APA 7th Edition (2020) | The 17 Most Notable Changes

APA Manual 7th edition coverIn October 2019, the American Psychological Association (APA) introduced the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual, which replaces the 6th edition published in 2009.

In that time a lot of things have changed. Citing online material has become more common, the use of inclusive and bias-free language is increasingly important, and the technology used by researchers and students has changed.

The 7th edition addresses these changes by providing better and more extensive guidelines. This article outlines the biggest changes that you should know about.

References and in-text citations in APA Style

When it comes to citing sources, more guidelines have been added that make citing online sources easier and clearer.

In total, 114 examples are provided, ranging from books and periodicals to audiovisuals and social media. For each reference category, an easy template is provided to help you understand and apply the citation guidelines. The biggest changes in the 7th edition are:

  1. The publisher location is no longer included in the reference.
    • Covey, S. R. (2013). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
    • Covey, S. R. (2013). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change. Simon & Schuster.
  2. The in-text citation for works with three or more authors is now shortened right from the first citation. You only include the first author’s name and “et al.”.
    • (Taylor, Kotler, Johnson, & Parker, 2018)
    • (Taylor et al., 2018)
  3. Surnames and initials for up to 20 authors (instead of 7) should be provided in the reference entry.
    • Miller, T. C., Brown, M. J., Wilson, G. L., Evans, B. B., Kelly, R. S., Turner, S. T., . . . Lee, L. H. (2018).
    • Miller, T. C., Brown, M. J., Wilson, G. L., Evans, B. B., Kelly, R. S., Turner, S. T., Lewis, F., Nelson, T. P., Cox, G., Harris, H. L., Martin, P., Gonzalez, W. L., Hughes, W., Carter, D., Campbell, C., Baker, A. B., Flores, T., Gray, W. E., Green, G., . . . Lee, L. H. (2018).
  4. DOIs are formatted the same as URLs. The label “DOI:” is no longer necessary.

    • doi: 10.1080/02626667.2018.1560449
    • https://doi.org/10.1080/​02626667.2018.1560449
  5. URLs are no longer preceded by “Retrieved from,” unless a retrieval date is needed. The website name is included (unless it’s the same as the author).
    • Streefkerk, R. (2019, October 11). APA 7th edition: The most notable changes [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/apa-seventh-edition-changes/
    • Streefkerk, R. (2019, October 11). APA 7th edition: The most notable changes. Scribbr. https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/apa-seventh-edition-changes/
  6. For ebooks, the format, platform, or device (e.g. Kindle) is no longer included in the reference, and the publisher is included.
    • Brück, M. (2009). Women in early British and Irish astronomy: Stars and satellites [Kindle version]. https:/doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2473-2
    • Brück, M. (2009). Women in early British and Irish astronomy: Stars and satellitesSpringer Nature. https:/doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2473-2
  7. Clear guidelines are provided for including contributors other than authors and editors. For example, when citing a podcast episode, the host of the episode should be included; for a TV series episode, the writer and director of that episode are cited.
  8. Dozens of examples are included for online source types such as podcast episodes, social media posts, and YouTube videos. The use of emojis and hashtags is also explained.

Inclusive and bias-free language

Writing inclusively and without bias is the new standard, and APA’s new publication manual contains a separate chapter on this topic.

The guidelines provided by APA help authors reduce bias around topics such as gender, age, disability, racial and ethnic identity, and sexual orientation, as well as being sensitive to labels and describing individuals at the appropriate level of specificity. Some examples include:

  1. The singular “they” or “their” is endorsed as a gender-neutral pronoun.
    • A researcher’s career depends on how often he or she is cited.
    • A researcher’s career depends on how often they are cited.
  2. Instead of using adjectives as nouns to label groups of people, descriptive phrases are preferred.
    • The poor
    • People living in poverty
  3. Instead of broad categories, you should use exact age ranges that are more relevant and specific.
    • People over 65 years old
    • People in the age range of 65 to 75 years old

APA Paper format

In the 7th edition, APA decided to provide different paper format guidelines for professional and student papers. For both types, a sample paper is included. Some notable changes include:

  1. Increased flexibility regarding fonts: options include Calibri 11, Arial 11, Lucida Sans Unicode 10, Times New Roman 12, and Georgia 11.
  2. The running head on the title page no longer includes the words “Running head:”. It now contains only a page number and the (shortened) paper title.
  3. The running head is omitted in student papers (unless your instructor tells you otherwise).
  4. Heading levels 3-5 are updated to improve readability.

