APA Citation Style

The purpose of this document is to provide a common core of elements of APA (American Psychological Association) style that all members of an academic department can adopt as minimal standards for any assignment that specifies APA style. This Web document is itself not a model of APA style. For an example of a complete article formatted according to APA style, go to  http://www.vanguard.edu/uploadedfiles/faculty/ddegelman/prayer.pdf. For an example of an undergraduate research proposal, go to http://www.vanguard.edu/uploadedfiles/faculty/ddegelman/psychproposal.pdf. To download a Microsoft Word template of an APA-style paper, go to http://www.vanguard.edu/emplibrary/files/psychapa.doc.

  1. General Document Guidelines
    1. Margins: One inch on all sides (top, bottom, left, right)
    2. Font Size and Type: 12-pt. font (Times Roman or Courier are acceptable typefaces)
    3. Spacing: Double-space throughout the paper, including the title page, abstract, body of the document, references, appendixes, footnotes, tables, and figure captions.
    4. Alignment: Flush left (creating uneven right margin)
    5. Paragraph Indentation: 5-7 spaces
    6. Pagination: The page number appears one inch from the right edge of the paper on the first line of every page (except Figures), beginning with the title page.
    7. Manuscript Page Header: The first two or three words of the paper title appear five spaces to the left of the page number on every page (except  Figures), beginning with the title page. Manuscript page headers are used to identify manuscript pages during the editorial process. Using most word processors, the manuscript page header and page number can be inserted into a header, which then automatically appears on all pages.
    8. Active voice: As a general rule, use the active voice rather than the passive voice. For example, use “We predicted that …” rather than “It was predicted that …”
    9. Order of Pages:  Title Page, Abstract, Body, References, Appendixes, FootnotesTables, Figure Captions, Figures
  2. Title Page
    1. Pagination: The Title Page is page 1.
    2. Key Elements: Paper title, author(s), author affiliation(s), and running head.
    3. Paper Title: Uppercase and lowercase letters, centered on the page.
    4. Author(s): Uppercase and lowercase letters, centered on the line following the title.
    5. Institutional affiliation: Uppercase and lowercase letters, centered on the line following the author(s).
    6. Running head: The running head is typed flush left (all uppercase) following the words “Running head:” on the line below the manuscript page header. It should not exceed 50 characters, including punctuation and spacing. The running head is a short title that appears at the top of pages of published articles.
    7. Example of APA-formatted Title Page:   http://www.vanguard.edu/psychology/titlepage.pdf
  3. Abstract: The abstract is a one-paragraph, self-contained summary of the most important elements of the paper.
    1. Pagination: The abstract begins on a new page (page 2).
    2. Heading: Abstract (centered on the first line below the manuscript page header)
    3. Format: The abstract (in block format) begins on the line following the Abstract heading. The abstract should not exceed 120 words. All numbers in the abstract (except those beginning a sentence) should be typed as digits rather than words.
    4. Example of APA-formatted Abstract:   http://www.vanguard.edu/psychology/abstract.pdf
  4. Body
    1. Pagination: The body of the paper begins on a new page (page 3). Subsections of the body of the paper do not begin on new pages.
    2. Title: The title of the paper (in uppercase and lowercase letters) is centered on the first line below the manuscript page header.
    3. Introduction: The introduction (which is not labeled) begins on the line following the paper title.
    4. Headings: Headings are used to organize the document and reflect the relative importance of sections. For example, many empirical research articles utilize Method, Results, Discussion, and References headings. In turn, the Method section often has subheadings of Participants, Apparatus, and Procedure. For an example of APA-formatted headings, go to  http://www.vanguard.edu/psychology/headings.pdf
      1. Main headings (when the paper has either one or two levels of headings) use centered uppercase and lowercase letters (e.g., Method, Results, Discussion, and References).
      2. Subheadings (when the paper has two levels of headings) are italicized and use flush left, uppercase and lowercase letters (e.g., Participants, Apparatus, and Procedure as subsections of the Method section).
  5. Text citations: Source material must be documented in the body of the paper by citing the author(s) and date(s) of the sources. The underlying principle is that ideas and words of others must be formally acknowledged. The reader can obtain the full source citation from the list of references that follows the body of the paper.
    1. When the names of the authors of a source are part of the formal structure of the sentence, the year of publication appears in parentheses following the identification of the authors. Consider the following example:

      Wirth and Mitchell (1994) found that although there was a reduction in insulin dosage over a period of two weeks in the treatment condition compared to the control condition, the difference was not statistically significant.     [Note: and is used when multiple authors are identified as part of the formal structure of the sentence. Compare this to the example in the following section.]

