A Complete Guide to APA Referencing Style

The APA style is recommended by the American Psychology Association. It is one of the most common referencing styles used by authors and scholars worldwide. APA referencing style allows researchers and writers to present clear, concise and focused scholarly communication to improve the clarity and focus of the document.

How To Cite In APA Format?

The essential tips and tricks for APA referencing style are discussed here.

The Basics of Intext-Citations

Intext-citations are inserted within the text of your research paper to refer to the reference entry at the end of the paper. It is used to source your information. Any text taken from another source must be cited in your research paper. In APA, the author-date format is used for intext-citations, meaning that the author’s name and the year of the publication will appear in the text.

For example, (Adam, 2022).

This formatting is used when referring to the entire document, book or other sources. When citing specific page numbers from a source, you have to add the number at the end of the parenthetical citation. One page is denoted by “p.” while multiple pages are represented by “pp.” with a dash in the centre to separate pages.


  • (Adam, 2022, p.66)
  • (Adam, 2022, pp.65-87).

Take care of the following capitalisation rules while writing intext-citations.

  • Make sure to capitalise all proper nouns. E.g. A. Adams
  • When referencing the page title, capitalise words with more than four characters. E.g. “Basics of Intext-Citations”.
  • In the case of hyphenated-compound words, capitalise both words. E.g. “Intext-Citations”.

Types of Intext-Citation

There are two types of intext-citations

  • Parenthetical Citation

In Parenthetical citations, sources are cited inside a parenthesis.


“APA referencing style is popular among researchers” (Adam, 2022)

  • Narrative Citation

In a narrative citation, the name of the author is a part of the sentence with the year in parentheses.


Adam (2022) believes that students often face difficulty using APA-style formatting.

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Organisation and Multiple Authors

In the case of multiple authors, make use of the ampersand (&). For example, (Adam & Syed, 2022). For more than two authors, use et al. with the name of the primary author. E.g. (Adam et al., 2022). If the author is an organisation, then it would be represented like this (Essays UK, 2022).

APA References

The APA format recommends using a reference list at the end of the document, instead of a bibliography.

What is the difference between a reference list and a bibliography?

A reference list only includes the sources that have been cited in the document while a bibliography consists of all sources that were found relevant during the research.

Formatting Guidelines for Referencing Page

The reference list should start with the “References” title in the first line, followed by the references in alphabetical order.

A reference list is included at the end of the document. The purpose is to list all the sources cited throughout the document. When compiling a reference list, you should take care of the following elements.

  • Sequence
  • Capitalisation rules
  • Punctuation
  • Underlining

Moreover, make sure that the list has the relevant formats, which include

  • Double spacing
  • Proper font style and size,
  • Indentation of 1.5

Examples of APA Referencing Style

Adam, S. (2022). A complete guide to APA style referencing (4th ed.) Intext Citation: (Adam, 2022) or Adam (2022)

Musa, L. M., & Post, D. L. (2011). What is APA style formatting? Journal of English Literature, 90(6), 300-356 Intext Citation: (Musa & Post, 2022, pp.300-356)


Of course, you can cite a source that has no author associated with it. However, always look for the organisation, company, charity, business or website the source belongs to, and use their name as the author in-text citations and in the references list. In some cases, you may not be able to identify the author as the document is completely anonymous. A wiki article is one such example. In that case, you are allowed to use the title as the author of the paper. Shorten the title if necessary, especially when adding the source in the in-text citations.

If you are citing a quote, phrase, or a large piece of text, you must specify the exact location of the passage. When you need to cite a source that has no page numbers, for example, a website, provide information that helps the reader to identify the exact location of the passage. Use headings or their shortened versions, subheadings, paragraph numbers and line numbers of the combination of two markers to point to the exact location the passage belongs to.

For example: (Smith, 2021, para. 5)

  • Do not use kind page numbers when citing ebooks because they are not reliable.
  • There is no need to include a page number or another marker when referring to the source as a whole.

In academic referencing, et al. means “and others”. You can use et al. to shorten in-ext situations having two or more authors. The concept is easy: Write the surname of the first author’s name, followed by et al. a comma, and the year of publication. For example (Michael et al., 2022).