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APA Citation Format and Reference Guide (Examples)

What is an APA citation? What is the APA citation format(s)? The references below use the APA Publication Manual 7 (released on October 2019). Learn how to properly cite a source or reference in APA style format in this full APA format citation guide. Read the other guides to learn how to cite other source types according to research papers, professional papers, scholarly journal’s, and student essays.

Understanding an APA Citation: what is APA style?

APA is a writing format for academic documents. These documents typically include scholarly journals, books, student essays, and other educational material. For example, in the field of behavioral and social sciences (including sociology, education, health science, criminal justice, and psychology) APA style is used as a standard format for research.

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. The APA became involved in journal publishing in 1923. And in 1929, an APA committee had created a seven-page writer’s guide published in the Psychological Bulletin. Editions of the APA manual have since evolved. With major releases in 1974, 1983, 1994, 2001, 2009, and 2019. Each with their edition titles.

For example, the 2019 edition is referred to as “APA 6” style. Revisions of the APA style guide tend to follow developments of the English language and linguistics as a whole.

APA Style 7th Edition font suggestions

APA Publication Manual 7 requires that chosen fonts be accessible to readers and consistent throughout essays and research papers. The APA Manual does not specify a certain typeface or font for papers. They do recommend the following typefaces with their point sizes as follows:

FontPoint size
Lucida Sans Unicode10-point
Times New Roman12-point
Computer Modern10-point
APA Style font recommendations

What is an APA citation?

An APA citation is a reference to a source that provides context for the information shared in a research essay, student essay, or professional essay.

an APA reference and citation
An APA reference

Where should a reference list be in APA format?

A reference list is a complete list of reference used in a piece of writing. This will include the author name, date of publication, title, and more.

Follow these rules for including an APA reference list:

Reference listBe on a new page at the end of the document.
Reference listBe centered on the page.
Reference listBe alphabetical by name of first author (or title if the author isn’t known).
Reference listContain full references for all in-text citations and references used

Examples of citing a website:

Mitchell, J.A. (2022, May 21). How and when to reference. Retrieved from https://wikipedia.org.

In-text citations:

Mitchell (2019) states… Or …(Mitchell, 2019).

A direct quote from the citation must follow the quote directly and contain a page number after the date. For example (Mitchell, 2019, p.204).

When using in-text format, follow the author-date method. This is the author’s last name and the year of publication for the source. This should appear in the text. For example, “This is a reference (Jones, 1998).”

For two authors

Mitchell and Johnson (2019) state… Or …(Mitchell & Johnson, 2019).

Three, four, or five authors

Mitchell, Johnson, and Ryan (2019) state… Or …(Mitchell, Johnson, & Ryan, 2019).

For a complete table on multiple author citations, see the following:

Single authorsJohnson, R. (2019) On being included: Humanism. Duke University Press.
Two authorsJourneyman, C. J., & Ericson, O. P. (2018). The next big five inventory (BFI-2): The Understanding of How Humans Relate. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology113(1), 117-143. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000096
Three to twenty authorsCanyon, T., Carnale, J. J., Scholer, A. A., Miele, D. B., & Fujita, K. (2019). The Human Element and the Performance. Journal of Personality and Social Justice, 117(5), 879-899. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000166
More than twenty authorsPegion, K., Kirtman, B. P., Becker, E., Collins, D. C., LaJoie, E., Ericson, R., Bell, R., Bryant, R., Min, D., Zhu, Y., Li, W., Smith, E., Guan, H., Gottschalck, J., Berger, E. J., Barton, N. P., Schumaker, D., Marshak, J., Koster, R., . . .  Kim, H. (2012). The math and science issue. Bulletin of the American Society for Meterology, 100(10), 2043-2061. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0270.1
Group authorMerriam-Webster. (2012). Ericson. In Merriam-Webster’s Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary. Merriam-Webster.
Multiple layers of group authorshipBureau of International Organization Affairs. (2018). U.S. affairs, 2019 [Annual report]. U.S. Department of State. https://www.state.gov/u-s-contributions-to-international-organizations/
Unknown authorMerriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (11th ed.). (2003). Merriam-Webster.
Two more works by the same authorAndrews, C. R. (Ed.). (2012). Influences on human life. Cambridge University Press.
Two more works by the same author in the same yearBernard, R.D. (2006a).  Children’s relationships: Shifts over the century and the effects of such.  Merrill Lynch Quarterly, 50(3)206-223.
In introductions, prefaces, forewords, and afterwordsLane, J. M. (2018). Introduction. In Smith, G., Lane, J. M., & Richards, R.A (Eds.), Teaching humanism (pp. 1-8). Duke University Press.

How to cite a book:

Aptekar, D. (2006). Traction. Ladybird Books.

