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APA Style Guide: References

This guide is an all in one source to many resources that can answer any questions you have about APA format.

Reference Page

A list of references should always be given on a separate page at the end of your paper. Every reference that is cited in your paper should be listed on the Reference page and vice versa. Note that secondary sources are not necessary on your reference page, just the original sources must be listed on the page. 

References are an important part of the paper because they allow readers to find and use the sources that have been cited within your text. They also demonstrate the effort of the writer so be sure to pay attention to detail such as correct spelling, accurate information, punctuation, etc.  Most importantly the reference page gives proper credit to the authors for their work, so it is especially important to make sure the information is accurate and complete. 

Guidelines for your Reference Page

Reference Page Rules to follow

  • Margins should be at least 1 inch all around.
  • The page heading should be centered with the title "References"
  • Double spacing should be used. 
  • Bold type should be use for appropriate headings only
  • Underlining is NOT to be used on the reference page 
  • Professional credentials should be omitted on the reference page
    • Example: Ph.D.
  • Personal conversations, emails, interviews, and letters should not be listed since the reader would not be able to retrieve these sources (cite as personal communication within the paper, but do not list on reference page).
  • First line of every reference entry should start at the left margin with the following lines being indented 1/2 inch (hanging indention) 
  • Numerals are to be used to denote numbers ten (10) and up.
  • References that begin with numerals should have the number SPELLED OUT. 
    • Example: "3 times the fun: The joy of triplets" would be listed as "Three times the fun: The joy of triplets"
  • Authors' names are inverted (last name first); give the last name and initials for all authors of a particular work for up to and including seven authors. If the work has more than seven authors, list the first six authors and then use ellipses after the sixth author's name. After the ellipses, list the last author's name of the work.
  • Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.
  • For multiple articles by the same author, or authors listed in the same order, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to most recent.
  • Present the journal title in full.
  • Maintain the punctuation and capitalization that is used by the journal in its title.
    • For example: ReCALL not RECALL or Knowledge Management Research & Practice not Knowledge Management Research and Practice. 
  • Capitalize all major words in journal titles.
  • When referring to books, chapters, articles, or Web pages, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns. Do not capitalize the first letter of the second word in a hyphenated compound word.
  • Italicize titles of longer works such as books and journals.
  • Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles or essays in edited collections.
  • Please note: While the APA manual provides many examples of how to cite common types of sources, it does not provide rules on how to cite all types of sources. Therefore, if you have a source that APA does not include, APA suggests that you find the example that is most similar to your source and use that format. For more information, see page 193 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2ndprinting).

Example of a citation listing within your Reference Page. 

Rules for Abbreviations

When using APA, abbreviations should be limited in use to occasions where 1. the abbreviation is standard and does not interfere with the reader's understanding of your text and 2. if repetition and spacing can be avoided by abbreviating. 

There are some practices and trends that you want to follow when abbreviating but there are exceptions. When you are abbreviating a term, be sure to use the full term first you are using it and follow it with the abbreviation in parentheses. 
Example: According to the American Psychological Association (APA), abbreviations are best used only when they allow for clear communication with the audience

Exceptions: Standard abbreviations like units of measurement and states do not need to be written out. APA also allows abbreviations that appear as words in Meriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary to be used without explanation (IQ, REM, AIDS, HIV).

Below are some of the acceptable abbreviations that can be used in APA

If you'd like more information regarding abbreviating, refer to Purdue Owl or the APA Style Blog website for more information. 

More information for APA including citations and References

This slideshow goes over many different aspects with regard to APA. It covers abbreviations, citations, format and more.  In this slideshow, acceptable abbreviations were listed to help anyone who may be stuck or does not know which abbreviation can be used while writing an APA paper. 

Sample Reference List

Please check out additional resources for further assistance with your Reference Page in the resources provided below.  You can always refer to the Sources that were used within this Libguide to gain further information too. 

Additional Resources for Reference Lists and more

Where to go for help on campus

There are several places to go on your campus for help with your paper. The first place is to go talk to your professor for the course in which you have the assignment to write the APA document. Secondly talk to your campus library to gain help in finding resources plus help to answer questions about APA formatting. Lastly, go to your campus writing center. This center will help you with editting your paper so that you will meet the requirements of the assignment.