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APA Style Guide

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Scope: This is an introduction to the most frequently used citations in the American Psychological Association (APA) style. It is not meant to be a comprehensive guide. For more information, refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, which is available at the McKeldin Reference Desk (BF76.7 .P83 2010) as well as several other campus libraries (check the catalog record for availability).  The manual may also be purchased through the University Book Store or commercial vendors. The APA's guide to Frequently Asked Questions About APA Style may also be of use.


Table of Contents


Why cite?

In researched writing, proper citation increases your credibility and allows readers to locate your sources; conversely, a failure to document your sources is plagiarism, a violation of the University of Maryland's Code of Academic Integrity with serious consequences.

Avoid plagiarism by gathering the information you need to create a citation when you first find each of your sources; don't wait until you begin writing the paper.


How to write a reference list entry

Readers of your research paper must be able to determine what information or ideas in your paper came from outside sources as well as where they can find those sources for themselves. In APA format, this is done through a system of brief in-text citations which point to entries in a list of references.

This list is titled References (centered at the top of the page). It is double spaced and each entry begins with a hanging tab. Although references appear at the end of the paper, begin drafting the list as you write, both so that you know what information must be included in the in-text citations and to minimize confusion at the end of the research process.

Entries should be alphabetized. If you are listing several works by the same author, order them by year of publication from earliest to most recent. References generally contain the author's name, date of publication, title, and publication data. Some general rules govern names and titles:

  • Authors. Write the last name followed by initials. If there are seven or fewer authors, list them all; if there are eight or more, include the first six followed by three periods and the last author's name. If there is no author, begin the entry with the title.
  • Article or chapter titles. Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle, and any proper nouns. These titles appear without italics, underlines, or quotations marks.
  • Journal, newspaper, or magazine titles. Give the full title, italicized, capitalizing all important words as they appear on the source (e.g., The New York Times).
  • Book and report titles. Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle, and any proper nouns. Italicize book titles. Any additional information (e.g., edition, volume number) should appear in parentheses immediately after the title.


Common reference list entries

This guide shows the most common references in APA format. For more specific needs, see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.


Journal article

Cite the author's name, the year and title of the article, the title of the periodical and volume number (in italics), issue number (in parentheses, no italics) and the page numbers. The name of the article should not be italicized, underlined, or placed in quotation marks.

Segal, L., Cole, C., & Fuld, J. (2002). Developing an HIV/AIDS
     education curriculum for Takalani Sesame, South Africa's Sesame
     Street. Early Education and Development, 13(4), 363-378.

Journal article retrieved online

If a digital object identifier (DOI) has been assigned to the article, include it at the end, using this format: doi:xxxxx. If a DOI is available, no other retrieval information is needed. If there is no assigned DOI, give the URL of the journal's home page (which you may need to search online to locate). You do not need to include a retrieval date for journal articles and other static reports. Unless your instructor asks for it, APA does not require database information, since journal coverage in a database may change over time.

If you are using an advance release of the article, write the phrase "Advance online publication" before the retrieval statement. If your document can only be found in an electronic database such as ERIC or JSTOR (e.g., discontinued journals not easily located through their original publishing channels), give the home URL for the online archive. Do not add a period after the URL or DOI.

Cole, C., Labin, D., & del Rocio Galarza, M. (2008). Begin with the
     children: What research on Sesame Street's international
     coproductions reveals about using media to promote a new more peaceful
     world. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32(4),
     359-365. doi:10.1177/0165025408090977

Journal article with more than seven authors

For a source with more than seven authors, write the first six followed by three periods and the last author's name.

Cole, C., Arafat, C., Tidhar, C., Tafesh, W., Fox, N., Killen, M., . . .
     Yung, F. (2003). The educational impact of Rechov Sumsum/Shara'a
     Simsim: A Sesame Street television series to promote respect and
     understanding among children living in Israel, the West Bank and
     Gaza. International Journal of Behavioral Development,
     27(5), 409-422. doi:10.1080/01650250344000019

Magazine article

Include the month of publication as well as the year (for weekly magazines, include the day). If a volume number is given, it should appear italicized after the title and before the page numbers.

Guernsey, L. (2009, June 1). Sesame Street: The show that counts.
     Newsweek, 153(22), 54.

Newspaper article

Include the exact date and introduce page numbers with p. or pp. If the story appears on discontinuous pages, give all page numbers, separated with a comma (e.g., pp. A1, A5-7).

Shapiro, S. M. (2009, October 4). Can the Muppets make friends in
     Ramallah? The New York Times, pp. MM38-41.

Online newspaper or magazine article

Online newspaper and magazine articles are treated just like the print versions, but replace the page numbers with an online retrieval statement. If the article can be found by searching the publication's home page, use that URL instead of the direct link, to avoid nonworking URLs.

