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PSY 480: Psychology Capstone

APA Citation Overview

American Psychological Association (APA) Style is an editorial style, or rules that a publisher uses to ensure consistent presentation of written material. Citing your sources in APA style gives credit to the works of others and helps your readers go back and find the information you present. 

  • Basic APA components:  Author. (Year of publication). Title. Publisher.
  • APA is typically used for social or behavioral sciences writing. 
  • The key attribute of APA is the date of publication is closer to the beginning of the citation, since researchers often publish their work year after year, and there are often several articles attributed to the same author over period of time.

Getting Started

  1. Keep track of publication information as you read.
  2. Determine specifically what type of sources you have. Online or print articles? From a library database? Books with one author or more, or none? etc.
  3. Look up the format for those types of sources in your manual or online guide or start with an auto-generated citation.
  4. Follow the citation format precisely, paying close attention to punctuation and italicization. 

Formatting Your APA Paper

Title Page

In the APA style, the title page includes the following parts: 

  • Running head
  • Page number
  • Title
  • Author
  • Institutional affiliation
  • Author note (if necessary)

running head is the condensed title of your paper on the top left of the header and is in all caps. It should not be more than 50 characters in length. It appears on all following pages. A page number should be included on the top right side of the header and should appear on all following pages as well (Section 8.03 in the APA handbook).

In the center of the upper half of the page, include the following information: Title, your name, and institutional affiliation (Spalding University), all double-spaced and on separate lines. The title should fully describe the paper in 12 words or less (Sections 2.01-2.02).


In-Text Citation

APA Style uses parenthetical, author-date citations. After a quote, add parentheses containing the author's name, the year of publication, and the page number of the work.

Example: "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" (Seuss, 2007, p. 7).

Standard in-text citations refer to an author within the text. For example: According to Walker (2007), etc..

Parenthetical in-text citations are included at the end of a text that refers to the author(s). For example: Studies show that...(Walker, 2007). 

Works by multiple authors will sometimes include the abbreviation et al., which stands for the Latin phrase et alia, meaning "and others." 

Works by organizations spell out the organization and its abbreviation the first time they are references, followed by only the abbreviation, if applicable.

Type of Citation First Citation in Text Subsequent Citations in Text Parenthetical Format, First Citation in Text Parenthetical Format, Subsequent Citations in Text
One work by one author Walker (2007) Walker (2007) (Walker, 2007) (Walker, 2007)
One work by two authors Walker and Allen (2004) Walker and Allen (2004) (Walker & Allen, 2004) (Walker & Allen, 2004)
One work by three to five authors Bradley et al. (1999) Bradley et al. (1999) (Bradley et al., 1999) (Bradley et al., 1999)
One work by six or more authors Wasserstein et al. (2005) Wasserstein et al. (2005) (Wasserstein et al., 2005) (Wasserstein et al., 2005)
Groups as authors (readily identified through abbreviation) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2003) NIMH (2003) (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2003) (NIMH, 2003)
Groups as authors (no abbreviation) University of Pittsburgh (2005) University of Pittsburgh (2005) (University of Pittsburgh, 2005) (University of Pittsburgh, 2005)

Source:  American Psychological Association. (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

Reference Citation

Basic Format

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Source, Volume(Issue), page range. URL web address

Online Journal Article

Author(s). (Year). Article title. Journal TitleVolume (Issue), page range. URL web address or DOI

example: Gosine, K., & Tabi, E. (2016). Disrupting neoliberalism and bridging the multiple worlds of marginalized youth via hip-hop pedagogy: Contemplating possibilities. Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, 38(2), 445-467.

Online Newspaper Article

Author(s). (Publication Year, Month Date). Article title. Newspaper Title​. URL web address

example: Cochrane, E., & Weiland, N. (2017, October 16). Hillary Clinton, the N.F.L., Roy Moore and other asides from the president. The New York Times

Web Page

Author or Organization. (Date). Title of document [Format description]. URL web address

example: Spalding University. (2016). Our mission [web page].

Print Book

Author(s). (Publication Year). Title. Publisher.

example: Lee, H. (1960). To kill a mockingbird (1st ed.). J.B. Lippincott & Co.

Note: APA 7th Edition (2019) no longer includes publisher city and state. 


Author (Role of Author). (Year image was created). Title of work [Type of work]. URL web address

example: John, G (Artist). (1920-25). Young woman holding black cat [Painting].

Videos (YouTube or video blog)

Author, [Screen name in square brackets]. (year, month, day). Title of video [Video file]. URL web address

example: Brown, J. [johnbrown]. (1856, May, 5). Kansas in the Spring [Video file].


Third-party interviews: If the interview exists in a retrievable form (e.g., a recording, transcript, published Q&A), use the reference format appropriate for the source in which the interview is available.

Note: Personal communications do not have reference list entries because they cannot be retrieved. Personal communication is cited in-text only.

example(G. Fink-Nottle, personal communication, April 5, 2011)


See the APA Style 7th Edition Quick Reference Guide for additional information. 

Reference List Format

The Reference List appears at the end of an APA paper. It should begin on a new page separate from the rest of the text. 

  • The title, References, should be centered and placed one inch from the top of the page.  The title should not be underlined, italicized, or entered within quotation marks.

  • The entries should be arranged alphabetically by the first author's last name. Use only the authors' last names followed by a comma and initials of the author's given name(s).  

    • Example: Brown, J. R.

  • Each entry should be placed flush with the left margin.  If an entry is more than one line long, indent the following lines by one-half inch from the left margin.

  • If the author is unknown, place the title of the work in the author's position followed by the date of publication.  A period should follow the title. 

  • Use commas to separate authors and to separate last names and initials.  

    • Example: Calfee, R. C., & Valencia, R. R.

  • When no publication date is available write, (n.d.), in parentheses.

 References page for APA style.

Image: University of Texas at El Paso Writing Center. 

Citation Generators

Some databases and websites will auto-generate citations for you. This is a great starting place for a citation, but they are not always accurate. Check an auto-generated citation with a stylebook or guide before submitting a paper. 

Some databases, like Academic Search Complete, include a "cite" feature that will auto-generate APA, MLA, Chicago and other citations.

If there isn't an auto-generated citation within a database, try one of these free citation generator cites. You can also ask a librarian or the writing center!

Generating a Citation (0:47)