Apa Style Bibliography Online Format

General Format


APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).

Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2018-02-21 02:26:13

Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.

To see a side-by-side comparison of the three most widely used citation styles, including a chart of all APA citation guidelines, see the Citation Style Chart.

You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel.

General APA Guidelines

Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.

Include a page header  (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. To create a page header/running head, insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.

Major Paper Sections

Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Title Page

The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. Please note that on the title page, your page header/running head should look like this:


Pages after the title page should have a running head that looks like this:


After consulting with publication specialists at the APA, OWL staff learned that the APA 6th edition, first printing sample papers have incorrect examples of running heads on pages after the title page. This link will take you to the APA site where you can find a complete list of all the errors in the APA's 6th edition style guide.

Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends that your title be no more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.

Beneath the title, type the author's name: first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).

Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation, which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.

Image Caption: APA Title Page


Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting, italics, underlining, or quotation marks).

Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced. Your abstract should be between 150 and 250 words.

You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.

Image Caption: APA Abstract Page

Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.

How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA

Individual Resources

Contributors' names and the last edited date can be found in the orange boxes at the top of every page on the OWL.

Contributors' names (Last edited date). Title of resource. Retrieved from http://Web address for OWL resource


Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/

APA Format Citation Guide

This is a complete guide to APA (American Psychological Association) in-text and reference list citations. This easy-to-use, comprehensive guide makes citing any source easy. Check out our other citation guides on MLA 8 and Harvard referencing.

Core Components of an APA Reference:

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1. APA Referencing Basics: Reference List

A reference list is a complete list of references used in a piece of writing including the author name, date of publication, title and more. An APA reference list must:

  • Be on a new page at the end of the document

  • Be centred

  • Be alphabetically by name of first author (or title if the author isn’t known, in this case a, an and the should be ignored)

    • If there are multiple works by the same author these are ordered by date, if the works are in the same year they are ordered alphabetically by the title and are allocated a letter (a,b,c etc) after the date

  • Contain full references for all in-text references used

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2. APA Referencing Basics: In-Text Citation

In-text references must be included following the use of a quote or paraphrase taken from another piece of work.

In-text citations are citations within the main body of the text and refer to a direct quote or paraphrase. They correspond to a reference in the main reference list. These citations include the surname of the author and date of publication only. Using an example author James Mitchell, this takes the form:

Mitchell (2017) states… Or …(Mitchell, 2017).

The structure of this changes depending on whether a direct quote or parenthetical used:

  • Direct Quote: The citation must follow the quote directly and contain a page number after the date, for example (Mitchell, 2017, p.104). This rule holds for all of the variations listed.

  • Parenthetical: The page number is not needed.

Two Authors:

The surname of both authors is stated with either ‘and’ or an ampersand between. For example:

Mitchell and Smith (2017) state… Or …(Mitchell & Smith, 2017).

Three, Four or Five Authors:

For the first cite, all names should be listed:

Mitchell, Smith, and Thomson (2017) state… Or …(Mitchell, Smith, & Thomson, 2017).

Further cites can be shorted to the first author’s name followed by et al:

Mitchell et al (2017) state… Or …(Mitchell et al, 2017).

Six or More Authors:

Only the first author’s surname should be stated followed by et al, see the above example.

No Authors:

If the author is unknown, the first few words of the reference should be used. This is usually the title of the source.

If this is the title of a book, periodical, brochure or report, is should be italicised. For example:

(A guide to citation, 2017).

If this is the title of an article, chapter or web page, it should be in quotation marks. For example:

(“APA Citation”, 2017).

Citing Authors With Multiple Works From One Year:

Works should be cited with a, b, c etc following the date. These letters are assigned within the reference list, which is sorted alphabetically by the surname of the first author. For example:

(Mitchell, 2017a) Or (Mitchell, 2017b).

Citing Multiple Works in One Parentheses:

If these works are by the same author, the surname is stated once followed by the dates in order chronologically. For instance:

Mitchell (2007, 2013, 2017) Or (Mitchell, 2007, 2013, 2017)

If these works are by multiple authors then the references are ordered alphabetically by the first author separated by a semicolon as follows:

(Mitchell  & Smith 2017; Thomson, Coyne, & Davis, 2015).

Citing a Group or Organisation:

For the first cite, the full name of the group must be used. Subsequently this can be shortened. For example:

First cite: (International Citation Association, 2015)

Further Cites: (Citation Association, 2015)

Citing a Secondary Source:

In this situation the original author and date should be stated first followed by ‘as cited in’ followed by the author and date of the secondary source. For example:

Lorde (1980) as cited in Mitchell (2017) Or (Lorde, 1980, as cited in Mitchell, 2017)

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3. How to Cite Different Source Types

  • In-text citation doesn’t vary depending on source type, unless the author is unknown.

  • Reference list citations are highly variable depending on the source.

