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APA citation style

Introduction

This guide provides a basic introduction to the APA citation style. It is based on the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association published in 2010 (2009). Copies of the manual are available at the Vanier and Webster Libraries' Reference Desks, Reference Collections and on 3-hour Reserve. The call number for the manual is BF 76.7 A46 2010.

The Publication Manual is generally used for academic writing in the social sciences. The manual itself covers many aspects of research writing including selecting a topic, evaluating sources, taking notes, plagiarism, the mechanics of writing, the format of the research paper as well as the way to cite sources.

Another useful resource is the APA Style Guide to Electronic References (restricted to Concordia users).

This guide provides basic explanations and examples for the most common types of citations used by students. For additional information and examples, refer to the Publication Manual.

In-text citations - overview

When using your own words to refer indirectly to another author's work, you must identify the original source. A complete reference must appear in the Reference List at the end of your paper.

Further examples and explanations are available in Sections 6.05, 6.11-6.21 and Chapter 7 of the Publication Manual.

Authors

One author
  • In most cases, providing the author's last name and the publication year are sufficient:
    Smith (1997) compared reaction times...

    Within a paragraph, you need not include the year in subsequent references.

    Smith (1997) compared reaction times. Smith also found that...
Two authors
  • If there are two authors, include the last name of each and the publication year:
    ...as James and Ryerson (1999) demonstrated...
    ...as has been shown (James & Ryerson, 1999)...
3 - 5 authors
  • If there are three to five authors, cite all authors the first time; in subsequent citations, include only the last name of the first author followed by "et al." and the year:
    Williams, Jones, Smith, Bradner, and Torrington (1983) found...
    Williams et al. (1983) also noticed that...
Corporate authors
  • The names of groups that serve as authors (e.g. corporations, associations, government agencies, and study groups) are usually spelled out each time they appear in a text citation. If it will not cause confusion for the reader, names may be abbreviated thereafter:
    First citation: (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 1999)
    Subsequent citations: (NIMH, 1999)

Citing specific parts (pages, sections, & paragraphs)

  • To cite a specific part of a source, indicate the page, chapter, figure, table or equation at the appropriate point in the text:
    (Czapiewski & Ruby, 1995, p. 10)
    (Wilmarth, 1980, Chapter 3)
  • For electronic sources that do not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number, if available, preceded by the ¶ symbol or abbreviation para. If neither is visible, cite the heading and the number of the paragraph following it to direct the reader to the quoted material.
    (Myers, 2000, ¶ 5)
    (Beutler, 2000, Conclusion section, para. 1)
  • For electronic sources such as Web pages, provide a reference to the author, the year and the page number (if it is a PDF document), the paragraph number if visible or a heading followed by the paragraph number.
    "The current system of managed care and the current approach to defining empirically supported treatments are shortsighted" (Beutler, 2000, Conclusion section, ¶ 1)

Indirect citations

  • When citing a work which is discussed in another work, include the original author's name in an explanatory sentence, and then include the source you actually consulted in your parenthetical reference and in your reference list.
    Smith argued that...(as cited in Andrews, 2007)

Quotations

Direct quotations of sources

Direct quotations allow you to acknowledge a source within your text by providing a reference to exactly where in that source you found the information. The reader can then follow up on the complete reference in the Reference List page at the end of your paper.

Short direct quotations
  • Quotations of less than 40 words should be incorporated in the text and enclosed with double quotation marks. Provide the author, publication year and a page number.
    She stated, "The 'placebo effect,' ...disappeared when behaviors were studied in this manner" (Miele, 1993, p. 276), but he did not clarify which behaviors were studied.

    Miele (1993) found that "the 'placebo effect,' which had been verified in previous studies, disappeared when [only the first group's] behaviors were studied in this manner" (p. 276).
Long direct quotations
  • When making a quotation of more than 40 words, use a free-standing "block quotation" on a new line, indented five spaces and omit quotation marks.
    Miele (1993) found the following:
    The "placebo effect," which had been verified in previous studies, disappeared when behaviors were studied in this manner. Furthermore, the behaviors were never exhibited, even when reel [sic] drugs were administered. Earlier studies were clearly premature in attributing the results to a placebo effect. (p. 276)

Further examples and explanations are available in Section 6.03 of the Publication Manual.

Reference list - overview

The alphabetical list of references that appears at the end of your paper contains more information about all of the sources you have used allowing readers to refer to them, as needed. The main characteristics are:

  • The list of references must be on a new page at the end of your text
  • The word References should be centered at the top of the page
  • Entries are arranged alphabetically by the author's last name or by the title if there is no author
  • Titles of larger works (i.e. books, journals, encyclopedias) are italicized
  • Entries are double-spaced (for the purposes of this handout, single-spacing is used)
  • For each entry, the first line is typed flush with the left margin. Additional lines are indented as a group a few spaces to the right of the left margin (hanging indent)

Below are some examples of the most common types of sources including online sources (Web and databases).

Books

Book with one author

Bernstein, T. M. (1965). The careful writer: A modern guide to English usage (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Atheneum.

Electronic book
  • Replace place and publisher information with the DOI.

Anderson, C.A., Gentile, D.A., & Buckley, K.E. (2007). Violent video game effects on children and adolescents: Theory, research and public policy. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309836.001.0001

Work with two authors

Beck, C. A. J., & Sales, B. D. (2001). Family mediation: Facts, myths, and future prospects. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Two or more works by the same author
  • Arrange by the year of publication, the earliest first.

Postman, N. (1979). Teaching as a conserving activity. New York, NY: Delacorte Press.

Postman, N. (1985). Amusing ourselves to death: Public discourse in the age of show business. New York, NY: Viking.

