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APA Style Manual

This page is based on the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Important changes in APA 7:

  1. Running heads and headings: Student papers no longer require a running head! See the "Formatting Your Paper" box below for details on how to format your header (hint: just a page number will do) and changes in how headings are formatted.
  2. Fonts and spacing: Font rules are more relaxed. Use any standard serif (e.g. Times New Roman) or sans serif (Calibri) font, as long as it's one that's available on most computers. You only need one space after a period.
  3. Document type vs. retrieval method: Print and electronic sources that are the same type of reference (such as journal articles found in print or online, or a print book versus an ebook) are now treated largely the same. The emphasis is on document type, not on retrieval method.
  4. Number of authors in references/in-text citations: Finicky differences about number of authors no longer apply. You can include up to 20 authors in a reference, and any more than 2 authors are treated as "et al." for in-text citations.
  5. Overall attitude toward citation: The general rule is "cite what you see." In cases where information isn't provided, you generally can omit it.

Citing Journal Articles

The standard format for a journal article reference is:

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number(issue number), pages.

Rules for capitalization:

  • Article titles are treated like sentences: capitalize only the first word of the title, the first word of a subheading, and proper nouns.
  • Journal titles are treated like book titles: capitalize all important words (words like "of" are not capitalized).

For in-text citations for articles, the standard format is:

(Author, Year)

Rules for what to include:

  • If you use the author's name in the text, you can leave it out of the in-text citation.
    • For example: As Smith (2003) points out ...
  • If you use a direct quote, include the page number in the in-text citation.
    • For example: Smith notes, "Direct quote here" (2003, p. 25).
  • Page numbers are optional for paraphrases, but they are helpful to the reader.
    • For example: Smith (2003) describes the experiment's purpose as ... (pp. 35-36).
  • You don't have to reiterate who you're citing in every sentence.
    • Cite the source the first time you use it.
    • Continue writing without further citation in the same paragraph as long as it's clear you're using the same source.
    • If your paraphrase continues into a new paragraph, reintroduce the citation.

1 author:

Driessnack, M. (2009). Growing up at the intersection of the genomic era and the information age. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 24(3), 189-193.

2 to 20 authors:

Richards, D., Caldwell, P. H., & Go, H. (2015). Impact of social media on the health of children and young people. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 51(12), 1152-1157.

21 or more authors:

List the first 19 authors, then an ellipsis, then the final author.

1 author:

(Driessnack, 2009)

2 authors:

(Marshall & Brockman, 2016)

3 or more authors:

(Richards et al., 2015)

What's a DOI?

It's the Digital Object Identifier, a unique alphanumeric code designed to make it easy to locate an article online.

Journal article citations should include a DOI if there is one. If you don't have a DOI for your article:

  1. Use the Metadata Search on the Crossref site to see if you can find it.
  2. If there's a working web site URL for the article, use that to replace the missing DOI.
  3. If you got it from a database, and can't find a DOI or URL, you can generally just omit the link entirely. In most cases, you won't need the name of the database where you found it.

Citing Web Sites

In APA 7, website or webpage is the category of last resort. You'll find lots of reports, images, theses, conference papers, etc. online, but their document type is what they are, not where you found them. Consult the APA manual for the appropriate reference example; only use website or webpage if no other example seems appropriate.

The standard format for a website reference is:

Author, A. A. (Date). Title of document. Site Name. http://xxx

Special rules:

  • Sometimes information is missing from a web site. Consult the link below to learn how to deal with missing information.
  • (Date) is when it was published or last updated. Use as much detail as you have available. That could mean just the year (2017) or the full date (2017, October 31). If you can't find when it was last updated, use (n.d.).
  • If the author is the same as the website name, you can omit the Site Name element.
  • If you think the web site may change frequently, include a retrieval date:
    • Author, A. A. (Date). Title of document. Site Name. Retrieved Month Date, Year, from from http://xxx

For in-text citations for web sites, the standard format is the same as journal articles:

(Author, Date)

Special rules:

  • For unknown dates, use n.d. just as you do in your reference.
  • If the page has a lot of text, but no page numbers, you can use section headings or the abbreviation para. (which stands for paragraph). Use paras. if the citation refers to multiple paragraphs.

No publication or update date listed (include only dates of publication or last update, not dates when content was reviewed or copyright dates from footers):

​Jordan, D., Tumpey, T., & Jester, B. (n.d.). The deadliest flu: The complete story of the discovery and reconstruction of the 1918 pandemic virus. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

No author listed (use title as first element):

The 1918 flu pandemic in Nebraska. (n.d.). History Nebraska.

Group author (so site name would be redundant):

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.) Influenza historic timeline.

Site may change regularly, so retrieval date is important:

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020, March 20). Influenza pandemic of 1918-19. Retrieved April 7, 2020, from

(Jordan et al., n.d.)

(1918 Flu Pandemic, n.d.)

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], n.d.)

Note: this is the first instance of this in-text citation; because the abbreviation is defined, (CDC, n.d.) can be used in following in-text citations for this work. Doing this is optional.

(Editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2020)

Formatting Your Paper

APA 7 no longer requires a fancy running head!

All you need is a page number in the upper right hand corner of every page, starting on the title page.

APA 7 has simplified the heading structure, too.

More Help for APA Style

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