How to Cite a Book (Title, not chapter) in APA Format

Book referencing is the most basic style; it matches the template above, minus the URL section. So the basic format of a book reference is as follows:

Book referencing examples:

Mitchell, J.A., Thomson, M., & Coyne, R.P. (2017). A guide to citation. London, England: My Publisher

Jones, A.F & Wang, L. (2011). Spectacular creatures: The Amazon rainforest (2nd ed.). San Jose, Costa Rica: My Publisher

How to Cite an Edited Book in APA Format

This reference format is very similar to the book format apart from one extra inclusion: (Ed(s)). The basic format is as follows:

Edited book example:

Williams, S.T. (Ed.). (2015). Referencing: A guide to citation rules (3rd ed.). New York, NY: My Publisher

How to Cite a Chapter in an Edited Book in APA Format

Edited books are collations of chapters written by different authors. To reference a single chapter, a different format is needed. The basic structure is as follows:

Edited book chapter example:

In the following example, B.N. Troy is the author of the chapter and S.T. Williams is the editor.

Troy, B.N. (2015). APA citation rules. In S.T, Williams (Ed.). A guide to citation rules (2nd ed., pp. 50-95). New York, NY: Publishers.

How to Cite an E-Book in APA Format

An E-Book reference is the same as a book reference expect the publisher is swapped for a URL. The basic structure is as follows:

Author surname, initial(s) (Ed(s).*). (Year). Title (ed.*). Retrieved from URL


E-Book example:

Mitchell, J.A., Thomson, M., & Coyne, R.P. (2017). A guide to citation. Retrieved from https://www.mendeley.com/reference-management/reference-manager

How to Cite an E-Book Chapter in APA Format

This follows the same structure as an edited book chapter reference except the publisher is exchanged for a URL. The structure is as follows:

Last name of the chapter author, initial(s). (Year). Chapter title. In editor initial(s), surname (Ed.). Title (ed., pp.chapter page range). Retrieved from URL

E-Book chapter example:

Troy, B.N. (2015). APA citation rules. In S.T, Williams (Ed.). A guide to citation rules (2nd ed., pp. 50-95). Retrieved from https://www.mendeley.com/reference-management/reference-manager

How to Cite a Journal Article in Print or Online in APA Format

Articles differ from book citations in that the publisher and publisher location are not included. For journal articles, these are replaced with the journal title, volume number, issue number and page number. The basic structure is:

Journal Article Examples:

Mitchell, J.A. (2017). Citation: Why is it so important. Mendeley Journal, 67(2), 81-95

Mitchell, J.A. (2017). Citation: Why is it so important. Mendeley Journal, 67(2), 81-95. Retrieved from https://www.mendeley.com/reference-management/reference-manager

How to Cite a Newspaper Articles in Print or Online in APA Format

The basic structure is as follows:

Author surname, initial(s). (Year, Month Day). Title. Title of Newspaper, column/section, p. or pp. Retrieved from URL*

**Only include if the article is online.

Note: the date includes the year, month and date.

Newspaper Articles Example:

Mitchell, J.A. (2017). Changes to citation formats shake the research world. The Mendeley Telegraph, Research News, pp.9. Retrieved from  https://www.mendeley.com/reference-management/reference-manager

How to Cite Magazine Articles in Print or Online in APA Format

The basic structure is as follows:

Author surname, initial(s). (Year, month day). Title. Title of the Magazine, pp.

Magazine Article Example:

Mitchell, J.A. (2017). How citation changed the research world. The Mendeley, pp. 26-28

How to Cite Non-Print Material in APA Format

How to Cite an Image in APA Format

The basic format to cite an image is:

Image Example:

Millais, J.E. (1851-1852). Ophelia [painting]. Retrieved from www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/millais-ophelia-n01506

How to Cite a Film in APA Format

The basic format of a film citation is:

Producer surname, initial (Producer), & Director surname, initial (Director). (Year of Release). Title of film [Motion Picture]. Country of Origin: Studio.

Film Example:

Hitchcock, A. (Producer), & Hitchcock, A. (1954) Rear window. United States of America: Paramount Pictures.

How to Cite a TV Programme in APA Format

The basic format is as follows:

Writer surname, initial(s) (Writer), & Director surname, initial(s) (Director). (Year of Release). Episode title [Television series episode]. In Executive producer surname, initial(s) (Executive Producer), TV series name. City, State of original channel: Network, Studio or Distributor

TV Programme Example:

Catlin, M., and Walley-Beckett, Moire (Writers), & Johnson, R (Director). (2010). Fly [Television series episode]. In Schnauz, T. (Executive Producer). Breaking bad. Culver City, CA: Sony Pictures Television

How to Cite a Song in APA Format

The basic format to cite a song in APA format is as follows:

Song Example:

Beyonce, Diplo, MNEK, Koenig, E., Haynie, E., Tillman, J., and Rhoden, S.M. (2016) Hold up [Recorded by Beyonce]. On Lemonade [visual album]. New York, NY: Parkwood Records (August 16)

How to Cite a Website in APA Format

When citing a website, the basic structure is as follows:

Author surname, initial(s). (Year, month day). Title. Retrieved from URL

Website example:

Mitchell, J.A. (2017, May 21). How and when to reference. Retrieved from  https://www.howandwhentoreference.com.

To learn more about citing a web page and entire websites in APA, MLA or Harvard check out How to Cite a Website post.

For a summary of all the references for each source type along with examples take a look at our Ultimate Citation Cheat Sheet. It also contains examples for MLA 8 and Harvard formats.

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