    2. When the authors of a source are not part of the formal structure of the sentence, both the authors and years of publication appear in parentheses, separated by semicolons. Consider the following example:

      Reviews of research on religion and health have concluded that at least some types of religious behaviors are related to higher levels of physical and mental health (Gartner, Larson, & Allen, 1991; Koenig, 1990; Levin & Vanderpool, 1991; Maton & Pargament, 1987; Paloma & Pendleton, 1991; Payne, Bergin, Bielema, & Jenkins, 1991).      [Note: & is used when multiple authors are identified in parenthetical material. Note also that when several sources are cited parenthetically, they are ordered alphabetically by first authors’ surnames.]

    3. When a source that has two authors is cited, both authors are included every time the source is cited.
    4. When a source that has three, four, or five authors is cited, all authors are included the first time the source is cited. When that source is cited again, the first author’s surname and “et al.” are used. Consider the following example:

      Reviews of research on religion and health have concluded that at least some types of religious behaviors are related to higher levels of physical and mental health (Payne, Bergin, Bielema, & Jenkins, 1991).

      Payne et al. (1991) showed that …

    5. When a source that has six or more authors is cited, the first author’s surname and “et al.” are used every time the source is cited (including the first time).
    6. Every effort should be made to cite only sources that you have actually read. When it is necessary to cite a source that you have not read (“Grayson” in the following example) that is cited in a source that you have read (“Murzynski & Degelman” in the following example), use the following format for the text citation and list only the source you have read in the References list:

      Grayson (as cited in Murzynski & Degelman, 1996) identified four components of body language that were related to judgments of vulnerability.

    7. To cite a personal communication (including letters, emails, and telephone interviews), include initials, surname, and as exact a date as possible. Because a personal communication is not “recoverable” information, it is not included in the References section. For the text citation, use the following format:

      B. F. Skinner (personal communication, February 12, 1978) claimed …

    8. To cite a Web document, use the author-date format. If no author is identified, use the first few words of the title in place of the author. If no date is provided, use “n.d.” in place of the date. Consider the following examples:

      Degelman and Harris (2000) provide guidelines for the use of APA writing style.

      Changes in Americans’ views of gender status differences have been documented (Gender and Society, n.d.).

  6. Quotations: When a direct quotation is used, always include the author, year, and page number as part of the citation.
    1. A quotation of fewer than 40 words should be enclosed in double quotation marks and should be incorporated into the formal structure of the sentence. Example:

      Patients receiving prayer had “less congestive heart failure, required less diuretic and antibiotic therapy, had fewer episodes of pneumonia, had fewer cardiac arrests, and were less frequently intubated and ventilated” (Byrd, 1988, p. 829).

