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APA 7th edition publication manual

APA citation quick guide

APA Style is widely used by students, researchers, and professionals in the social and behavioral sciences. The Scribbr APA Citation Generator automatically generates accurate references and in-text citations for free.

This citation guide outlines the most important citation guidelines from the 7th edition APA Publication Manual (2020). We also offer a 6th edition guide.

APA in-text citations

The basics

APA in-text citations include the author’s last name, publication date, and, if relevant, a locator such as a page number or timestamp. For example, (Smith, 2021, p. 170). See it as a shorter version of the entry in the reference list.

You should include in-text citations every time you’re quoting or paraphrasing someone else’s ideas or words. In doing so, you give credit to the original author and avoid plagiarism.

Parenthetical vs. narrative citation

The in-text citation can take two forms: parenthetical and narrative. Both types are generated automatically when citing a source with Scribbr’s APA Citation Generator.

  • Parenthetical citation: According to new research … (Smith, 2020).
  • Narrative citation: Smith (2020) notes that …

Multiple authors and corporate authors

The in-text citation changes slightly when a source has multiple authors or an organization as an author. Pay attention to punctuation and the use of the ampersand (&) symbol.

Author type Parenthetical citation Narrative citation
One author (Smith, 2020) Smith (2020)
Two authors (Smith & Jones, 2020) Smith and Jones (2020)
Three or more authors (Smith et al., 2020) Smith et al. (2020)
Organization (Scribbr, 2020) Scribbr (2020)

Missing information

When the author, publication date or locator is unknown, take the steps outlined below.

Missing element What to do Parenthetical citation
Author Use the source title.* (Source Title, 2020)
Date Write “n.d.” for “no date.” (Smith, n.d.)
Page number Either use an alternative locator or
omit the page number.
(Smith, 2020, Chapter 3) or
(Smith, 2020)
*Format the title based on its formatting in the corresponding reference entry (either italicized or, if the title in the reference entry is not italicized, placed in quotation marks). Use title case capitalization.

APA references

The basics

APA references generally include information about the author, publication date, title, and source. Depending on the type of source, you may have to include extra information that helps your reader locate the source.

Reference examples

Citing a source starts with choosing the correct reference format. Use Scribbr’s Citation Example Generator to learn more about the format for the most common source types. Pay close attention to punctuation, capitalization, and italicization.

Generate APA citations for free

Missing information

It is not uncommon for certain information to be unknown or missing, especially with sources found online. In these cases, the reference is slightly adjusted.

Missing element What to do Reference format
Author Start the reference entry with the source title. Title. (Date). Source.
Date Write “n.d.” for “no date”. Author. (n.d.). Title. Source.
Title Describe the work in square brackets. Author. (Date). [Description]. Source.

Formatting the APA reference page

The basics

APA Reference Page (7th edition)On the reference page, you list all the sources that you’ve cited throughout your paper. Place the page, right after the main body and before any appendices.

On the first line of the page, write the section label “References” (in bold and centered). On the second line, start listing your references in alphabetical order.

Apply these formatting guidelines to the APA reference page:

  • Double spacing (within and between references)
  • Hanging indent of ½ inch
  • Legible font (e.g. Times New Roman 12 or Arial 11)
  • Page number in the top right header

Which sources to include

On the reference page, you only include sources that you have cited in the text (with an in-text citation). You should not include references to personal communications that your reader can’t access (e.g. emails, phone conversations or private online material).

Tools and resources

In addition to the APA Citation Generator, Scribbr provides many more tools and resources that help millions of students and academics every month.

  • Citation Checker: Upload your paper and have artificial intelligence check your citations for errors and inconsistencies.
  • Plagiarism Checker: Detect, understand, and resolve plagiarism by comparing your paper with billions of sources.
  • Guides and videos: Explore hundreds of articles, bite-sized videos, time-saving templates, and handy checklists that guide you through the process of research, writing, and citation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the Scribbr Citation Generators free?

Yes, the Scribbr Citation Generators are 100% free.

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 include:

  • Lightning-fast autocite using a URL, DOI, ISBN or title
  • Smart citation forms that help you avoid incorrect citations
  • Quick tips that make citing easier
  • No costs, no ads, no limitations
Can I download my sources to Word?

Yes, after creating your citations you can download your reference list to Word. Simply click on download > Microsoft Word (.docx) in the menu above your reference list.

To save you some time, the downloaded file is already set up in APA or MLA format, depending on which citation style you used.

What does a citation generator do?

A citation generator is an easy tool that helps you cite sources in a specific citation style.

You fill in the forms with information about a source, such as the author(s), title, and publication date. The tool then creates an accurate reference and in-text citation that you can use to give credit to the original author.

What should I do if information about my source 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 simply skip the input field.

The citation will still be generated with the information you have provided.

More information and examples

What citation styles does the Scribbr Citation Generator support?

The Scribbr Citation Generator currently supports the following citation styles, and we’re working hard on supporting more styles in the future.

Scribbr uses industry-standard citation styles from the Citation Styles Language project.