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Citing Your Sources: APA and MLA

Learn how to cite your sources both in-text and in your list of references.

Welcome

Welcome

The information below is a brief introduction to APA citation style (7th edition) that highlights how to cite the most common types of sources.  If you find yourself needing more advanced help, please go to the Purdue University Owl Website, or contact a librarian.  

   

Introduction to APA

APA Checklist

APA (American Psychological Association) citation style is used widely in the social sciences, natural sciences, nursing and business.  In order to follow APA citation style you will need to do the following:  

 create in-text citations

 create a reference list at the end of your paper

 format your paper

If you paraphrase information from a source, quote a source, or use ideas or content from a source, you’ll need to cite that source in-text AND in the reference list at the end of your paper.  Each in-text citation must have an accompanying citation in your reference list and vice versa.  

APA In-text Citations - Basics

You'll need to create in-text citations throughout your paper in APA format.  An in-text citation in APA includes the author(s) last name(s) and the year the source was published in.  In-text citations denote the source where you found the preceding information and they are often in parentheses at the end of a sentence.

Format of an In-text Citation: 

(Author(s) last name(s), year of publication)  

Note: an in-text citation for a direct quote must also list the page number (see examples below) 

APA In-text Citations - Examples

If your source has one author: 

List the author's last name followed by the year the source was published.  

A racist idea is an idea that suggests that certain racial groups are better than others (Kendi, 2019).

If your source has two authors: 

List both authors’ last names in the order they appear on the source followed by the year the source was published. 

Mindfulness training includes non-judgmental awareness (Bamber & Schneider, 2016).

If your source has three or more authors: 

List the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” (et al. is short for “and others” in Latin) followed by the year of publication.

In China, researchers have found that college educated rural migrants work more hours and receive fewer social benefits than college educated local urban workers (Qin et al., 2021).

If your source has a Government, Organization or Business as the author:

Your source might have a "group author" meaning that a government agency, business, or organization created the content.  In these cases, you would treat the group responsible for creating the information as the author.   

Environmental justice includes actions and policies that ensure that no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic group is burdened with the majority of negative environmental consequences (Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.).

*Note: “n.d.” in the in-text citation above is short for “no date” and it means that there is no publication date listed.  Often you’ll find that websites do not have dates listed.  

In-text Citations for Quotations: 

For quotations with fewer than 40 words, use double quotation marks around the copied text.  Include the page number(s) where the quotation can be found and use “p.” if your quotation is on one page (ex: p. 15) and “pp.” if your quotation is on a range of pages (ex: pp. 15-16).  The period at the end of the quotation follows the citation. 

Food stamps are widely used, “Approximately half (49.2 percent) of all US children between the ages of 1 and 20 will at some point reside in a household that receives food stamps” (Rank et al., 2021, p. 13).

*Note: Go to the Purdue University Owl Website to learn how to create in-text citations when  

  • Your source has no author listed
  • You have a quote longer than 40 words
  • You have Multiple sources with the same author

 

APA Reference List - Basics

Create a Reference List on a new page at the end of your paper that includes a citation for every source you used to write your paper.  After you've created your citations, put them in alphabetical order.  


An APA citation typically includes the following four elements 

  1. Author(s)
  2. Date
  3. Title
  4. Source where you can retrieve the work

You'll see in the example citations below that these elements are found in citations for books, webpages, audiovisual media and more.  


The author of any citation is written a particular way in APA.  Follow the rules below when you write your authors in your citations. 

 

If a source has... Explanation of how to write the authors in the citation
1 author Author's Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial if given. ex: Kendi, I. X. 
2-20 authors Names of all authors in the order they appear on your source. Write a ", &" before the last author's name.  Ex: Bamber, M. D., & Schneider, J. K. 

APA Reference List - Example Citations

Blog:

Author(s). (year of publication, month, day). Title of blog post with first word capitalized. Title of blog in italics. Link to blog

US Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021, February 24). Secretary orders review of VA’s transgender policies. VAntage Point. https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/85152/secretary-orders-review-vas-transgender-policies/

Book with author(s) (print or ebook):

Author(s). (year of publication). Title in italics with first word capitalized. Publisher. DOI* link if your ebook has one

Kendi, I. X. (2019). How to be an antiracist. One World.