Mechanics of style

In terms of style, not much has changed in the 7th edition. In addition to some updated and better explained guidelines, there are two notable changes:

  1. Use only one space after a period at the end of a sentence.
  2. Use double quotation marks instead of italics to refer to linguistic examples.
    • APA endorses the use of the singular pronoun they
    • APA endorses the use of the singular pronoun “they”

APA 7th edition citation generator

With Scribbr’s free 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 APA Citation Generator

Free lecture slides

Are you a teacher or professor who would like to educate your students about the APA 7th edition changes? Great! You can download our free lecture slides, available for Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint.

Open Google SlidesDownload PowerPoint

Buying the new 7th edition APA Manual

Buy the APA Manual 7th edition today to keep up with the latest changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will people start using the 7th edition APA Manual?

The American Psychological Association anticipates that most people will start using the 7th edition in the spring of 2020 or thereafter.

It’s best to ask your supervisor or check the website of the journal you want to publish in to see which APA guidelines you should follow.

Where can I buy or download the APA Manual 7th edition?

The APA Manual 7th edition can be purchased at Amazon as a hardcover, paperback or spiral-bound version. You can also buy an ebook version at RedShelf.

What is the most current edition of the APA manual?

The 7th edition APA Manual, published in October 2019, is the most current edition. However, the 6th edition, published in 2009, is still used by many universities and journals.

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.


Stephanie Reid
May 16, 2022 at 12:56 PM

I have two papers to cite within the main body of text that have the same publication year and same first author (but different second and third). Using Name1 et al., year would not help differentiate them, but I'm not sure using a and b afterwards is correct if the other authors are not the same. How do I distinguish them in the text?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
May 17, 2022 at 11:56 AM

Hi Stephanie,

APA's guidance in your case states that you should not use et al., but instead list all three authors for each of the sources in your citations of them, to avoid ambiguity.


May 2, 2022 at 7:18 AM


For in-text citations, is it compulsory, optional or at the researcher's discretion to add the page number (like: Smith, 2022, p.65)?



Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
May 2, 2022 at 12:35 PM

Hi Rupert,

Whether you include a page number just depends on the specificity of the information you're citing. If it's a quote or a paraphrase of a specific passage, then you should always include the page number. In other cases where you're just referring to a source's overarching argument, a page number might not be relevant to include.


March 30, 2022 at 2:33 AM


I recently saw the in-text citations being like (Smith, 2022:65) rather than (Smith, 2022, p.65) - which one is correct?



Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
March 31, 2022 at 12:17 PM

Hi Ipek,

In APA Style, in-text citations are in the latter format: (Smith, 2022, p. 65). The other format would be incorrect in APA.


Fernando Carval
March 29, 2022 at 4:36 AM

Hi, should I use ". . ." (with spaces) or may I use "…" (no spaces)?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
March 29, 2022 at 11:27 AM

Hi Fernando,

APA states that either approach is fine: either three periods with spaces, or the ellipsis symbol that appears when you type three periods without spaces. You should choose one of these styles and stick to it. In either case, there should be a space before and after the ellipsis separating it from the surrounding words.


Heather Baez
January 30, 2022 at 9:16 PM

How can you tell when "retrieved from " is needed or not needed for APA 7th edition on a website source?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
February 1, 2022 at 12:34 PM

Hi Heather,

In APA 7, you only need "retrieved from" when you are including an access date, e.g. "Retrieved October 11, 2021, from [URL]". Otherwise, you can omit these words.


Kim Sebert
July 17, 2021 at 11:46 PM

Do you have an example paper if APA format 7th edition? I downloaded my university’s template but the pages are not numbered.. is numbering necessary? And if so is it still in the upper right hand corner?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
July 20, 2021 at 3:51 PM

Hi Kim,

Yes, you can find template documents showing how an APA 7 paper should be formatted here. Page numbers indeed appear in the top right corner.


April 14, 2021 at 6:11 PM

I have "A Pocket Style Manual" 7th edition by Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers. Is this in fact using the APA 7th edition recommendations? Because it does not mention a lot of what you talk about. Confused.


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
April 16, 2021 at 4:13 PM

Hi Sylvie,

I'm not personally familiar with the book you mention. It seems like it comes in different versions that provide different guidelines, including an "APA version"; I'm not sure if that's the version you have, or if other versions also include APA information. This should hopefully be clarified somewhere in the book.

