The American Psychological Association (APA) citation format is widely used in social and behavioural sciences disciplines, such as Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Criminology, Business and Nursing. It sets out rules and standards for preparing manuscripts for publication, writing a bibliography of references and in-text citations, avoiding plagiarism and more.
Whether you are a professional writer, student, researcher or experienced in a field within these disciplines, the APA style guide is a valuable tool for writing scientific papers, laboratory reports, and papers.
You may also look at the Teaching and Learning Academic Integrity site for more information on plagiarism and citation.
APA uses the Author-Date Citation System.
All academic papers written in the APA style format have two parts:
To better understand the APA citation format, you can take the Academic Writer Tutorial to learn the basics of the APA 7th Edition citation format.
You can also try your hand at this Research Article Activity created by APA. This activity will help students learn how to find, cite, analyse, and summarise a scholarly research article. For each step of the action, type your responses directly into the text fields provided, or copy the questions into your preferred word-processing program and answer them there. Complete this activity multiple times to help you write papers such as literature reviews.
How you cite the author element in the in-text citation depends on how many authors there are and who the author is
When citing a work by one or two authors, name the author or authors in the signal phrase or the parentheses each time you cite the work. Use the word “and” between the authors’ names within the text and use the ampersand in the parentheses.
When citing a work by three or more authors, list only the first author's last name, followed by "et al." in every citation. Do take note of the full stop after "al".
If the work doesn't have an author, include the title of the work and the year of publication in the in-text citation. However, consider the work's credibility, especially if you cannot find the author.
Opting to go green as a lifestyle choice can become a profitable business ("Green essentials," 2012).
If the author is an agency, organisation, or group, mention the name of the agency, organisation or group and then the year. If the organisation has a well-known abbreviation, include the abbreviation in brackets the first time the source is cited and then use only the abbreviation in later citations.
According to APA, a secondary source is "a secondary source refers to content first reported in another source."
For example, if you read a work by Lyon et al. (2014) in which Rabbitt (1982) was cited, and you were unable to read Rabbitt’s work yourself, cite Rabbitt’s work as the original source, followed by Lyon et al.’s work as the secondary source. Only Lyon et al.’s work appear in the reference list.
For more information on secondary sources, go to the APA page.
According to APA, personal communication refers to:
You can use a personal communication citation only when a recoverable source is unavailable.
For more information on personal communication, go to the APA page.
According to APA, a classroom source includes works from a classroom website or learning management system (e.g., Canvas or Blackboard). These sources can be cited as classroom sources because they are recoverable by the instructor and fellow students.
The citation for your study guide can be found in the study guide itself
There are specific ways to present tables and figures in APA format; to learn more about these ways, go to the APA website.
Occasionally, you may not be able to find information to complete the in-text citation. In such cases, this table from Scribbr will help.
You can get more help writing in-text citations when information is missing from this West Cost University Library guide.
Use direct quotations rather than paraphrasing:
Instructors, programs, editors, and publishers may establish limits on the use of direct quotations. Consult your instructor if you are concerned that your paper may have too much-quoted material.
Short quotations should consist of at most 40 words.
The short quotation should include the following:
There is no additional formatting needed. Do not insert an ellipsis at the beginning and end of a quotation unless the original source includes an ellipsis.
Here is an example from the APA website
Block quotations should consist of more than 40 words
Format quotations of 40 words or more as block quotations:
Here is an example from the APA website
For more information on how to cite with quotations, visit the APA Style Quotation website
You can also use this In-Text Citation Checklist (PDF, 227KB) to check if you have cited your references correctly.
A reference list entry in the APA citation format generally has four elements:
If you want to view a complete list of reference examples from the APA website, click here.
Here are some related PDFs on how to create reference entries
Author of AI Model. (Year of version used). Name of tool (Version of tool) [Large language model]. URL
Example: OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Jul 20 version) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai/com/chat
For more information, go to How to cite ChatGPT or refer to the Teaching and Learning Centre's Examples of Responsible Uses of Generative AI Tools.
All papers in APA format generally include
Depending on the assignment, the paper may include additional elements, such as tables and figures. Student papers generally only have an abstract if requested.
Arrange the pages in this order:
The APA website has some sample papers for you to view.
A variety of fonts are permitted in APA Style papers. However, these fonts should be legible and widely available.
Use the same font throughout your paper, with the following exceptions:
Style guidelines ensure clear, consistent communication and presentation in written works. Following style guidelines prevents inconsistencies among and within academic papers, journal articles, and book chapters.
In the APA citation format, there are guidelines for the following:
To learn more about the mechanics of style, click here.