Book with editor(s) (print or ebook): 

Editor(s) (Ed.). (year of publication). Title in italics with first word capitalized. Publisher. DOI* link if your ebook has one

Hall, A. (Ed.). (2020). The Routledge companion to literature and disability. Routledge. 
Brickell, C. & Collard, J. (Eds.). (2019). Queer objects. Rutgers University Press. 

Film or Video:

The director (Director). (year film was produced). Title in italics with first word capitalized [Film; version information if unique]. Production company.

DuVernay, A. (Director). (2014). Selma [Film]. Pathe Productions. 

Journal Article:

Author(s). (year of publication). Title of the journal article with first word capitalized. Title of the Journal in italics and capitalized, volume number(issue number), page range. DOI* link if available

Note that there was no issue number for the Bamber article below.

Bamber, M. D., & Schneider, J. K. (2016). Mindfulness-based meditation to decrease stress and anxiety in college students: A narrative synthesis of the research. Educational Research Review, 18, 1-32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2015.12.004
Qin, L., Wang, W., & Lu, Y. (2017). The working and living conditions of college-educated rural migrants in China. Asian Population Studies, 14(2), 172-193.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17441730.2017.1379674

Magazine Article:

Author(s). (year of publication, month, day). Title of the article with first word capitalized.  Title of the magazine in italics and capitalized, volume number(issue), page range.  If you have a link to the article accessible to the general public then include that at the end of the citation, but do not include links to library databases.

Note that there is no volume or issue number listed for the Cohen article below.

Cohen, N. (2021, September 7). One woman’s mission to rewrite Nazi history on Wikipedia. WIRED. https://www.wired.com/story/one-womans-mission-to-rewrite-nazi-history-wikipedia/

Newspaper Article:

Author(s). (year of publication, month, day). Title of the article with first word capitalized.  Title of the newspaper in italics and capitalized. If you have a link to the article accessible to the general public then include that at the end of the citation, but do not include links to library databases.

Bonnefoy, P. (2021, September 27). Why Haitians in Chile keep heading north to the U.S. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/27/world/americas/chile-haitian-migrants.html

Webpage:

Author(s). (year of publication, month, day). Title of webpage in italics with the first word capitalized. Website name. URL

Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Learn about environmental justice. https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/learn-about-environmental-justice

* A DOI (digital object identifier) is a stable link to an article.  Here is an example: https://doi.org/10.1080/17441730.2017.1379674

Format Your Paper

Disclaimer:

Your instructor may ask for different formatting.  Follow your instructor’s guidelines for formatting if they differ from what is listed below. 

Title Page:

On the first page of your paper, centered, write the following in order double-spaced:

  • Title of Your Paper in bold font
  • Your Name
  • Your Affiliation (eg. Harper College)
  • The course number and title (eg. PSY 101: Introduction to Psychology)  
  • The Instructor (eg. Professor Brown)
  • The Paper’s Due Date (eg. October 31, 2021)

Quoting:

If your quote is fewer than 40 words, put quotation marks around the quote and then make sure to create your in-text citation including the page number following the quote.  If your quote is 40 words or more, create a block quotation: start the quotation on a new line, indent the whole quotation by .5 inches so that it looks like a block of text and create an in-text citation including the page number.  Go online to the official APA website to see examples. 

Page Margins:

1 inch margins on top, bottom, left and right 

Spacing:

Double space your entire paper including the title page, text of your paper, quotes, and reference list. 

Header:

The page number should go on the top right of every page as a header (including the title page as page 1)

Reference List:

Start your Reference List on a new page.  Write the words “References” in bold at the top of the page, centered.  Then list your citations alphabetically.  If a citation takes up more than one line on the page, indent all lines after the first line by .5 inches from the left margin (this is called a hanging indent).

How to create a hanging indent in Word: 

1. highlight all of your citations in your reference list

2. right click on the highlighted area

3. a dropdown will appear, click "paragraph" in the dropdown

4.  a box will pop-up; where it says "indentation special" select "hanging" and then make sure it's by .5 inches.

5.  click "okay" 

How to create a hanging indent in Google Docs: 

1. highlight all of your citations in your reference list

2. click "format" at the top of your screen

3. click "Align & Indent" 

4. click "Indentation Options" 

5. under indentation left and right it should be 0

6. under special, select "hanging", and it should be by .5 inches

Sample Papers formatted in APA are available on the Purdue University OWL website.  

Helpful Links

Ask a Librarian