    2. A lengthier quotation of 40 or more words should appear (without quotation marks) apart from the surrounding text, in block format, with each line indented five spaces from the left margin.
  7. References: All sources included in the References section must be cited in the body of the paper (and all sources cited in the paper must be included in the References section).
    1. Pagination: The References section begins on a new page.
    2. Heading: References (centered on the first line below the manuscript page header)
    3. Format: The references (with hanging indent) begin on the line following the References heading. Entries are organized alphabetically by surnames of first authors. Most reference entries have three components:
      1. Authors: Authors are listed in the same order as specified in the source, using surnames and initials. Commas separate all authors. When there are seven or more authors, list the first six and then use “et al.” for remaining authors. If no author is identified, the title of the document begins the reference.
      2. Year of Publication: In parentheses following authors, with a period following the closing parenthesis. If no publication date is identified, use “n.d.”  in parentheses following the authors.
      3. Source Reference: Includes title, journal, volume, pages (for journal article) or title, city of publication, publisher (for book). Italicize titles of books, titles of periodicals, and periodical volume numbers.
    4. Example of APA-formatted References: Go to  http://www.vanguard.edu/psychology/references.pdf
    5. Official APA “Electronic Reference Formats” document: Go to  http://www.apastyle.org/elecref.html
    6. Examples of sources
      1. Journal articleMurzynski, J., & Degelman, D. (1996). Body language of women and judgments of vulnerability to sexual assault. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26,  1617-1626.
      2. BookPaloutzian, R. F. (1996). Invitation to the psychology of religion  (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
      3. Web document on university program or department Web siteDegelman, D., & Harris, M. L. (2000). APA style essentials. Retrieved May 18, 2000, from Vanguard University, Department of Psychology Web site: http://www.vanguard.edu/faculty/ddegelman/index.cfm?doc_id=796
      4. Stand-alone Web document (no date)Nielsen, M. E. (n.d.). Notable people in psychology of religion. Retrieved August 3, 2001, from  http://www.psywww.com/psyrelig/psyrelpr.htm
      5. Stand-alone Web document (no author, no date)Gender and society. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2001, from http://www.trinity.edu/~mkearl/gender.html
      6. Journal article from databaseHien, D., & Honeyman, T. (2000). A closer look at the drug abuse-maternal aggression link. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15, 503-522. Retrieved May 20, 2000, from ProQuest database.
      7. Abstract from secondary databaseGarrity, K., & Degelman, D. (1990). Effect of server introduction on restaurant tipping. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20, 168-172. Abstract retrieved July 23, 2001, from PsycINFO database.
      8. Journal article, Internet-only journalBergen, D. (2002, Spring). The role of pretend play in children’s cognitive development. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 4(1). Retrieved February 1, 2004, from http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v4n1/bergen.html
      9. Article or chapter in an edited bookShea, J. D. (1992). Religion and sexual adjustment. In J. F. Schumaker (Ed.), Religion and mental health (pp. 70-84). New York: Oxford University Press.
      10. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersAmerican Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: Author.
  8. Appendixes   A common use of appendixes is to present unpublished tests or to describe complex equipment or stimulus materials.    
    1. Pagination: Each Appendix begins on a separate page.
    2. Heading   If there is only one appendix, Appendix is centered on the first line below the manuscript page header. If there is more than one appendix, use Appendix A (or B or C, etc.). Double-space and type the appendix title (centered in uppercase and lowercase letters).
    3. Format: Indent the first line 5-7 spaces.
    4. Example of APA-formatted Appendix:   http://www.vanguard.edu/psychology/appendix.pdf
  9. Footnotes   Content footnotes are occasionally used to support substantive information in the text..    
    1. Pagination: Footnotes begin on a separate page.
    2. Heading: Footnotes is centered on the first line below the manuscript page header.
    3. Format: Indent the first line of each footnote 5-7 spaces and number the foonotes (slightly above the line) as they are identified in the text.
    4. Example of APA-formatted Footnotes:   http://www.vanguard.edu/psychology/footnote.pdf
  10. Tables   A common use of tables is to present quantitative data or the results of statistical analyses (such as ANOVA). See the Publication Manual (2001, pp. 147-176) for detailed examples. Tables must be referred to in the text.
    1. Pagination: Each Table begins on a separate page.
    2. Heading    Table 1 (or 2 or 3, etc.) is typed flush left on the first line below the manuscript page header. Double-space and type the table title flush left (italicized in uppercase and lowercase letters).
    3. Example of APA-formatted Tables:   http://www.vanguard.edu/psychology/table2.pdf
  11. Figure Captions and Figures   A common use of Figures is to present graphs, photographs, or other illustrations (other than tables). See the Publication Manual (2001, pp. 176-201) for detailed examples. Figure Captions provide, on a single page, captions for the figures that follow.
    1. Pagination: The Figure Captions page is the final numbered page of the paper. The Figures that follow the Figure Captions page do NOT have page numbers or manuscript page headers.
    2. Heading for Figure Captions: Figure Caption(s) is centered on the first line below the manuscript page header. Double-space and type Figure 1. (or 2 or 3, etc.) italicized and flush left, followed by the caption for the figure (not italicized), capitalizing only the first letter of the first word and any proper nouns.
    3. Example of APA-formatted Figure Caption and Figure:   http://www.vanguard.edu/emplibrary/files/psychfigure.pdf

Examples of APA Citation Style

Journal or Magazine Article
(use for journals that start each issue with page one)

