APA citation style

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What is the APA format?

APA format is the official style of the American Psychological Association (APA) and is commonly used to cite sources in psychology, education, and social sciences.

The major sections of your paper

In most cases, your paper should include four main sections: the title page, abstract, main section, and references list.

  • The title 

Your title page should contain a running head, title, author name, and school affiliation. The purpose of your title page is to let the reader quickly know what your paper is about and who it was written by. Learn more about writing an APA format title page through the following link.


  • The abstract

An abstract is a brief summary of your paper that immediately follows your title page. According to APA format, your abstract should be no more than 150 to 250 words although this can vary depending upon the specific publication or instructor requirements. Learn more about writing an APA format abstract through the following link.


  • The main body

For something like an essay, the main body of your paper will include the actual essay itself. If you are writing a lab report, then your main body will be broken down into further sections. The four main components of a lab report include an introduction, method, results, and discussion sections.

  • The references

The reference section of your paper will include a list of all the sources that you used in your paper. If you cited any piece of information anywhere in your paper, it needs to be properly referenced in this section. One handy rule of thumb to remember is that any source cited in your paper needs to be included in your reference section, and any source listed in your reference section must also be mentioned somewhere in your paper.

There are two parts of citations: in-text citation and the references list at the end of the research paper.

How to write in-text citation using the APA citation style?

The APA citation style is an author and date system of citing. Therefore, you will have to cite the author’s name and the date of publication in brackets. You will have to only cite the author’s last name and the year of publication divided by a comma. If you would like to be more precise, add the page number or the chapter if you are citing the author’s work from that page.

There is no difference between books, magazine articles, internet documents or any other format. You don’t have to add the page number in electronic documents.  In this case, you will have to add the paragraph’s number.

Some things you should know regarding in-text citation:

  • When you are citing three to five authors, include the last name of all of them in the first citation only, while in the other citations you will have to write the last name of the first author followed with the shortcut et.al;
  • When you are quoting, you will have to insert the in-text citation with the author’s last name and the publication date right after the quote;
  • If you have mentioned the author’s name in the sentence, you will only have to add the publication date after the name;
  • If you are citing a second source, you will have to cite the original author and the date followed by the second author.

An example of an in-text citation:

… the children psychological evaluation was studied somewhere else (Matthews, 1979, p. 34-35)

Important tips for APA style reference page

  • Your references should begin on a new page. Title the new page "References" and center the title text at the top of the page.
  • All entries should be in alphabetical order.
  • While earlier versions of APA format required only one space after each sentence, the new sixth edition of the style manual now recommends two spaces.
  • All sources cited should appear both in-text and on the reference page. Any reference that appears in the text of your report or article must be cited on the reference page, and any item appearing on your reference page must be also included somewhere in the body of your text.
  • Titles of books, journals, magazines, and newspapers should appear in italics.
  • The exact format of each individual reference may vary somewhat depending on whether you are referencing an author or authors, a book or journal article, or an electronic source.


  • Book: Author’s last name, first name initials (year). Title. Subtitle (edition). Place of publication: publisher.
  • Organization: Name of the organization (year). The title of the research paper. Place of publication: publisher.
  • Electronic book: Author’s last name, first name’s initials (year). Title. Subtitle. Taken from: URL
  • Newspaper article: Author’s last name, first name initials (Year, date). Article’s title. Title of the newspaper. Taken from: URL






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