EasyBib APA Citations Guide
Welcome to the EasyBib APA Citations Guide. In this easy-to-read, thorough APA guide, you’ll learn how to structure your APA citations.
We’ll first start with the basics and explain what APA is and why it’s so important. If you’re here to simply learn how to cite your sources, scroll down to the bottom half of this page. Whether you’re trying to cite a book, website, newspaper article, or even an Instagram post, we have what you need!
If you’re here to learn how to create an APA style cover page, an APA style title page, or learn how to build an APA research paper outline, check out our APA format guide. It covers everything related to the design and styling of your paper. It even has an APA example paper!
What is APA?
We’re going to start from the beginning for all of you newbies out there, or for those of you looking for a refresher. APA is an abbreviation which stands for American Psychological Association. This is a massive organization, responsible for creating and sharing psychology-related publications, research, and databases. Basically, they keep psychologists and other similar roles in the loop with what’s happening in the world of psychology. With close to 120,000 members, this is THE leading world organization related to psychology. They are not officially associated with this guide, but the information here talks about their citing format and rules in depth.
Why were APA citations created and why did my teacher ask me to use this style?
Are you scratching your head, wondering what is APA style and how this all relates to your research project? To make a long story short, the American Psychological Association did something really cool. Back in 1952, they created a way for ALL psychology researchers to structure their citations. This standard method did three things:
- Psychology researchers were all able to display the sources they used in a systematic way.
- Readers were able to easily understand the information shown in citations.
- There was enough information displayed in the citations for readers to go out and find the exact sources on their own.
The APA citations were such a hit, they were so good, that other science disciplines soon adopted the citation format as well. In fact, other disciplines outside of the science world use APA style today too. So, whether you’re creating a psychology-related research project or not, there’s a good chance you were asked to create your citations in APA style.
Another widely used style is MLA format. Believe it or not, there are thousands of other styles, so perhaps your teacher or professor requested a completely different one. If you’re in that boat, head to EasyBib.com to check out more styles. While you’re at it, poke around and check out our APA reference generator. It may be just what you’re looking for.
Click here for more basics on this style.
References vs. Citations – What’s the difference?
References and citations are two terms that are thrown around a lot, and quite often mean the same thing. A reference, or citation, shows the reader that a piece of information originated elsewhere. But, along came APA and decided to throw a curveball at us. In APA, the two terms have two different meanings.
An APA style citation is found in the actual writing of an APA research paper. Here’s an APA in-text citation example:
“Lecture-rooms are numerous and large, but the number of young people who genuinely thirst after truth and justice is small” (Einstein, 2007, p. 5).
An APA reference is found on the APA reference page, which is the last page of a research paper.
Here’s the APA reference for the example above:
Einstein, A. (2007). The world as I see it. Retrieved from //books.google.com/books?id=aNKOo94tO6cC&source=gbs_navlinks_s (Original work published 1934)
The information included in an APA citation is just a snapshot of the information found in the full reference.
Now, what makes things even trickier is that most teachers and professors use the term “APA citations” when they’re actually talking about the full references. How many times have you heard your teacher say, “Make sure you have your citations on the last page!” Eek! So, to stay on the same page as your teacher, this guide shows you how to make references for an APA reference page, but we’re calling the page “APA Citations.” Someone’s gotta give in, right? Looks like it’s us.
If you’re looking for a quick read on the citations found in the body of the paper, check out our APA Parenthetical Citation page. It’s just one of the many free APA citation guides available on EasyBib.com. Need an APA citation generator? You can find one at EasyBib.com as well!
A rundown on references
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details on how to structure references for your APA paper, let’s get one more quick piece of information off the table.
References are added to research papers and projects only when a source is included in the writing itself. We don’t add references to a reference page if we want to simply suggest other, similar titles. No! We create references when an actual piece of information from another source is added into the project. Does your paper include a piece of data from a report? Great! You copied a line of text from a case study and put it in your project (with quotation marks around it)? Perfect! You included a bar graph you found in a brochure? Fantastic! Make sure you create an APA citation in the text of your paper and include the reference on the final page. In case you were wondering, the same goes for MLA in-text & parenthetical citations on the MLA works cited page.
The only exception to the above rule is if you’re creating an “annotated bibliography.” For more on that, check out our APA bibliography page.
Ready to get started? The next section of the guide is going to explain, step-by-step, how to structure every nook and cranny of your references. But, if you’re dreaming of an APA citation maker to help make the pain go away from building your references from scratch, you’re in luck. EasyBib.com has an APA citation maker! In just a few clicks, our technology structures and styles each and every APA citation for you. If you don’t know much about it, head to the EasyBib homepage to learn more. While you’re at it, try out our APA cover page maker, found on the main page as well!
