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Citation Guide: Basics of APA Citations

Guide to the MLA and APA Citation Styles; Latest Update 2016

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Online APA Help

Basic APA Rules

Some basic rules for APA References lists are:

  • All citations should be double spaced
  • Indent after the first line of each entry
  • Entries are not numbered
  • If an element is not present, omit it
  • Alphabetize by the first word of the entry
  • If no author is listed, begin with title
  • Enter author's last name followed by first and middle initials
  • List up to six (6) authors; seven (7) or more authors, use only the first six and then et al.
  • Italics must be used for book and periodical titles
  • Capitalize ONLY the first word of a title, the first word of a subtitle, and proper nouns in titles of books and articles, no matter how they appear in a database or catalog
  • List the city of publication, and only include the state or country as needed for clarity. Use two-letter abbreviations for states when needed. Example: Lexington, KY (because there are cities names Lexington in many states)
  • Use the abbreviations p. or pp. only for multi-page newspaper articles, encyclopedia entries, and chapters or articles in edited books
  • Do not use the abbreviation p. or pp. (or any other abbreviation) for magazine and journal articles
  • Use p. for one page articles, pp. for multiple page articles
  • Dates are in Year, Month Day format (e.g. 1999, December 20)
  • Date is in parenthesis after the author's name (or title if no author is listed)
  • Use (n.d.) if no date is given
  • When including the name of the database where you located the full-text, do not just write EBSCOhost. EBSCOhost is NOT a database. Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, etc., are databases
  • For items found in full text online, access information in APA requires one of the following (in order of preference):
    1. Use DOI if available (no period at end of citation)
    2. If no DOI, and from database, use database name (with period) (example: Academic Search Premier database.) (period at end of citation)
    3. If no DOI and from open web site - not from a database, use access date and complete URL (no period at end of citation)

Author and Editor formats

Authors in APA Format

Authors are formatted the same in all material formats.

  • List only the first (and middle if available) initials of all authors
  • List all authors with the last name first
    • Example: Smith, J. D.
  • Two authors are separated with a comma and an ampersand ( & )
    • Example: Smith, J. D., & Jones, R. L.
  • Three authors are formatted with commas and an ampersand ( & )
    • Example: Smith, J. D., Jones, R. L., & Harper, S. G.
  • List up to six (6) authors; above that number, list the first six and then et al.
    • Example: Smith, J. D., Jones, R. L., Harper, S. G., Harris, K., Thompson, L. C., Nelson, G. A., et al.

Authors that are organizations, corporations, government entities, etc.

  • Do not invert or use abbreviations.
    • Examples:
      • United States Department of Commerce.
      • General Motors Corporation.
      • American Civil Liberties Union.

Editors

If an entire edited book with authored chapters is cited, the editor is listed as the author with the abbreviation "(Ed.)" after his name, or "(Eds.)" if there is more than one editor. Multiple editors are formatted the same way as authors.

  • List first editor with the last name first, followed by a comme and "(Ed.)."
    • Example: Smith, J. D.  (Ed.).
  • Two editors are separated by a comma after the first author and the ampersand ( & ) and are followed with a comma and "(Eds.)."
    • Example: Smith, J. D., & Jones, R. L. (Eds.).
  • Three editors are separated with commas and the ampersand ( & ) and are followed with a comma and "(Eds.)."
    • Example: Smith, John D., Jones, R. L., & Harper, S. G. (Eds.).
  • List up to six (6) editors; above that number, list the first six and then et al.
    • Example: Smith, J. D., Jones, R. L., Harper, S. G., Harris, K., Thompson, L. C., & Nelson, G. A., et al. (Eds.).

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