How to cite a journal article in APA Style

This article reflects the APA 7th edition guidelines. Click here for APA 6th edition guidelines.

An APA Style citation for a journal article includes the author name(s), publication year, article title, journal name, volume and issue number, page range of the article, and a DOI (if available). Use the buttons below to explore the format.



Basic format for an APA journal citation

The article title appears in plain text and sentence case, while the journal name is italicized and in title case (all major words capitalized).

Format Last name, Initials. (Year). Article title. Journal Name, Volume(Issue), Page range. DOI or URL
Reference entry Mounier-Kuhn, P. (2012). Computer science in French universities: Early entrants and latecomers. Information & Culture: A Journal of History, 47(4), 414–456. https://doi.org/10.7560/IC47402
In-text citation (Mounier-Kuhn, 2012)

When viewing a journal article online, the required information can usually be found on the access page.

APA journal source info

Articles published only in PDF form someti provide an e-locator instead of a page range; in this case, include the e-locator in your citation.

Linking to online journal articles

A DOI should always be used where available. Some databases do not list one, but you may still find one by looking for the same article on another database. You don’t need to include the name of the database in your citation.

If no DOI is available and the article was accessed through a database, do not include a URL.

If the article is not from a database, but from another website (e.g. the journal’s own website), you should ideally use a stable URL: this is often provided under a “share” button. Otherwise, copy the URL from your browser’s address bar.

Citing unpublished journal articles

When citing from an article that has not yet been formally published, the format varies depending on whether or not it has already been submitted to a journal. Note that different formats are used for unpublished dissertations and raw data.

Unpublished article

The text of an article which has not yet appeared online or in publication (i.e. which is only available directly from the author) should be cited as an “Unpublished manuscript.” The title is italicized and information about the author’s university is included if available:

Format Last name, Initials. (Year). Article title [Unpublished manuscript]. Department Name, University Name.
Reference entry Smith, J. M., & Davis, H. (2019). Language acquisition among autistic children [Unpublished manuscript]. Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame.
In-text citation (Smith & Davis, 2019)

Article submitted for publication

An article that has been submitted to a journal but not yet accepted is cited as a “Manuscript submitted for publication.” The title is italicized, and the name of the journal to which it was submitted is not included:

Format Last name, Initials. (Year). Article title [Manuscript submitted for publication]. Department Name, University Name.
Reference entry Smith, J. M., & Davis, H. (2019). Language acquisition among autistic children [Manuscript submitted for publication]. Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame.
In-text citation (Smith & Davis, 2019)

Article in press

An article that has been submitted and accepted for publication in a journal is cited as “in press.” Here, the name of the journal is included, university information is omitted, and “in press” is written in place of the year (both in the reference list and the in-text citation):

Format Last name, Initials. (in press). Article title. Journal Name.
Reference entry Smith, J. M., & Davis, H. (in press). Language acquisition among autistic children. Journal of Developmental Psychology.
In-text citation (Smith & Davis, in press)

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Special issue of a journal

If you want to cite a special issue of a journal rather than a regular article, the name(s) of the editor(s) and the title of the issue appear in place of the author’s name and article title:

Format Last name, Initials. (Ed. or Eds.) (Year). Title of issue [Special issue]. Journal Name, Issue(Volume).
Reference entry Pollak, S. D., Camras, L. A., & Cole, P. M. (Eds.) (2019). New perspectives on the development of human emotion [Special issue]. Developmental Psychology, 55(9).
In-text citation (Pollak et al., 2019)

Note that if you want to cite an individual article from the special issue, it can just be cited in the basic format for journal articles.

Frequently asked questions about APA Style citations

When should I include a DOI or URL in an APA journal citation?

In an APA journal citation, if a DOI (digital object identifier) is available for an article, always include it.

If an article has no DOI, and you accessed it through a database or in print, just omit the DOI.

If an article has no DOI, and you accessed it through a website other than a database (for example, the journal’s own website), include a URL linking to the article.

How do I format a DOI in APA Style?

Include the DOI at the very end of the APA reference entry. If you’re using the 6th edition APA guidelines, the DOI is preceded by the label “doi:”. In the 7th edition, the DOI is preceded by ‘https://doi.org/’.

  • 6th edition: doi:10.1177/0894439316660340
  • 7th edition: https://doi.org/10.1177/0894439316660340

APA citation example (7th edition)

Hawi, N. S., & Samaha, M. (2016). The relations among social media addiction, self-esteem, and life satisfaction in university students. Social Science Computer Review, 35(5), 576–586. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894439316660340

When should I use “et al.” in APA in-text citations?

The abbreviation “et al.” (meaning “and others”) is used to shorten in-text citations with three or more authors. Here’s how it works:

Only include the first author’s last name, followed by “et al.”, a comma and the year of publication, for example (Taylor et al., 2018).

How many authors do I include in an APA reference list entry?

You may include up to 20 authors in a reference list entry.

When an article has more than 20 authors, replace the names prior to the final listed author with an ellipsis, but do not omit the final author:

Davis, Y., Smith, J., Caulfield, F., Pullman, H., Carlisle, J., Donahue, S. D., James, F., O’Donnell, K., Singh, J., Johnson, L., Streefkerk, R., McCombes, S., Corrieri, L., Valck, X., Baldwin, F. M., Lorde, J., Wardell, K., Lao, W., Yang, P., . . . O’Brien, T. (2012).

Should I include the exact publication date or just the year in an APA journal citation?

In an APA reference list, journal article citations include only the year of publication, not the exact date, month, or season.

The inclusion of volume and issue numbers makes a more specific date unnecessary.

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

4 comments

Liam
December 4, 2020 at 2:33 AM

Some journal articles are published only online as individual PDFs. While still being part of a certain issue/volume, they do not have a page number range as they are individually accessible PDFs and therefore always start at page #1. Usually an "Article number" or e-locator is used which is formatted e##### with the number of digits being variable.

This guide from a university website has details:
https://libguides.murdoch.edu.au/APA/ejournal

Essentially instead of the page number range (after the colon and before the period in APA7) you use "Article e#####"

Reply

Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr-team)
December 10, 2020 at 8:05 PM

Hi Liam,

Thanks for this useful information! We will look into adding this to the article :)

Reply

Goldie HUBBS
May 27, 2020 at 6:36 AM

I'm trying to cite a reference in my paper of a citation I got from another paper how do I do this for example according to Grant & Alpert, 1993 blah blah as cited in Frazier, 2018

Reply

Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr-team)
June 9, 2020 at 3:50 PM

Hi,

It's always best to locate the original source if possible, to ensure the information is accurate and you fully understand the context.

However, if this isn't possible, you can indeed cite indirectly: (Grant & Alpert, 1993, as cited in Frazier, 2018).

Reply

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