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Citation Guides and Style Manuals

Citing sources and avoiding plagiarism in your writing

Four Components of APA Citations, 7th edition

Every idea that is not your own or common knowledge should have two citations: in-text citation (Author-Date) at the spot in your paper where you discuss it, and a complete citation in the References page (Author. (Date). Title. Source) following the body of your paper. 

What is "common knowledge"? Example: George Washington was the first elected President of the United States of America. You don't have to cite this. 

If information is missing, check here.

Source: Publication Manual 9.4-9.37, p.  p. 283-301.



The first  element of every APA reference is the author. Sometimes the author is a corporation or group.

Author(Date). Title. Source.

Sources: Publication Manual, 9.7-9.12; APA Style: Elements of Reference List EntriesAPA Style: Missing Reference Information

List author's last name, comma, then initials, with a space between them. Don't list their full first or middle name.

  • William Shakespeare  Shakespeare, W.
  • Louisa May Alcott  Alcott, L. M.
  • Leonardo da Vinci  da Vinci, L.
  • George W. Ogden  Ogden, G. W.
  • Jean-Luc Lebrun  Lebrun, J.-L.

Don't use courtesy or academic titles in  citations. Do include suffixes such as Jr., Sr., III, etc.

  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  Doyle, A. C.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  King, M. L., Jr.
  • Ronald C. White, Sr.  White, R. C., Sr.

Some authors use non-standard capitalization. Retain that capitalization.

  • bell hooks  hooks, b.
  • danah boyd  boyd, d.

Some names, such as religious or royal titles, may be listed differently in the References page according to custom.

  • Pope Francis
  • Queen Raina
  • Plato

List authors in the order they appear on the source. A comma should separate each author's name, and an ampersand (&) should precede the last author's name. Spell out up to twenty authors' names in the reference list in this format:

Two Authors:

(Smith & Miller, 2009) (In-text citation)

Smith, J., & Miller, W. C. (Date). Title. Source. (References list)

Three to Twenty Authors:

(Smith et al., 2009) (In-text citation)

Smith, J., Jones, B. E., Brown, K. E., & Doe, J. (Date). Title. Source. (References list -- list all authors).

21+ Authors:

(Smith et al., 2009) (In-text citation)

References list -- include first 19 authors, then three ellipsis points (. . .),  then  last author (no ampersand). 

Smith, J., Jones, B. E., Brown, K. E., Doe, J., Chan, L., Garcia, S. M., White, C-G., Fernández, J., Ahmed, A. J., Zhào, L., Cohen, D., Watanabe, K., Kim, K., Del Rosario, J., Yilmaz, P. K., Nguyễn, T., Wilson, T. H., Wang, W., Kahale, A. ... Zhang, Z. Z. (Date). Title. Source.


Some resources may be attributed to a group or organization, instead of specific person(s). In this case, give the group or organization name. You may use a common abbreviation beginning with the second in-text citation:

First In-Text Citation:

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2019)

Subsequent In-Text Citations:

(CDC, 2019)

References List::


For government authors with hierarchy (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine), use directly responsible agency:

National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). A brief history of the NLM.

(National Library of Medicine, n.d.)

If corporate author is also the publisher, omit publisher.

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

First In-Text Citation:

(American Psychological Association [APA], 2020)

Subsequent In-Text Citations:

(APA, 2020)

Book Editors

If a book is compiled by an editor (usually specified on cover or title page), list names as usual,, then (Ed.) or (Eds.), to signify editor or editors. This abbreviation is not included in the in-text citation.

Forrester, D. A. (Ed.). (2016). Nursing's greatest leaders: A history of activism. Springer.

(Forrester, 2016)

Audiovisual "Authors"

Audiovisual materials may have different people for author element. Common examples include director, host, executive producer, musical artist, composer, or a producer. Include parenthetical clarification of role.

Jacquet, L. (Director). (2005). March of the penguins [Film]. National Geographic Films; Bonne Pioche.

