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APA Citation Style

Useful APA Citation Style Guide, 6th ed.: Handy Formatting Hints

The APA style is used for formatting academic papers written in social sciences.

Below, you will find useful tips on how to cite different sources. You will be provided with good examples of citing a wide variety of sources students may come across when producing academic papers.

It should be admitted that each citation comprises two parts, i.e. in-text citation and bibliography page. The in-text citation gives concise information about the issue throughout the text. The bibliography page provides detailed information about the sources that have been used for creating a certain piece of writing.

Now, let us take a closer look at formatting bibliography pages and in-text citations.

Formatting In-Text Citations

One should know that a great accent is made on the publication date when it goes about the APA style. When organizing in-text citations the author’s last name should be separated from the date by a comma. Such a way of formatting in-text citations used in a piece of writing guides readers to a full reference item presented on the bibliography page.

(Martin, 1995)

Note that only the date should be provided if the author’s name is presented in the narration:

Martin (1995) analyzed both systems

Two authors. Both names should be used when the writer refers to them in the text. The names in the parentheses should be connected with the ampersand (&). However, it should be spelled as “and” in the text.

(Calhoun & Keller, 1997)

Calhoun & Keller (1997) pointed out that the development depends not only on …

Three – five authors. When referring to the authors for the first time, all of them should be cited. As to the following citations, it is necessary to mention the first author’s surname only which should be followed by et al.

First reference:

(Calhoun, Keller, Author C, Author D & Author E, 1997)

Following references:

(Calhoun et al.)

Six authors or more. Both in the first and following citations, the first author’s surname followed by et al. and the year should be mentioned in the text.

(Calhoun et al., 1997)

Group of authors. The body name should be mentioned in the citation:

(New Data, 1994)

Unknown author. The first words of the title should be used in the text. Capitalization is required:

(“Arctic Voyage”, 2014)

Author is mentioned as “Anonymous”. It should be used as the author’s name.

(Anonymous, 2008)

Paraphrasing. In the APA, in-text citations should not contain page numbers. Nevertheless, authors should still provide page numbers in case it helps readers present information in lengthy works. You should ask your professor whether it is necessary to include page numbers in the paraphrased text.

If the author refers to a specific quotation, it is necessary to mention the author, publishing year, and a page number. As to the page number, it can be presented either in the parentheses at the end of a specific quotation or included in the in-text citation.

Gass (1984) stated that “the listener’s awareness of the subject of discourse improves understanding of the whole message” (p.85).

According to the research results, “the listener’s awareness of the subject of discourse improves understanding of the whole message” (Gass, 1984, p.85).

Paragraph numbers should be used for specific quotations taken from the sources having no page numbers. In case there are headings instead of paragraph numbers, use them and count the paragraphs after the mentioned heading to the paragraph comprising the very quotation.

(Thompson, 2002, para. 2)

(Chan, 2011, Methodology section, para. 3)

Using citations from the secondary sources. A secondary source should be presented on the bibliography page, and the original piece should be mentioned in the text.

Text citation:

Cole and Cole’s research (as cited in Martin, 2006) proved…

Bibliography page:

Bakers, T. M. (2005). How to teach native speakers to listen to foreign speech. Journal of Multilingual Development, 20(4), 234-242.

Formatting Reference Pages

Here, we will discuss how to format books, articles, webpages, online videos, and other items.


One author

Goodpaster, K. (2006). Business ethics: Policies and person. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Multiple authors

Martin, D., Marco, T., & Miller, K. (2005). Psychological development. New York, NY: AMC

Edited Book

Parkins, O. (Ed.). (1992). Philosophy of science. London, England: Anchor

Group or corporate author

American Medical Association. (2004). Family medical guide. Hoboken, NJ: Milley

Book chapter or essay

Winne, P. K. (2003). Self-controlled models of behavior. In P.R Zimmerman, I. Collins, & U. S. Walsh (Eds.), Self-controlled studies (pp.92-110). New York, NY: Russel Sage Foundation.

Articles from a reference book

Wiener, P. F. (2004). Gender inequality: Who is right? In H. Blatter (Ed.), Society and its development (pp.128-201). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

One can mention only the item title in case there are no numbers of pages. The item title should be placed in the author position if the item in a reference piece has no author.