  • If works by the same author are published in the same year, arrange alphabetically by title and add a letter after the year as indicated below.

McLuhan, M. (1970a). Culture is our business. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

McLuhan, M. (1970b). From cliché to archetype. New York, NY: Viking Press.

Book by a corporate author
  • Associations, corporations, agencies, government departments and organizations are considered authors when there is no single author

American Psychological Association. (1972). Ethical standards of psychologists. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Anthologies, Coursepacks, & Encyclopedias

Anthology or compilation

Gibbs, J. T., & Huang, L. N. (Eds.). (1991). Children of color: Psychological interventions with minority youth. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Work in an anthology or an essay in a book

Bjork, R. A. (1989). Retrieval inhibition as an adaptive mechanism in human memory. In H. L. Roediger III, & F. I. M. Craik (Eds.), Varieties of memory & consciousness (pp. 309-330). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Work in a coursepack

Goleman, D. (2009). What makes a leader? In D. Demers (Ed.), AHSC 230: Interpersonal communication and relationships (pp. 47-56). Montreal, Canada: Concordia University Bookstore. (Reprinted from Harvard Business Review, 76(6), pp.93-102, 1998).

Work in a dictionary
  • Indicate whether you are citing a noun, verb, adjective, etc., if there are multiple types of the word. The in-text citation would be (Protest, 1971).

Protest, v. (1971). Compact edition of the Oxford English dictionary (Vol. 2, p. 2335). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Article in a reference book or an entry in an encyclopedia
  • If the article/entry is signed, include the author's name; if unsigned, begin with the title of the entry

Guignon, C. B. (1998). Existentialism. In E. Craig (Ed.), Routledge encyclopedia of philosophy (Vol. 3, pp. 493-502). London, England: Routledge.

Articles

Article in a journal - for electronic articles retrieved online, see below

Mellers, B. A. (2000). Choice and the relative pleasure of consequences. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 910-924.

  • Note: List only the volume number if the periodical uses continuous pagination throughout a particular volume. If each issue begins with page 1, then list the issue number as well.

Klimoski, R., & Palmer, S. (1993). The ADA and the hiring process in organizations. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 45(2), 10-36.

Article in a newspaper or magazine

Semenak, S. (1995, December 28). Feeling right at home: Government residence eschews traditional rules. Montreal Gazette, p. A4.

Driedger, S. D. (1998, April 20). After divorce. Maclean's, 111(16), 38-43.

Article from an electronic source
  • Provide the same information as you would for a printed journal article and add a retrieval statement that will identify the source of this information.
  • In general, it is not necessary to include database information (APA, 2010, p. 192).
  • You can identify your source by including ONE of the following:
  1. DOI (digital object identifier)
    A DOI is an alphanumeric string used to identify journal articles and other documents published electronically. Always include the DOI when it is available instead of the URL or the database name. It is often found with the bibliographic information, such as the journal title and volume. It may also be included at the top or bottom of the first page of the article. Try searching for the DOI of an article at CrossRef.org

    Zhao, S., Grasmuck, S., & Martin, J. (2008). Identity construction on Facebook: Digital empowerment in anchored relationships. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(5), 1816-1836. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2008.02.012

    More information on how to find a DOI and create permanent links to online articles is available.


  2. URL for an online periodical
    If there is no DOI for an article found in an online periodical, include the URL for the journal home page.

    Cooper, A., & Humphreys, K. (2008). The uncertainty is killing me: Self-triage decision making and information availability. E-Journal of Applied Psychology, 4(1). Retrieved from http://ojs.lib.swin.edu.au/index.php/ejap/

NOTE: For more information about electronic sources, please refer to the APA style guide to electronic references (restricted to Concordia users)

Multimedia

Television or radio program

MacIntyre, L. (Reporter). (2002, January 23). Scandal of the Century [Television series episode]. In H. Cashore (Producer), The fifth estate. Toronto, Canada: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Film, videorecording or DVD

Kubrick, S. (Director). (1980). The Shining [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Brothers.

YouTube videos (For more information see the APA Style Blog)

With author's name and screen name

Apsolon, M. [markapsolon]. (2011, September 9). Real ghost girl caught on Video Tape 14 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nyGCbxD848

With only screen name

Bellofolletti. (2009, April 8). Ghost caught on surveillance camera [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =Dq1ms2JhYBI&feature=related

Online Lecture Notes and Presentation Slides (such as Moodle)

Cress, C. M. (2009). Curricular strategies for student success and engaged learning [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.vtcampuscompact.org/2009/TCL_post/presenter_powerpoints/Christine%20Cress%20-%20Curricular%20Strategies.ppt

Web pages

NOTE: For more information about electronic sources, please refer to the APA style guide to electronic references (restricted to Concordia users)

Web pages & non-periodical documents on the Internet
  • Include the author, title of the document, and if available, always include the date the material was updated or posted online. If the page may be changed or moved, include the date of retrieval. Include the URL of the document cited.
  • If there is no author, place the title in the author position.
  • If there is no date, replace the date with (n.d.) to signify that there is no date for the material.
  • Add a description of the source in square brackets after the title, if this is necessary to clarify the type of source e.g. [Bibliography] [PowerPoint slides] [Multimedia presentation]

Library and Archives Canada. (2008). Celebrating women's achievements: Women artists in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/women/002026-500-e.html

  • If the source material is likely to change over time (e.g. wikis), include the retrieval date.

Geography of Canada. (2009, September 29). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved September 30, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Canada

Further examples and explanations are available in sections 6.22-6.26 (basic rules), sections 6.31-6.32 (electronic sources) and chapter 7 (examples and more information) of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

page last updated on: Friday 22 August 2014
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