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Citation Guide

This guide gives overviews and sample citations for MLA and APA citation styles.

APA Style

About APA Style

Note: APA Style, 7th edition, was released in late 2019. This guide is undergoing updates to reflect the new guidelines. While this guide is being updated, please be aware that some examples may follow the 6th edition guidelines. Always verify and adjust citations before submitting your assignments and follow your instructor's requirements when citing your sources!

APA Style is a set of guidelines developed by the American Psychological Association for formatting academic manuscripts and citing work by other writers. It is most commonly used by scholars in the social sciences, including Psychology, Sociology, Women's Studies, Political Science, Education, Business, Communications, and others. Details of the current guidelines can be found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition, (available at both MSJC Libraries) or at the APA Style Center online.

The guidelines dictate how an APA style paper should be formatted overall and the elements that should be included within it, but the primary focus is to show writers how to properly construct the two major components involved in citing your sources: the Reference List and in-text citations.

Formatting Your Paper

In general, your paper should include at least the following elements:

Your instructor may require additional elements consistent with APA style, including an abstract or introduction, sections detailing research method, results, and discussion, and appendices. Check with your instructor for details about these requirements.

Sample APA Style paper

Reference List

Your reference list should begin on a new page following the text of your paper. Here you will include complete citations for the resources you've used in your writing. 

Tips for formatting your reference list:

  • Begin the list on a new page with the title References in bold, centered at the top of the page.
  • The entire list should be double-spaced (both within each entry and between entries) and should use hanging indents (all lines after the first line of each entry should be indented one-half inch from the left margin).
  • Authors are listed with the last name first, followed by the first and middle initials. (E.g.: Skinner, B. F.)
  • The list should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each citation.
  • When citing books, chapters, Web pages, articles, and reports, capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle as well as proper nouns.
  • When citing academic journal articles, capitalize all major words in the journal title.
  • Don't use quotation marks around titles of journal or periodical articles.

In-Text Citations

In addition to the Reference list, sources are also cited using the parenthetical (like this) author-date system in the body of your paper. In-text citations briefly reference the sources you used at the point they appear in your paper and direct your readers to the full citation in your Reference list. 

Consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association or visit Purdue University's Online Writing Lab for help with the basics of in-text citations.

Check out the APA's online tutorial, "Basics of 7th Edition APA Style," for detailed information about citation, formatting, and other APA Style guidelines.

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