Skip to main content

Citing Your Sources: APA Style

A guide to help you choose quality resources and how to cite those resources.

What is APA Style?

This guide contains basic information about the American Psychological Association (APA) format and style for research papers and for citations. Scroll down for models of citations for different types of sources.

APA style is used for most courses in the sciences, which may include Biology, Business, Chemistry, Communication & Media Studies, Criminology, Economics, Education, Forestry, Linguistics, Nursing, Psychology, Science, Social Science, Sociology. "Style" includes more than just citation formats. It also covers how to write clearly, how to organize and layout your paper or project, punctuation, word choice, spelling, use of fonts, abbreviations and acronyms, critical thinking and fundamentals of research.

APA Citation Style 
The American Psychological Association page provides some basic information about the APA research paper and citation format style.

APA style is set and updated as needed by the American Psychological Association, revised in the 7th edition in October 2019. The library has just acquired this edition but the examples here have not yet been updated and are based on the 6th edition

American Psychological Association (APA) Style

Click on the tabs above for the type of resource you need to cite.

The American Psychological Association (APA) style is a standard of writing that concerns:

  • the organization of the paper
  • the writing style
  • citing references

It is commonly used within the social sciences, such as Psychology, Linguistics, Sociology, Economics, and Criminology, Health Sciences, and Business. 


Do you need to cite a different type of source that is not explained here? Consult one of the style manuals found in the Russell LRC or the Macomb LRC. Try the Purdue Owl as a excellent resource for college writers. 


Basic APA Formatting:

• 1 inch margins on all sides

• All text is double-spaced, except for tables or figures

• All paragraphs are indented on tab space or 1/2 inch

• Font is 12 pt. Times New Roman

Title Page:

• Include a page header also known as the Running Head: 

       ♦ Flushed left in the header

       ♦ Shortened title, maximum of 50 characters - all in capital letters

       ♦ The shortened title will run on all pages

       ♦ The prefix 'Running head:' is used only on the title page

• Page numbers are in the right margin of the header

• Title information stays in the top half of the title page

• The title is 12 words or less - centered

       The author's name (your name) is directly below the title - centered

       University affiliation or course title is directly below the author's name - centered

       All double spaced 

Adding a Running Head to your title page.
1. Go to the Insert tab, under Header choose Blank 

2. In the Design tab click the box next to Different First Page
3. In the Header and Footer Group click on Page Number. Select Top of the Page and the option Plain Number 1
4. Now in the Header section, before the number 1, type in Running head: followed by your shortened title in capital letters
5. Next tab the number 1 two times to place it on the right margin of the page
6. Click on the Home tab, then highlight the Running head, your title, and the page number. Change the font to Times New Roman, size 12

8. Next you will need to add the page numbers to the rest of your paper
9. Click in the Header section of the second page of your paper then open Page Number. Select Top of the Page and the option Plain Number 1
10. Now type in your shortened title in capital letters without the words Running head
11. Next tab the number 2 two times to place it on the right margin of the page
12. Click on the Home tab, highlight the title and page number. Change font to Time New Roman, size 12
13. Every page after will now have the shortened title of your paper and the correct page number 

Click HERE for a video showing you how to add a Running head to your title page. 

Abstract Page: (note - your instructor may not require an abstract for your paper)

  • The Abstract page is a brief summary of the paper
  • The label 'Abstract' should be centered at the top of page 2
  • Should be between 150 to 250 words
  • Type it as a single paragraph without indentation

Main Body:

  • Your paper should start on page 3 with the title centered, unless you instructor does not require an abstract page 
  • Begin your paragraph on the next line after the title 
  • Remember to double space, and indent the first line of a new paragraph


Reference Page: see tab above titled Formatting Your Reference Page for specific information




Title Page:

title page image

Abstract Page:

abstract page image

Main body page:

main body page image

Reference page:

reference page image


In-Text Citations:

APA uses an author-date citation system.