(Jacquet, 2005)

Wilson, T. V., & Frey, H. (Hosts). (2008–present). Stuff you missed in history class [Audio podcast]. Stuff Media.

(Wilson & Frey, 2008–present)

The Monkees. (1966). I'm a believer [Song]. On More of the Monkees. Colgems.

(The Monkees, 1966)

If you know both the real name of an author and the username, and the username is credited on the work, list both.

DeGeneres, E. [@TheEllenShow]. (2014, March 2). If only Bradley's arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars [Image attached] [Tweet]. Twitter.

(DeGeneres, 2014)

If you only have a username, use that for the author.

Motherboard. (2010, August 6). The effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki [Video]. YouTube.

(Motherboard, 2010)


If no author or editor is listed, start reference with the title, followed by date, and continue reference as normal. Remember, author can be a company, organization, or group author, and that should be used as author if provided. Check very carefully to ensure that there is no organization that can be used as the author!


Title. (Date). Source.


Oxford English dictionary (2nd ed.). (1989). Clarendon Press.

Appeal to authority. (n.d.). Logical Fallacies.

For in-text citations, use  title, followed by the date. If  title is long, you may abbreviate to first few words. Book titles are italicized; journal or website articles are put in quotes.

(Oxford English Dictionary, 1989).

("Appeal to Authority," n.d.)

If item is expressly attributed to "Anonymous," list that as author:

Anonymous. (2006). Go ask Alice. Simon Pulse.

(Anonymous, 2006)


The second element of an APA reference is the date. Most citations only need the year in parentheses, followed by a period.

Author. (Date). Title. Source.

Source: Publication Manual, 9.13-9-17; APA Style: Elements of Reference List EntriesAPA Style: Missing Reference Information

Most sources (such as books, journal articles, and films) only require the year. For magazines, newsletters, newspapers, social media, YouTube videos, blog posts, etc., provide the full date.

Valinsky, J. (2019, October 8). Instagram dark mode is here. CNN. (References list entry)

In-text citations, however, only include the year. 

(Valinksy, 2019)

If an item does not have a discernible date, you may use n.d. as the date (for no date); do not simply leave out the date. For webpages, do not use a general copyright date given for the website. Look for a specific created, updated, or modified date for the page or document you are using.

Santa Fe College. (n.d.). Fifty years to first.

(Santa Fe College, n.d.)

In APA 7th, most online resources don't need retrieval dates.

The exceptions are resources that may change substantially before readers can access them (Publication Manual  Chapter 10, examples 33,47,104,106). See also APA Style Blog. For these, you may add a retrieval date prior to the URL. Examples include wikis, dictionary entries, Twitter profiles, webpages that update frequently, etc.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, October 3). Outbreak of lung injury associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping. Retrieved October 8, 2019, from

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019)


The third element of an APA citation is the title. For a standalone work (such as a book), the title is in italics. For something that is part of a larger work (such as a journal article), the source (such as New England Journal of Medicine), not the title of the article or "part," is italicized.

Author. (Date). Title OR Title. Source.

Sources: Publication Manual, 9.18-9.22; APA Style: Elements of Reference List EntriesAPA Style: Missing Reference Information

APA requires you to only capitalize certain words in a title. You should capitalize the following:

  • The first word of the title
  • The first word of the subtitle, usually directly after a colon :
  • Any proper nouns (places, people, organizations, etc.)
  • All significant words in a journal/website title

Examples of Correct Capitalization:

  • Aces high: The heroic saga of the two top-scoring American aces of World War II
  • Can’t remember what I forgot: The good news from the front lines of memory research
  • The elements of library research: What every student needs to know
  • The FBI: A history
  • Introduction to research in the health sciences
  • Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs [journal title]
  • The Oxford guide to library research
  • Preparing research articles
  • Publication manual of the American Psychological Association

See also: Publication Manual  6.13-6.21, pp. 165-170, and apastyle.

