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APA Style Guide

Citing References

The purpose of a reference list is to provide complete citations of your sources so that your audience, who for a student paper is usually the instructor, can locate them. Your audience may look up your sources in order to confirm that you are reporting the information correctly and/or to learn more about the information you present in your paper. You should ALWAYS expect your instructor to check your reference list for proper formatting; therefore, it is important to provide the necessary information established by the APA.

General Rules for Reference Lists in APA Style: 

  • Only cite sources that directly influence the text of your paper. 
  • Alphabetize the list by the last name of the first author in the citation. If there is no author, alphabetize by the first word in the title excluding any articles such as "the" or "a."
  • References are formatted with a hanging indent: the first line of each reference is aligned left and subsequent lines are indented 0.5".
  • Follow established rules for formatting:
    • Periods separate the four main elements (author, date, title, source).
    • Commas separate different information within the four main elements.
    • The date and issue are in parentheses. 
    • Italicize the publication and the comma that immediately follows.
  • If there is a DOI associated with the source, include it at the end of the citation. If there is no DOI, but a URL, include the URL. If there is both a DOI and a URL, use the DOI. However, do not use a URL that links to the database, e.g. EBSCO, JSTOR, etc.
Last Updated: Aug 29, 2021 2:36 PM