How to cite sources in APA format?

Published by at February 6th, 2022 , Revised On February 22, 2022

APA is one of the most adopted referencing styles that are used among social science and humanities researchers. This article presents the most important and common citation guidelines from the APA 7th Edition Publication Manual (2020).

APA In-text Citations

The Basic Rules of Citation

In-text citation is a concise form of the reference that you used in your work. It provides sufficient background to clearly identify the source in the reference list. In APA, the in-text citation includes, author’s last name along with the publication year, for example, (Johns, 2020). This is also known as Author date-system.

Now, if you want to cite any particular part of the source, the citation should also include a page number or date/time, for example, (Johns, 2020, p. 199).

Parenthetical Vs. Narrative Citation

It is important to know the difference between these two forms of citations.

In parenthetical citation the author’s name and the date of publication should be written within parentheses, for example, (Johns, 2020).

Whereas, in Narrative citation, the author’s name should be a part of sentence rather than written in parentheses, for example, Johns (2016) wrote that every person is fighting a battle within himself.

Multiple Authors and Corporate Authors

There is a slight difference in the citation format when citing a source with multiple authors/organisations.

NOTE:
The correct use of ampersand symbol and punctuation plays a very important role in it.

Type of Author Parenthetical Citation Narrative Citation
One Author (Johns, 2020) Johns (2020)
Two Authors (Johns & Robert, 2020) Johns and Robert (2020)
Three or More Authors (Johns et al., 2020) Johns et al. (2020)
Organisation (Solutions, 2020) Solutions (2020)

Missing Information

The below steps will guide you how to cite a source with missing date of publication or locator,

Missing Info What needs to do Parenthetical Citation
Author Add the source title. (Source title, 2020)
Date Use “n.d.” for “missing date” (Johns, n.d.)
Page Number Use an alternative locator or
skip the page number.
(Johns, 2020, Chapter 13) or
(Johns, 2020)

NOTE:
Use the same title formatting as used in the relevant reference entry (Make it italicized or, if the title is not italicized (in actual reference), then put it in quotation marks). Always use upper and lower case in the title.

APA References

The basics

APA references usually consist of basic information about the author, the date of publication, the title of the paper, and the source. Sometimes, depending on the type of source used, you may need to provide some additional information.

Some of the Referencing Examples are:

  • Book

Reference Entry: Johns, R. (2020). The citation manual for students. A quick guide. Wiley

In text Citation

Parenthetical: (Johns, 2020)

Narrative: Johns (2020)

  • Journal Articles

Reference Entry: Ruxton, C. (2016). Tea: Hydration and other health benefits. Primary Health Care26(8), 34-42. https://doi.org/10.7748/phc.2016.e1162

In-text Citation

Parenthetical: (Ruxton, 2008)

Narrative: Ruxton (2008)

  • Web Page

 Reference Entry: Johnson, A. (2018, May 24). “It doesn’t need to be this way”: The promise of specialized early intervention in psychosis services. IEPA. https://iepa.org.au/network-news/it-doesnt-need-to-be-this-way-the-promise-of-specialised-early-intervention-in-psychosis-services/

Parenthetical: (Johnson, 2018)

Narrative: Johnson (2018)

 

Missing Information

When some incomplete sources are found, use the below steps to adjust the references;

Missing Info What to do Reference format
Author Use the exact source title. Title. (Date). Source.
Date Use “n.d.” for “Missing date”. Author. (n.d.). Title. Source.
Title Enclose in square brackets. Author. (Date). [Description]. Source.

 APA Reference Page Formatting

The reference page consists of all the sources that you have used in your paper. The reference pages fall right under the main body of the paper just before the appendix. Put a bold and centered heading “References” at the first line of the page. Then start putting all references in alphabetical order. The references page should follow the below guidelines;

  1. Double spacing between references.
  2. Hanging indent of ½ inch.
  3. Font: Times New Roman 12 or Arial 11.
  4. Put page number at the right header.

NOTE:
Please note that only include those references that you have cited in the in-text citation throughout your paper. Do not include any irrelevant references.

FAQs

If there is no author name, but the source clearly links to a specific website, report, or organization, then use the name of the website or organization as the author to cite the work published by them.

The “et al.” means “and others”. It is used to cite a source with three or more authors. This in-text citation format includes (First author’s last name, et.al., 2018)

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