Basic format for booksAuthor, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Publisher Name. DOI (if available)
Edited book with no authorEditor, E. E. (Ed.). (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Publisher. DOI (if available)
Edited book with an author or multiple authorsAuthor, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle (E. Editor, Ed.). Publisher. DOI (if available)
TranslationAuthor, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle (T. Translator, Trans.). Publisher. (Original work published YEAR) DOI (if available)
Not first edition booksAuthor, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle (# edition). Publisher. DOI (if available)
An article or chapter in an edited bookAuthor, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. In E. E. Editor & F. F. Editor (Eds.), Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle (pp. pages of chapter). Publisher. DOI (if available)
Multi-volume workAuthor, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle (Vol. #)Publisher. DOI (if available)

How to cite an eBook:

Mitchell, J.A., Thomas, M., & Ryan, R.P. (2019). A guide to APA style. Retrieved from https://www.g.com/apa-style

APA formatLast name, Initials. (Year). Book title. Publisher. URL or DOI
APA reference entrySmith, A. (2019). Yonder. Smith & Smith. https://amazon.com/book
APA in-text citation(Smith, 2019, para. 14)

How to cite a website (Wikipedia, TED, YouTube, Twitter, and other online sources:

Lastname, F. M. (Year, Month Date). Title of page. Site name. URL

RuleFormat + Template
If the webpage has an individual authorLastname, F. M. (Year, Month Date). Title of page. Site name. URL
If the resource is by a group or organizationGroup name. (Year, Month Date). Title of page. Site name. URL
If the webpages author is not listed, instead use the titleTitle of page. (Year, Month Date). Site name. Retrieved Month Date, Year, from URL
If the date of publication isn’t listed (using the n.d. abbreviation)Author or Group name. (n.d.). Title of page. Site name (if applicable). URL
Citing a wikipedia articleTitle of article. (Year, Month Date). In Wikipedia. URL of archived version of page
Citing DOI’sLastname, F. M., & Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, Vol.(Issue), page numbers. DOI
Electronic or kindle booksLastname, F. M. (Year). Title of book. Publisher. URL
Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of book [eBook edition]. Publisher. URL
Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of book (N. Narrator, Narr.) [Audiobook]. Publisher. URL (if applicable)
Dissertation or thesis from a databaseLastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation or thesis (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis, Name of Institution Awarding Degree]. Database Name.
Data setsLastname, F. M. or Name of Group (Year). Title of dataset (Version No.) [Data set]. Publisher. DOI or URL
Computer software or downloaded softwareLastname, F. M. or Name of Group. (Year). Title of software (Version No.). Publisher. URL
Email (personal communication)(E. Smith, personal communication, January 9, 2009).
Online forumLastname, F. M. or Name of Group [username]. (Year, Month Date). Title of post [Online forum post]. Publisher. URL
Tweet from TwitterLastname, F. M. or Name of Group [@username]. (Year, Month Date). Content of the post up to the first 20 words[Tweet]. Site Name. URL
Twitter profileLastname, F. M. or Name of Group [@username]. (n.d.). Tweets [Twitter profile]. Retrieved Month Date, Year, from URL
Facebook postLastname, F. M. or Name of Group. (Year, Month Date). Content of the post up to the first 20 words [Type of post]. Site Name. URL
Facebook pageLastname, F. M. or Name of Group. (n.d.). Home [Facebook page]. Site name. Retrieved Month Date, Year, from URL
Instagram photo or videoLastname, F. M. or Name of Group [@username]. (Year, Month Date). Content of the post up to the first 20 words [Type of post]. Site Name. URL
Blog postLastname, F. M. (Year, Month Date). Title of post. Publisher. URL
YouTube or streaming serviceLast Name, F. M. [Username]. (Year, Month Date). Title of video [Video]. Streaming Service. URL
TED TalksAuthor, A. A. (Year, Month Date). Title of talk [Video]. TED. URL
PodcastsHost, A. A. (Host). (Year, Month Date). Title of episode (No. if provided) [Audio podcast episode]. In Name of podcast. Publisher. URL

How to cite a newspaper article (print or online):

Johnson J.A. (2019). Changes to APA style that are making us confused. The GrammarBrain Telegraph, Research News, pp.12. Retrieved from https://www.g.com/reference

Article in a print journalSmith, R. (1998). The eclipse of humans. The New Journal, 15(3), 5–13.
Article in an electronic journalSmith, S., & Johnson, S. (2012). Data and UX Design: Human Centered Learning. Duke University, 6(1), 11–16. https://doi.org/10.5703/1288284316979
Using URL instead of a DOISmith, H., Johnson, J., & Bryan, L. (2018). “What computers tell us about the future”: Understanding humans and the machines. The Journal Center, 37(1), 67–98. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26537363
Articles in a magazineSmith, J. (1992, April). Small is better than large. Time, 135(17), 20–21.
Article in a newspaperSmith, S. (2012, December 28). Making policy change. USA Country Today, 1A, 2A.

