparison of Median Income of Adopted Children (AC) v. Foster Children (FC)
Headings. Keep headings clear and brief. The heading should not be much wider than the widest entry in the column. Use of standard abbreviations can aid in achieving that goal. All columns must have headings, even the stub column (see example structure), which customarily lists the major independent variables.
Body. In reporting the data, consistency is key: Numerals should be expressed to a consistent number of decimal places that is determined by the precision of measurement. Never change the unit of measurement or the number of decimal places in the same column.
Specific Types of Tables
Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) Tables. The conventional format for an ANOVA table is to list the source in the stub column, then the degrees of freedom (df) and the F ratios. Give the between-subject variables and error first, then within-subject and any error. Mean square errors must be enclosed in parentheses. Provide a general note to the table to explain what those values mean (see example). Use asterisks to identify statistically significant F ratios, and provide a probability footnote.
Regression. Conventional reporting of regression analysis follows two formats. If the study is purely applied, list only the raw or unstandardized coefficients (B). If the study is purely theoretical, list only the standardized coefficients (beta). If the study was neither purely applied nor theoretical, then list both standardized and unstandardized coefficents. Specify the type of analysis, either hierarchical or simultaneous, and provide the increments of change if you used hierarchical regression.
Notes in Tables
There are three types of notes for tables: general, specific, and probability notes. All of them must be placed below the table in that order.
General notes explain, qualify or provide information about the table as a whole. Put explanations of abbreviations, symbols, etc. here.
Example: Note. The racial categories used by the US Census (African-American, Asian American, Latinos/-as, Native-American, and Pacific Islander) have been collapsed into the category “non-White.” E = excludes respondents who self-identified as “White” and at least one other “non-White” race.
Specific notes explain, qualify or provide information about a particular column, row, or individual entry. To indicate specific notes, use superscript lowercase letters (e.g. a, b, c), and order the superscripts from left to right, top to bottom. Each table’s first footnote must be the superscript a.
Example: a n = 823. b One participant in this group was diagnosed with schizophrenia during the survey.
Probability notes provide the reader with the results of the texts for statistical significance. Asterisks indicate the values for which the null hypothesis is rejected, with the probability (p value) specified in the probability note. Such notes are required only when relevant to the data in the table. Consistently use the same number of asterisks for a given alpha level throughout your paper.
If you need to distinguish between two-tailed and one-tailed tests in the same table, use asterisks for two-tailed p values and an alternate symbol (such as daggers) for one-tailed p values.
Tables from Other Sources
If using tables from a source, copy the structure of the original exactly, and cite the source in accordance with APA style.
APA Tables and Figures 2
- Is the figure necessary?
- Is the figure simple, clean, and free of extraneous detail?
- Are the data plotted accurately?
- Is the grid scale correctly proportioned?
- Is the lettering large and dark enough to read? Is the lettering compatible in size with the rest of the figure?
- Are parallel figures or equally important figures prepared according to the same scale?
- Are terms spelled correctly?
- Are all abbreviations and symbols explained in a figure legend or figure caption? Are the symbols, abbreviations, and terminology in the figure consistent with those in the figure caption? In other figures? In the text?
- Are the figures numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals?
- Are all figures mentioned in the text?
As tables supplement the text, so should each figure.
Types of Figures
Graphs are good at quickly conveying relationships like comparison and distribution. The most common forms of graphs are scatter plots, line graphs, bar graphs, pictorial graphs, and pie graphs. For more details and specifics on what kind of information, relations, and meaning can be expressed with the different types of graphs, consult your textbook on quantitative analysis. Spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel, can generate the graphs for you.
Scatter plots are composed of individual dots that represent the value of a specific event on the scale established by the two variables plotted on the x- and y-axes. When the dots cluster together, a correlation is implied. On the other hand, when the dots are scattered randomly, no correlation is seen.
Line graphs depict the relationship between quantitative variables. Customarily, the independent variable is plotted along the x-axis (horizontally) and the dependent variable is plotted along the y-axis (vertically). See example Figure 1...
