APA Citation Guide
APA Style is one of the most widely used citation styles. Other popular styles for citing sources are MLA Citation Style and Chicago Style. This quick guide will help you become more familiar with the APA citation and formatting guidelines.
When you refer to a source in your work, include an in-text citation. This means citing the authors’ last names and the publication year directly in the sentence where you use the information.
After the main body of your work, you must also include a reference page, where you cite all your sources in full. This not only helps your readers retrieve the sources used in your work, but is one step to ensuring you do not commit plagiarism.
APA in-text citations
An in-text citation is a concise way to show the reader where the original idea came from and to give credit to the original author.
According to APA’s citation guidelines, you should write down the last name of the authors and the year of publication. This can be done in multiple ways:
- An earlier study in which X and Y were compared revealed that … (Smith, 1988).
- Smith (1984) shows how, in the past, research into X was mainly concerned with …
- In 1984, research was carried out by Smith that indicated that …
When there are two authors, separate their last names with an ampersand.
When there are three or more authors, separate their last names using commas. The last two authors’ last names should be separated by both a comma and an ampersand (in a citation) or “and” (in the running text).
- Research shows that there is a great need for … (Reynolds & Thomas, 2014).
- Reynolds and Thomas (2014) write that there is a great need for …
- Recent research suggests that there is … (McGuire, Morrison, Reynolds, & Thomas, 2014).
- McGuire, Morrison, Reynolds, and Thomas (2014) argue that …
As you can imagine, citing a source with 3–5 authors takes up a lot of space in the text.
That is why you shorten the citation when you use the source a second, third or fourth time.
How? Instead of writing down all authors’ last names, write only the last name of the first author, followed by “et al.,” which means “and others.”
- In this research, many participants made use of … (McGuire et al., 2014).
- McGuire et al. (2014) noticed that …
6 or more authors
When your source has six or more authors, simply use the last name of the first author followed by “et al.” in your in-text citation:
- Lunott et al. (2015) see the …
Organization as author
When the source is published by an organization instead of a person, cite the organization’s name as the author.
- According to new research … (Microsoft, 2014).
When you copy an excerpt of a text from another source and place it between quotation marks, you are quoting. When you quote sources, you are required to add the page number to the in-text citation.
- This is also true from the business plan: “making an APA Citation Generator is a lot of work, but many students benefit from it” (Swan, 2014, p. 5).
Multiple sources in one citation
Sometimes, it’s necessary to cite multiple sources in one sentence. You can do this by citing multiples sources and separating them using semicolons.
- Various studies show that … (Docker & Vagrant, 2002; Porter, 1997; Lima, Swan, & Corrieri, 2012).
APA reference page
Every source that is cited in the text also has to be cited in full in your reference list.
The format differs depending on the source type (e.g. a website, journal, book, etc.), but every reference starts the same:
LastnameAuthor1, InitialsAuthor1, & LastnameAuthor2, InitialsAuthor2. (PublicationYear/Date). Title.
- Reference page:
Beswick, G., & Rothblum, E. D. (1988). Psychological antecedents of student procrastination.
Note: Book titles should be italicized.
AuthorLastName, Initials. (Year). TitleBook (edition). City, State/Country: Publisher.
- Reference page:
Porter, M. E. (1998). Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors (3th ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.
Note: The journal title and volume number should be italicized.
AuthorLastName, Initials., & Author LastName, Initials. (Year). TitleArticle. TitleJournal, Volume(Issue), Page Number(s). https://doi.org/DoiNumber
- Reference page:
Andreff, W., & Staudohar, P. D. (2000). The evolving European model of professional sports finance. Journal of Sports Economics, 1(3), 257–276. https://doi.org./10.1177/152700250000100304
Nothing should be italicized.
AuthorLastName, Initials. (Year, Month Day). TitleArticle [OptionalType]. Retrieved from http://WebAddress
- Reference page:
Worland, J. (2015, July 27). U.S. flood risk could be worse than we thought. Retrieved from http://time.com/3973256/flooding-risk-coastal-cities/
APA report citations
Note: The title should be italicized.
NameOrganization or AuthorLastName, Initials. (YearofPublication). Title Report. Retrieved from http://WebAddress
- Reference page:
Royal Bank of Scotland. (2015). Annual Report and Accounts 2014. Retrieved from http://investors.rbs.com/~/media/Files/R/RBS-IR/2014-reports/annual-report-2014.pdf
More APA Style examples
Sorting the reference list
Sort the references in alphabetical order based on the author’s last names of that reference. If multiple sources are written by the same author(s), then sort them by publication year.
When you use the APA Citation Generator, your list is sorted automatically.
There are certain formatting rules you must adhere to when writing a paper in apa format.
The basic requirements are:
- Text must be double-spaced
- Margins must be set to one inch (or 2.54 cm)
- You must use a left-aligned running head with a shortened title on all pages
- It is strongly recommended to use Times New Roman in 12 pt (if your university allows it, you might be able to use a different font)
In addition to these general rules that apply for every part of an APA style paper, each section has its own requirements. Learn about the requirements by looking at the interactive formatting examples of the title page, running head, abstract, reference page and headings and subheadings.
Plagiarism means copying someone else’s work, without giving that author credit. This is not only unfair for the original author, but also considered cheating which can have severe consequences.
Tips for avoiding plagiarism:
- Save your sources. This way, you can keep track of them. You don’t necessarily have to have the citation perfectly formatted from the beginning.
- When you quote or paraphrase text, temporarily highlight it to remind yourself that you need to add the correct citations.
Check whether you’ve cited all your sources correctly, both in the text and in the reference list.
- Quote, paraphrase and summarize other’s work correctly.
- Run a plagiarism checker.
APA Generator FAQ
- Why should I use the Scribbr Citation Generator?
The Scribbr Citation Generator is easy to use, accurate and accessible for all students. Some features you’ll definitely like are:
- Lightning fast Autocite using a URL, DOI or ISBN
- Customized citation forms that help you avoid incorrect citations
- Quick tips that make citing easier
- No costs, no ads, no limitations
- Do I have to create an account?
Creating an account is not required to use the Scribbr Citation Generator. However, it does have some benefits:
- Safely store your reference list in a Scribbr account
- Create multiple reference lists
- Work from multiple devices
Note that if you’re not signed in, your reference list is stored as a cookie on your browser, which means you can easily lose your work. Be sure to download a backup on a regular basis.
- Can I download my reference list to Word?
Yes, after creating your citations you can download your reference list to Word. You can find the ‘Export to Word’ button in the top right corner when viewing your reference list.
To save you some time, we already applied the correct APA reference page formatting, with one-inch margins, double line spacing and a hanging indent.
- What citation styles does the Scribbr Citation Generator support?
- What do I do if information is missing?
If information about a source is missing or unknown, and our explanatory tooltips (?) cannot help you, you can either check the ‘unknown’ checkbox (if available) or skip the field. The citation will still be generated for you with the information you have provided.
- Where can I give feedback?
On the right side of your screen you’ll find a purple feedback button. It works like this:
- Rate your experience
- Select the element you want to give feedback on (optional)
- Provide your feedback
We take your feedback very seriously, and we’ll do our best to fix issues as soon as possible.