APA Reference Formatting Tutorial

 

In this tutorial, we outline the basics of putting together APA Style references.

 

Step 1: Make a Reference List, Not a Bibliography

You'll note that we don't refer to an APA Style bibliography or advise how to format a bibliography in APA Style. This is because a bibliography contains all the sources you read in the course of your research, regardless of whether they are cited in the paper. A reference list, on the other hand, is a list of the sources cited in the paper. For every entry, there must be a citation, and vice versa.

 

Step 2: Understand the Basic Components of an Entry

Boiled down, each reference list entry has four components: author, year of publication, title, and source. Easy peasy, right?

 

Author

Usually the author is a person, such as the author of the book, chapter, or journal article; the writer of the blog post, Facebook post, tweet, or letter; the editor of a series or compilation; the director or producer of a TV show or video; or the creator of the painting, drawing, or sculpture.

Year of Publication

Usually, the year of publication is . . . a year! Place it in parentheses following the author name.

 

Title

What did you read/watch/review? That name goes in the title spot.

If the nature of the source is nonroutine or important for retrieval, add a notation in square brackets. Common examples include an abstract, CD recording or DVD, data file, lecture notes, podcast, software, special issue or section, supplemental material, and Twitter or Facebook posts.

 

Source

Everything else falls into the source bucket:

  • journal names, volumes, and page ranges
  • book editors' names, book titles, and page ranges of the book chapters or articles cited
  • publisher name and location for print sources
  • retrieval information for online sources (DOI or URL)

Step 3: Know Your Basic Forms

 

Citing an Entire Something

The title is italicized and written in sentence case. Editions or volume numbers are given in parentheses; descriptions are given in square brackets (a source could have both).

  • Lastname, A. B. (Role, if not author). (Year). Title of work: Subtitle (edition, if applicable). City, Country: Publisher.
  • Lastname, A. B., & Last, D. (Role, if not author). (Year). Title of work: Subtitle (edition, if applicable). City, ST: Publisher.
  • Lastname, A. B. (Year). Title of work: Subtitle [description, if applicable]. Retrieved from http://xxxxx
  • Lastname, A. B. (Role, if not author). (Year). Title of work: Subtitle [description, if applicable]. doi:xxxxx

Examples: artwork, book, brief, dissertation, DVD, e-book, podcast, presentation, report, TV show.

 

Citing a Part of Something

Book and report titles are italicized in sentence case; print materials will have publication information and online materials will have a DOI or URL.

  • Lastname, A. B. (Year). Title of article: Subtitle. In E. Editor & D. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pp. xx–xx). City, ST: Publisher.
  • Lastname, A. B., & Last, D. (Year). Title of chapter: Subtitle. In E. Editor (Ed.), Title of book: Subtitle of book (pp. xx–xx). City, Country: Publisher.
  • Lastname, A. B. (Year). Title of article: Subtitle. In E. Editor & D. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pp. xx–xx). Retrieved from http://www.xxxxx

Note. Write the publisher's name as simply as possible. Omit Publishers, Co., and Inc. (but keep Books and Press).

 

Periodical titles (journals, newspapers, magazines) are italicized and written in title case (all major words capitalized).

  • Lastname, A. B. (Year). Title of article: Subtitle. Title of Periodical, Vol(issue), pp–pp. doi:xxxxx
  • Lastname, A. B., & Last, D. (Year). Title of article: Subtitle. Title of Periodical, Vol(issue), pp–pp. Retrieved from http://xxxx
  • Reporter, R. (Year, Month Day). Title of article. Title of Newspaper, p. xx.
  • Reporter, R. (Year, Month Day). Title of article. Title of Newspaper. Retrieved from http://xxxx

 

Step 4: Get a Pro to Look Everything Over

You don't know what you don't know. There's no substitute for having competent eyes review your references for accuracy and consistency. Contact us for a free estimate today.