Bar graphs come in three main types: 1) solid vertical or horizontal bars, 2) multiple bar graphs, and 3) sliding bars. In solid bar graphs, the independent variable is categorical, and each bar represents one kind of datum, e. g. a bar graph of monthly expenditures. A multiple bar graph can show more complex information than a simple bar graph, e. g. monthly expenditures divided into categories (housing, food, transportation, etc.). In sliding bar graphs, the bars are divided by a horizontal line which serves as the baseline, enabling the representation of data above and below a specific reference point, e. g. high and low temperatures v. average temperature.
Pictorial graphs can be used to show quantitative differences between groups. Pictorial graphs can be very deceptive: if the height of an image is doubled, its area is quadrupled. Therefore, great care should be taken that images representing the same values must be the same size.
Circle (pie) graphs are used to represent percentages and proportions. For the sake of readability, no more than five variables should be compared in a single pie graph. The segments should be ordered very strictly: beginning at twelve o’clock, order them from the largest to the smallest, and shade the segments from dark to light (i.e., the largest segment should be the darkest). Lines and dots can be used for shading in black and white documents.
Charts are used to represent the components of larger objects or groups (e. g. a tribal hierarchy), the steps in a process (as in a flow-chart), or the schematics of an object (the components of a cell phone).
Drawings and photographs can be used to communicate very specific information about a subject. Thanks to software, both are now highly manipulable. For the sake of readability and simplicity, line drawings should be used, and photographs should have the highest possible contrast between the background and focal point. Cropping, cutting out extraneous detail, can be very beneficial for a photograph. Use software like GraphicConverter or Photoshop to convert color photographs to black and white before printing on a laser printer. Otherwise most printers will produce an image with poor contrast.
In preparing figures, communication and readability must be the ultimate criteria. Avoid the temptation to use the special effects available in most advanced software packages. While three-dimensional effects, shading, and layered text may look interesting to the author, overuse, inconsistent use, and misuse may distort the data, and distract or even annoy readers. Design properly done is inconspicuous, almost invisible, because it supports communication. Design improperly, or amateurishly, done draws the reader’s attention from the data, and makes him or her question the author’s credibility.
The APA has determined specifications for the size of figures and the fonts used in them. Figures of one column must be between 2 and 3.25 inches wide (5 to 8.45 cm). Two-column figures must be between 4.25 and 6.875 inches wide (10.6 to 17.5 cm). The height of figures should not exceed the top and bottom margins. The text in a figure should be in a san serif font (such as Helvetica, Arial, or Futura). The font size must be between eight and fourteen point. Use circles and squares to distinguish curves on a line graph (at the same font size as the other labels). (See examples above.)
Captions and Legends
For figures, make sure to include the figure number and a title with a legend and caption. These elements appear below the visual display. For the figure number, type Figure X. Then type the title of the figure in sentence case. Follow the title with a legend that explains the symbols in the figure and a caption that explains the figure:
Captions serve as a brief, but complete, explanation and as a title. For example, “Figure 4. Population” is insufficient, whereas “Figure 4. Population of Grand Rapids, MI by race (1980)” is better. If the figure has a title in the image, crop it.
Graphs should always include a legend that explains the symbols, abbreviations, and terminology used in the figure. These terms must be consistent with those used in the text and in other figures. The lettering in the legend should be of the same type and size as that used in the figure.
In APA, abbreviations should be limited to instances when a) the abbreviation is standard and will not interfere with the reader’s understanding and b) if space and repetition can be greatly avoided through abbreviation.
There are a few common trends in abbreviating that you should follow when using APA, though there are always exceptions to these rules. When abbreviating a term, use the full term the first time you use it, followed immediately by the abbreviation in parentheses.
Exceptions: Standard abbreviations like units of measurement and states do not need to be written out. APA also allows abbreviations that appear as words in Meriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary to be used without explanation (IQ, REM, AIDS, HIV).
Do not use periods or spaces in abbreviations of all capital letters, unless it is a proper name or refers to participants using identity-concealing labels:
Exceptions: Use a period when abbreviating the United States as an adjective (U.S. Marines or U.S. Senator)
Use a period if the abbreviation is Latin abbreviation or a reference abbreviation:
Do not use periods when abbreviating measurements:
Exceptions: Use a period when abbreviating inch (in.) to avoid confusion.
