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Student Guide to the APA References List


The APA (American Psychological Association) format for documenting information used in your research includes two parts:

  • In-text parenthetical references within the body of the text that enable your reader to locate the full reference in the References list. Example: (Chee, 2002).
  • A References section at the end of a research paper lists the sources used in preparing your paper. Any sources that were quoted, summarized or paraphrased in your paper must be included in the References section.

Note: This guide covers the References section.

For information on in-text parenthetical references consult Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (R808.02) at the Reference Desk, Purdue University's OWL Guide to the APA ( or ask a Reference Librarian.

Basic steps for preparing an APA references list

  1. Title the section References and put this title at center top of the page.
  2. Determine the type of source you are citing and follow the instructions for citing that type of source.
  3. When naming authors or editors in APA format, list last name, then first initial(s) only.
  4. Arrange all works, both print and non-print, in one alphabetical list by author (or first word of title other than a, an, or the if there is no author).
  5. Do not list sources by type or by date.
  6. Double space both within and between entries. (Not shown here)
  7. Type the first line of each entry at the left margin; indent following lines five spaces or one tab.
  8. Underline or italicize the titles of books, magazines, journals or plays.
  9. Book and article titles appear with only the first word, proper nouns, and the first word of the
    subtitle (if subtitled) capitalized. Note that quotation marks are not used.
  10. Unlike book and article titles, periodical titles appear with all major words capitalized.
  11. Include the database name and library information in the citation for information from library

Examples for different types of sources by format:

Quick Links: Print Sources | Sources from Online Databases  | Websites

Format for Print Sources

Note: Not all title words are capitalized; see examples below. Begin with the Title if there is no author. For sources with multiple authors, use & before the final authors name.

Author/Editor's last name, Author/Editor's initial(s). (Publication year). Title [in italics]. Place of Publication: Publisher.

EXAMPLES for Print Sources:

Book with one or more authors

Beck, C. A. J., & Sales, B. D. (2001). Family mediation: Facts, myths, and future prospects. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Article in an Encyclopedia (If no author, list article title first, followed by the publication date)

Bergmann, P. G. (1993). Relativity. In The new encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. 26, pp. 501-508). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.

Popular Magazine Article

Samuels, A., Croal, N., & Gates, D. (2000, October 9). Battle for the soul of hip-hop. Newsweek , 58-65.

Scholarly Journal Article with Volume and Issue Number (Italicize Journal title and volume number; type issue in parentheses)

Jones, H. (2000). Free information. History Today , 50 (8), 18-19.

Scholarly Journal Article with Volume Number only (Italicize Journal title and volume number)

Bordeck, N. (1997). Going against the grain: Disruptive classroom behavior. Behavioral and Educational Sciences , 19 , 198-207.

Newspaper Article (If no author, list article title followed by the date)

Schwartz, J. (1993, September 30). Obesity affects economic, social status. The Washington Post , pp. A1, A4.

Book Chapter in a Collection

Walters, M. (2003). Violence and comedy in the works of Flannery O'Connor. In J. Witalec (Ed.), Twentieth-century literary criticism (Vol. 132, pp. 315-318). Detroit: Gale. (Reprinted from New perspectives on women and comedy, pp. 185-192, by R. Barreca, Ed., 1992, Philadelphia: Gordon and Breach)

Film Review

Tyler, I. K. (1986). The counter-swing of the pendulum [Review of the film The communications revolution ]. Mass Communication Quarterly, 27, 87.

Format for Sources from an Online Subscription (Library) Database

Include the following information in the order listed:

Author. Date of article. Article title (if article retrieved is identical to print version use [Electronic version] in brackets, after title of article or chapter). Magazine or journal title (in italics), if journal, include volume, also italicized, and issue number, in parentheses. For both, include page numbers. Downloading date, preceded by "Retrieved". Name of database.

EXAMPLES from Online databases:

Article from Proquest

Taylor, J. (2001, June 11). A man, a plan, a waste of time [Electronic version]. National Review, 17-18. Retrieved June 12, 2004, from Proquest database.

Article from Literature Resource Center

Hart, J. (1998). Critical essay on The red pony . In M. R. Napierkowski (Ed.), Novels for students (Vol. 17, pp. 139-42). Retrieved June 27, 2003, from the Literature Resource Center database.

Article from Biography in Context

Margaret Sanger. (1998). In American decades CD-ROM . Retrieved July 3, 2003, from Biography in Context.

Article from Rand California

Bureau of Economic Analysis. California Dept. of Finance. (n.d.). Gross state and gross national products [Electronic version]. Retrieved June 30, 2003, from RAND California database.

Article from Opposing Viewpoints in Context

Merson, M.H. Society should continue to stress AIDS prevention. In M.H. Merson. (1996, August 5). How to fight AIDS. Newsweek. Retrieved August 13, 2002, from Opposing Viewpoints in Context database

Article from Facts.Com Database

Middle East peace plan finally launched. (2003, May 1). Facts On File News Digest . Retrieved June 28, 2003, from database.

Article from SIRS Database

Tokar, B. & Oliver, G. (1998, November). The Texas-Vermont-Maine nuclear dump [Electronic version]. Z Magazine, 33-39. Retrieved June 13, 2003, from SIRS database.

Information from Websites

The following items are usually included in this order:

Author(s) or organization acting as 'author' (if given). Date of the material (if given). If undated use (n.d.). Document title (in italics; only first word and proper nouns capitalized). If article or chapter retrieved is identical to print version use [Electronic version] after title of article or chapter. Downloading date, preceded by ?Retrieved?. Internet address

EXAMPLES for information from Websites

Organization acting as Author

World Health Organization. (2001). Diagnosing chronic depression . Retrieved November 25, 2002,

Document within a Larger Website

Life without parole . (2003). Retrieved August 3, 2003, from
710 mitigation project. (2005). Retrieved March 16, 2006, from

Website based on a Print Document

Warnica, J. W. (n.d.). Coronary artery disease [Electronic version]. In The Merck manual. Retrieved August 3, 2003, from

Instructor's Home Page

Anderson, S. (n.d.). Home page . Retrieved August 7, 2003, from /instadmn/sjanderson/home.htm

Academic Department Home Page

Virtual anthropology . (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2003, from Pasadena City College Anthropology Department Web site:

Created by V. Kline 2003. posted 3/2006 K. Goguen, Librarian Shatford Library, Pasadena City College.