APA requires you to italicize the titles of stand-alone works:

  • books
  • journals
  • films
  • reports
  • webpages

If you are citing something that is part of a bigger work, you do not italicize the titles:

  • chapters in books
  • title of entry in a reference book
  • articles from journals, magazines, or newspapers

Source: A Tale of Two Reference Formats [APA Style]

If a title ends with a non-period punctuation mark (such as a question mark or an exclamation mark), use that as the ending punctuation without adding a period.

Jacobs, J. B. (2002). Can gun control work? Oxford University Press.

(Jacobs, 2002)

If the title uses an em dash instead of colons for a subtitle distinction, preserve those.

Jain, S. K., Singh, B. P., & Singh, R. P. (2004). Indian homemade firearm—A technical review. Forensic Science International144(1), 11–18.

(Jain et al., 2004)

Format Clarification

If the information you are citing is not a routine format, use square brackets after the title to clarify. Common examples include:

  • [Video]
  • [Tweet]
  • [App]
  • [Painting]

CrashCourse. (2019, September 27). Natural language processing: Crash course AI #7 [Video]. YouTube.

(Crash Course, 2017)

Edition/Volume Clarification

For some books, you will need to add the edition or the volume used after the title, in parentheses.

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

(American Psychological Association, 2020)

In very rare cases, you may be using a source without a specific title. This may be something like a social media post, untitled artwork, or a Google map. In the title component, include a description in brackets; try to include the medium in the description if possible.

Google. (n.d.). [Google Maps directions for driving from Gainesville, FL, to Miami, FL]. Retrieved October 8, 2019, from


The final element of an APA reference is the source, which is the retrieval information. Source means "Where can I retrieve this work? 

For something that is part of a larger work (such as a journal article), the source, not the title, is in italics..

Author. (Date). Title. Source.

The components of a source may change depending on the format of the work you are citing.

Sources: Publication Manual, 9.23-9.37; APA Style: Elements of Reference List EntriesAPA Style: Missing Reference Information

If you are citing a specific page or section of a source, you may cite the page or section in the in-text citation, but not  in the References list:

(Armstrong, 2015, pp. 3-17) (in-text citation)

Publication Manual 8.13, p. 264.

The source for a book is the publisher. City of publication is not needed.

Hain, P. (2018). Mandela: His essential life. Rowman & Littlefield. (References list at end of paper)

(Hain, 2018) (In-text citation)

If you are using a portion of a book, such as a chapter in an edited book, the source also includes the information from the book being used.

Johnson, P. (2019). Efforts to ban Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. In R.C. Evans (Ed.), Censored & banned literature (pp. 169–186). Salem Press.

(Johnson, 2019)

Article sources typically include the journal, volume, issue, page numbers, and DOI (Digital Object Identifier).. Spell out the entire journal title; do not abbreviate it. The journal title and volume should be italicized.

Steckler, R. A., & Bartkowski, J. P. (2018). "God is my first aid kit": The negotiation of health and illness among Christian Scientists. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 57(3), 585–603.

(Steckler & Bartkowski, 2018) (In-text citation).

If you are missing any of this information, omit it. This example does not have an issue number or a DOI.

Tremblay, M. S., Inman, J. W., & Willms, J. D. (2000). The relationship between physical activity, self-esteem, and academic achievement in 12-year-old children. Pediatric Exercise Science, 12, 312–323.

(Tremblay et al., 2000)

If an article has an article number, include it.

Van Hedger, S. C., Heald, S. L. M., & Nusbaum, H. C. (2019). Absolute pitch can be learned by some adults. PLOS One, 14(9), Article e0223047.

(Van Hedger, 2019)

If an article is freely available online and does not have a DOI, you may choose to add the URL to the full-text.

Rosener, A., Frigo, E., Ponischil, S., Bélanger, A., Rander, J., & Salazer, E. (2019, September 18). Leading from the center: Reimagining feedback conversations at an academic library. In the Library with a Lead Pipe.