Units of measurement and statistical abbreviations should only be abbreviated when accompanied by numerical values:
Only certain units of time should be abbreviated.
Do not abbreviate:
To form the plural of abbreviations, add s alone without apostrophe or italicization.
Exception: Do not add s to pluralize units of measurement (12 m not 12 ms).
Abbreviations in Citations
Citations should be as condensed as possible, so you should know the basic rules of abbreviation endorsed by the APA to provide your readers with reference information.
Always abbreviate the first and middle names of authors, editors, etc.
Use the following abbreviations within citations (take note of capitalization):
|APA Citation Abbreviations|
|revised edition||Rev. ed.|
|Second Edition||2nd ed.|
|Editor(s)||Ed. or Eds.|
|Page(s)||p. or pp.|
|Volume(s)||Vol. or Vols.|
|Technical Report||Tech. Rep.|
Statistics in APA
When including statistics in written text, be sure to include enough information for the reader to understand the study. Although the amount of explanation and data included depends upon the study, APA style has guidelines for the representation of statistical information:
- Do not give references for statistics unless the statistic is uncommon, used unconventionally, or is the focus of the article
- Do not give formulas for common statistics (i.e. mean, t test)
- Do not repeat descriptive statistics in the text if they’re represented in a table or figure
- Use terms like respectively and in order when enumerating a series of statistics; this illustrates the relationship between the numbers in the series.
Use parentheses to enclose statistical values:
Use parentheses to enclose degrees of freedom:
Use brackets to enclose limits of confidence intervals:
Use standard typeface (no bolding or italicization) when writing Greek letters, subscripts that function as identifiers, and abbreviations that are not variables.
Use boldface for vectors and matrices:
Use italics for statistical symbols (other than vectors and matrices):
Use an italicized, uppercase N in reference to number of subjects or participants in the total sample.
Use an italicized, lowercase n in reference to only a portion of the sample.
APA Classroom Poster
The APA poster at the link below is a printable jpg file you may download and print out at different sizes for use in classrooms, writing centers, or as a pocket reference. Please keep in mind that the file size, as a print-quality resource (120 dpi), is large, so it may take a while to download. You may adjust the print size of the poster from your print menu. As is, the poster is 27 x 36 inches.
Because the poster is quite large, standard printers cannot print the poster. If you do not have access to a printer that can print large documents, contact a local print shop to print the poster. The Purdue OWL cannot grant requests to print and mail posters.
If you do not have access to a print shop to print the poster, please use the resources we have available here for printing on standard 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Go to resource you would like to print, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click "Full Resource for Printing."
Also please note that the poster only contains basic APA guidelines. For detailed instructions, please see the complete OWL APA resources here.
The Purdue OWL APA Classroom Poster was developed by Kate Bouwens for the Purdue Professional Writing - Purdue OWL Internship class, English 490, in spring 2009.
Purdue OWL APA Classroom Poster (Please note: The poster is best viewed in Firefox.)
APA Changes 6th Edition
The American Psychological Association (APA) updated its style manual in the summer of 2009. This resource presents the changes made between the fifth and sixth editions. Please note that the first printing of the APA sixth edition contained misprints; if you are using the APA manual, make sure you are using at least the second printing of the sixth edition.
Traditionally, psychologists were the main users of APA, but recently, students and writers in other fields began using APA style. Therefore, the sixth edition was written with a broader audience in mind. The changes made to the sixth edition reflect this broader audience.
This resource was created following the APA manual’s “What’s New in APA,” is organized according to the APA manual chapters, and highlights updates to the sixth edition that most concern student writers instead of those interested in publishing manuscripts. For a more complete discussion of the changes, please visit this site.
Levels of Heading
Headings are used to help guide the reader through a document. The levels are organized by levels of subordination, and each section of the paper should start with the highest level of heading.