How to cite audiovisual material (Songs, TV Episodes, Films, Podcasts, and more)

The Chainsmokers, Diplo, MNEK, Koenig, E., Johnson, E., Tillman, J., and Smith, S.M. (2019) Love You [Recorded by The Chainsmokers]. On The X-Album [visual album]. New York, NY: Stone Records

RuleFormat + Template
A film or videoDirector, D. D. (Director). (Date of publication). Title of motion picture [Film]. Production company.
Foreign film or videoDirector, D. D. (Director). (Date of publication). Title of motion picture in original language [Translated title][Film]. Production company.
TV SeriesExecutive Producer, P. P. (Executive Producer). (Date range of release). Title of series [TV series]. Production company(s).
TV Series – Episode specificWriter, W. W. (Writer), & Director, D. D. (Director). (Original air date). Title of episode (Season number, Episode number) [Tv series episode]. In P. Executive Producer (Executive Producer), Series title. Production company(s). 
YouTube VideoPerson or group who uploaded video. (Date of publication). Title of video [Video]. Website host. URL 
Music AlbumRecording artist. (Year of release). Title of album [Album]. Record label.
Single Song or TrackRecording artist. (Year of release). Title of song [Song]. On Title of album [Album]. Record label. 
PodcastExecutive Producer, E. P. (Executive Producer). (Range of publication). Title of podcast [Audio podcast]. Production company. URL
Single Podcast EpisodeExecutive Producer, E. P. (Executive Producer). (Date of publication). Title of podcast episode (Episode number) [Audio podcast episode]. In Title of podcast. Production company. URL
Artwork in a MuseumArtist, A. (Year of release). Title of artwork [medium]. Name of museum, City, State, Country. URL of museum
PhotographPhotographer, P. (Year of publication). Title of photograph [Photograph]. Source. URL

How to cite legal documents (court decisions, supreme court decisions, laws, patents):

RuleFormat + Template
US Supreme Court ReferenceName v. Name, Volume # U.S. Page # (Year). URL
US Circuit Court Reference“Name v. Name, Volume # F. [or F.2d, F.3d] Page # (Court Year). URL
US District Court ReferenceName v. Name, Volume # F. Supp. Page # (Court Year). URL
State Court Decisions ReferenceName v. Name, Volume # Reporter Page # (Court Year). URL
Federal and State StatutesName of Act, Title # Source § Section # (Year). URL
Federal TestimonyTitle of testimony, ### Cong. (Year) (testimony of Testifier Name). URL
Full Federal HearingTitle of hearing, ### Cong. (Year). URL
Federal Bill or ResolutionTitle [if relevant], H.R. or S. bill/resolution number, ### Cong. (Year). URL
Concurrent Federal ResolutionS. Res. ###, ### Cong., Volume # Cong. Rec. Page # (Year) (enacted). URL
Federal Regulation, CodifiedTitle or Number, Volume # C.F.R. § ### (Year). URL
Federal Regulation, Not CodifiedTitle or Number, Volume # F.R. Page (proposed Month Day, Year) (to be codified at Volume # C.F.R. § ###). URL
Executive OrderExec. Order No. #####, 3 C.F.R. Page (Year). URL
PatentInventor, A. A. (Year patent issued). Title of patent (U.S. Patent No. ###). U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. URL
Article of ConstitutionU.S. Const. art. ###, § x.
Amendment to a constitutionU.S. Const. amend. ###
UN CharterU.N. Charter art. ##, para. ##.
UN Treaty or ConventionName of Treaty or Convention, Month Day, Year, URL

How to cite a dissertation, encyclopedia, dictionary, or thesaurus:

RuleFormat + Template
When referencing an entry in a dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurusInstitution or organization name. (Year). Title of entry. In Title of reference work (edition, page numbers). Publisher name.
When referencing an entry in a dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus (with an individual author)Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of entry. In F. M. Lastname (ed.), Title of reference work (edition, page numbers). Publisher.
Works that are discussed in a secondary source (DOI)Smith R. (2019). What is humanism? Languish46(1), 21-37. http://sub.uwpress.org/lookup/doi/10.3368/ss.46.1.21
Disseration abstractLastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation. Dissertation Abstracts International, Vol., Page.
Dissertation of Master’s Thesis (Published)Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation/Master’s thesis, Name of Institution Awarding the Degree]. Database or Archive Name.
Dissertation of Master’s Thesis (Unpublished)Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis [Unpublished doctoral dissertation/master’s thesis]. Name of Institution Awarding the Degree. 
Federal or state statute (typically linking to a .gov website)Name of Act, Public Law No. (Year). URL
A report by a government agency or other government organizationOrganization Name. (Year). Title of report. URL
Report by individual authors at a government agencyLastname, F. M., & Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of report. Organization Name. URL
Conference proceedingsLastnam

General APA citation guidelines

Below is an outline to help produce a title page and general format for an APA citation.

