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The Complete Guide to APA Format Citations in 2019

APA Format is the official citation style of the American Psychological Association and is used to cite sources in subjects like psychology, education, and the social sciences.

It lists a set of guidelines used to format content and citations for publication in academic papers, journals, and bulletins.

This guide has been updated to be fully compliant with APA Format in 2019.

Before You Start Writing…

There are several steps you must take to prepare a new document for APA style before you start writing your paper:

  • Make sure the paper size is 8.5″ x 11″.
  • Set the margin size to 1″ on all sides.
  • Change the line spacing to double-spaced.
  • Add page numbers to the top-right corner of every page.
  • Add a running head to the top-left corner of every page. A running head is the title of your paper in full uppercase letters shortened to 50 characters (including spacing and punctuation) — if your title is longer than this you can cut it short with the ellipsis character: …
  • Insert headers for the four main sections of your paper:
    1. Title Page
    2. Abstract
    3. Main Body
    4. Reference List

You can use our APA Format Document Generator to automatically create a document ready to start writing in.

Title Page

The title page is the front page of your paper and should contain the title of the paper, author’s name, and the institution to which you belong, center-aligned in the middle of the page. Additionally, the first page number (generally page 1) should be in the top-right corner of the page. The running head should be in the top-left corner of the page, prepended on this page only with “Running head:”.

The title of the paper can contain upper and lowercase letters, and ideally should be no more than 12 words in length. It should be direct, and should not contain abbreviations or other unnecessary words. It should not span longer than 2 lines.

Underneath the title should be the author’s name. The author’s name should be displayed as the first name, middle initial, and last name. Do not add titles (such as Dr.) to the beginning, or degrees (such as PhD) to the end of an author’s name.

Finally, underneath the title should be the full name of the institution for which you’re writing this paper.

Our APA Format Document Generator can correctly format your title page automatically.

Reference List

The reference list is a list containing details about the sources you’ve referred to throughout your writing, and should be included at the very end of your paper. The details of each source must be displayed in a specific way, depending on the type of the source (for example whether you’ve used websites, books, journals, or other sources).

The Basics

A Reference List must:

  • Be titled Reference List
  • Show every source you’ve directly referred to or taken data from in your paper.
  • List all source entries in alphabetical order by author last name. For example, a source by Albert Einstein would come before a source by Elon Musk, as the E in Einstein comes before the M in Musk in the alphabet.
  • Use a hanging indent for each entry after the first line, indented by half an inch from the left margin.
  • Retain all original punctuation and formatting for the names and titles of the source.

Our APA format generator can do all this for you automatically. To start, just search for one of the sources used in your writing using the tool below. Alternatively we’ve also explained how to format specific sources lower down on the page.

Authors

Authors are always formatted in the same way, regardless of the source type (website, book, video etc.). However, the format changes depending on how many authors there are, and whether they’re a person or an organization.

Single Author

A single author is formatted in the following way:

Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial.

In practice, using Elon Reeve Musk as our example, this looks like:

Musk, E. R.

Two Authors

Two authors should be listed similarly to a single author, separated with a comma and an ampersand (&).

Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., & Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial.

In practice, using Elon Reeve Musk and Albert Einstein as our example, this looks like:

Musk, E. R., & Einstein, A.

Three to seven authors

Three to seven authors builds on two authors by separating each one with a comma, except for the last which is separated with an ampersand (&).

Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., & Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial.

With the following authors: Elon Reeve Musk, Albert Einstein, Marie Skłodowska Curie, and Isaac Newton, this should be formatted like so:

Musk, E. R., Einstein, A., Curie, M. S., & Newton, I.

More than seven authors

There should only ever be a maximum of seven authors displayed in a citation. If there are more than seven, then the first six should be displayed, followed by an ellipsis (…), and completed with the final author on the end. The order of the authors should be the same as the order they are listed on the source.

Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., … Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial.

With the following nine authors: Elon Reeve Musk, Albert Einstein, Marie Skłodowska Curie, Isaac Newton, Charles Robert Darwin, Thomas Alva Edison, Stephen William Hawking, Rosalind Elsie Franklin, and Alexander Graham Bell, the formatting is like so:

Musk, E. R., Einstein, A., Curie, M. S., Newton, I., Darwin, C. R., Edison, T. A., … Bell, A. G.

Author is a company, organization, or non-person

When the author is an entity rather than a person, you can simply list the full name of the entity. There’s no special abbreviations or formatting to do here.

If you’re citing an anonymous press release by the United States Government, you can write the following as the author:

United States Government.

There is no author

Quite often an article will not have a author listed, or is intentionally left anonymous. In these cases it is okay to use the name of the source in place of the author. For example, if an article on the BBC News website doesn’t have an author, you can write:

BBC News.

