APA Format

The information here comes from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition). 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 also a good idea to consult your professor, advisor, librarian, or the Writing Center for help with using APA style – they can tell you how the style should apply in your particular case.

General Format for a Paper
General format for manuscripts written in APA style is covered in chapter two of the Publication Manual, starting on page 21. Your paper may not need all the parts that are presented in that chapter, so follow the instructions your professor gives you. Generally, you will need a title page, an abstract, the text, and a reference list. Your paper should be typed, doublespaced, on standardsized paper (8.5 X 11 inches) with margins of 1 inch on all sides. Each page should have the running head at the upper left and the page number at the upper right corner. The pages should be numbered consecutively, beginning with the title page. The reference list should begin on a separate page following the text of the paper. This page
should have the title References centered at the top of the page.

Handling References in Your Text
When using APA format, the author’s last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper. Referencing citations in the text is covered on pages 170-179 of the Publication Manual. APA uses the author-date method of intext citation. If you are referring to information drawn from another work but are not directly quoting the material, you must show the author’s name and year of publication in your intext reference. If you are paraphrasing an idea from another work, APA guidelines encourage you to also provide the page number. Examples for paraphrasing from a work:

  • Jones (1998) compared student performance …
  • In a recent study of student performance (Jones, 1998), …
  • In 1998, Jones compared student performance …

If there is no author given, such as when you are citing an anonymous article or a web page that lists no author, use an abbreviated version of the title of the page in quotation marks to substitute for the name of the author.

  • A similar study was done of students learning to format research papers (“Study Finds,” 2005).

Personal communications, such as letters, email messages or interviews that you conducted with another person, should be referenced in your intext citations but NOT included in your reference list. (For more information, see page 179 of the Publication Manual.) To cite a personal communication, provide initials and last name of the communicator, the words personal communication, and an exact date. For example:

  • P. Smith also claimed that many of her students had difficulties with APA style (personal communication, November 3, 2002).

Formatting quotations is covered on pages 170-173 in the Publication Manual. Quotations of fewer than 40 words should be integrated in your text, nclosed in double quotation marks. Provide the author, year, and specific page (or paragraph number, if the work doesn’t have page numbers) in the text, and include a complete reference in the reference list. Examples:

  • According to Harrison (1998), “lack of sleep is a significant contributor to stress” (p. 143).
  • Recent studies have found that “academic performance often suffers when students experience high stress levels” (Jones, 2003. para. 9).

Place quotations longer than 40 words in a freestanding block and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line and indent the entire block five spaces (about ½ inch) from the left margin. If there are additional paragraphs within the quotation, Indent the first line of each an additional five spaces. Double-space the entire quotation. Cite the source and page or paragraph number after the final punctuation mark.

Reference List
Formatting the reference list is covered in chapters six and seven of the Publication Manual, pages 180-224. The reference list provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source cited in the body of the paper. The list appears at the end of the paper. Each source cited in the paper (other than personal communications) must appear in the reference list; likewise, each entry in the reference list must be cited in the text. The reference list should be double-spaced. (The examples given below are single-spaced in the interest of saving paper.)

Basic Rules:

  • The reference list should be alphabetized by authors’ last names.
  • Authors’ names are inverted (last name first); give the last name and initials for all authors of a particular work.
  • If you have more than one work by a particular author, put them in order by publication date, oldest to newest (thus a 1991 article would appear before a 1996 article).
  • 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.
  • If no author is given for a particular source, alphabetize using the title of the work, which will be listed in place of the author, and use a shortened version of the title for parenthetical citations.
  • If the author is given as “Anonymous,” treat Anonymous as a real author’s name.
  • Use “&” instead of “and” when listing multiple authors of a single work.
  • 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.
  • Capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title, first word of any subtitle, and any proper nouns in the title.
  • Italicize titles of books and journals.
  • Italicize the volume number of a journal citation.

Chapter seven in the Publication Manual provides extensive examples covering a wide variety of potential sources.

Basic Forms for Print Sources or Articles/Reports from Databases

1. An article in a periodical (e.g., a journal, newspaper, or magazine):
Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of periodical, volume number(issue number), pages.


Kernis, M. H., Cornell, D. P., Sun, C. R., Berry, A., & Harlow, T. (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.

For a magazine or newspaper article, you need to include specific  publication dates (month and day, if applicable) as well as the year. For a journal article, you do not need to include the month or day of publication.

If you have retrieved the article through one of the Library’s subscription databases, such as ABI/Inform, PsycArticles, JSTOR, etc., and the  database entry gives a DOI (digital object identifier) number, include that number in the citation following the page numbers. Note: Type DOI in lower case letters.


Makoe, M., Richardson, J., & Price, L. (2008, March). Conceptions of learning in adult students embarking on distance education. Higher Education, 55(3), 303-320. doi:10.1007/s10734-007-90566

You can add “Retrieved from” and the name of the database to the end of the citation; however, APA does not require that this information be included.

2. A book:

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.


Auerbach, S. M. (1998). Stress management: Psychological foundations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

NOTE: For “Location,” you should always list the city, but you should also include the state if the city is unfamiliar or if the city could be confused with one in another state or country.

3. Part of a non-periodical (e.g., a book chapter or an article in a collection):

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. In A. Editor & 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. 121). This abbreviation does not appear before the page numbers in periodical references.


O’Neil, J. M., & Egan, J. (1992). Men’s and women’s gender role journeys: Metaphor for healing, transition, and transformation. In B. R. Wainrib (Ed.), Gender issues across the life cycle (pp. 107-123). New York:  Springer.

4. A government publication:

Agency name. (Year of publication). Title of publication (Report number). Location: Publisher.


U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Marshall Space Flight Center. (2001). Decadal trends of Atlantic Basic tropical cyclones (NASA TP: 201991). Hanover, MD: NASA. Retrieved from http://trs.nis.nasa.gov/archive/00000563/01/tp210991.pdf

Basic Forms for Internet Sources

1. An article in an Internet periodical:

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of journal, volume number(issue number if available). Retrieved from http://Web address.


Loy, D.R. (2000). How to reform a serial killer: The Buddhist approach to restorative justice. Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 7. Retrieved from http://www.buddhistethics.org/7/current7.html

2. Non-periodical Internet document (e.g., a Web page or report):

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of document. Retrieved from http://Web address.

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. If no author is given, begin the citation with the page title. If no date is available for the document, use (n.d.) for no date.


Conflict resolution lessons. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.teachervision.fen.com/classroomdiscipline/resource/3038.html

3. Part of a non-periodical Internet document:

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://Web address.


Goodwin, E. (1861, March 1). President’ Lincoln’s inaugural. In Eugene Goodwin Civil War diary. Retrieved from http://www.ioweb.com/civilwar/goodwin_diary/index.html

For More Information:

For answers to frequently asked questions about APA style, visit the APA FAQ page at http://www.apastyle.org/learn/faqs/index.aspx

For additional help with APA style, contact the Athens State University Library reference desk at (256) 233-8267 or email . Help is available during regular Library hours.

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