Reference page in APA Style

A reference list serves two main purposes: confirming the validity of your research by showing the sources that inspired or supported your ideas, and helping other researchers to locate your sources. The inclusion of a complete and correct reference page in APA Style also ensures you do not commit plagiarism.

Your reference list must include all sources mentioned or referred to in your text. In APA, you do not include sources that you only consulted.

There are also particular formatting requirements for APA reference pages, as outlined in the sixth edition manual. If you want to know more about these formatting requirements, you can view our interactive APA formatting example.

APA reference page example



Porter, M. (1998). Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors (1st ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.

Roussel, R., Carlier, P., Robert, J., Velho, G., & Bloch, G. (1998). 13C/31P NMR Studies of Glucose Transport in Human Skeletal Muscle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 95(3), 1313-1318. Retrieved from: http:/​/​​stable/44276

Siddique, H. (2018, May 16). Diabetes patients denied life-changing device, UK charity says. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https:/​/​​society/2018/​may/16/​diabetes-patients-denied-life-changing-device-uk-charity-says

Sources to include in APA reference lists

A reference list is different from a bibliography. In a bibliography, you include all the sources consulted during your research, not only those referred to or mentioned in the final paper.

For example, in a bibliography you would include the newspaper article you were reading when the idea for your paper struck. In APA style, these sources are not included in the reference list.

There are four other exceptions you do not include in an APA reference page:

  1. Classical works such as the Bible
  2. Personal communications such as emails, private letters, telephone conversations and chat messages
  3. Entire websites
  4. Common knowledge

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Creating APA references

You can create your APA reference page either manually or using an APA citation generator. For both options, you will need the components required for the source type.

These components include:

  • Author name(s)
  • Publication date
  • Publication information, e.g. the publisher, location, edition, URL
  • Title of work
  • Name of publication, e.g. a particular newspaper, journal or website

Example APA references

APA example: book
FormatAuthorSurname, FirstInitial. (Year of publication). Book Title (edition). City, Country/State: Publisher
ExampleIbrahimovic, Z., Lagercrantz, D., & Urbom, R. (2012). I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
APA example: journal article
FormatAuthorSurname, FirstInitial. (Year of publication). Article title. Journal title, Volume number (Issue Number), page numbers.
ExampleMessi, L. (2014). To score is an art. Journal of Soccer, 3(2), 24-28.
APA example: internet article
FormatAuthorSurname, FirstInitial. (Year, Month Day of publication). Article title [ TypeOfInternetSource]. Retrieved from http://webaddress
ExampleOgden, M. (2014, October 23). Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben says Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal honed his mind and body. Retrieved from

If you use our free APA reference generator, you can automatically create flawless references and download the reference list straight to Microsoft Word. Alternatively, you can learn how to reference each source type in our extensive APA examples section.

Multiple authors in APA

Most often, a source reference will begin with the author’s surname, followed by a comma, then the initial(s) of his or her first name.

If there is more than one author, place a comma between each of the author names and an ampersand “&” before the last author’s name. There should always be a period at the end of the author name part of the reference list.

If there are more than eight authors, list the first six followed by an ellipses “…” and then the last author.

Multiple authors APA Reference list
Number of authorsExample (journal article format)
1 author

Bentham, G. (1996). Association Between Incidence Of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma And Solar Ultraviolet Radiation In England And Wales. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 312(7039), 1128-1131. Retrieved from

2 authors

Mead, G., & Whitehouse, J. (1986). Regular Review: Modern Management Of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Edition), 293(6547), 577-580. Retrieved from

3 – 7 authors

Ishii, K., Hosoi, Y., Yamada, S., Ono, T., & Sakamoto, K. (1996). Decreased Incidence of Thymic Lymphoma in AKR Mice as a Result of Chronic, Fractionated Low-Dose Total-Body X Irradiation. Radiation Research, 146(5), 582-585.

8+ authors

Zoufaly, A., Stellbrink, H., An der Heiden, M., Kollan, C., Hoffmann, C., Van Lunzen, J., . . . ClinSurv Study Group. (2009). Cumulative HIV Viremia during Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy Is a Strong Predictor of AIDS-Related Lymphoma. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 200(1), 79-87. Retrieved from

APA reference list formatting and alphabetizing

Once you have created the perfect list of references, the APA guidelines require certain formatting of the page. You also need to be sure to alphabetize the list according to the APA rules.

APA reference list formattingAlphabetizing APA reference lists

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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!).


December 13, 2018 at 7:36 AM

how do we put unpublished Dissertation in bibliography list


Raimo (Scribbr-team)
December 13, 2018 at 12:12 PM

Hi Tekeste,

That's good question! The format is as follows:
Lastname A. (year the draft is written e.g. 2018). Article title. Dissertation in preparation / dissertation submitted for publication.

I've found this article on the apa style blog which you might find useful.
I hope this helps!



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