Guernsey, L. (2009, June 1). Sesame Street: The show that counts.
     Newsweek, 153(22), 54. Retrieved from
Shapiro, S. M. (2009, October 4). Can the Muppets make friends in
     Ramallah? The New York Times. Retrieved from



Entire book

For an entire print book, include the author, date of publication, title of work, location and publisher.

Morrow, R. W. (2006). Sesame Street and the reform of children's
     television. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Guernsey, L. (2007). Into the minds of babes: how screen time affects
     children from birth to age five. New York: Basic Books.

Electronic version of print book

For an electronic version of a book (an e-book)include the author, date of publication, title of work, and then either a doi number or state "Retrieved from" and list the URL. A 'doi' number is a Digital Object Identifier that uniquely identifies the content. The following examples are from the APA Style guide, 6th edition, on page 203.

Shotten, M. A. (1989). Computer addiction? A study of computer dependency
     [DX Reader version]. Retrieved from

Schiraldi, G. R. (2001). The post-traumatic stress disorder sourcebook:
   A guide to healing, recovery, and growth [Adobe Digital Editions
   version]. doi:<span id=">%u205Erft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&__char_set=utf8&rft_id=info:doi/10.1036/0071393722&rfr_id=info:sid/libx:usmai&rft.genre=article"">10.1036/0071393722

Entire book with an editor

Use the abbreviation Ed. or Eds. to indicate the presence of an editor.

Fisch, S. M. & Truglio, R. T. (Eds.). (2001). "G" is for
     "growing": thirty years of research on children and Sesame Street.
     Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Reference book

Treat a reference book like any other book.

VandenBos, G. R. (Ed.). (2007). APA dictionary of psychology.
     Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Entry in an online reference book

Do not add a period after the URL. If the online version you consult refers to a specific print edition, include the edition number after the title.

Sulkes, S. B. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, ADD). In 
     Merck manual online. Retrieved from

Chapter or reference entry in a book with an editor

First cite the author and title of the specific chapter or entry in a reference book, then the remainder of the book's information. Include the page numbers for the chapter or entry if available.

Aufderheide, P. (1996). Why kids hate educational TV. In Dennis, E. E.
     & Pease, E. C. (Eds.), Children and the media (pp. 21-28).
     New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.


Other Sources

Motion picture

In addition to the name and date of the motion picture, your reference will include information about the producer, director, year, medium, country of origin, and the name of the studio.

Scott, A. (Producer), & Harris, P. (Director). (2006). The
     Muppets: a celebration of 30 years [Motion picture]. United States:
     Henson Associates.

Dissertations and theses

If you access a published dissertation or thesis through a database service, provide the name of that service, as well as the accession or order number. For an unpublished dissertation or thesis, include the name and location of the institution.

Waterhouse, A. C. (1983). A comparison of uses of selected
     attention-eliciting strategies in two seasons of "Sesame Street"
     (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Maryland, College Park.

Document retrieved online (including blogs and videos)

Include as much of the following information as you can find: author's name, date of publication (if none is available, write "n.d."), title of document (italicized), and the URL that will take readers directly to your source. If there is no author, give the title first, then the date. Include the date of access only if the source is undated. If the document comes from an institutional website (e.g., a government agency or academic institution), identify the publisher as part of the retrieval statement: Retrieved from Agency name website: http://www.xxxx

Sesame Workshop. (n.d.). Galli Galli Sim Sim: A lion and
     a little girl speak to India's children. Retrieved from
Smith, T., Kleiner, A., Parsad, B. & Farris, E. (2003). National
     Center for Education Statistics. (2003). Prekindergarten in U.S. Public
     Schools: 2000-2001 (NCES Publication No. 2003-019). Retrieved from
     National Center for Education Statistics website:

Lawson, C. (2009, November 7). Sesame Street celebrates 40th
    anniversary with premiere on November 10th [Web log post].
    Retrieved from

Obama, Michelle. (2009, April). Michelle Obama's plea for education
    [Video file]. Retrieved from

Business sources (including annual reports and company profiles)

Annual Report retrieved online: When your citation ends in a URL, do not include a period at the end of the citation.

Name of company. (date of report). Form or filing title. Retrieval date
        and title of database or Web address.

Annual report from company website


Intel. (2009).  2009 Annual Report.  Financial Statements.
     Retrieved September 28, 2010 from 

Annual report from database


Intel  (2009, February 23 ).  Form 10-K.  Retrieved from ThomsonOne
     Banker September 28, 2010.

Reports / Company Profiles from a Database


Publisher or author of report. (date of report). Report Title.
     Retrieval date and title of database or web address.