However, the 7th edition of the Pocket Style Manual seems to have been published before the 7th edition of the APA manual itself, so it's likely that any APA guidelines it provides come from the 6th edition of the APA manual. If you need to follow APA 7 specifically, it's probably best to follow the guidelines we explain here on the site, or buy a more recent edition.


Rahma Hidayati
April 4, 2021 at 1:07 PM

Hi !

From the previous APA 6th edition, in the reference guidance. We must write the reference based on alpahbetical arrangement

How about 7th edition? ,

Does it have different writing rules in reference from APA 6th edition ?



Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
April 6, 2021 at 3:04 PM

Hi Rahma,

This hasn't changed in the 7th edition; entries in the reference list should still be ordered alphabetically. You can read more about the specific rules here.


Adeagbo Ayobami.
April 8, 2021 at 12:08 AM

With the 7th edition of APA format, will I still hang references after writing the first line


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
April 16, 2021 at 2:59 PM

Hi Adeagbo,

Yes, you should still use a hanging indent for references in your reference list in APA 7—no changes to that guideline.


March 28, 2021 at 9:48 AM

What to do in the in-text citation if there is no author mentioned?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
March 29, 2021 at 7:17 PM

You can find more information about handling in-text citations for sources with no author here, under "No author." Basically, you would use either an organizational author or, when that's not possible, a shortened version of the source's title.


March 23, 2021 at 10:21 AM

How do I number sub headings beyond 3 sub sections eg. should I do etc or 1.1.2.iii or 1.1.2.(iii) and what if i have a sub section beyond this. How many sub sections can i have in arabic numerals and at what point do I change to roman numerals.
Thank you


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
March 29, 2021 at 6:29 PM

Hi Shirley,

APA doesn't specifically recommend numbering the headings in a paper—rather, different levels of heading are identified by different text formatting—so they don't provide specific guidance on this issue. They also recommend using a maximum of five levels of heading, so don't use too many levels unless it's strictly necessary.

My personal recommendation regarding the numbering, if you do use it, is to stick to Arabic numerals consistently; mixing in Roman numerals I think only confuses matters. So e.g.


Does the APA referencing style format changes every decade, why does the format change and is it wrong to use any other edition apart from the Current edition?
February 13, 2021 at 9:03 AM

Does the APA referencing style format changes every decade, why does the format change and is it wrong to use any other edition apart from the Current edition


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
February 17, 2021 at 3:48 PM

APA tends to release a new edition of its style manual roughly once per decade, yes. The format is updated each time for various reasons: to keep up to date on how to cite new types of source, to reflect changes in academic writing style and ethical standards, and simple to improve and refine the advice given in the manual.

It's not necessarily wrong to use the 6th edition, but you should follow the guidance of your university or instructor. Some institutions still follow 6th edition style, while others now require you to follow the 7th edition. Very few institutions are still using any editions earlier than the 6th at this point.


January 18, 2021 at 5:33 AM

How do we reference a book that is edited by 3 or more persons


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
January 19, 2021 at 11:52 AM

Hi Chiamaka,

In the reference entry, list all the editors (the same as you would list multiple authors) followed by the label (Eds.).

In the in-text citation, you would usually cite the author of a specific work within the edited book (as in this example). But if you're citing the whole collection, you can simply treat the editors as authors and shorten the citation with "et al." as usual.

Hope that helps!


January 12, 2021 at 6:44 PM

I have many references where I have same first author with different second, third, etc. authors. Is the controlling order alpha or is it alpha inside of date?


Smith, A. B., & Jones, C. D. (2014). Title etc.

Smith, A. B., & Barber, E. F. (2018). Title etc.

Which should be first?


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
January 15, 2021 at 8:45 PM

Hi Pat,

You should alphabetize based on the second (or third, etc) author's name. So in your example, the references would be the other way around, because Barber precedes Jones. Only order by date when the author is identical.

You can read more in this in-depth guide to ordering the reference list. I hope that helps!


Shanay Meeks
February 12, 2021 at 8:58 AM

How do you know what level of headings to use?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
February 17, 2021 at 4:10 PM

Hi Shanay,

See our guidance here on levels of heading. Level 1 headings are used for main sections like the introduction, level 2 headings for subsections within these, and so on.


August 27, 2020 at 2:38 PM

I like the changes from APA 6th to 7th editions. I am wondering how to make these changes easily! Should I make changes to each source of research used based on the 6th edition if I am required to use APA 7th ed? What is the easiest way to convert APA 6th ed. research sources to 7th edition APA format? Does Zotero include all the necessary changes?