Wilcox, R. V. (1991). Shifting roles and synthetic women in Star Trek:
The Next Generation. Studies in Popular Culture, 13(2), 53-65.
Journal or Magazine Article
(use for journals where the page numbering continues from issue to issue)

Dubeck, L. (1990). Science fiction aids science teaching. Physics
Teacher, 28, 316-318.
Newspaper Article

Di Rado, A. (1995, March 15). Trekking through college: Classes
explore modern society using the world of Star Trek. Los Angeles
     Times, p. A3.
Article from an Internet Database
(for more details, see the American Psychological Association‘s official site)

Mershon, D. H. (1998, November-December). Star Trek on the brain:
Alien minds, human minds. American Scientist, 86, 585. Retrieved
July 29, 1999, from Expanded Academic ASAP database.

Okuda, M., & Okuda, D. (1993). Star Trek chronology: The history
of the future. New York: Pocket Books.
Book Article or Chapter

James, N. E. (1988). Two sides of paradise: The Eden myth according
to Kirk and Spock. In D. Palumbo (Ed.), Spectrum of the fantastic
(pp. 219-223). Westport, CT: Greenwood.
Encyclopedia Article

Sturgeon, T. (1995). Science fiction. In The encyclopedia Americana
(Vol. 24, pp. 390-392). Danbury, CT: Grolier.
ERIC Document

Fuss-Reineck, M. (1993). Sibling communication in Star Trek: The Next
Generation: Conflicts between brothers. Miami, FL: Annual Meeting
of the Speech Communication Association. (ERIC Document
Reproduction Service No. ED 364932)
(for more details, see the American Psychological Association‘s official site)

Lynch, T. (1996). DS9 trials and tribble-ations review. Retrieved
October 8, 1997, from Psi Phi: Bradley’s Science Fiction Club
Web site: http://www.bradley.edu/campusorg/psiphi/DS9/ep/


APA Style Electronic Formats

[First published in Business Communication Quarterly, March 1997, pp. 59-76. Online version completely revised, August 25, 2001 (last minor revision, October 5, 2001).]

The following formats and examples are offered as models for references that might appear in the text and in the “References” section (bibliography) of a business writer’s research paper. The formats are based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition (2001).  In the basic formats and examples presented, every effort has been made to maintain consistency with published APA formats. When no model format for a specific kind of electronic source could be found in the Publication Manual, I extrapolated a logical APA format. Below are special considerations for business writers using APA formats to cite electronic sources:

  • Avoid dividing an electronic address at the end of a line. If absolutely necessary, divide it at a slash (/) or before a period. (Although it might seem more logical to divide it after a period, APA style specifically states before a period.)
  • For the titles of books, use italics and “sentence-style” capitalization. This means that for a title only the first word, all proper nouns, and the first word after an internal colon are to be capitalized. (Example: How to make money in French and German stocks: Your personal guide)
  • For titles of magazines and journals, use italics and “headline” style capitalization. This means that the first letter of each important word should be capitalized. (Example: U.S. News & World Report)
  • For the titles of magazine and journal articles, do not use underlining, italics, or quotation marks. Use “sentence-style” capitalization. (Example for an article in a magazine: Jobs in jeopardy. Management Review)
  • APA suggests that writers citing Web items refer to specific Web site documents rather than to home or menu pages. APA also advises writers to strive to provide addresses (URLs) that are typed correctly and that work. Continually check your references to Web documents; if the addresses of any of those documents change, update your references before you submit your paper.
  • If an Internet document is undated, insert “(n.d.)” immediately after the document title.
  • E-mail messages may be cited in the text, but APA warns against listing them in the “References” section because such messages are unrecoverable.

An in-text citation should be placed in parentheses. If a specific page is being referenced, the citation should ideally include the author’s name, the date of publication, and the number of the specific page being referenced. Example: (Cheek & Buss, 1981, p. 332).  For electronic sources that do not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number, if available, preceded by the abbreviation “para.” Example: (Myers, 2000, para. 5). If neither paragraph nor page numbers are provided, direct the reader to the location of the referenced material by indicating the heading that precedes the material and, counting down from that heading, the number of the paragraph containing the material. Example:  (Beutler, 2000, “Conclusion” section, para. 1).

