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Citation Style - APA

About APA Style

American Psychological Association (APA) style is commonly used for citing references in student papers, usually in science and social science courses.

This guide is based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) that was published in 2010.

Page numbers in brackets refer to specific pages in the manual.

APA style manual    The APA style manual, 6th edition

If the source is in ARABIC language, see handout below

What is a citation?

In academic research, we need to have a bibliography or a reference list  to show others what resources we used. These both have multiple citations, with all the sources you used or refered to.

A citation has information about a resource that you are using. The information included in a citation typically includes:

  • Author
  • Date of publication
  • Main title
  • Secondary title (subtitle)
  • Publisher
  • Place of publication (ONLY for print materials)
  • Retrieval date (ONLY for some electronic resources)
  • Retrieval statement (ONLY for some electronic resources)

Below are a couple of examples to help identify parts of a citation.


Print resource (book):

Citation parts of a book











Electronic resource (web site article):

citation parts of a web site











General Guidelines for APA Style

  • The References list should be double-spaced. Each entry should be formatted with a hanging indent (p.180).
  • References cited in text must appear in the References list and vice versa. The only exceptions to this rule are personal communications and classical works; they are cited in text only and are not included in the References list (p.174).

  • Use only the initial(s) of the author’s given name, not the full name (p.184).

  • If the References list includes 2 or more entries by the same author(s), list them in chronological order with the earliest first (p. 182).

  •  If the author’s name is unavailable, use the first few words of the title of the article, book or Web source, including the appropriate capitalization and italics formatting (pp.176-177). E.g. (Scientists Say, 2000).

  • Arrange References entries in one alphabetical sequence by the surname of the first author or by title or first word if there is no author (pp.181-183). Ignore the words A, An, and The when alphabetizing by title.

  • In titles and subtitles of articles, chapters, and books, capitalize only the first letter of the first word and any proper nouns, except in parenthetical (in text) citations (p.185).

  • Italicize book titles, journal titles, and volume numbers. Do NOT italicize issue numbers.

  • If a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is listed on either a print or an electronic source it is included in the reference (pp.188-192).  A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string that is used to identify a certain source (typically journal articles).  It is often found on the first page of an article.  Example: doi:10.1080/14622200410001676305

  • When the References entry includes a URL that must be divided between two lines, break it before a slash or dash or at another logical division point (p.192). 

  • For a helpful list of some of the abbreviations used in References (such as Vols. for Volumes) check out page 180 of the APA Manual.

    HOW TO ALPHABETIZE A NUMBER: alphabetize the entry in the reference list as though the number were spelled out. So a reference that begins with 50 would be alphabetized as though 50 were written fifty

    More information is available at

Abbreviations used in APA

Many abbreviations are used in APA style. Below are the most common abbreviations:

n.d.   no date of publication
Ed.   editor
Eds.   multiple editors
ed.   edition
Vol.   volume (only use when citing reference works, like encyclopedia articles)
p.   single page number (only use when citing print resources)
pp.   multiple page numbers (only use when citing print resources)
doi   digital object identifier (only use when citing journal articles)








  What's New in the 6th Edition

In 2009, APA published a new manual of style. 

Some of the major changes include:

  • the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) in references to print and electronic sources (when available).  See pages 188 to 192 in the APA Manual for more information.
  • expanded coverage of online resources

To learn more about the changes made in the new edition, check out the "What's New" section on the official APA Website.

You may also want to check out the APA blog to learn more about the corrections made to the new APA manual (6th ed.).  The blog also contains helpful information on such topics as using DOIs and citing specific sources.

APA Examples: links

APA Online Tutorial

If you are new to using APA style, you may want to check out the following tutorial for new users, located on the APA website.

APA's Official Resources

How to cite Twitter in APA Style

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Library Guides Content - Adapted from Red Deer College Library / CC BY-NC-SA 2.5