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Overview of APA style and formatting guidelines

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Citing References in Text

Learn how to cite references in the text, including how to implement the basic formats, cite multiple works, achieve clarity, and format references with missing author and/or date information.

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© 2020 American Psychological Association.

Quotations (Updated to 7th ed., 2020)

Quotations always require the page number of the source.  For non-paginated material, include the paragraph number when possible (Robinson, 1999, para. 7), or the heading or section name when not (Robinson, 1999, Musical Forays section, para. 4).

Short quotes (under 40 words): Short quotes should be placed within quotation marks in the body of your text.

  • Robinson (1999) concluded that "students preferred print formats during evening study sessions" (p. 78).
  • The research concluded that "students preferred print formats during evening study sessions" (Robinson, 1999, p.78).

Long quotes (over 40 words): Are not placed in quotation marks.  Rather, they are set aside in block text, starting on a new line and indenting 0.5 inches from the left margin, using a the same indentation for every line.

Paraphrasing or summarizing: Do not require page numbers, but they are encouraged.

Authors (Updated for 7th ed., 2020)

Standard format for an APA in-text citation:

(Author, Year, page number)

Example: (Hauser, 2014, p. 45)


When more than one author is listed for a source inside a parenthetical reference: Use an & 
  • Example: According to a recent survey, Muskingum students prefer books to e-books (Robinson & McLaughlin, 2009).
When more than one author is listed for a source in the text of your paper: Use the word "and"
  • Example: Robinson and McLaughlin's survey suggested that students prefer books to e-books (2009).
When a source has 3 or more authors: Cite the first author only, followed by "et al."
  • Example: (Ellenburger, et al., 2010)
When using more than one source in a single citation, separate the sources with a semicolon:
  • (Bronkar, 2006; Robinson, 2009)
When two or more authors share the same last name, use their initials to prevent confusion:
  • (N. Robinson & K. Robinson, 2008)
When using multiple works from the same author published in the same year, label your sources using a lowercase letter after the publication year.  Use the same label scheme in your works cited page:
  • (Ellenburger, 2007a)
  • (Ellenburger, 2007b)

Unknown or Organizations as Authors

When an author is unknown, cite a useful portion of the title (usually the first word or two).  Use italics or quotation marks depending on the length of the item:
  • ("Vegetarian Chili," 2006)
When an organization is an author, spell the organization's name the first time and provide an acronym, if desired. Thereafter, you may use the acronym in your citation.
  • Example, 1st citation: (American Library Association [ALA], 2007)
  • Example, later citations: (ALA, 2007)

Electronic Sources
When citing electronic sources, follow all the above rules as closely as possible.  In addition:
  • Sources with no identifiable publication date use the abbreviation "n.d." (Bronkar, n.d.)
  • When quoting a source with no page numbers, try to help the reader by including paragraph number (Bronkar, n.d., para. 7)
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