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Citation Style Guides: APA 6th Edition

Information, style sheets, MS Word templates, and links for MLA, APA, Chicago, IEEE, and more.


The American Psychological Association was established in 1892 in the interest of what its members termed the new psychology (Fernberger, 1932). In 1929, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association was published with the intent of establishing a standard for scientific communication to foster and improve scholarship (Skutley & VandenBos, 2010). The Publication Manual is now in its sixth edition, and has achieved the goal of becoming the standard for written communications in the academic fields of Health Sciences, Social Sciences, and Communication. Students in these fields are often required to write academic essays in “APA Style” or “APA format.”

If that is why you are here, then you might be acquainted with the two main features of APA, in-text citations and the reference list. In-text citations, also called parenthetical citations, allow the writer to give credit to a source with minimal interruption in the flow of the text, and usually contain the author’s last name and the year the text was published, separated by a comma like this (Lastname, year). If the citation is for a direct quote, the page number is included, like this (Smith, 2018, p.45). When placed at the beginning of the sentence, citations should be followed by a past tense verb.

A reference list is a page at the end of the document of all the sources that have been cited within. It should contain all the pertinent information for a researcher to locate and retrieve the cited text, artwork, video, etc., and should be organized alphabetically by the primary author’s surname. You can see an example of a reference list in the template on the right side of the page (as well as examples for the cover page and running header).

APA Page Formatting

A few special characteristics of APA Style formatting

  • A cover page with the paper title, your name, and your university affiliation presented on three separate, double-spaced lines, about 2/3 down the page in Times New Roman size 12 font
  • A running head on page two of the paper and every following page. On the first page of text, place the words "Running head:" and a shortened version of your title in all capital letters in the upper left-hand margin on the paper. On every following page, just provide the shortened version of the title in all caps. 
  • A page number at in the top right-hand margin of every page.
  • Double-spaced lines through out the paper.
  • Headers separating sections of the paper. Headers are formatted differently depending if they are first-level, second-level, third-level, or so on.

Check out the APA Template on this page to see these features on the page.

Parenthetical Citations

Common Parenthetical Citation Models

APA highlights the year the source was published, since scientific research builds on previous work. Thus, in-text citations feature the author’s last name, first initial, and the year of publication. Quoted material should be cited with page numbers, but paraphrases do not need page numbers.

Directly quoting sources is not encouraged unless necessary. Paraphrasing sources is preferred. Avoid using direct quotes of previous research; instead, refer to results and ideas when appropriate.

Parenthetical Citation (note the use of the past tense verb)

Gonzales et al. (2016) reported that…  


Researchers found that … (Gonzales et al., 2016)

References List

Common Reference Examples

***Remember to double-space all lines of your works cited list and indent the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines but not the first (a.k.a. hanging indent). Also, note that you must provide all authors' names, not just the first one. If there are more than 6 authors, you list the first 6, then place an ellipsis (...), then list the last author's name. 

A single author book (print) looks like this:

Morrison, T. (1998). Paradise. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

A journal article looks like this (notice the digital object identifier, or doi, which should always be included in the reference if one is assigned):

Herbst-Damm, K. L., & Kulik, J. A. (2005). Volunteer support, marital status, and the survival times of terminally ill patients. Health Psychology, 24, 225-229. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.24.2.225

A chapter from a book (print) looks like this:

Haybrin, D.M. (2008). Philosophy and the science of subjective well-being. In M. Eid & R. J. Larsen (Eds.), The science of subjective well-being (pp. 17-43). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

An article from an online periodical looks like this:

Bernstein, M. (2002). 10 tips on writing the living web. A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 149. Retrieved from

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