If an article has no author it could suggest the source might not be credible, so make sure you’re citing a reputable source if you can’t find an author.

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If you’re still unsure how to format an author, use our tool below to help. Fill out the form with the details you know about the authors and it will select the correct way automatically.

Sources

The most confusing and time-consuming part of writing an APA style paper is formatting each source in the reference list correctly, as the format changes depending on whether the source is a website, book, journal, newspaper, or any other medium. Below we’ve broken down the APA format templates AND included interactive examples for a bunch of the most popular sources, according to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition, 2nd printing).

Websites and Electronic Sources

Blog Post
Details required:
  • Author
  • Date published (use n.d. if there isn’t one)
  • Title of blog post
  • Name of blog or website
  • Article URL
  • Date of access
Template:
Lastname, F. N. (Year Published, Month and Day Published). Post title. Retrieved Month and Day Accessed, Year Accessed, from Blog or website Name website: URL.
Example:
The Tesla Team (2019, April 3) Introducing a More Seamless Navigate on Autopilot. Retrieved April 3, 2019 from Tesla Blog website: https://www.tesla.com/blog/introducing-more-seamless-navigate-autopilot.

If there is no author you should move the title in place of the author instead.

If there is no date published, use n.d. instead.

You should only include the Date of access if the page is likely to change over time. Otherwise this is optional.

E-book
Details required:
  • Author
  • Date published (use n.d. if there isn’t one)
  • Title of e-book
  • Edition
  • Volume
  • Page range
  • Editor
  • URL
  • Date of access
Template:
Lastname, F. N. (Year Published). E-book title (Edition ed., Vol. Volume, pp. Page range; Editor first name initial. Editor lastname, ed.). Retrieved from URL.
Example:
Gunnis, E. (2018) The Girl in the Letter (pp. 45-46). Retrieved from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Letter-gripping-heartwrenching-page-turner-ebook/dp/B079RMFFCJ/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=e+book&qid=1554551923&s=gateway&sr=8-3.

If there is no author you should move the title in place of the author instead.

If there is no date published, use n.d. instead.

Online Journal or Periodical Article
Details required:
  • Author
  • Date published (use n.d. if there isn’t one)
  • Title of article
  • Name of journal or periodical
  • Volume number
  • Issue number
  • Page number or range
  • Article URL or DOI
Template:
Lastname, F. N. (Year published, Month and day published). Title of article. Name of journal or periodical, Volume number(Issue number), Page number or range. Article URL or DOI
Example:
Zyblock, D. M. (2010). Nursing Presence in Contemporary Nursing Practice. Nursing Forum, 45(2), 120-124. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6198.2010.00173.x

If there is no author you should move the title in place of the author instead.

If there is no date published, use n.d. instead.

Online Video
Details required:
  • Author
  • Date published (use n.d. if there isn’t one)
  • Title of video
  • Publisher (or website name)
  • Video URL
  • Date of access (optional)
Template:
Lastname, F. N. (Year published). Title of video. Retrieved from Video URL.
Example:
Linus Tech Tips. (2018) The FASTEST gaming PC money can buy. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCfmM71NOTo.

If there is no author you should move the title in place of the author instead.

If there is no date published, use n.d. instead.

The Date of access is required if the page is likely to change over time. Otherwise this is optional.

Webpage
Details required:
  • Author
  • Date published (use n.d. if there isn’t one)
  • Title of article or page
  • Website or publisher name
  • Article URL
  • Date of access (optional)
Template:
Lastname, F. N. (Year published, Month and day published). Title of article. Retrieved Month and day accessed, Year accessed, from Website or publisher Name website: Article URL.
Example:
Elias, D. A. (2019, April 2) The Complete Guide to APA Format in 2019. Retrieved April 2, 2019 from MyBib website: https://www.mybib.com/guides/apa-format.

If there is no author you should move the title in place of the author instead.

If there is no date published, use n.d. instead.

The Date of access is required if the page is likely to change over time. Otherwise this is optional.

Books

Book (just a regular book)
Details required:
  • Book Author
  • Date published (use n.d. if there isn’t one)
  • Title of book
  • Edition
  • Publisher
  • Publisher location
  • Page range
  • URL (if accessible online)
  • Date accessed/viewed (if accessible online)
Template:
Lastname, F. N. (Year published, Month and day published). Title of article. Retrieved Month and day accessed, Year accessed, from Website or publisher Name website: Article URL.
Example:
Rowling, J. K. (1998). Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1st ed., pp. 23–24). New York: Arthur A. Levine Books.

If there is no author you should move the title in place of the author instead.

If there is no date published, use n.d. instead.