Datamonitor: Apple Inc. (2010, May). Apple Computer, Inc. SWOT Analysis.
    Retrieved September 28, 2010 from Business Source Complete database.

IBISWorld. (2010, September). Solar Power Generation in the US.  Retrieved
   September 28, 2010 from IBISWorld Industry Market Research database.

Mintel. (20010). Green Marketing - US - April 2010. Retrieved September
    27, 2010 from Mintel Market Research Reports database.

Kolb, E. B. (2010, July 29). Broadcasting, Cable & Satellite. Retrieved
    September 28, 2010 from Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage database.


Rightsholder, A. A. (year). Title of Software or Program (Version number)
     [Description of form]. Available from http://xxxxx
NASA Ames Research Center. (2009). NASA App. (Version 1.44)
     [Mobile application software]. Available from

Email and personal communications

Personal communications that are not recoverable by the reader (e.g., email, personal interviews, telephone conversations) are not included in the reference list. Cite them in the text of the paper only.

Reviews and peer commentary

Reviews of books, movies, and other works should include the name and medium (e.g., book, motion picture, television program) of the work under review in brackets, following the name of the review. If the review is untitled, just include the information in brackets (keeping the brackets so readers understand that this is not the title of the review itself). If the review is of audiovisual media (e.g., film, video game), also include the year of release after the title of the work, separated by a comma.

Panero, J. (2008). Brought to you by the letter S [Review of the book 
     Street gang: The complete history of "Sesame Street,"  by M. Davis].
     New York Times. Retrieved from


How to use in-text parenthetical references

In APA format, references appear both in the text of the paper and in an alphabetized reference list appearing at the end of the paper. This allows readers to easily follow up on any citations from your paper. Every source that appears in your text must appear in the list of references; every source in the list of references must appear in your text. Be sure to proofread carefully so that author names and dates in both citations match perfectly.

Insert the last name of the author and the year of publication in your text at the appropriate point. If the author is named in the sentence, it may be omitted from the parenthetical citation. If both the name and date appear (rare), you may not need a parenthetical citation. For example, each of the following is valid:

More children prefer Big Bird to Cookie Monster (Smith, 2005).
Smith (2005) found that children prefer Big Bird over Cookie Monster.
In 2005, Smith's study demonstrated conclusively that children prefer
Big Bird to Cookie Monster.

If you directly quote material, provide a page number (or paragraph number for sources without page numbers). If a page or paragraph number would be helpful to the reader in locating specific ideas or paraphrases, APA format also encourages providing them.

Aufderheide (1996) argues that without "help from regulators to shape and
constrain market conditions" (p. 28), we cannot expect the state of
educational television to improve.
From the moment it hit the air, Sesame Street was "a lightning rod for
all sorts of ideas about children and television" (Morrow, 2006, p. 109).

Common forms of in-text citations include:

  • One work by one author. Include the author's name and the year of publication.
    Smith (2005) conclusively demonstrated ...
    ... an argument supported by decades of research (Smith, 2005).
  • One work by two authors. Cite both names every time the reference occurs. In the text of your paper, write out the word "and" but use an ampersand in the parentheses and the reference list:
    as Fisch and Truglio (2001) argue ...
    ... as has been demonstrated (Fisch & Truglio, 2001). 
  • One work by more than two authors. If the work has three, four, or five authors, list all names in the first reference but use only the first author's name and et al. in subsequent references.
    Segal, Cole, and Fuld (2002) show ... [first reference]
    Segal et al. show ... [second reference and thereafter]
    If the work has six or more authors, cite only the last name of the first author followed by et al. in all references in the text.
    Smith et al. rebut the notion ...
  • No identified author. If the work's author is not named, use the first few words of the reference list entry (usually the title) and the year. Use double quotations for titles of articles, chapters, or web pages, and italics for periodicals, books, or reports. If, however, the author is specifically designated as "Anonymous," use "Anonymous" as the author for parenthetical citations and the reference list.
    ... was the best show ever ("Study Finds," 2009).
  • Two or more works in the same sentence. Order the citations alphabetically, as they appear in the reference list. If you have two or more works by same authors, order them by year of publication (from first to last). If there is more than one work published in the same year by the same author, assign each one a letter: a, b, c, etc.
    (Aufderheide, 1996; Morrow, 2005)
    (Smith 2006, 2008a, 2008b)
  • Secondary or indirect sources. Whenever possible, go directly to the original source. If necessary, however, include the secondary source in the reference list and include both the secondary and original sources in the text.
    Henson's letters (as cited in Smith, 1999)
  • Personal communications. Although unrecoverable personal communications (e.g., interviews, email) do not appear in the list of references, they should be cited in the text, giving the last name and initials of the communicator.
    B. S. Schneider (personal communication, July 4, 2008)