Fifth Edition (Section 3.31 in the APA manual)
||CENTERED UPPERCASE HEADINGS|
|2||Centered Uppercase and Lowercase Headings|
|3||Centered, Italicized, Uppercase and Lowercase Headings|
|4||Left-aligned, Italicized, Uppercase and Lowercase Side Heading|
|5||Indented, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period.|
Sixth Edition (3.03)
|1||Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Headings|
|2||Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading|
|3||Indented, boldface, lowercase heading with a period.|
|4||Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.|
|5||Indented, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.|
For example, in a scientific report following APA style, a report contains three sections: Method, Results, and Discussion. Each of these sections start with level 1 headings:
Methods (Level 1)
Site of Study (Level 2)
Participant Population (Level 2)
Teachers. (Level 3)
Students. (Level 3)
Results (Level 1)
Spatial Ability (Level 2)
Test one. (level 3)
Teachers with experience. (Level 4)
Teachers in training. (Level 4)
Test two. (Level 3)
Kinesthetic Ability (Level 2)
Reducing Bias in Language (3.11)
Using precise language is expected in scientific writing, and the sixth edition offers new ways in which to talk about research participants (note that “subjects” is still an acceptable term to use, but “participants” is more representative of the individuals’ roles in the research project).
Refer to participants at the appropriate level of specificity. The manual provides the example of using women and men to refer to all human beings instead of only using man. Man is appropriate to use when referring to one man but not when referring to a population that includes men and women.
Refer to participants how they wish to be called. Try to avoid labels if possible, but if this is not avoidable, be respectful. Focus on the people and not the label. For example, instead of labeling a group “the elderly" or "the arthritic," labels in which individuals are lost, try “older adults" or "a woman with arthritis."
Acknowledge participants’ participation while still following the rules in your field. For example, a cognitive psychology student might use the term “subjects” in her research report, but a nursing student might use the term “patients” to refer to those who participated in his research. Whatever term you choose to use, be sure you are consistent throughout your paper and with your field’s guidelines.
The Mechanics of Style
Spacing (4.01). Regarding punctuation in manuscript drafts, APA suggests using two spaces after periods ending sentences to aid readability.
One space: “Previous research shows that patients are interested in palliative care. This research project explores how to discuss palliative care with patients.”
Two spaces: “Previous research shows that patients are interested in palliative care. This research project explores how to discuss palliative care with patients.”
Approximations (4.31-32). Use words to express approximations of days, months, and year.
“I started spelunking about four years ago.”
Reporting statistics (4.35, 44, and 10). Use a zero before the decimal point with numbers less than one when the statistic can be greater than one.
Do not use a zero before the decimal point when the number cannot be greater than one.
r = .015
Include effect sizes and confidence intervals with statistics. This will allow the reader to more fully understand the conducted analyses.
Use brackets to group together confidence interval limits in both the body text and tables (5.15).
“95% Cls [-7.2, 4.3], [9.2, 12.4], and [-1.2, -0.5]” (p. 94)
The sixth edition includes a section (5.01) on the purpose of displaying data. This section can help you decide when and how to display your data. For example, your data might show that you are exploring data and information, or your data may serve a storage purpose for later retrieval.
More than likely, though, your data will serve either a communication purpose to show you have discovered meaning in data and you want to show/communicate to others this meaning.
Figures. Figures include graphs, charts, maps, drawings, and photographs. As a general rule, only include figures when they add to the value of the paper. If the figure merely repeats what is written in the paper, do not include it, as it does not add any new information to the paper.
The sixth edition also emphasizes the importance of clearly labeling electrophysiological, radiological, and genetic data.
Direct Quotations (6.01-21)
The sixth edition provides explicit rules for direct quotations and states that you must credit the source when “paraphrasing, quoting an author directly, or describing an idea that influenced your work” (p. 170).
If the quotation is less than 40 words, incorporate the quotation into the text and place quotation marks round the quotation. Cite the source immediately after the quotation and continue with the sentence.
Porter (1998) has stated that, “The internetworked classroom has the potential (not yet realized) to empower students” (p. 5), and this research project examines this potential.
If the quotation you are using falls at the end of the sentence, enclose the quotation with quotation marks without including the quotation’s original punctuation. Here’s a sentence as it appears in the original text:
“Semantic frames/domains represent one of the two major organizing principles for conceptual structure” (Croft & Cruse, 2004, p. 32).