(Rosener et al., 2019)

Database Information

Usually you don't include the name of a library database used to find your reference. Only include the name  if the source you are using is exclusive to that database. A few library databases, including Cochrane Library, and Opposing Viewpoints, have information exclusive to that database.

Denissen, S., Staring, W., Kunkel, D., Pickering, R. M., Lennon, S., Geurts, A. C. H., Weerdesteyn, V., & Verheyden, G. S. A. F. (2019). Interventions for preventing falls in people after stroke. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

(Denissen et al., 2019)

Locating DOIs

APA requires you to provide DOIs if available when citing a journal article. DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier. DOIs serve as a permanent link to electronic content. If an article has a DOI, you can give that information and easily direct readers to your references. DOIs are commonly found in the database record, the journal's page for the article, or on the first page of the article itself. If you can't find it here, go to and select "search metadata." If you can't find a DOI in any of these places, it is likely that the article doesn't have one.

A DOI will often be found as a string of numbers and slashes (possibly with letters) that begins with 10. You need to change this number to a complete URL beginning with "https//," and put this at the end of your References list citation.

DOI in a database record

DOI in a PDF of a journal article

DOI on a journal homepage

Once you have a DOI, you can plug it in and get the complete URL to put in your References list entry. is recommended. Input the entire DOI, and you will be directed to the main article page. DOI resolver

When you plug this number in, you will find a reference with a DOI in the form of a complete URL: A DOI should be cited as a complete URL. For more guidance on DOI's, see APA Style: DOIs-URLs or the Publication Manual, 9.35-9.37, p. 298-301.

"Webpages and websites" is a  catchall category, including online resources not fitting into a specific category such as a book or journal article..  These are discussed in the Publication Manual  9.2, p. 282, and  examples are shown in 10.15 and10.16, p. 348-352. Online examples appear on apastyle.

Internet sources typically include the website on which the source is located and the URL. If the author and the website title are identical, omit the website title. You may elect to add a retrieval date to the URL if the information is expected to change.

Leibsohn, D., & Mundy, B. E. (n.d.). Surveying the Pre-Columbian. Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America, 1520-1620.

(Leibsohn & Mundy, n.d.)

Royal Collection Trust. (n.d.). Albert's life and times.

(Royal Collection Trust, n.d.)

Levine, E. (1936). Amateur contest for children Final eliminations, Sept. 24, 1936 [Image]. Library of Congress.

(Levine, 1936)

Feldman, J. (2019, October 9). Dogs can help you live longer, as if you needed another reason to get one. HuffPost.

(Feldman, 2019)

U.S. Department of State. (2019, April 9). Afghanistan travel advisory. Retrieved October 9, 2019 from

(U.S. Department of State, 2019)

If a URL is excessively long, you may use a URL shortener.

American Library Association. (n.d.). Performance of or showing films in the classroom.

(American Library Association, n.d.)

Film and Television

The source for film and television is typically the production company. Multiple production companies are separated by semicolons. For online films/television, you may choose to add a URL.

Boyle, D. (Director). (2008). Slumdog millionaire [Film]. Celador Films; Film4.

(Boyle, 2008)

Macdonald, K., Burk, B., Carpenter, B., King, S., & Abrams, J. J. (2016). 11.22.63 [TV series]. Carpenter B.; Bad Robot Productions; Warner Bros. Television.

(Macdonald et al., 2016)

Online Videos

Online videos follow the same guidelines for Internet sources. The source component consists of the website and the URL.

Karim, J. [jawed]. (2005, April 23). Me at the zoo [Video]. YouTube.

(Karim, 2005)

Items with no source are considered personal communication and have in-text citations only; there will be no references list entry. This also includes items that are not retrievable by the reader. Examples of personal communication include emails, personal interviews, live speeches, etc.

(J. Sasser, personal communication, October 9, 2019)