All examples are based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition.
APA Style Guidelines
This section provides some general hints to using APA citations and the basic format of some simple, commonly used materials such as a book, an article found through an online database like ProQuest or Academic Search Complete, and a general website. For a more detailed reference guide, please see the other sections:
- Technical, Research, and Archival Documents
- Internet Sources
- Multimedia and Reviews
- Academic Sources
If you still have difficulty, you may come by the Writing Lab and talk to a tutor directly, email us through Ask a Question, or reference the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association available in Kent Library.
If you are having trouble with formatting your paper according to APA guidelines, the Writing Lab has several tutorials you can use as a template:
- How to Set Up a Cover Page in APA Format
- How to Format Headings in APA
- How to Set Up a Reference Page in APA Format
- How to Use Word to Format a Paper
Quick Guide to the Most Commonly Used References
- In titles, such as books, articles, or sections of a web document, only the first word, the first word of a subtitle, and proper nouns are capitalized. All other words are lowercased.
- On the other hand, journals, newspapers, and magazines are capitalized like normal titles (only articles, prepositions, and conjunctions are lowercased).
- In all journal articles, not only is the journal name italicized but so is the volume number. The issue number is not, though. Example: Accounting & Business Research, 20(2)
- The location of publication should always be City, ST or City, Country for foreign publications.
- Do not put a period after a URL or DOI.
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of work. Location: Publisher.
Editor, E. E. (Ed.). (Year). Title of work. Location: Publisher.
Above is the most basic format for a book. If multiple authors or editors are listed, separate with commas after the initials and place an ampersand (&) before the final author or editor. (Author, A. A., & Author, B. B.) If you have both author and editor, such as in an anthology, see Books.
Lovecraft, H. P. (1973). Supernatural horror in literature. New York, NY: Dover Publications.
When citing in the text it would be (Last Name, Year, p. ##) — (Lovecraft, 1973, p.23)
An Article in an Online Database
Articles in an online database can be cited one of two ways depending on if they have a digital object identifier (DOI) or not. DOIs are unique to each article and can usually be found with the rest of the reference information. Not all articles have a DOI. For more a more comprehensive list, see Periodicals.
With a DOI:
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, xx(x), pp–pp. doi:xx.xxxxxxxx
Ferraiolo, K. (2013, May). Is state gambling policy ‘morality policy’? Framing debates over state lotteries. Policy Studies Journal, 41(2), 217-242. doi:10.1111/psj.12015
Without a DOI:
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, xx(x), pp–pp. Retrieved from http://completeURL.com
Aubry, T., Sylvester, J., & Ecker, J. (2010, May). Community psychology training in Canada in the new millennium. Canadian Psychology, 51(2), 89–95. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/506639373?accountid=38003
When citing in the text it would be the same as with a book (Last Name, Year, p. ##) — (Aubry, Sylvester, & Ecker, 2010, p. 92)
A General Website
Websites are much trickier than the other sources listed. When using a website, you must always judge the reliability of the source. Is it by a respectable group or organization or is it owned by a random person? Is the address one you can trust, like .edu or .gov, or an unknown free website like angelfire.com? Scholarly research isn’t simply about finding some information from whatever websites out there, but finding reliable and verifiable information from trustworthy websites. Some key things to look for when judging a website’s authority are
- does it have an author (or organization as author),
- how credible is the author,
- does it have a date of publication or update and is it recent,
- is the site sponsored by a legitimate organization or agency, and
- is the sponsor organization generally considered to have bias.
Ultimately, use common sense and ask yourself, “Why should I trust this information?”
APA separates out many different kinds of web documents, such as reports, blog posts, message boards, etc. (For a complete list of the different types of web-based sources, see Internet Sources.)
You want to try and find as much information as possible when using a page off a general website (as opposed to using a document or report posted online). You want to try and get author, date posted or updated, title of the page, and URL. An organization can be the author. If you are missing the author, move the title in front of the year. If you do not have a date, put (n.d.).
Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of the page. Retrieved from http://completeURL.com
Environmental Protection Agency. (2013, May 3). Laws & regulations. Retrieved from http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations
If a normal author is listed, the format follows the same as books or articles, minus the page number (Last Name, Year).
If an organization with a long name is listed, an abbreviation or shortened form may be used (EPA, 2013).
If a title is in place of an author, a shortened version (one to three words) may be used, but make sure there is no confusion with another source. (Short Title, Year).