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APA 7th edition publication manual

APA citation guidelines

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). Scribbr also offers free guides for the older APA 6th edition, MLA Style, and Chicago Style.

APA in-text citations

The basics

In-text citations are brief references in the running text that direct readers to the full reference entry at the end of the paper. You include them every time you quote or paraphrase someone else’s ideas or words.

An APA in-text citation consists of the author’s last name and the year of publication (also known as the author-date system). If you’re citing a specific part of a source, you should also include a locator such as a page number or timestamp. For example: (Smith, 2020, p. 170).

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 in the same way as 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. Navigate through the tabs to learn more about the format for the most common source types. Pay close attention to punctuation, capitalization, and italicization.

Format
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year, Month Day). Page title. Site name. URL
Example
McCombes, S. (2020, June 25). How to write a literature review. Scribbr. https://www.scribbr.com/​dissertation/​literature-review/

Note: many sources can be retrieved online, including books, journal articles, and reports, but that doesn’t mean you should use the ‘website’ reference format to cite this information. Only use the website format if no other reference category is more fitting.

Format
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of the book (2nd ed., Vol. 4). Publisher. DOI
Example
Ries, E. (2011). The lean startup (2nd ed.). Crown Publishing Group.

Note: not all elements are required. In our example, we don’t include a volume number or DOI because it’s not relevant to this book.

Format
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of the article. Title of Periodical, Volume(issue), Page range. DOI
Example
Huber, E., Rueschemeyer, D., & Stephens, J. D. (1993). The impact of economic development on democracy. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 7(3), 71–86. https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.7.3.71
Format
Channel name. (Year, Month Day). Title of the video [Video]. Site name. URL
Example
Scribbr. (2020, June 26). How to write a successful research proposal [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/​watch?v=166FXhGd9T4
Format
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year, Month Day). Title of the report (Report No. xxx). Publisher. DOI or URL
Example
Canada Council for the Arts. (2013). What we heard: Summary of key findings: 2013 Canada Council’s Inter-Arts Office consultation. http://publications.gc.ca/​collections/​collection_2017/​canadacouncil/​K23-65-2013-eng.pdf

Note: when a source is written by an organization instead of a person (as in this example), include the organization’s name in the author position.

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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 7th edition reference page formatThe reference list is where you list all the sources that you’ve cited throughout your paper. The list starts on a new page, right after the main body and before any appendices.

On the first line of the page, write the word “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

In your reference list, 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).

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.

Do I have to create an account?

An account is not required to use the Scribbr Citation Generator. However, creating a Scribbr account does have some benefits:

  • Safely store your reference list
  • 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, or sign in to store it in your account automatically.

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 future.

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