Fundamentals of an APA citation
This entire section goes into detail on each component of a reference. If you’re looking to learn how to style the names of the authors, the title, publishing information, and other aspects related to the reference, this section is for you!
If you want to skip the small talk and see an APA style paper example, head to the EasyBib homepage, click on “Citation Guides,” and type “example of APA paper” into the search bar. You should see a few results, one being a link to our downloadable example. It includes an APA title page example, an APA paper example, and an APA reference page example. It’s all there for you and the best part about it is it’s free! Do yourself a favor and take a peek at it now!
The very first piece of information in most references is the author’s name(s). We say “most,” because some sources may not have an author (such as websites, the Bible…). If your source doesn’t have an author, do not include any information about an author in your reference.
If your source has one author, style the name like this:
Last name of the Author, First initial. Middle initial.
To see some examples, scroll down to the bottom half of this page.
Does your source have two authors?
Do not put the names in alphabetical order. They should be written in the order they’re displayed on the source.
Last name of the 1st listed Author, First Initial. Middle Initial., & Last name of the 2nd listed Author, First initial. Middle initial.
For an APA 6th edition example of a reference with two authors, scroll down to the “Journal Articles found in Print” section.
Does your source have three, four, or five, six, or seven authors?
Similar to two authors, place them in the order they appear in the source.
Does your source have eight or more authors?
Here’s where it gets a bit different. Only include the first six authors in the reference. After the sixth, add three ellipses, and then the name of the final author.
Here’s an example:
Jones, R., Beecher, E. D., Roberts, S., McAdams, Y., Klein, O. F., Baker, Q.,…Lipson, J.
If your source is written by an organization, or company:
Some sources are written and released by companies, not necessarily individual people. For example, most brochures at museums only display the institution’s name. Advertisements also only show the company’s name. If the source you’re attempting to cite only shows a group or organization’s name, place it in the reference in the place you’d normally include an individual person’s name.
Write out the name of the group in full; do not use abbreviations. For example, it may seem okay to use USDA, but APA writing style prefers you write out United States Department of Agriculture.
If you’re looking for information on how to style your own name in APA headings, find the example paper on EasyBib.com.
Date of publication
The date the source was published is the next item shown in a reference. It’s directly after the author’s name.
For the majority of sources, include only the year in parentheses.
If you’re citing a periodical (a magazine, newspaper, newsletter, or another source that gets published periodically), give the entire date in parentheses, in this order: (Year, Month Day) or (Year, Season).
Check out the examples towards the bottom of the page to see how dates are displayed.
Title rules and capitalization
Titles are the next piece of information shown in a reference. Titles are often tricky for people to style. Students often wonder, “Should I type out the title as it’s shown on the source?” “Should the title be written in italics or underlined?” Here are the answers to (hopefully) all of your title-related questions:
Which letters are capitalized?
Most titles are written with a capital letter in these places:
- At the beginning of the title
- At the beginning of a proper noun
- At the beginning of the subtitle
It may be tempting to write the title as you see it shown on the source, or with capital letters at the beginning of every important word, but that’s not how APA referencing does it.
Here are a few examples of proper lettering:
- A star is born
- Spider-Man: Into the spiderverse
- Harry Potter and the deathly hallows
The only source types that are written with a capital letter at the beginning of every important word are periodicals. Some examples include the titles of newspapers, journals, and magazines. Examples: The New York Times, School Library Journal, and Us Weekly
How should I style the title?
- Anything that stands alone is written in italics. When we say “stands alone,” we mean it isn’t part of a larger collection. Most books are a single source, so they’re written in italics. Other examples include movies, brochures, dissertations, and music albums.
- Sources that are part of a collection are written without italics. Website pages, journal articles, chapters in books, and individual songs (from an album) are written without italics.
- Remember, the styling information above is for the APA reference page only! Citations in the text of the paper are styled differently. If you need to see a full APA sample paper, check out the other resources on EasyBib.com!
Check out some of the examples below to see how the titles are typed out and styled.
If it’s not the actual title, but an APA title page you need help with, check out the Title Page APA creator on the homepage of EasyBib.com! Or, check out the main guide for this style, which includes an APA cover page template.
Additional information about a source
It can be difficult to understand a source type just by looking look at an APA style citation. Sometimes it isn’t clear if you’re looking at a citation for a presentation, a blog post, lecture notes, or a completely different source type.
To clear up any confusion for your reader, you can include additional information directly after the title. This additional information about the source type is written in brackets, with the first word having a capital letter.
Here is an example:
Wilson, T. V. & Frey, H. (2019, May 13). Godzilla: The start of his story [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from //www.missedinhistory.com/podcasts/godzilla-the-start-of-his-story.htm
Thanks to the information in the brackets, the reader can easily see that the source is an audio podcast.
