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Citation Style: APA 7th edition

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APA citation style is a set of rules created by the American Psychological Association that establishes standards of written communication (college research papers; articles, books and other documents submitted for publication) including:

  • formatting and page layout
  • writing style
  • citing sources

APA citation style is often used in the following classes/fields:

  • Social Sciences, such as Psychology, Sociology, Economics, and Criminology
  • Business
  • Nursing

We keep a copy of the manual at the Library Reference Desk at all three Reynolds campuses.


McCauley, S.M., & Christiansen, M.H. (2019). Language learning as language use: A cross-               linguistic model of child language development. Psychological Review, 126(1), 1-51.    

Formatting changes:

  • New guidelines for formatting student papers
  • More options for choosing a font size and style (other than Times New Roman 12) as long as the fonts are legible and widely available
  • One space after sentence period
  • More quotations will be used rather than italicizing words
  • In-text citations – if a source was written by 3 or more authors, you can use et al.

More Citation examples:

  • The new manual includes more citation examples that include classroom material, Intranet sources, and social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

eBooks and articles databases:

  • Continue to use the DOI # for journal articles that include a DOI #.
  • Journal articles without a DOI # including eBooks, magazine and newspaper articles found in a database should be treated as print works. Do not list the database name or the URL of the publisher’s home page. Only include database information in the reference if the source comes from a database that publishes original, proprietary content, such as UpToDate. For an explanation of this change, click here.


  • Present both DOIs and URLs as hyperlinks (i.e., beginning with “http:” or “https:” – 
  • Because a hyperlink leads readers directly to the content, it is no longer necessary to include the words “Retrieved from” or “Accessed from” before a DOI or URL.
  • It is acceptable to use either the default display settings for hyperlinks in your word-processing program (e.g., usually blue font, underlined) or plain text that is not underlined.
  • Leave links live if the work is to be published or read online.
  • For more information on DOIs, URLs and hyperlinks, click here.

Publisher information:

  • Publisher location is no longer necessary (same as MLA guidelines)

Student papers in APA style require the following:

  • Simplified title page (link to example above)
  • Page numbers
  • Reference list

Not required for student papers (unless required by instructor):

  • Running head
  • Author note
  • Abstract

General formatting guidelines:

  • The citations list is called References (when you only have one citation on the list, the list should be labeled Reference)
  • Reference list entries are alphabetized by author's last name.  If there is no author, the entry is alphabetized by title.
  • Entries are double spaced.
  • The first line of an entry is set against the left margin. Subsequent lines are indented using the hanging indent format.
  • For articles and other documents that are online, the URL is replaced with a DOI (Digital Object Identifier), if one is available.  The DOI provides an persistent (unchanging) link to the document's location on the Web. The DOI is formatted as a URL, with the prefix followed by the DOI number.   Example:
  • If a DOI is too long, use the shortDOI service:
  • For electronic journal sources without a DOI, provide a URL that links to the journal volume where the article lives. Do not use links to databases. 
  • Initials are used for authors' and editors' first and middle names.

Hanging indents:

Microsoft Word instructions:

  1. Select the text you would like to format (you can select your entire list of citations, for example, to format all at once)
  2. From the Home tab in Word, select the small arrow next to the Paragraph menu
  3. Next, under the Special, menu select Hanging then click OK
  4. Your selected text will now be formatted with a hanging indent.

Google Docs instructions:

  1. Select the text you want to format in hanging indent style
  2. Click on the Format menu
  3. When the Format menu appears, click on Align & indent
  4. When a submenu appears, click on Indentation options
  5. Under Special indent, select Hanging then click Apply

Though not labeled as such, APA citations are composed of 4 core elementswho, when, what, where.

who -- author field

when -- date field (in parentheses)

what -- title of the source

where -- where the source lives


Anderson, A. K. (2005). Affective influences on the attentional dynamics supporting awareness. Journal of  Experimental Psychology: General, 154, 258-281.

Who = Anderson, A. K.

When = (2005)

What = Affective influences on the attentional dynamics supporting awareness.

Where = Journal of  Experimental Psychology: General, 154, 258-281.

What Sets APA Apart...

  • References is title of the list of citations.
  • Authors listed as last name, initial(s). Example: Welty, E. Lists all authors (up to 20); an ampersand (&) precedes the last author.
  • Year of publication follows the name(s) of the author(s).
  • In text citations must include author's last name and year of publication. Example: (Williams, 2009). Page numbers, if available, are used only for materials in quotation marks. Use p. for one page and pp. for a range. Example: (Williams, 2009, pp. 2-9).
  • Book titles in italics; capitalizes only the first word in the title, the first word in the subtitle, acronyms, and proper nouns. Example: Brewing justice: Fair trade coffee, sustainability, and survival. (This is called sentence case.)
  • Journal article titles without quotation marks; capitalization rules are the same as for book titles. Example: Coffee consumption and cardiovascular health. (These also use sentence case.)
  • Database & date of Access: Do not list the name of the database or the date of access.
  • DOI is required if available. Example: For journal articles without a DOI, a URL is added. The URL points to the page where the pertinent journal volume is located.

  • Period should be placed at the end of the References list, except after a URL or DOI.

Important Note

Always check with your instructor on what format specifications to use for a particular class or assignment, especially when citing online resources including material found in library databases.


This guide was adapted from the APA Style 7th Edition pages in the Citation Styles Playbook created by Piedmont Virginia Community College Library.