APA Style (6th Edition)

APA is a citation style from the American Psychological Association and is commonly used in the social sciences, business, and nursing. When using APA, you will cite sources both within the text (in-text citations) and at the end of the document (References page).

In-Text Citations

APA requires citing with the (1) the author’s last name and (2) the publication year. These pieces of information can never be separated and will always appear together within the text. In-text citations can appear either within the sentence or at the end of the sentence.

When the authors' names are mentioned within the sentence, the year of publication will follow in parentheses.

In Williams (2011), the data showed that citations are important.

Williams' (2011) data showed that citations are important.

When the authors' names are not used within the sentence, they must appear in parentheses at the end of the sentence, followed by a comma and the year of publication.

The data showed that citations are important (Williams, 2011).

For in-text citations in specific contexts, see our headings below:

Direct Quotations

Page numbers are required for direct quotations from sources that have numbered pages, such as books or journals. This number appears in parentheses at the end of the sentence and is preceded by "p." and one space.

According to Smith (2003), “It is better to overcite than undercite” (p. 2).

Research requires the frequent use of citations: “It is better to overcite than undercite” (Smith, 2003, p. 2).

Multiple Authors

When a source with multiple authors is mentioned within the sentence, write out the word "and." However, when the source appears in parentheses at the end of the sentence, use the abbreviation for "and" (&) instead.

In Williams and Jones (2011), the data showed that citations are important.

The data showed that citations are important (Williams & Jones, 2011).

When a source has 3 to 5 authors, list all of the authors the first time the source is mentioned. In subsequent citations, use only the first author's last name and “et al.” (meaning "and everyone else"). Write "et al." in lowercase, place a period after "al." and do not place a comma between the author's name and "et al."

1st Use: The data showed that citations are important (Williams, Jones, & Smith, 2011).

2nd Use: The data also showed that direct quotations should be used sparingly (Williams et al., 2011).

When a source has 6 or more authors, use only the first author's last name and “et al.” within the text.

Saal et al. (2013) argued that historic homes should be preserved.

Historic homes should be preserved (Saal et al., 2013).

No Author

When a source does not list an author, you have two options:

1. Use the name of the publisher. When you are citing a webpage, the publisher will appear at the bottom of the website with the copyright date.

The data showed that citations are important (Organization for Research, 2005).

2. Use the shortened title of the source. Note: A source without a named author or publisher might not be reliable.

The data showed that citations are important (“Using Sources,” 2005).

No Publication Year

When a source does not list the year of publication, you have two options:

1. Use the copyright date. When you are citing a webpage, the copyright year will appear at the bottom of the website.

The data showed that citations are important (Organization for Research, 2005).

2. Use the abbreviation “n.d.” for no date. Note: A source without a publication year or copyright year might not be reliable.

The data showed that citations are important (“Using Sources,” n.d.).

Multiple Sources

When citing multiple different sources in the same citation, list them in alphabetical order (like on your References page) and separate them with semicolons.

The data showed that citations are important (Aeron, 2009; Coldwater et al., 2013; Williams & Jones, 2011).

When citing two or more sources with the same author(s) and the same year of publication, place a lowercase letter ("a," "b," "c," etc.) after the year of publication, to differentiate the sources. These letters should also appear on the References page. Assign letters based on the alphabetical order of the sources on the References page.

The data showed that citations are important (Aeron, 2009a; Aeron, 2009b).

References Page

The References page lists the full citation of each source used in your paper. Follow these general notes on APA format:

  • Start your References on a new page.
  • Write the word "References" at the top of the page and center it, with no bold or italics.
  • Create a hanging indent for all citations, so every line after the first will be indented half an inch. Follow these steps in Microsoft Word:
    1. Highlight all of the citations on your Bibliography.
    2. Right-click and select “Paragraph.”
    3. Under “Indentation,” go to “Special” and select “Hanging” from the drop-down menu.
  • Alphabetize sources by the author's last name. If there is no author, alphabetize by the first major word in the title.
  • Begin the citation with the author(s). Write all author names in inverted order and abbreviate first and middle names to be initials (LastName, A. A.).
    • For 8 or more authors, list the first 6 names, insert an ellipsis (. . .), and end with the very last author's name (Allison, H. L., Brown, M., Rothes, N., Cherry, G., Astor, J. J., Page, E., . . . Gordon, L. D.).
  • Italicize books and journals, and place quotation marks around article and webpage titles..
  • Use sentence-level capitalization for article and book titles: capitalize only the first word in the title, the first word in the subtitle, and any proper nouns that are always capitalized.
    • An article title will look like this.
    • A book title will look like this.
  • Fully capitalize journal, magazine, and newspaper titles (except for articles and prepositions).
    • A Journal Title Will Look Like This.

The information provided in each of your citations will be different for each type of source. You can check this format at the Purdue OWL. Here are some examples of Reference citations for common types of sources:

Book

Because all of the content in a book is written by the same author(s), you can cite the entire book on your References, even if you only used information from one chapter or a few pages. If a book has multiple copyright dates, use the most recent.

General Format

AuthorLastName, A. A., & AuthorLastName, B. B. (year). Book title in lowercase and italics: Capitalize only the

first word of the title and subtitle (edition, if applicable). Publication City, State: Publisher Name.