Here’s what the sentence looks like when quoted within a text:
In arguing for frame semantics, Croft and Cruse (2004) asserted, “Semantic frames/domains represent one of the two major organizing principles for conceptual structure” (p. 32).
If the quotation has more than 40 words, use a block quotation. Begin the quotation on a new line and indent a half-inch from the left margin. Double-space the entire quotation, and at the end of the quotation, provide citation information after the final punctuation mark.
John Nicholson (1820) anticipated this effect when discussion farming methods in the nineteenth century:
Perhaps it would be well, if some institution were devised, and supported at the expense of the State, which would be so organized as would tend most effectually to produce a due degree of emulation among Farmers, by rewards and honorary distinctions conferred by those who, by their successful experimetnal efforts and improvements, should render themselves duly entitled to them. (p. 92)
The Reference List
References that appear in the text must appear in the references list in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, with the exception of personal communication; only cite personal communication in the text, not in the reference list.
Electronic sources (6.31). Because electronic publishing has become a standard in research, the sixth edition provides an overview of electronic sources and how to reference them, specifically with URLs and DOIs.
URLs, more commonly known as a web address, locate information housed on the Internet. The fifth edition specified that references to electronic sources should refer to the article’s or document’s URL. However, they are prone to “breaking” or deleting, and to resolve issues associated with the unstable nature of URLs, publishers have started using DOIs with articles.
For more details on how to cite electronic sources with following the sixth edition, consult your APA manual or the OWL’s resource on citing electronic sources.
While citing from a webpage, you may not be able to find a page number to refer to, i.e., there is no pagination. Instead, refer to the paragraph number from which you are citing where you would usually insert a page number by using “para.” instead of “p.”. Be sure to include the author’s/s’ name/s and year, too, if applicable.
“The Purdue University Writing Lab and Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) assist clients in their development as writers—no matter what their skill level—with on-campus consultations, online participation, and community engagement” (Purdue OWL, 2010, “Mission,” para. 1).
“Mission” is used here to refer to the section in which this quote was found.
OWL Mail APA FAQs
The following FAQs address issues in APA citation and/or formatting. The entries in this section are based on frequently asked questions received by our OWL Mail Tutors. We encourage you to scan through these before you send your APA related questions into OWL Mail. Also, Further information on APA style and citation can be found at the Purdue OWL’s APA Style and Formatting resource.
I’m writing an APA style paper, but I can’t get the header on the first page to be different than the subsequent pages. How do I set a different header on the first page?
If you are using Word 2007, you can make the header of the first page different from the header on the second and following pages. To do this, please follow these steps:
1. After opening Word 2007, click on "Insert" at the top of the page.
2. Click on "Header" and choose the Header template you wish to use. Type
in the text you would like for the first page.
3.When you type in your text in the header, you will see the "Design" tab
is highlighted. There you can click on "Different first page." This will
allow you to type in different text within your header beginning with page
If you do not have a version of Word which allows you to do this, you can simply type “Running Head: SHORTENED
TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” at the upper most line on the first page without
typing it inside the header. Then type the shortened title inside the
header as you wish it to appear throughout your document.
Using APA, how do I cite an author if their work is referenced more than once in a single paragraph?
Here’s what the 6th edition of the APA manual says: "Within a paragraph, when the name of the author is part of the narrative...you need not include the year in subsequent nonparenthetical references to a study as long as the study cannot be confused with other studies cited in the article. Do include the year in all parenthetical citations" (pg. 174).
In other words, every time you bring up the author in a new paragraph, you
should use the year, but you don’t have to within a paragraph, as long as it’s clear from your wording that you are discussing the same author. If you were giving a direct quotation that needed a parenthetical reference for the page number, then you’d include the year as well.
How do I cite a work that has no listed author in an APA-style paper?
According to the OWL website’s resource on APA-style citations, "When your essay includes parenthetical citations of sources with no author named, use a shortened version of the source’s title instead of an author’s name. Use quotation marks and italics as appropriate. For example, parenthetical citations of the source above would appear as follows: (Merriam-Webster’s 1993)." The bibliographical citation is as follows:
Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (10th ed.).(1993). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
What do I do if the source-type that I’m using doesn’t appear in any APA reference/style guides?