If an electronic document does not indicate the name of the author(s), refer to the document by repeating the first few words of its title. Example: (“Study finds,” 2001). If the information being referred to appears on an untitled Web page, indicate in the text of your paper where the reader is to look if he or she wishes to find a full reference to the Web site that contains that page. Example:

More companies today are using data mining to unlock hidden value in their data. The data mining program “Clementine,” described at the SPSS Web site, helps organizations predict market share and detect possible fraud (SPSS, n.d).

Readers of the preceding example will know to look for the complete citation under “SPSS” in the “References” section.

The following business-oriented examples are based on formats recommended in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition. APA promises to update its recommended formats at its Web site <http://www.apastyle.org/elecref.html&gt; when future changes in electronic media warrant such revisions.


Basic Form

Author(s). (Date–indicate “n.d.” if date is unknown). Title [Electronic version]. Magazine or Journal Title, volume (issue, if given), paging. [Add the date of retrieval and the URL only if you believe that the print version differs from the electronic version.]


Honeycutt, E. D., Glassman, M., Zugelder, M. T., & Karande, K. ( 2001, July). Determinants of ethical behavior: A study of autosalespeople [Electronic version]. Journal of Business Ethics, 32 (1), 69-79.


Basic Form

Author(s). (Date). Title. Magazine or Journal Title, volume (issue), paging (if given). Retrieved [access date] from [URL]


Jensen, S. (2000). Ethical underpinnings for multidisciplinary practice in the United States and abroad: Are accounting firms and law firms really different? Online Journal of Ethics, 3 (1). Retrieved August 20, 2001, from http://www.stthom.edu/cbes/ethunder.html


Basic Form

Author(s). (Date). Title. Magazine or Journal Title, volume (issue), paging. Retrieved [date], from [database], Article No. (if given).


Blackburn-Brockman, E. & Belanger, K. (2001, January). One page or two? A national study of CPA recruiters’ preferences for resume length. The Journal of Business Communication, 38 (1), 29. Retrieved June 20, 2001, from InfoTrac College Edition database, Article No. A71327300.


Basic Form

Author(s). (Date). Title. Name of Newspaper. Retrieved [date] from [URL]


Hilts, P. J. (1999, February 16). In forecasting their emotions, most people flunk out. New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2000, from http://www.nytimes.com


Basic Form

Sponsoring agency. (Date). Title. (Publication data). Retrieved [date] from [name of organization and URL]


U.S. General Accounting Office. (1997, February). Telemedicine: Federal strategy is needed to guide investments. (Publication No. GAO/NSAID/HEHS-97-67). Retrieved September 15, 2000, from General Accounting Office Reports Online via GPA Access: http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces160.shtml?/gao/index.html


Basic Form

Document title or name of Web page. (n.d.) Retrieved [date] from [URL]


GVU’s 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2000, from http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/user_surveys/survey-1997-10/


Basic Form

Author(s). (Date). Title. Retrieved [date] from [Host business, agency or program]: [URL]


Gordon, C. H., Simmons, P., & Wynn, G. (2001). Plagiarism: What it is, and how to avoid it. Retrieved July 24, 2001, from Biology Program Guide 2001/2002 at the University of British Columbia Web site: http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/bpg/plagiarism.htm


Basic Form

Name of sponsoring organization or title of site. (Date). Document name. Retrieved [date] from [URL]


Greater New Milford (Ct) Area Healthy Community 2000, Task Force on Teen and Adolescent Issues. (n.d.). Who has time for a family meal? You do! Retrieved October 5, 2000, from http://www.familymealtime.org


Basic Form

Author(s). (Date of posting). Message subject line [Message ID]. Message posted to [group address]


Weylman, C. R. (2001, September 4). Make news to achieve positive press [Msg. 98]. Message posted to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sales-marketing-tips/message/98


Basic Form

Author(s). (Date of posting). Message subject line [Message ID]. Message posted to [newsgroup address]


Yudkin, M. (2001, July 4). The marketing minute: Truth is always in season [Msg. ID: ruf6kt0aiu5eui6523qsrofhu70h21evoj@4ax.com]. Message posted to


*Dr. Guffey is the author of Business Communication: Process and Product, 3e (South-Western College Publishing, 2000); Essentials of Business Communication, 5e (South-Western College Publishing, 2001); and Business English, 7e (South-Western College Publishing, 2002). She and Carolyn M. Seefer are co-authors of Essentials of College English, 2e (South-Western College Publishing, 2002).