Now it will be easier for students to evaluate digital information. A new item, which is called a digital object identifier (DOI), has been added to the citations of a journal article. When using it, students will have no problems with deciphering digital names. One can find more information about this system on the Internet. In case such an identifier is not presented in the online journal, database, or article, you need to surf the Net to find the systems that can be used to search for DOIs. It should be admitted that not each article contains DOIs. Note that a period should not be placed at the end of citation, as it can be regarded as a piece relating to the DOI.

A journal article with one author

Rapson, T. (2005). Increasing children’s obesity, 1993-2001. Journal of Medicine, 12(2), 346-349. doi:10.1255/0031874603686521

A journal article (up to seven authors)

Parkins, O. L., Moris, P. D., Lorens, L.A., & Hopkins, K. T. (2007). Adolescents’ Internet addiction. Journal of teenagers’ behavior, 2, 453-470. doi: 11.1213/j.jadobehavior.2006.12.012

A journal article (more than seven authors)

Parker, O. S., Mittens, L. R., Burke, T., Yanovski, S. K., McDuffie, K. P., Warner, P. W., Uwaifo, L. F., Lom, L. P. (2005). Behavior therapy as a tool for treating obesity. Medical science, 354, 25-75. doi:11.10123j.medscience.2004.06.003

When there are eight or more authors, it is necessary to mention the first six names, three ellipses, and the last author’s name.

A journal article (advanced publication)

Grister, L.G, Lender, K. O., Jennings, L. U., & Dunewald, I. A. (2003). The habitats of endangered species. Nature. Advanced printed publication. doi:12.1054/nature07138

Online-only additional material for articles

Chadler, L.D. (2008). Persuasive communication: information processing analysis. [Additional material].  SAP: Experimental social psychology, 22, 153–155. doi:11.1052/esp.0298763287

If there is no author, a title and description in brackets have to be moved to the author’s place.

Article in a famous magazine

Fox, K. L., II (1997, May 14). The greenhouse effect. Time, 234(5), 23-27.

A newspaper article

King, L. R. (2004, January 12). The basic steps to strengthening the state energy industry. The Country Today, pp. A23-25.

If you have found the articles by using the newspaper webpage, it is necessary to add “Retrieved from” and the website URL.


Sound Recording

Bond, L. (1978). Take me to the park [recorded by Stern Silver]. On It is time [CD] London, England: Warner. (1986)

After the author’s or composer’s name, an original copyright date should be used. In case the recording date differs from the copyright one, it has to be placed after the name of a recording brand, as it is shown above.

Video Recording

Bown, K. D., & Shleeter, A. I. (Producers), & Cards, P. (Director). (2004). Please, let me show how I love you [DVD]. France: RFY video.


Trudo, K. (Writer) & Caplan, D. (Director). (2004). What to do with diamonds [Television series episode]. In H. Mureil (Executive producer), A Journey to Jungle. Chicago, IL: Private Broadcasting Agency


One should know that the text can be broken in different places of the URL depending on the used Internet browser. If a URL of a printed work has to be broken at the end of a line, it is necessary to make a break:

  • after a double slash or colon;
  • before a tilde, period, single slash, comma, underline, hyphen, question mark, percent symbol, or a number sign;
  • before or after an ampersand or an equals sign.


The most efficient ways of solving the problem of unemployment. (2012). 2012. Influence of Unemployment on Society. Retrieved from http://gfd.gov/unemployment/qw/

Blog Entry

McNeil, G. (2013, October 12). The Difference of Formatting Papers in Various Reference Styles [Internet log post]. Retrieved from http://blog.education.org/.

It should be stated that authors may take nicknames when writing blog posts. The nickname should be used as the author’s one in case this is the very name a person indicates under the posted messages.

Online Video

Burns. (2006, September 25). Detailed instruction son how to make a cage for a parrot [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76fGJFOIHdi

In the examples provided above, a nickname is used as the author’s name.

Data Sets

New inventions in the world of medicine and healthcare. (2006). Global Medicine 12.2: American healthcare system, May-June 2006 [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.niwmh.health.edu/niwmhweb/NIWMH/access/index.php

Government Issues

In order to cite government documents appropriately, one should browse the Internet to find legal government documents.

Unpublished Items


If you have to format your academic paper in the APA style, you should know that personal communication is not regarded as verifiable. Therefore, it is necessary to cite such items in the text only. You should not include them in the bibliography.

For example: (J. K. Brook, personal communication, October 23, 1994)

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