APA citation guidelines
APA Style citations consist of two parts:
- In-text citation: A brief citation in parentheses when you mention a source, citing the author’s last name and the year of publication, e.g. (Smith, 2019). It identifies the full source in the reference list.
- Reference list entry: Full publication details listed on the reference page, which appears at the end of your paper. The reference provides all the information needed to find the source, e.g. Smith, P. (2019, April 18). Citing Sources in APA Format. Retrieved April 21, 2019, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/
This citation guide is based on the 6th edition of the APA Manual. The latest edition, published in October 2019, is not yet supported, but we have compiled a quick guide to the most important 7th edition changes.
Scribbr APA Citation Generator
Include the author’s last name and the year of publication. When quoting a source, it’s also necessary to include the page number(s) of the quote.
- An earlier study in which X and Y were compared revealed that … (Smith, 2017).
- Smith (2017) shows how, in the past, research into X was mainly concerned with …
When there are two authors, separate their last names with an ampersand (&), or with the word ‘and’ when they appear 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 …
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.
- Recent research suggests that there is … (McGuire, Morrison, Reynolds, & Thomas, 2014).
- McGuire, Morrison, Reynolds, and Thomas (2014) argue that …
If you cite the same source again, to save space, you shorten the citation. Instead of including all the authors’ names, include only the first author, followed by “et al.” (meaning “and others”).
- In this research, many participants made use of … (McGuire et al., 2014).
- McGuire et al. (2014) noticed that …
6 or more authors
If a source has six or more authors, use the shortened version from the first citation.
- Lunott et al. (2015) discuss the …
Organization as author
When a source does not list an individual author, it can often be attributed to an organization instead.
- According to new research … (Microsoft, 2014).
When you quote a source, you also have to add the page number to the in-text citation.
- According to the company’s 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 combine them into one set of parentheses, separated by semicolons.
- Various studies show that … (Docker & Vagrant, 2002; Porter, 1997; Lima, Swan, & Corrieri, 2012).
Every source cited in the text must also appear in your reference list.
The format differs depending on the source type, but every reference begins in the same way: with the author’s last name and initials, the publication year or date, and the title of the source.
Note: Book titles should be italicized.
Last Name, Initials. (Year). Book title (edition). City, State/Country: Publisher.
Porter, M. E. (1998). Competitive strategy: Techniques for analyzing industries and competitors (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.
Note: The journal title and volume number should be italicized.
Last Name, Initials., & Last Name, Initials. (Year). Article title. Journal Name, Volume(Issue), Page Number(s). https://doi.org/DoiNumber
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
Last Name, Initials. (Year, Month Day). Page title [OptionalType]. Retrieved from http://webaddress
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
Note: The title should be italicized.
Organization Name or Author Last Name, Initials. (Year). Report title. Retrieved from http://webaddress
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 name. If you cite multiple sources by the same author, then sort them by publication year.
When you use the APA Citation Generator, your reference list is alphabetized automatically.
APA formatting for papers
There are certain formatting rules you must adhere to when writing a paper in APA format.
The basic requirements are:
- Times New Roman 12 pt
- Double line spacing
- One-inch (2.54 cm) margins
- Left-aligned running head with a shortened title and page number
Frequently asked questions about APA style
- Who uses APA format?
APA is a publication manual widely used by professionals, researchers and students in the social and behavioural sciences, including fields like education, psychology, and business.
Be sure to check the guidelines of your university or the journal you want to be published in before applying APA format.
- How do I set up APA format in Word?
The easiest way to set up APA format in Word is to download Scribbr’s APA format Word template. This will make sure that:
- One-inch page margins are set.
- APA heading styles are imported.
- A running head and page numbers are included in the header.
- The font size and line spacing is correct.
In addition, you’ll have an easy-to-follow structure with examples and useful links to more information.
- How do I cite a source with no page numbers in APA?
When you quote or paraphrase a specific passage from a source, you need to indicate the location of the passage in your in-text citation. If there are no page numbers (e.g. when citing a website), you can instead use section headings, paragraph numbers, or a combination of the two:
(Caulfield, 2019, “Linking” section, para. 1).
Section headings can be shortened if necessary. Kindle location numbers should not be used in ebook citations, as they are unreliable.
If you are referring to the source as a whole, it’s not necessary to include a page number or other marker.
- When should I include an access date in an APA citation?
However, if you are citing a website or online article that’s likely to change over time, it’s a good idea to include an access date. In this case, place the month, day, and year directly after the word “Retrieved”, and before the URL.
- When should I use “et al.” in APA in-text citations?
Sources with 3–5 authors are written in full the first time and shortened from the second citation onwards. Sources with 6+ authors are always shortened, even the first time.
- First in-text citation: (Taylor, Kotler, Johnson, & Parker, 2018)
- Subsequent in-text citation: (Taylor et al., 2018)