APA Citation Guide

This is a simple guide to citing sources using APA style, adapted from Robin Turner’s From Brainstorm to Bibliography If you want more detailed information, take a look at APA Formatting and Style Guide at Purdue University.

Citations in Your Paper (In-text Citation)

If you are using APA format, the minimum information you need is the author’s surname, the year of publication and the page number(s) (except for Internet sources, which do not usually have page numbers, though you may be required to give paragraph or section numbers instead). If the author’s name does not occur in the sentence, put it in parentheses with the date and page, e.g.,

A similar view is that “government mounts a continual war against sovereignty” (Rousseau, 1988, p. 137).

Short quotations should be included in the body of your text, and are often part of another sentence e.g.,

As Taylor (1982) points out, “Communities are necessarily small, and ‘universal community’ impossible” (p. 167).

According to Rousseau (1988), “government mounts a continual war against sovereignty” (p. 137).

Note that here the citation is split: the year goes with the author and the page number comes after the quotation.

Notice the punctuation; there is a comma after the author, and the full stop comes after the citation, not before. If you refer to more than one page, use “pp.” instead of “p.”.

You may also want to refer to a work as a whole, e.g.,

Kant and the Platypus (1997) presents Umberto Eco’s views on the problems of categorisation.

You can, of course, refer to more than one work in the same citation, e.g.,

Teenagers who spend a lot of time texting may suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome (Fischer et al. 2002; Jones, 1999; Zwiegler & Lindbaum, 2007).

Note that the sources are separated by a semi-colon and are in alphabetical order.

Sometimes you may want to quote something that is already a quotation in your source. If you do this, cite both the original source (if the author gives it) and the source you actually took it from, joining them with “as cited in”.

As the Science Fiction author William Gibson puts it, writing is “a crazy, sloppy process with thousands of false starts and painful backtrackings” (MacNair, 1989, p. 23, as cited in Olson, 1992, p. 5).

In the 6th edition of the APA Manual, you do not need to put both references as separate items in your References page, just the one where you found the quotation.

Citations at the End of Your Paper (References Page)

General Points

In APA you should cite all the sources that you refer to (and no others) on a separate page at the end of the paper.

  • The page has the title References at the top centre.
  • Citations are in alphabetical order by author’s surname.
  • Citations are in hanging indent format (i.e., the second and subsequent lines of a citation are indented, not the first one).
  • Titles of complete works (books, journals, etc. go in italics)
  • Unlike some other citation styles, titles of articles, chapters etc. do not go in quotation marks.
  • Contrary to what you might expect, titles do not go in title case but in sentence case; i.e., only the first letter of a setence and the first letter after a colon are capitlaised (unless they would have a cpaitalletter anyway, of course).
  • The previous rule does not apply to names of journals, newspapers etc., which are written exacetly as they appear in print (e.g., The Guardian, not The guardian


Note: APA guidelines on citing books have changed in the 7th edition; it is no longer necessary to write the place where the book was published.

Surname, Initials. (Year). Title of Book. Publisher.

Smith, A.I. (1997). Ghosts in the machine: Artificial intelligence in film. Critical Press.

A variation which is becoming more popular is to give the author’s full name rather than just initials (e.g., “Smith, Alfred Ian”). Some variants of APA don’t require a full stop after the date.

Chapters or essays in books

Surname, Initials. (year). Title of chapter.  In Editor’s Name  (ed.) Title of Book. Place of publication: Publisher.

Obscurant, G. (1972). Phrase structure in Nepali counterfactuals: a preliminary survey. In David J. Plough and Leslie Threwitt (ed.) Developments in post-generative linguistics. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Note that name(s) of the editor(s) are written as they appear in the book, not in Surname, Initials format.

Articles in academic journals

Surname, Initials. (year). Title of article. Name of Journal [Volume number:] Issue number. pages.

Kugelschreiber, E. (1989). Is celibacy inherited?: a longitudinal survey. Sociobiology Review 3:12 201–235.

Note: you do not normally need to write “p.” or “pp.” for pages in journals.

Articles in newspapers and magazines

These follow the same format as for journals, except that the full date is given, and there is normally no volume or issue number.

Surname, Initials. (year month day). Title of article.Name of Newspaper. page(s).

Worsetorn, P. (1989 May 1). Labour’s lunatic fringe. The Daily Torygraph. p. 12.

With some newspaper articles there is no author named. In this case, treat it the same; just leave out the author e.g.,

Elvis found on Mars! (1995, April 1). National Speculator. p. 3.

Film and TV

Surname, Initials (Producer/Director/Writer). (year)Name of film [Film]. Company.


Bates, N. (Producer, Writer) & Kruger, F. (Director). (1988). Night of the teenage vampires. [Film]. Gore Films.

If the film is from a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, write [Video] instead of [Film], and add the URL at the end.

The format for TV is similar, but adds the episode and the executive producer’s name, if known.

Surname, Initials (Producer/Director/Writer). (year)Name of episode (Season No., Episode No.) [TV series episode]. In Executive producer’s (Executive Producer) Name of show. Company.

Spassky, B.V. (Writer) & Karpov, F. (Director). (2015). The dragon variation (Season 1, Episode 3) [TV series episode]. In Paul Morphy’s (Executive Producer) The Sicilian defence. BBC.

Streaming video from sites like YouTube or Vimeo is cited like this:

Surname, Initials. [User name]. (year, month day) Title of video. Website. URL

Turner, R.H. [The Essay Doctor] (2020, June 15). What the hell is an adverbial? [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/xysJoq6S47M


For web pages, the following format is recommended.

Surname, Initials (year month day) Title of page. Name of Website. Retrieved month day, year, from URL

Cracker, A. (2003 October 31). How to break into Windows Vista systems. H4x0rz World. Retrieved from http://www.h4x0rz.org/articles/2003/oct/acracker.html.

Much of the time you won’t be able to find all of this information, so just put in as much as you can, e.g.,

Why I hate Gates. (n.d.) Linuxfan. Retrieved from http://www.linuxfan.org/rants/hategates.html.

Note that in these examples, the website is treated like a publisher and the page like a complete work, so the title is in italics, not the website (this is the opposite of the way MLA does it). Sometimes, though, the website is also a publication like a newspaper, so cite it just like a normal newspaper article, but add “Retrieved from” + URL just like you would with any online source.

For messages to discussion forums etc., you can use the following format:

Surname, Initials (year month day) Subject. Message to URL.

Smith, W. (1999 April 1) Re: Gnomes of Zurich. Message to http://www.conspiracy.net/forum.

Sources with more than one author

If a source has two authors, put an “&” between them; if it has 3-20 authors, separate by commas and add “&” before the last one (Emerson, K., Lake, G., & Palmer, C.); if it has more than 20 (yes, it happens!) replace everyone between the 19th author and the last with three dots.

If the publication comes from an organisation, just treat the name of the organisation like the name of the author, e.g.

Ministry of Administrative Affairs Social Networking Task Group (2009). Mortality rates from Twitter addiction: A digest of meta-analyses. Ministry of Administrative Affairs.