APA format reference page

When creating an APA reference list (or reference page), you must adhere to the formatting requirements. The formatting requirements of an APA reference page relate to aspects such as indentation and spacing. It is also vital that your reference list is alphabetized.

This article focuses on formatting an APA reference list based on the sixth and latest edition of the APA manual. If you would like to learn about which sources to include, how each source type must be formatted and all other base requirements, check out our starter guide to the APA reference page.

How to format the reference page in APA

Hover your cursor over the highlighted areas to view the relevant information. Also don’t forget to set the page margins to one inch (or 2.54 cm) on all sides, as in the rest of your paper.



Bakalar, N. (2018, February 12). High blood sugar levels tied to memory decline. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https:/​/​www.nytimes.com/​well/​mind/​high-blood-sugar-levels-tied-to-memory-decline.html

Festin, M. (2008). Continuous glucose monitoring in gestational diabetes. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 337(7675), 886-887. Retrieved from: http:/​/​www.jstor.org/​stable/​doc25671429

Quinn, B. (2018, July 15). The facts about sugar and cancer. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from: https:/​/​www.smh.com.au/​lifestyle/​health-and-wellness/​the-facts-about-sugar-and-cancer.html

Olabi, B., & Bhopal, R. (2009). Diagnosis of diabetes using the oral glucose tolerance test. BMJ: British Medical Journal,339(7733), 1268-1269. Retrieved from: http:/​/​www.jstor.org/​stable/​doc25673375

How to format an APA citation

Each source reference must be structured according to the rules for that source type. These rules vary between books, journal articles, internet articles and more.

For example, with journal articles, the journal name and volume of the publication must be included; with internet articles, you must include the URL or DOI. We explain the details of each source types’ formatting requirements in our APA citation examples section.

You can also use our free APA citation generator, which does all the hard work for you.

Example of an APA citation (book) in the reference list

APA-formatAuthorSurname, FirstInitial. (Year). BookTitle (Edition). City, Country/State: Publisher.
In reference listIbrahimovic, Z., Lagercrantz, D., & Urbom, R. (2012). I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

For a more detailed explanation of these rules, see our articles on APA citation rules and APA citation examples.

Generate your APA citations for free!

Did you know that Scribbr offers a free APA Citation Generator?

It's easy. Just fill in some details of your source and your citation and reference list are generated automatically. When you're done you can just copy paste it, or download the complete list in a docx-file.

Start APA Citation Generator

Alignment instructions for Word

  1. Make sure you can see the ruler at the top of the page (change the setting under the “View” tab if you cannot)
  2. Select all the text in the reference list
  3. The ruler will show two triangles and one square. Drag the bottom triangle to the right, half an inch, to set the hanging indent.

APA format reference page

Dividing URLs

Microsoft Word sees a URL as one word and will always split a long URL over more than one line. Thus, a lot of white space remains. See the screenshot below:

Example apa citation

To avoid this, you want Word to divide the URL after a slash. You can divide a URL after a slash by placing your cursor after the slash and then clicking on Insert → Symbol → More Symbols… → Special Characters. Then add the character “No-Width Optional Break.”

Dividing urls apa reference list

You can also add this special character by typing ALT+8203. Note: the numbers must be entered on the numeric keypad – the numeric keys on the right hand side of your keyboard.

You can also do this for all the slashes in your document by using the Find and Replace function in Word. At “Find what”, insert a slash. At “Replace with” insert a slash and then type ALT+8203. Then click “Replace All.”

dividing urls apa reference page

Alphabetizing your APA reference list

The last step in creating the perfect APA format reference page is to ensure the sources are correctly alphabetized; most often based on the author’s name. Word can do this automatically for you. In this article, we show you how to alphabetize your APA reference list.

APA format for other sections

The reference list is not the only part of your paper with specific formatting requirements in APA style. You can perfect the formatting of your APA paper with the help of our other guides on cover pages, running heads, abstracts and headings.

Is this article helpful?
Courtney Gahan

Courtney has a Bachelor in Communication and a Master in Editing and Publishing. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2013, and joined the Scribbr team as an editor in June 2017. She loves helping students and academics all over the world improve their writing (and learning about their research while doing so!).

Comment or ask a question.