General Information About the APA Citation Style

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. Its citation style mostly relates to the social sciences. It is not used as much as the MLA style, but it is widely used.

Making a Reference List in the APA Format

The reference list should be at the end of your paper, as a separate page. Each reference you mention in your paper should be included in this reference list. The page for the references should be labeled as “References” centered at the top of the page. The text should be double-spaced, like in the essay.

The following are the basic rules of creating a reference list:

  • Each line after the first line of each entry should be indented one inch from the left margin.
  • Authors’ names are inverted, which means the last name comes first.
  • The entries should be alphabetized starting from the last name of the first author mentioned in a source.
  • In the case of multiple publications by the same author, or authors listed in the same order, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to latest.
  • Present titles in full.
  • Maintain the punctuation used in titles.
  • Capitalize all important words in journal titles.
  • When writing a citation for books, chapters, articles, and Web pages, capitalize just the first letter of the title and the subtitle, the first word following a colon or dash in the title, and proper nouns.
  • Italicise titles of long resources, such as books and journals.
  • Do not italicise, underline, or add quotation marks to titles of short works such as journal articles or essays from a collection.


Berndt, T. J. (2002). Friendship quality and social development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 7-10.

Creating In-Text Citations in the APA Style

Follow the author-date system while making in-text citations. The author’s last name should be there and the year of publication of the source. These in-citations should correspond to the reference list at the end of the paper. Add a citation when quoting material from a resource, and also when you are paraphrasing material from a resource.

Here are the basic rules:

  • Always capitalize proper nouns, which includes author names and initials.
  • If you mention a title of a source in your writing, capitalize all words that are four letters or longer. Make exceptions for short words that are verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. For example: Be You and You Again.
  • When capitalizing titles, capitalize a hyphenated word fully.
  • Capitalize the first word after a dash or colon.
  • Italicise or underline titles of long works such as books, collections, movies, and so on.
  • Add quotation marks around short works such as journal titles, articles from collections, and so on.

Short Quotations in the APA Citation Style

If you are directly quoting from a source, include the author, year of publication, and page number for the reference (use “p.” to indicate pages).


According to Smiths (1998), “Students often had problems using the APA style, especially when it was their first time doing so” (p. 198).

If the author is not named, use this following format, contained within this example:

She mentioned, “Students often had problems using the APA style” (Smiths, 1997, p. 199), but she did not say why.

Long Quotations in the APA Citation Style

If a direct quotation is 40 words or longer, place it in a freestanding block of lines with no quotation marks. Begin the quotation on a new line, and indent a ½ inch from the left margin. Indent the whole quotation. Maintain the double space formatting.


Smiths’ (1998) study found the following:
Students often had problems employing the APA style, especially when it was their very first time creating citations. This problem could be attributed to the fact that many students did not purchase a style manual or did not ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)

Paraphrasing in the APA Citation Style

When adding a citation for a paraphrase, include the author’s name and year of publication, although it is encouraged to add a page number as well (not required).


According to Smiths (1997), the APA style is a complex citation format for learners.

The APA style is a complex citation format for learners (Smiths, 1997, p. 199).