The APA manual models several different templates for references, but the forms given may not apply to all documents. In this case, the APA manual states that you should format the entry as best you can in accordance with their models:
"Occasionally, however, you may need to use a reference for a source for which this chapter does not provide specific guidance. In such a case choose the example that is most like your source and follow that format...When in doubt, provide more information rather than less." (American Psychological Association, 2009 p. 193).
What do I do if a website is missing information required for an APA-style citation?
The APA Style Blog is a helpful source when it comes to citing websites with missing information.
For example, if your website has no author, you can use the following example as a template for the citation for your reference page:
All 33 Chile miners freed in flawless rescue. (2010, October 13). Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39625809/ns/world_news-
As you can see, the title of the document is moved up to where the author’s name would be.
If your website has no date, you can put "n.d." instead. For example:
The College of William and Mary. (n.d.). College mission statement. Retrieved from http://www.wm.edu/about/administration/provost
If I co-author a paper, how should the author’s names appear in an APA-style title page?
According to the 6th edition of the APA manual, "The names of the authors should appear in the order of their contributions, centered between the side margins. For names with suffixes (e.g., Jr. and III), separate the suffix from the rest of the name with a space instead of a comma. The institutional affiliation should be centered under the author’s name, on the next line" (p. 24).
Some examples include the following:
Two authors, one affiliation:
John Q. Foster II and Roy R. Davis Jr.
Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey
Three authors, one affiliation:
Juanita Fuentes, Paul Dykes, and Susan Watanabe
University of Colorado at Boulder
Two authors, two affiliations:
University of California, Berkeley
Three authors, two affiliations:
Mariah Meade and Sylvia Earleywine
I’m including clip art in my APA style PowerPoint presentation. How do I properly cite the clip art that I’m going to use?
If you are using the clip art simply to adorn your PowerPoint presentation, you don’t need to cite it. The 6th Edition of the APA manual does not offer a specific discussion of this issue, but it seems unnecessary to provide citation on a document presented via the Microsoft program for stock images that a specific to that software package.
However, if the clip art is presented in a separate medium (like a handout), and you want to be very thorough about citation or if your presentation is specifically about clip art and the point is to discuss clip art from different sources, then you should cite the source. Here is the format you should follow:
Title of Program (Version number)[Description of format]. Location: Name
Here’s the example in the 6th Edition of the APA manual:
Comprehensive Meta-Analysis (Version 2) [Computer Software]. Englwood, NJ:
For the clip art from on-line sources, because these are texts that are relocated from an outside source, you should probably cite them regardless of the situation. Here’s the format:
Name of image creator, A. A. (Year images was made). Title of image in
italics [medium of image - i.e file type]. Retrieved from http://.....
How do I cite unpublished works in APA?
Here is the relevant format from the APA manual, 6th edition, p. 211:
Unpublished manuscripts with a university cited:
Blackwell, E., & Conrod, P.J. (2003). A five dimensional measure of
drinking motives. Unpublished manuscript, Department of
Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Manuscript in progress or submitted for publication:
Ting, J. Y., Florsheim, P., & Huang, W. (2008). Mental health help-seeking
in ethnic minority populations: A theoretical perspective.
Manuscript submitted for publication [or "Manuscript in preparation"].
Along with the format for the latter work, you can add the university where the author works (if indeed they are doing research as part of their position with a university or college).
I’m writing a paper about computer-aided writing instruction. How do I cite pieces of software in APA?
According to the 6th edition of the APA manual, here is the general format
for citing software:
Rightsholder, A.A. (Year). Title of program (Version number) [Description
of form]. Location: Name of producer.
Alternatively, instead of using "Location:..." you can use "Retrieved from
If you can't find who the rightsholder is (i.e. the company or person who
made the software), you can start the citation with the name of the
Here’s another example from the manual:
Comprehensive Meta-Analysis (Version 2) [Computer software]. Englewood,
The date may be excluded if it is not available.
If you are citing a piece of software for a smartphone of a video game console, I would use the most descriptive term for the kind of software you’re using, i.e., [iPhone application].
