APA Style Citation in Research Papers

Citing Sources in Research Papers

APA Style

This guide is intended as a general introduction to citing sources using the bibliographic style established by the American Psychological Association (APA). For more complete details, see the most recent edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (REF KNIGHT BF 76.7 .P83). Note that the manual includes essential information on manuscript preparation (e.g., margins, use of the passive voice), creating figures and tables, and ethics.

Citing References

The custom of citing references – that is, providing a record of the sources you have used for your research – is a form of professional honesty and courtesy that is based on a regard for the responsibilities that writers have to readers and to other writers to indicate when they have used someone else's ideas or words.

Citing sources also strengthens the authority of your work, by demonstrating that you have considered others' opinions and ideas in forming your own. In addition, it gives the the reader valuable information, indicating where he or she may go to get further information on that subject; for many researchers, the list of cited references at the end of a relevant article or book is the single most valuable item they can come across in their research.

Accuracy in citing references is highly regarded, and essential in helping others locate the materials you used in your research. Consider the following, from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed.:

Because one purpose of listing references is to enable readers to retrieve and use the sources, reference data must be correct and complete.... Authors are responsible for all information in their reference lists. Accurately prepared references help establish your credibility as a careful researcher.

Because of the importance of citing references, the scholarly community has agreed on several standards – found in style manuals – to use when citing a reference or compiling a bibliography. Many different styles exist; the following list represents the most commonly used or prominent styles.

References: General Guidelines

  • Items are presented in alphabetical order by the first author's last name, or, if no author is listed, by the first element of the citation (generally the title).
  • During your research, develop a consistent system for noting bibliographic information (author, title, date, publisher, source, page numbers) and keep it with your notes or copies of the source material you used.
  • Always consult your professor/department/publisher for specific requirements.

Sample List of References

Citation Example Type of Citation

Ramírez, C. Z., & Verkuyten, M. (2011). Values, media framing, and political tolerance for extremist groups. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41, 1583-1602. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00775.x

Journal article, 7 or fewer authors, continuous pagination

Chafee, Z., Jr. (1962). Freedom of speech and press. In W. S. Dowden & T. N. Marsh (Eds.), The heritage of freedom: Essays on the rights of free men (pp. 140-156). New York, NY: Harper.

Chapter in an edited book

Dennis, E. E., & Vanden Heuvel, J. (1991). Emerging voices: East European media in transition: A report of the Gannett Foundation Task Force on Press Freedom in Eastern Europe (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Gannett Foundation Media Center.


FCC ruling to stifle debate, critics say. (2003, June 13). The Buffalo News, p. C1.

Newspaper article, unsigned

Foerstel, H. N. (Ed.). (1997). Free expression and censorship in America: An encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Encyclopedia or dictionary

Freedom of the press: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary, Senate, 92d Cong., 1 (1972).

Government hearing, whole hearing

Cameron, J., Hooks, I., Kaysing, N., Hoffman, M., Hackett, S., Butler, L. L., & ... Crawford, S. M. (2011). Should P-16 physical education programs focus more on wellness and obesity prevention objectives and goals? JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 82(9), 12-18.

Journal article, more than 7 authors, pagination restarts with each issue, no doi available

Terregino, C. A., & Saks, N. S. (2010). Creative group performances to assess core competencies in a first-year patient-centered medicine course. Medical Education Online, 15, Article ID 4879. doi:10.3402/meo.v15i0.4879

Article retrieved from web site

Jeffords, S., & Rabinovitz, L. (Eds.). (1994). Seeing through the media: The Persian Gulf war. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Edited book

Paretsky, S. (2003, June 2). The new censorship. New Statesman, 759, 18-20.

Magazine article

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)

ERIC Document

-- -- Note: according to the latest APA style guide (6th edition), it is now sufficient to cite the web address (url) in parentheses at the end of sentence in your text in which mention of the website appears -- --

Entire web site, no date of publication

Sanders, B. (Producer/Director). (1987). Making the news fit [Motion picture]. United States: Cinema Guild.

Film or video


Created by jstaiger on Aug 16, 2012 Last updated Jun 23, 2014