Check out the various examples towards the bottom of this page.
Publication information includes the name of the publisher and the city, state, or country where the information was produced. In most cases, the publication information is only included for print sources. Check out the book reference below to see the publication information in action.
Citing digital sources in this style is much easier than other styles. If you’re wondering why, it’s because a lot of information isn’t included in the reference. For most digital sources, only five items are usually needed:
- The name of the author
- The date the source was published
- The title of the source
- The medium (blog post, audio file, pdf, etc.)
- The website address
Here’s some more information related to web content:
- Only include the medium if it’s unique or if it will help the reader understand the source type.
- Include the website address at the end of the citation. Prior to writing out the website address, add “Retrieved from” before it.
- Do not place a period at the end of the website address.
Have a digital source? Need to cite APA? Check out some of the examples below.
If you want to learn how to cite websites in MLA, click on the link.
How to cite various source types
You’ll find plenty of source types below. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, try out our APA reference generator on EasyBib.com! Or, here’s a great informative site we like. If you’d like to see a full APA sample paper, take a glance at the main citation guide for this style on EasyBib.com.
Books in print
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year published). Title of the book. City of Publication, State Abbr. or Country: Publisher.
Gaiman, N. (1996). Neverwhere. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Looking for more examples? Check out our APA book citation page.
Chapter in a print book
A reference page APA citation for a chapter in a print book is styled the same way as the entire book. It is not necessary to showcase or display the individual chapter. However, in the text of the paper, the chapter is shown like this: (Author’s Last name, Year, Chapter #).
Chapter in an edited book in print
An edited book is one that was compiled by an author. Each individual chapter, or section, is written by someone else. Since you’re probably citing the specific chapter, rather than the whole entire book, place the name of the chapter’s author in the first position.
Chapter Author’s Last Name, F. M. (Year published). Chapter title. In F. M. Editor’s Last Name (Ed.), Title of book (Xrd ed., pp. x-x). City, State Abbr. or Country: Publisher.
Alexander, G. R. (2015). Multicultural education in nursing. In D. M. Billings, & J. A. Halstead (Eds.), Teaching in nursing: A guide for faculty (5th ed., pp. 263-281). Retrieved from //books.google.com/books?id=YxzmCgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=edited+book&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwja47-0kL_iAhUV7XMBHXzQBxAQ6AEIODAD#v=onepage&q&f=false
E-Books read over the Internet
To cite APA an e-book, cite it the same way as a website.
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year published). Title of book. Retrieved from www.websiteaddress.com
Alcott, L. M. (1905). Under the lilacs. Retrieved from //archive.org/stream/underlilacs00alco2?ref=ol#page/n9/mode/2up
E-Books read on an e-reader
Author’s Last name. F. M. (Year published). Title of book [E-reader version]. Retrieved from www.retailerswebsiteaddress.com
Gaiman, N. (1996). Neverwhere [Kindle version]. Retrieved from www.amazon.com
If you’re using EasyBib.com’s APA citation generator to cite your e-books, click on the “book” source type.
Wondering what to do if you’re using a book that was reprinted? Check out the example of Einstein’s book, found towards the top of this guide.
Journal articles found in print
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year published). Title of journal article. Title of Journal, Volume(Issue), page range.
Reeve, A. H., Fjeldsa, J., & Borregaard, M. K. (2018). Ecologically flexible endemics dominate Indo-Pacific bird communities. Journal of Biogeography, 45(8), 1980-1982.
Your APA style paper is easy to piece together with the tools and services on EasyBib.com. Try out our APA citation machine, which structures your references in just a few clicks. If you’re looking for the perfect APA cover page, give our APA title page maker a whirl.
Journal articles found online
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year published). Title of journal article. Title of Journal, Volume(Issue), page range. //dx.doi.org/10xxxxxxx
Reeve, A. H., Fjeldsa, J., & Borregaard, M. K. (2018). Ecologically flexible endemics dominate Indo-Pacific bird communities. Journal of Biogeography, 45(8), 1980-1982. //dx.doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13384
For more on journals, take a peek at our APA journal page. Or, make your citations in just a few clicks with our APA citation generator.
Newspaper articles in print
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year, Month Day of Publication). Article’s title. Title of Newspaper, pp. xx-xx.
Boutilier, A. (2019, May 29). Facebook won’t pull fake content for election: Official says it’s not company’s role to draw line as MPs blast Zuckerberg for not testifying. Toronto Star, p. 1.
Newspaper Articles found on the Internet
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year, Month Day of Publication). Article’s title. Title of Newspaper. Retrieved from www.websiteaddress.com
Boutilier, A. (2019, May 28). Facebook refuses to remove false content during Canadian election. The Star. Retrieved from //www.thestar.com/news/canada/2019/05/28/facebook-wont-remove-doctored-content-during-canadian-election.html
Magazines read in print
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year, Month or Season). Title of article. Title of Magazine, Volume(Issue), page range.
