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Learn To Cite

Learn to cite your sources and format your paper in MLA, APA, Chicago, and other styles.

What is APA Style?

APA style was created by social and behavioral scientists to standardize scientific writing. APA style is most often used in:
  • psychology,
  • social sciences (sociology, business), and
  • nursing.

If you're taking courses in any of these areas, be prepared to use APA style.

For in-depth guidance on using this citation style, refer to Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed. We have several copies available at the MJC Library at the call number BF 76.7 .P83 2020.

Formatting Your Paper

The Rules

For help on all aspects of formatting your paper in APA Style, see The Essentials page on the APA Style website.

  • FontAPA recommends you use:
    • sans serif fonts such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, or
    • serif fonts such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or normal (10-point) Computer Modern (the default font for LaTeX)
  • Line SpacingIn general, double-space all parts of an APA Style paper, including the abstract, text, block quotations, table and figure numbers, titles, and notes, and reference list (including between and within entries). Do not add extra space before or after paragraphs.
    • There are exceptions for the title pagetablesfiguresfootnotes, and displayed equations.
  • MarginsUse 1-in. margins on every side of the page.
  • Paragraph Alignment and Indentation:
    • Align the text of an APA Style paper to the left margin. Leave the right margin uneven, or “ragged.”
    • Do not use full justification for student papers.
    • Do not insert hyphens (manual breaks) in words at the end of line. However, it is acceptable if your word-processing program automatically inserts breaks in long hyperlinks (such as in a DOI or URL in a reference list entry).
    • Indent the first line of each paragraph of text 0.5 in. from the left margin. Use the tab key or the automatic paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program to achieve the indentation (the default setting is likely already 0.5 in.). Do not use the space bar to create indentation. 
    • There are exceptions for the title pagesection labelsabstractblock quotationsheadingstables and figuresreference list, and appendices.

Paper Elements

Student papers generally include, at a minimum: 

Student papers may include additional elements such as tables and figures depending on the assignment. So, please check with your teacher!

Student papers generally DO NOT include the following unless your teacher specifically requests it:

  • Running head
  • Abstract
  • Author note

Page Order

For complete information on the order of pages, see the APA Style website.

Number your pages consecutively starting with page 1. Each section begins on a new page. Put the pages in the following order:

  • Page 1: Title page
  • Page 2: Abstract (if your teacher requires an abstract)
  • Page 3: Text 
  • References begin on a new page after the last page of text
  • Footnotes begin on a new page after the references (if your teacher requires footnotes)
  • Tables begin each on a new page after the footnotes (if your teacher requires tables) 
  • Figures begin on a new page after the tables (if your teacher requires figures)
  • Appendices begin on a new page after the tables and/or figures (if your teacher requires appendices)

Sample Papers With Built-In Instructions

References

Reference List Format

  • Placement: The reference list  appears at the end of the paper, on its own page(s). If your research paper ends on page 8, your References begin on page 9.
  • Heading: Place the section label References in bold at the top of the page, centered.
  • Arrangement: Alphabetize entries by author's last name. If source has no named author, alphabetize by the title, ignoring A, An, or The. (9.44-9.48)
  • Spacing: Like the rest of the APA paper, the reference list is double-spaced throughout. Be sure NOT to add extra spaces between citations.
  • Indentation: To make citations easier to scan, add a hanging indent of 0.5 in. to any citation that runs more than one line. Use the paragraph-formatting function of your word processing program to create your hanging indent.

DOIs and URLs

The DOI or URL is the final component of a reference list entry. Because so much scholarship is available and/or retrieved online, most reference list entries end with either a DOI or a URL.

  • DOI is a unique alphanumeric string that identifies content and provides a persistent link to its location on the internet. DOIs can be found in database records and the reference lists of published works.
  • URL specifies the location of digital information on the internet and can be found in the address bar of your internet browser. URLs in references should link directly to the cited work when possible.
When to Include DOIs and URLs
  • Include a DOI for all works that have a DOI, regardless of whether you used the online version or the print version.
  • If an online work has both a DOI and a URL, include only the DOI.
  • If an online work has a URL but no DOI, include the URL in the reference as follows:
    • For works without DOIs from websites (not including academic research databases), provide a URL in the reference (as long as the URL will work for readers).
    • For works without DOIs from most academic research databases, do not include a URL or database information in the reference because these works are widely available. The reference should be the same as the reference for a print version of the work.
    • For works from databases that publish original, proprietary material available only in that database (such as the UpToDate database) or for works of limited circulation in databases (such as monographs in the ERIC database), include the name of the database or archive and the URL of the work. If the URL requires a login or is session-specific (meaning it will not resolve for readers), provide the URL of the database or archive home page or login page instead of the URL for the work. (See APA Section 9.30 for more information). 
  • If the URL is no longer working or no longer provides readers access to the content you intend to cite, try to find an archived version using the Internet Archive, then use the archived URL. If there is no archived URL, do not use that resource.
Format of DOIs and URLs

Your DOI should look like this: 

https://doi.org/10.1037/a0040251

Follow these guidelines from the APA Style website.

Citation Examples

The APA Style website provides many reference examples, some of which you can see below:



Missing Reference Information

Sometimes you won't be able to find all the elements required for your reference. In that case, see the  instructions in Table 9.1 of the APA style manual in section 9.4 or the APA Style website below:


You can view the entire Reference Examples Website below:

In-Text Citations

The Rules

APA Style uses the author–date citation system, in which a brief in-text citation points your reader to the full reference list entry at the end of your paper. The in-text citation appears within the body of the paper and briefly identifies the cited work by its author and date of publication. This method enables your reader to locate the corresponding entry in the alphabetical reference list at the end of your paper.


Exceptions

Each work you cite must appear in the reference list, and each work in the reference list must be cited in the text (or in a table, figure, footnote, or appendix) except for the following (See APA, 8.4):

  • Personal communications (8.9)
  • General mentions of entire websites, whole periodicals (8.22), and common software and apps (10.10) in the text do not require a citation or reference list entry.
  • The source of an epigraph does not usually appear in the reference list (8.35)
  • Quotations from your research participants do not need citations or reference list entries (8.36)
  • References included in a statistical meta-analysis, which are marked with an asterisk in the reference list, may be cited in the text (or not) at the author’s discretion. This exception is relevant only to authors who are conducting a meta-analysis (9.52).

Formatting Your In-Text Citations

Parenthetical and Narrative Citations: (See APA Section 8.11)

In APA style you use the author-date citation system for citing references within your paper. You incorporate these references using either a parenthetical or a narrative style.

Parenthetical Citations

  • In parenthetical citations, the author name and publication date appear in parentheses, separated by a comma. (Jones, 2018)
  • A parenthetical citation can appear within or at the end of a sentence.
  • When the parenthetical citation is at the end of the sentence, put the period or other end punctuation after the closing parenthesis.
  • If there is no author, use the first few words of the reference list entry, usually the "Title" of the source: ("Autism," 2008) See APA 8.14
  • When quoting, always provide the author, year, and specific page citation or paragraph number for nonpaginated materials in the text (Santa Barbara, 2010, p. 243). See APA 8.13
  • For most citations, the parenthetical reference is placed BEFORE the punctuation: Magnesium can be effective in treating PMS (Haggerty, 2012).

Narrative Citations 

In narrative citations, the author name or title of your source appears within your text and the publication date appears in parentheses immediately after the author name. 

  • Santa Barbara (2010) noted a decline in the approval of disciplinary spanking of 26 percentage points from 1968 to 1994.

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Use NoodleTools to Cite Your Sources NoodleTools

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