How do I cite my professor’s classroom PowerPoint presentations in APA?
Your first choice is to follow the format for online PowerPoint presentation slides exemplified on this page of the Purdue OWL, and to simply not include the url:
You would reference this source in-text as you normally would by the author’s last name and date.
Your second choice is to refer to the lecture as personal communication. For an example, please see this resource on the Purdue OWL.
Please note: personal communication is only cited in-text and not within your
How do I cite lecture notes in my APA-style research paper?
The citation on the Reference page for the lecture notes would look like the following in APA:
Author. (year). In italics write the name or title of the lecture. Personal Collection of (the lecturer’s name), school or organization they teach for, city, state.
Berliner, A. (1959). Lecture on Reminiscences of Wundt and Leipsig.
Personal Collection of A. Berliner, University of Akron, Akron OH.
How do I cite a work of art, like Salvador Dali’s The Ecumenical Council, in APA?
There is no “official” APA citation style for paintings or other works of art, but the APA Style Blog recently addressed this question with the in a recent post. You can access that post by clicking here.
As they say, "There are no guidelines for paintings, sculptures, or more complicated installations (e.g., a chair, a photo of a chair, and a definition of “chair”). So let’s use the Franken reference concept to model a few ways to handle art in your reference list."
The basic format they suggest is below (using Wyeth’s painting Christina’s world as an example:
Wyeth, A. (1948). Christina’s world [Painting]. Retrieved from
I created and administered my own survey for a project. How would I cite this survey in an APA-style paper?
Since a survey you conducted yourself is not published elsewhere by someone else, you do not cite it in the same way you cite other materials. Instead, in your paper you describe your survey and make it clear that the data you’re referring to is from the survey, usually by saying so in introductory sentences. In your paper, you should include a short overview of your survey method: whom the survey was administered to, how it was administered, how many responses you got, and what kind of questions you asked. You should include a copy of the survey instrument (the full set of questions asked) as an appendix to your paper. You do not need to include your survey in your works cited list.
How does one cite state bills in APA?
APA follows the guidelines for legal citations in the United States as outlined in The Bluebook®. You can access a version of The Bluebook by clicking here.
However, guidelines for references to legal materials can also be found on
pages 216-224 in the 6th of the Publication Manual of the APA.
The following sample reference to a statute in a state code and its
explanation can be found on page 220:
Mental Care and Treatment Act, 4 Kan. Stat. Ann.§§ 59-2901-2941 (1983 &
Explanation: This Kansas act can be found in codified version between sections 2901 and 2941 in Chapter 59 of volume 4 of the 1983 edition of Kansas Statutes Annotated. Two amendments to the act and additional references are provided in the 1992 supplement for the Kansas Statutes Annotated.
How do I cite artifacts in an APA-style paper?
Artifacts may fall under "Archival Documents and Collections." An extensive explanation of this can be found in the 6th edition of the APA publication manual. The general format for this reference is as follows:
Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of material. [Description of
material]. Name of Collection (Call number, Box number, File name or
number, etc.). Name of Repository, Location.
This general format may be modified for collections requiring more or less specific information to locate materials, for different types of collections, or for additional descriptive information. If the artifact you are referencing is not accessible by others, nor is it reproducible, it may not need to be cited.
How do I cite a products instructional guide (e.g., the Apple iPad user’s manual) in APA?
While the APA publication manual lists many different references, product instructions are not something that has a specific reference example. Since there is not a specific reference guideline for instructions, I would adapt another similar reference for your uses. For example:
Title of the Instructions (Year). Name of the product. Company Name, City, State. Current Location of the Product.
Note: If the product is maintained at a business, list the name of the business and city, state for the "current location of product." If you own the product you are referencing, list "Copy in possession of author."
How do I cite genealogies in APA?
The APA does not seem to specifically address this issue, probably because it is very particular. Here’s what we’ve been able to find from other sources:
Genealogy.com offers a method of citing birth/death certificates, which can be found by clicking here and scrolling down to the “Official Records” section of the page.
Archive.gov also offers suggestions on how to cite birth/death certificates, which can be accessed by clicking here.