Setting up the APA reference page

This article reflects the APA 7th edition guidelines. Click here for APA 6th edition guidelines.
APA reference page (7th edition)

On the APA reference page, you list all the sources that you’ve cited in your paper. The list starts on a new page right after the body text.

Follow these instructions to set up your APA reference page:

  • Place the section label “References” in bold at the top of the page (centered).
  • Order the references alphabetically.
  • Double-space all text.
  • Apply a hanging indent of 0.5 inches.


Setting up the APA reference page

APA alphabetization guidelines

References are ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name. If the author is unknown, order the reference entry by the first meaningful word of the title (ignoring articles: “the”, “a”, or “an”).

Word processors like Word or Google Docs and citation generators can usually order the reference list automatically. However, ordering becomes challenging when citing multiple works by the same author or works by authors with the same last name.

Our in-depth article on ordering references in APA Style explains what to do in these situations.

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Which sources to include on the reference page

Only include references for sources cited in the body text (with an in-text citation). Don’t include references for:

Annotated bibliography

For some student papers, it’s common to describe or evaluate the source in an annotation. These annotations are placed on a new line below the corresponding reference entry. The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inches.

If an annotation consists of multiple paragraphs, the first line of the second and any subsequent paragraphs is indented an additional 0.5 inches.

APA annotated bibliography (7th edition)

Creating APA references

The format of an APA reference differs depending on the source type. Play around with the options in the Scribbr Example Generator to get familiar with APA Style.

Scribbr Citation Generator

With Scribbr’s free APA citation generator you can easily cite your sources according to the new 7th edition guidelines. It’s accurate, fast, and easy to use. Give it a try!

Scribbr Citation Generator

APA citation examples

Check out Scribbr’s citation examples to learn more about citing each type of source, ranging from books and journals to podcasts and tweets!

Is this article helpful?
Raimo Streefkerk

Raimo is an expert in explaining plagiarism and citing sources. He has been writing helpful articles since 2017 and is continuously improving Scribbr's Citation Generators.

12 comments

James
September 26, 2021 at 8:47 PM

I can't seem to find a guide for music or lyrics. It seems way more common than some of the other media there are rules for. Would this be the best way format?

Bowie, D. (1971). Changes. [italics:]Hunky Dory. RCA.

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
September 27, 2021 at 1:26 PM

Hi James,

APA recommends this format to cite a song—similar to your suggestion, but with the label "Song" added in square brackets and the word "On" before the album title:

Bowie, D. (1971). Changes [Song]. On Hunky Dory. RCA.

Reply

Elle
May 4, 2021 at 9:53 AM

What if there is no author in an article, located on a website?

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
May 10, 2021 at 3:38 PM

Hi Elle,

You can read more about what to do in case of missing information here. When no author is listed, you'd usually use the title in place of the author.

Reply

Caitlin
March 8, 2021 at 3:37 AM

Hello, some of the auto generation is putting "Retrieved from:" is that still used in APA7?

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
March 9, 2021 at 4:42 PM

Hi Caitlin,

No, "Retrieved from" is generally not used in APA 7, except in cases where an access date is included. In those cases, the reference entry does read, e.g., "Retrieved March 9, 2021, from …"

If you enter an access date in the Citation Generator, it will be added to your citation in that format; if you don't need the access date, you can just leave that field blank. Alternatively, it could be that you have the generator set to APA 6 by accident. I'd check whether it's one of those things causing the issue.

Hope that helps!

Reply

Shirley J Bushong
January 20, 2021 at 2:10 AM

How do I list the Bible in the reference page?

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
January 26, 2021 at 3:47 PM

Hi Shirley,

We recently added an article covering how to list editions of the Bible on your reference page. Check it out here.

Reply

Ron
January 14, 2021 at 6:02 PM

I have multiple references for my paper and the list of references is more than one page long. Do I need to force a page break so that it does not occur with in a reference?
Ron K.

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
January 26, 2021 at 2:36 PM

Hi Ron,

The APA Manual doesn't specifically recommend anything regarding this, so it's not mandatory, but as long as it doesn't create any large empty spaces on the page, I would say it's a good idea as a way of keeping the presentation neat.

Reply

Anthony
December 1, 2020 at 4:59 PM

Hi, I was reading this over and I was wondering if in APA formatting, for the reference page the accessed date of an article or web page is needed?

Reply

Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
December 10, 2020 at 7:21 PM

Hi Anthony,

The 7th edition of APA style recommends including a retrieval date only for sources that are designed to change over time (for example, online dictionary entries or web pages that are regularly updated). In most cases, it's not necessary to include the access date. You can learn more in our guide to dates in APA references.

Hope that helps!

Reply

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