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
August 27, 2020 at 4:17 PM

Hi Belihu,

You can easily create your 7th edition references using our APA Citation Generator. Simply insert the DOI, URL, or ISBN, or search for the source title, and the generator will automatically retrieve all the necessary information. You can save and download your entire reference list in this tool, and you can also easily switch between the 6th and 7th edition formats.

I hope that helps!


June 10, 2020 at 5:36 PM

When I report secondary citations inside the text, should I mention the year for the original source? or just the year of the source I read?


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
June 11, 2020 at 12:15 PM

Hi Mojgan,

You should include the year of the original source as well. For example: (Smith, 2019, as cited in Jones, 2020).


Ogundele Michael ola
May 19, 2020 at 1:37 PM

What about the Journals without DOI


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
May 19, 2020 at 7:45 PM


For online journal articles with no DOI, you can use a URL instead. However, make sure that it will be accessible to your reader (for example, don't use a URL that requires a database login). Many databases provide a stable URL for journal articles.


Joanne Davie
May 1, 2020 at 3:39 AM

If the heading of a section is at the bottom of a page do I leave it there, or move it to the top of the next page?


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
May 6, 2020 at 8:38 PM

Hi Joanne,

According to APA style, you shouldn't add any blank lines above or below your headings, so you should leave it at the bottom of the page. See this blog for further information on headings. Hope that helps!


Barbara Parsons
April 29, 2020 at 9:35 PM

None of the examples in the video use a hanging indent. Have you removed it from the format, or is this an error in the video?


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
May 6, 2020 at 3:00 PM

Hi Barbara,

You should still use a hanging indent when formatting your reference list. Since the examples in the video aimed to show the content of source citations rather than the format of the reference page, we didn't apply the hanging indent here. Apologies for any confusion!


April 18, 2020 at 7:46 AM

Please help me solving a big doubt. If I'm using the APA Style rules, can I use British English spelling and punctuation? Or how should I proceed? I tried to mix British English spelling and American-style punctuation in accordance with APA style, but it's just so many rules.

Thank you in advance,


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
April 24, 2020 at 7:44 PM

Hi Iliana,

It's best to check with your instructor or the journal you're submitting to on this point. British English tends to be somewhat more flexible, so it may be acceptable to use American-style punctuation along with British spellings. For an overview of the differences, you can check our articles about US vs UK English.


christina anstey
February 6, 2021 at 12:18 AM

On your website it says The running head on the title page no longer includes the words “Running head:”. It now contains only a page number and the (shortened) paper title.

In the APA 7 Publication Manual it does not show a shortened paper title in the example.

Also on the title page for students, there have been more changed than just the running head.

Can you please include these on your wesbite.

Thank you,


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
February 9, 2021 at 4:27 PM

Hi Christina,

The example shown in APA 7 for a professional paper does show a shortened paper title as the running head of all pages. It may be that you were looking at the example for a student paper, where this is indeed not included.

In terms of other changes, this article only aims to cover the most significant ones. Other details of the title page format can be found in our article on this topic.


Sheri D Grell
March 28, 2020 at 5:03 PM

Does APA 7th edition prefer the writer use the form:

The author




Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
April 2, 2020 at 12:57 PM

Hi Sheri,

The APA 7th edition recommends using first person pronouns ("I") when referring to your own actions and reflections. This is because writing in the third person ("the author") can create ambiguity in your writing.


February 13, 2020 at 3:21 PM

Can I just clarify this is still correct.
Brown (2019) suggest ...
At the end ofa sentence ......(Mims 2015).


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
February 14, 2020 at 4:39 PM

Hi Carolyn,

Yes, the placement of in-text citations has not changed. However, note that when you include the author and date in parentheses, they should be separated by a comma: (Mims, 2015).

Hope that helps!


David wanjala
January 22, 2020 at 9:16 PM

WHAT ABOUT LABELING TABLES AND FIGURES? Do we still put down astable 3.1, 3.2?


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
January 28, 2020 at 6:46 PM

Hi David,

The APA manual advises students to number captions in the order in which they are mentioned in the text. So instead of Table 3.1 and 3.2, you would simply write Table 3 and Table 4.

However, some universities might require chapter numbers to be included in the caption; in this case you can label them as Table 1.1, 2.1, etc, according to the chapter number. Your university's format requirements always take precedence over the APA guidelines.

Hope that helps!


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