Example, with No Edition

Lord, W. (2012). The night lives on: The untold stories and secrets behind the sinking of the "unsinkable"

ship—Titanic. New York, NY: Open Road Integrated Media.

Example, with Edition

Butler, D. A. (2012). "Unsinkable": The full story of the RMS Titanic (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Da Capo Press.

Article or Chapter in Edited Book

Edited books contain articles or chapters written by different authors. Thus, your References must list each individual article or chapter that you used in your research.

General Format

AuthorLastName, A. A., & AuthorLastName, B. B. (year). Article title in lowercase with no quotation marks:

Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle. In A. EditorLastName & B. EditorLastName (Eds.),

Book title in lowercase and italics: Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle (pp. page range of article).

Publication City, State: Publisher Name.

Example, with One Book Editor

Beesley, L. (1960). The loss of the S. S. Titanic, its story, and its lessons. In J. Winocour (Ed.), The story

of the Titanic: As told by its survivors (pp. 1-110). New York, NY: Dover Publications.

Example, with Two Book Editors

Middleton, P., & Woods, T. (2004). Textual memory: The making of the Titanic's archive. In T. Bergfelder

& S. Street (Eds.), The Titanic in myth and memory: Representations in visual and literary culture (pp. 63-72).

New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Journal Article

General Format

AuthorLastName, A. A., & AuthorLastName, B. B. (year). Article title in lowercase with no quotation marks:

Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle. Journal Title in All Caps and Italics, volume number

italicized(issue number), article page range. 

Example

Frey, B. S., Savage, D. A., & Torgler, B. (2010). Interaction of natural survival instincts and internalized

social norms exploring the Titanic and Lusitania disasters. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,

107(11), 4862-4865.

Newspaper Article

General Format

AuthorLastName, A. A., & AuthorLastName, B. B. (year, month day). Article title in lowercase with no

quotation marks: Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle. Title of Newspaper in All

Caps and Italics. Retrieved from http://www.fullURL.com/

Example

Broad, W. J. (2012, April 9). A new look at nature's role in the Titanic's sinking: The iceberg was

only part of it. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/10/

science/a-new-look-at-natures-role-in-the-titanics-sinking.html?_r=0

Webpage

If a webpage does not have a stated author, use the publisher listed at the bottom of the page, next to the copyright date. If the webpage does not provide a year of publication, use the most recent copyright date at the bottom of the page.

General Format

Organization or Publisher. (year). Webpage title in lowercase with no quotation marks: Capitalize only the

first word of the title and subtitle. Retrieved from http://www.fullURL.com/

Example, with Publisher as Author

National Geographic Channel. (2012). Titanic facts: Some fast facts about her builders, her victims,

and her survivors. Retrieved from http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/titanic-100-years/

articles/titanic-the-final-word-with-james-cameron-facts/

Style and Format

APA has the following stylistic requirements for the body of your paper:

  • Refer to authors by their last names only.
  • Use past tense verbs when discussing a source's statements or data, because the source was published in the past.
  • Write out numbers one through nine, but use numerals for numbers 10 and higher.
  • Use the percent symbol (%) instead of the word “percent” when discussing statistics.

If your direct quotations have 40 words or more, format them as block quotations. This means you will remove the quotation marks and completely indent the quotation one inch from the rest of the paragraph. For example:

Many scholars continue to prefer humans over computers:

The human brain, with its flexibility and capacity to imagine, is still superior in many ways to the electronic model. The computer is never tired or preoccupied or careless, so it is wonderful at remembering and observing rules. But it doesn’t have the imagination of even a very young human brain—which not only can forget the rules, but can find in them loopholes and options. Electronic intelligence can process information like a house afire, but it still can’t think. (LaRocque, 1999, p. 52)


APA also had standards for formatting your paper, tables, and figures.

Page Headers

In APA, the first-page header will be different from headers on the following pages. To make the first-page header different from the rest, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click on the header
  2. Go to the "Header and Footer Tools" tab
  3. Check the option for "Different First Page"

Your first-page header should be as follows. Note that “head” is not capitalized:

Running head: SHORTENED TITLE OF PAPER IN ALL CAPS

The headers for the rest of the paper should be as follows:

SHORTENED TITLE OF PAPER IN ALL CAPS

This text should be on the left side of the header with your page number on the right. All of the headers should be in the same font type and font size as the rest of the paper. See an example APA paper at the Purdue OWL.

Section Headings

The format for each heading level in APA can be seen below. All headings should be in the same font size and type.

Level 1 Headings Are Centered and Bold

Level 2 Headings Are Left-Aligned and Bold

The paragraph text for a Level 2 section will begin on the next line.

Level 3 headings are indented half an inch, bolded, lowercased, and followed by a period. The paragraph text for a Level 3 section

will begin on the same line.

Level 4 headings are indented half an inch, bolded, italicized, lowercased, and followed by a period. The paragraph text for a Level 4

section will begin on the same line.

Level 5 headings are indented half an inch, italicized, lowercased, and followed by a period. The paragraph text for a Level 5 section

will begin on the same line.

Tables and Figures

Table captions appear above the table. Write the table number on its own line and the title of the table on the next line.

Table 1

Title of Table Capitalized in Italics

Figure captions appear below the figure. Write the figure number and the title on the same line and follow each with a period.

Figure 1. Title of figure, lowercased.

Additional Resources