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APA Citation Style, 6th edition: General Style Guidelines

A guide to help users create citations using APA (American Psychological Association) style, 6th edition.

General Guidelines for Writing a Paper: APA Style

  • All sources of information and data, whether quoted directly or paraphrased, are cited with parenthetical references in the text of your paper (p. 170).

      Example: (Walker, 2003).

  • Double-space your entire paper, including the References list and any block quotes (pp.171, 180).

Citations In Text

How to Cite a Direct Quote (pp.170-171)

When you incorporate a direct quotation into a sentence, you must cite the source. Fit quotations within your sentences, enclosed in quotation marks, making sure the sentences are grammatically correct.
Gibaldi (2003, p. 109) indicates that, “Quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively.”
Remember that “[q]uotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” (Gibaldi, 2003, p. 109).
In 2003, Gibaldi wrote that, “Quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” (p. 109).
If a quotation is 40 words or more, omit quotation marks and use a block format in which the quotation is indented about ½ inch (or 5 spaces) from the left margin.


How to Cite Summaries or Paraphrases

Even if you put information in your own words by summarizing or paraphrasing, you must cite the original author or researcher and the date of publication. You are also encouraged to provide a page or paragraph number; check with your instructor to see if page numbers are required.

For example, a paraphrase of Gibaldi’s earlier quotation might be identified as follows:

Within the research paper, quotations will have more impact when used judiciously (Gibaldi, 2003, p. 109).

 You may want to check out The Owl at Purdue for more tips on paraphrasing.


How to Cite Sources when the Primary Authors have the same Surname (p.176)

If two or more of your sources are written by authors with the same surname, include the first author's initials with the surname in every in-text reference.
Example:  Among studies, we review M. A. Light and Light (2008) and I. Light (2006) ... 


How to Cite Different Numbers of Authors 

When a work has 2 authors, cite both names every time the reference occurs. When a work has 3-5 authors, cite all the names the first time the reference occurs; in subsequent citations, use the surname of the first author followed by et al. When a work has 6+ authors, use the surname of the first author followed by et al. every time the reference occurs in the text (p.175).
Note: There is a helpful chart on how to cite references with different numbers of authors on page 177 of the Manual.


How to Cite Information If No Page Numbers Are Available (pp.171-172)
If a resource contains no page numbers, as can be the case with electronic sources, then you cannot include a page number in the parentheses. However, if the source indicates paragraph numbers, use the abbreviation “para” and the relevant number in the parentheses. If the paragraph number is not visible, cite the heading and the paragraph number following it.
As Myers (2000, para. 5) aptly phrased it…
(Beutler, 2000, Conclusion, para. 1)


How to Cite Information When You Have Not Seen the Original Source (p.178)

Sometimes an author writes about research that someone else has done, but you are unable to track down the original research report. In this case, because you did not read the original report, you will include only the source you did consult in your References. The words “as cited in” in the parenthetical reference indicate you have not read the original research.
Fong’s 1987 study (as cited in Bertram, 1996) found that older students’ memory can be as good as that of young people, but this depends on how memory is tested. [Do not include Fong (1987) in your References; do include Bertram (1996).]


How to Cite when you are Altering a Direct Quote

When you need to leave out part of a quotation to make it fit grammatically or because it contains irrelevant/unnecessary information, insert ellipses (pp.172-173).
If you must add or slightly change words within a quotation for reasons of grammar or clarity, indicate the change with square brackets (p.173).

Creating a Reference List

  • Start the Reference list on a new page and include the word "References" in uppercase and lowercase centered. (pp, 180-192)

  • The References list should be double-spaced. Each entry should be formatted with a hanging indent (p.180).

  • References cited in text must appear in the References list and vice versa. The only exceptions to this rule are personal communications and classical works; they are cited in text only and are not included in the References list (p.174).

  • Use ONLY the initial(s) of the author’s given name, NOT the full name (p.184).

  • If the References list includes 2 or more entries by the same author(s), list them in chronological order with the earliest first (p. 182).

  •  If the author’s name is unavailable, use the first few words of the title of the article, book or Web source, including the appropriate capitalization and italics formatting (pp.176-177). E.g. (Scientists Say, 2000).

  • Arrange References entries in one alphabetical sequence by the surname of the first author or by title or first word if there is no author (pp.181-183). Ignore the words A, An, and The when alphabetizing by title.

  • In titles and subtitles of articles, chapters, and books, capitalize only the first letter of the first word and any proper nouns, except in parenthetical (in text) citations (p.185).

  • Italicize book titles, journal titles, and volume numbers. Do NOT italicize issue numbers.

  • Do NOT include retrieval dates unless the source of the material may change over time such as a blog entry or wikis. (p.192)

  • If a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is listed on either a print or an electronic source it is included in the reference (pp.188-192).  A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string that is used to identify a certain source (typically journal articles).  It is often found on the first page of an article.  Example: doi:10.1080/14622200410001676305

  • When the References entry includes a URL that must be divided between two lines, break it BEFORE a slash or dash or at another logical division point. Do NOT insert a hyphen if you need to break a URL or a period at the end of the URL. (p.192). 

  • For a helpful list of some of the abbreviations used in References (such as Vols. for Volumes) check out page 180 of the APA Manual.

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