Single Author

• Place the author's surname and year in parenthesis, separated by a comma, e.g. Pharmacology is the science of... (Karch, 2003)

• If the name of the author appears in the text, cite only the year in parenthesis, e.g. Karch (2003) stated that pharmacology...

• If both the author and year appear in the text, don't include a parenthetical citation, e.g. In her 2003 study, Karch found that...

Multiple Authors

• Two authors, cite both names every time, e.g. (Spratto & Woods, 2011)

• Three to five authors, cite all names the first time then only the first author plus each time after, e.g. (Spratto, Woods & Smith, 2011) second citation (Spratto et. al., 2011) 

No Author

• When there is not an identified author, cite the first few words of the title and the year, using double quotation marks around the title of an article, e.g. ("Making Meaningful Connections," 2014)

• When using the title of a book, periodical, brochure, or a report italicize instead of quotation marks, e.g. (The Manual of Public Records, 2015) 


Formatting Guidelines for the reference page:

References Title: Type the word References in the top center of a new page. Don't bold, underline, or use quotation marks for the label.

Line Spacing and Indentations: References should be double-spaced and have a hanging indent. The first line of a reference is set flush with the left margin, and subsequent lines are indented one-half inch from the left margin. 

image of hanging indent for MLA and APA ref page

Order: Alphabetize citations by first author's last name. Alphabetize sources without authors by title.

Authors: Authors' names are inverted (last name first), give the last name and initials for all authors of a particular work. Use commas between authors names, using the ampersand (&) instead of "and" preceding the last author of the work. 

Capitalization: Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle of books, articles and websites. However, capitalize all proper names/words and all words in the title of a journal, magazine, and newspaper. 

DOI: If available, include a DOI at the end of the citation.

URLs: Use only when a DOI isn't available.

Date: Follows the author's name, or the title if there is no author. Use full date when citing magazines, newspapers, newsletters and conference/symposium papers and proceedings. Use only the year when citing journal articles and books. If possible, include the date a web site was created or updated.

Italics: Titles of books and journals are italicized. Journal volume numbers are also italicized but issue numbers are not.

Other punctuation: An ampersand [&] is used instead of 'and' when there are multiple authors. 

Editions: Cite the edition of a book only if it is not the 1st edition. Edition is shown after the title, e.g. Title (3rd ed.).

Publication information: Include city, state and name of publisher.

Web sites: If the web site has a personal author it is cited similar to books etc including author, title, date etc. and retrieval date since content may change. 

Retrieved from: Use when there is no DOI for a journal or magazine article and you retrieved the article electronically, e.g. Retrieved from 

Retrieved [date]: No longer needed in citations unless the information may change over time, e.g. wikis.

► Instructors may have other preferences, please check with them. 


General format for books: AuthorLastNameFirstNameInitialMiddleNameInitial. (year). Title of work. Location: Publisher.   

1 Author: 

Karch, A. M. (2003). Focus on nursing pharmacology (6th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

2 Authors:

Spratto, G. R., & Woods, A. L. (2011). Delmar nurse's drug handbook. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.

No Author

Sometimes a work will use as its author an agency, association, or institution. The full association name should be used, (e.g. American Library Association not ALA). A parent body precedes a subdivision, (e.g. University of Michigan, Department of Psychology).

If there is no author, move the title to the author position. 


The image below identifies elements of an APA citation for a print book. 


image identifies elements of APA citation of a book


General format for periodicals: AuthorLastName, FirstNameInitial. MiddleNameInitial. (year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, xx, pp-pp. doi:xx.xxxxxxxxxx or Retrieved from http://xxx.xxxxxx   

McKeage, K. (2014). Linagliptin: An update of its use in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Drugs. 74(16), 1927-1946. doi:10.1007/s40265-014-0308-3


The image below identifies elements of an APA citation for a journal article from an database with a DOI.

image identifies elements of APA citation of an article with a DOIJournal article from a print or internet journal without a DOI (a print article would end with the page numbers)

Phillips, A. (2015). Diabetes and relationships: How couples manage diabetes. Practice Nursing, 26(6), 298-301. Retrieved from

(see Note below regarding the use of Retrieved from)


Note: APA states that it is not necessary to include database information in citation URLs since database article URLs change over time, and if it's an aggregator database such as EBSCO it will be difficult to tell which database the article came from. For example the article above was found in a health coverage database called CINAHL. It's a good idea to check with your instructor regarding this decision. More information on this choice can be found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 6th Ed, p. 192. 


