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APA Style Guide

What is APA?

APA (American Psychological Association) style is a method of formatting an academic research paper. It is a set of rules for the layout of pages and citations. These rules keep research formatting consistent across millions of different researchers, students, and professors. It also helps your readers understand how to find information in your paper, and find your sources.

  • APA is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources in scientific and social science papers.

If your paper is in APA style, this guide will help you understand the rules of APA and how to apply them to your paper.

APA Citation

Reference List Page

A reference list is included at the end of your research paper. This is a separate page of citations for all the sources used in your writing. Citations differ depending on the type of source you are citing and the information available.


To create a citation for a book, locate certain pieces of information about your source and put them in the following format:

Author Last Name, First Initial. (Year Published). Title. Location Published: Publisher.

Notice that year is in parentheses and the title is italicized, and there are periods, comma, and colons after certain parts of the citation. Copy this format exactly to create your own citation, like this example:

Salinger, J. (1951) The Catcher in the Rye. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company.

Breakdown of APA citation showing author's last name with a comma, first initial with period, year published inside parentheses, title italicized with period, location published with a comma after the town and colon at the end, and the publisher with a period.

The format for APA can change depending on the type of source.

BOOK: Author Last Name, First Initial. (Year Published). Title. Location Published: Publisher.

WEBSITE: Author Last Name, Fist Initial. (Year Published). Title. Retrieved from https://Web address

JOURNAL: Author Last Name, Fist Initial. (Year Published). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number, page range. Retrieved from https://Web address

Take a look at the APA Citation Style Examples box below to see examples of all these citation and more.

If parts of a citation cannot be found, such as an author's name, start your citation with the title and include all the parts you can find. On your reference page, list your citations in Alphabetical Order with a hanging indent.

See an example of this here in a sample paper from Purdue OWl.

In-Text Citation

An in-text citation indicates where a source is used in your paper. This citation typically comes at the end of a sentence and is housed inside parentheses. Include the author's last name and year. If you are directly quoting a source, include a page number if applicable.

(Author Last Name, Year, p. #)

(Salinger, 1951, p. 210)

Breakdown of APA in-text citation. It starts with a parentheses, author's last name with a comma, year with a comma, page number with a p. in front (only include if quoting directly), and the ending parentheses.

Unless the sentence is an exact quote, you do not need to put an in-text citation at the end of every sentence. Introduce the ideas from your source with the citation, then continue to write about the information. If a source is used for multiple paragraphs, cite it roughly once per paragraph.

See more information on in-text citations here on Purdue OWL.

APA Citation Style Examples

APA Citation Style Examples

Type of Source

In-Text Citation

Works Cited Page Citation More Information
Book, one author (Salinger, 1951, p. 50) Salinger, J. (1951). The Catcher in the Rye. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. Books
Book, two authors (Patterson & De Jonge, 2006, p. 120)

Patterson, J., & De Jonge, P. (2006). Beach Road. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.


Article from a reference book (encyclopedia or dictionary) (Gonzalez Pages, 2003, p. 197)

Gonzalez Pages, J. C. (2003). Women’s Suffrage Movement. In The Encyclopedia of Cuba. (Vol 1, pp. 197). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Other Print Sources
EBook (Goldstein, 2014, p. 202)

Goldstein, J. (2014). 101 amazing facts about dogs. Retrieved from

Electronic Sources
Journal article from a library database (Edwards and O’Connell, 2007)

Edwards, S. L., & O'Connell, C. F. (2007). Exploring bullying: Implications for nurse educators. Nurse Education in Practice, 7(1), 26-35. doi:


Electronic Sources
Newspaper article from a library database (Ranford, 2018) Ranford, C. (2018, Oct 26). From no dogs to show dogs. The Marlborough Express. Retrieved from Electronic Sources
Page/Article from a website (Athlete’s Foot, 2014) Athlete's Foot - Topic Overview (2014, Sept 25). WebMD. Retrieved from Accessed 01 Nov. 2018 Electronic Sources
Personal Communication (Interview)

(L. Edwards, personal communication, October 15, 2018)




Linda Edwards claimed that there were not enough snacks in the library (personal communication, October 15, 2018).

No personal communication is included in your reference list. Other Non-Print Sources


APA Citation Tips - Purdue Owl