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This guide will help you identify quality information resources for this field of study.

Basic APA citation guidelines

Why do I need to use a citation style?

Professionals -- and students -- use a particular citation style to standardize their sources of information to help the reader. Once the reader knows the italicized title in the citation is the journal title, for example, they can then interpret other elements of the citation. One citation style should be followed throughout, i.e., the in-text citations and the references list at the end of the research product.


What sources do I need to include in my references?

Only list those sources referred to within your text. Provide as much information as it takes to locate the work; generally that includes the author(s), publication date, title of the work, and publisher, though more information must be given for journal articles, electronic sources (e.g., Web pages), etc.


How do I write a citation in APA format?

These are the basic guidelines for creating citations for your References list in APA format, 7th edition.
  • Alphabetize your list by author, or title if there is no author. Use only initials for first and middle names.
  • Each reference source begins at the left margin, and any additional lines are indented ½ inch (hanging indent)
  • The date of publication follows the author(s) name(s) in parentheses.
  • Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle and proper names for books, articles, chapters, etc.
    • Journal titles, however, have every major word capitalized.
  • Italicize the title of books, journals, webpages, etc., but not titles of journal articles or parts of books such as chapters.
  • Include only the publisher’s name and DOI, if it is available. (DOI explained in the box below.)
    • The place of publication is not required in APA 7.
Additional guidelines for citing journal articles include:
  • Include the volume and issue number following the journal title.
    • The volume number is italicized like the journal title.
    • The issue number is not italicized but it is put in parentheses after the volume.
  • Provide the DOI if at all possible. 
  • If the DOI cannot be found, add "Retrieved from" and the URL of the website where you found it.
    • If you found it in a library database, you do not need to include the URL unless your professor requires it. Database content can change over time, possibly making the link useless.
  • Do not use retrieval dates unless the information in the source may change over time.

Still can't figure out how to cite a source? Try the APA Style and Grammar Guidelines or the APA Style blog, which answers questions about atypical sources. Or consult the Excelsior Online Writing Lab (OWL) for more guidance.


DOI? What's that?

Each version of a digital document receives a unique number, i.e., a DOI or digital object identifier.

Why is a DOI important to include in reference citations? Electronic articles can exist in many versions, which can make tracking articles tricky at times. In addition, corrections can be made in an electronic version with a simple updating of the file without any acknowledgement that the change has been made. All of these possibilities make it important to use the DOI of an article if it can be found so your reader can locate the version you have referenced. offers a free DOI lookup service if you cannot locate an article's DOI.