Finding the information for your citation:

The image below is what the record for an article looks like in an EBSCO database. 

image of a detailed record in an EBSCO database


General format for newspaper articles: AuthorLastName, FirstNameInitial. MiddleNameInitial. (year, Month day). Title of article. Title of newspaper, p. (or pp. if the article appears on more than one page, give all page numbers and separate the numbers with a comma). If an online newspaper and no page numbers are present use Retrieved from http://xxx.xxxxxxxx


Hart, A. (2009, Nov 8). What in the environment is causing type 1 diabetes in young children to increase so rapidly?. Sacramento Examiner. Retrieved from


The image below identifies elements of an APA citation for a newspaper article.

image identifies elements of APA citation for a newspaper article


General format for websites: AuthorLastName, FirstNameInitial. MiddleNameInitial. (year). Article title. [Description of Form]. Title of Web Site. Retrieved date, from

* Note: Retrieved date is no longer needed in citations unless the information may change over time, e.g. wikis. 

The image below identifies elements of an APA citation for an informally published web article.

citation for website image

* Remember your instructor may have other preferences, please check with them. 


Here's an example of a podcast:

Raz, G. (2013). Unstoppable learning [Podcast]. NPR: Ted Radio Hour. Retrieved from 


No Author

Sometimes a work will use as its author an agency, association, or institution. The full association name should be used, (e.g. American Library Association not ALA). A parent body precedes a subdivision, (e.g. University of Michigan, Department of Psychology).

If there is no author, move the title to the author position. 


General format for audiovisual media: ProducerLastName, FirstNameInitial. MiddleNameInitial. (Producer), & DirectorLastName, FirstNameInitial. MiddleNameInitial. (year). Title of motion picture. [Motion picture]. Country of Origin: Studio. 

Garmon, L. (1994). Secret of the wild child: The revealing story of Genie. [Motion picture]. United States: WGBH Boston Video. 

The image below identifies elements of an APA citation for a DVD.

image identifies elements of APA citation for a DVD

Personal communications can be:

  • personal interviews
  • private letters
  • memos
  • e-mail
  • telephone conversations

Because personal communications are not retrievable, they are not included in the reference list. However you must parenthetically cite in the main text, for example:

(J. Smith, personal communication, May 4, 2012). 

A. Jones insisted that the noise came from outside the house (personal communication, April 20, 2010).


 A DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency to identify digital objects. The article may change physical locations but the DOI assigned to it does not change.

Since the DOI of an article can assist with finding the article, many of the citation styles, APA, MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian, etc. are starting to include the use of a DOI in the citation for articles.

From the OWL at Purdue: In August of 2011 the formatting recommendations for DOIs changed. DOIs are now rendered as an alpha-numeric string which acts as an active link. According to The APA Style Guide to Electronic Reference, 6th edition, 
you should use the DOI format which the article appears with. So, if it is using the older numeric string, use that as the DOI. If, however, it is presented as the newer alpha-numeric string, use that as the DOI. 

If you have a DOI but cannot get the article to open go to Resolve a DOI. Then copy and paste the DOI into the search box to lead you to the article.

Example of an article citation with a DOI:

Brownlie, D. (2007). Toward effective poster presentations: An annotated bibliography. European Journal of Marketing, 41, 1245-1283. doi:10.1108/03090560710821161

Additional information about DOIs can be found here. 

APA Resources

These books can be found on Reserve (behind the Circulation desk) at the Canton Russell Learning Resource Center and Macomb Learning Resource Center.

APA on Twitter