APA title pages

Below is the information regarding APA title pages and their correct format.

Title page fonts

Follow the font guidelines for both professional and student papers. The title of the paper (in either student or professional format) should be in both uppercase and lowercase letters. For example, “Hemoglobin and Humans.”

Title page information

APA format title pages should include the following information:

  • The title of the APA format paper
  • Names of all authors
  • Institutional affiliation
  • Course number and title
  • Instructor’s name
  • Due date

The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author’s name, and institutional affiliate directly in the center. When writing a professional paper, include the author note, too. A student paper will include the course number, and name, instructor name, and assignment due date.

Here are the tables for reference:

To includeFor
Title of the paperAll
Author’s nameAll
Institutional informationAll
Author noteProfessional paper
Course numberStudent paper
Course nameStudent paper
Instructor nameStudent paper
Assignment due dateStudent paper

Student APA title page

Student title page example.

This is a student title page example using the course number, course name, instructor name, and assignment due date.

Author note

A professional paper should include the author note beneath the institutional affiliation (as shown above). The first paragraph of the author note should include the author’s name, the symbol for the ORCID iD, and the URL for the ORCID iD. Any authors who don’t have an ORCID iD should get omitted from the author note entirely.

The third paragraph of the author note should include information like disclosures, acknowledgements (study registration, open practices, and data sharing) and disclosure of related reports and conflicts of interest.

Student papers do not require an author’s note.

A completed author's note.
A completed author’s note.

Page headers and page numbers

Below is a reference of the page headers and page numbers in APA style for both professional and student papers for reference:

Professional – Page Numbers + TitleAppears at the top of the page
Student – Page Numbers + TitleAppears at the top of the page
Professional – Page Numbers + TitleFlush and to the top right of the page.
Student – Page NumbersFlush and to the top right of the page.


What is an abstract page? An abstract page is a one-paragraph (typically longer in length) summary of your paper’s overall focus. The purpose of an abstract page is to provide the readers with the main focus of the paper. In short, it gives the reader a “snapshot” of the paper’s focus.

The abstract page should always begin on a new page. And should include the page header (as mentioned in the above table).

Beginning with a new line, write a concise summary of the key points of the research. Do not indent the paragraph.

The abstract page should contain the following information:

  • Research topic
  • Research questions
  • Participants
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Data Analysis
  • Conclusions

Keep your abstract summary to one page. Typically, the abstract page will be no more than 250 words in length.

It’s optional to include keywords in the abstract page. To do this, start a new paragraph and place your keywords in italicized text. And then list the keywords, with each keyword not italicized. For example: Keywords: Research, paper

Follow this format for your abstract page:

Keep under 250 wordsAbstract page
Use double-spaced line heightsAbstract page
Keep to one paragraphAbstract page

When are abstract pages required?

Typically, an abstract page is going to be required in scholarly journal articles. They are not required for student papers unless specifically advised by a professor or instructor.

Watch a video on APA citations

If you’re still confused, watch this helpful video on APA 7th edition citations:

APA 7th ed. citations guide

Common issues and avoiding ambiguity

Common issues and avoiding ambiguity.

No author, date, or page number

Unknown elementSolutionIn-text citation
AuthorUse the source title.(Source Title, 2020)
DateWrite “n.d.” for “no date”.(Smith, n.d.)
Page numberUse an alternative locator or
omit the page number.
(Smith, 2020, 03:46) or
(Smith, 2020)

Common questions

Common questions about APA citations:

What is the DOI?

Note that a DOI references (typically APA PsychNet sources). Their links look like the following url: https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/pspp0000096

When should I cite a chapter instead of a whole book?

When a book has chapters that are written by multiple authors, you should cite the specific chapter or paragraph that you are referring to.

What should it look like when I want to cite a multivolume book as a whole?

Smith, T. S. (2014). The poems of Elliot Underson (Vols. 1–2) (C. Hicks & J. Governy, Eds.). Johnson & Rodney.

When should I use “et al.” in APA in-text citations?

You can use the abbreviation “et. al.” when there are multiple authors that you are not choosing to list. This is best for in-text citations and not in the reference list itself. For example, if a book has more than three authors, you can say (Taylor, Smith, et al., 2019).

It should only get used when referencing the same book, published in the same year, and when more than two authors are part of the published piece.

Do I need to include the publisher’s location in an APA book citation?

In the 7th Edition of the APA manual, no location information is required for publishers.

APA 7th Edition Formatting and Style Guides:

Here are more resources on APA style:


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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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