Freedman, A. (2019, June). How to choose a gaming laptop: You can play your game and take it with you. TechLife Australia, 90, 78-81.
Magazine articles read over the internet
Author’s Last Name, F. M. (Year, Month). Title of magazine article. Title of Magazine, Volume(Issue), page range. Retrieved from www.websiteaddress.com
Savage, P. (2019, May). Double dragon: Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a return to form for the singular crime series. PC Gamer, 319, 80. Retrieved from //www-pressreader-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/usa/pc-gamer-us/20190521
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year, Month Day of posting). Title of post [Blog post]. Retrieved from www.websiteaddress.com
Chochrek, E. (2019, May 29). 7 summer activities that help boost your college applications [Blog post]. Retrieved from //www.easybib.com/guides/7-summer-activities-that-help-boost-your-college-applications/
See another example on our APA citation website page.
When you’re done with your paper, run it through our grammar checker. If there’s a conjunction, adjective, or preposition out of place, our top of the line technology provides quick fixes and suggestions to help make your APA style paper a home run.
Here’s the APA template for most social media platforms:
Last name, F. M. [Username]. (Year, Month Day of posting). Full text of caption or post [Tweet OR Facebook page OR Instagram photo OR Instagram post]. Retrieved from www.websiteaddress.com
If the name of the individual is unknown (such as Lady Gaga), place the username first, without brackets
APA citation example:
Ladygaga. (2019, May 20). I’m so proud of @momgerm for being asked to serve as Goodwill Ambassador for @WHO. The goal of @btwfoundation is to bring awareness to mental health and empower everyone to create a kinder and braver world, and this is a huge part of that [Tweet]. Retrieved from //twitter.com/ladygaga/status/1130578727539052544
An APA generator is available to you on EasyBib.com Take the stress out of building the references for your APA style paper and try it out!
While you’re at it, it may be helpful to take a glance at our APA paper template. It can be found on the EasyBib Writing Center page. You can use the APA paper example to help structure your own APA title page and paper.
Song or music listened to online
Writer’s Last Name, F. M. (Year published). Song’s title [If the song was recorded by someone else, place in the brackets: Recorded by F. M. Last Name of individual] On Title of album [mp3 file]. Retrieved from www.websiteaddress.com (Recording date, if different than date it was published)
Hunter, R. (1974). Scarlet begonias [Recorded by Grateful Dead] On From the mars hotel [mp3 file]. Retrieved from //open.spotify.com/track/3euDGpS2R0NC2Xssqxohva?si=ZpXl1zuKS5-VLhdUViXVEA
To cite APA sheet music, cite it exactly the same as a book. If it’s found online, cite it as a website.
Use this format if you’re citing a video found online (such as a YouTube video).
Person who posted the video’s Last Name, F. M. [Username]. (Year, Month Day of posting or publishing). Video’s title [Video file]. Retrieved from www.websiteaddress.com
If the name of the individual isn’t available, start with the username, and remove the brackets.
Maroon 5. (2018, May 30). Girls like you ft. Cardi B [Video file]. Retrieved from //youtu.be/aJOTlE1K90k
If you’re in need of an APA citation machine to do the work for you, check out the homepage on EasyBib.com! We even have a free Title Page APA creator on the main page as well!
Producer’s Last Name. F. M. (Producer), & Director’s Last Name. F. M. (Director). (Year published). Film’s title [Video file OR DVD]. Retrieved from www.websiteaddress.com
APA referencing example:
Rudin, S., Bush, E., & O’Neill, E. (Producers), & Gerwig, G. (Director). (2017). Lady bird [Video file]. Retrieved from //nypl.kanopy.com/video/lady-bird
Thesis or dissertation from a database
Author’s Last Name, F. M. (Year created). Thesis or Dissertation’s title (Master’s thesis OR Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from www.websiteaddress.com
Author’s Last Name, F. M. (Year created). Thesis or Dissertation’s title (Master’s thesis OR Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Name of Database. (Assigned number)
Here’s an APA citation example:
Schluckebier, M. E. (2013). Dreams worth pursuing: How college students develop and articulate their purpose in life (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ERIC. (ED 554322)
If you’re looking for an APA citation builder to do the work for you, check out EasyBib.com’s APA generator!
Author’s Last name, F. M. (Year, Month Day of Conference). Title of conference paper. Paper presented at the meeting of the Organization, City, State Abbr.
Fowle, M. (2018, September). The entrepreneurial dream: Happiness, depression, and freedom. Paper presented at the meeting of the European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreunership, Aviero, Portugal.
If you conducted or watched a personal interview, and the transcript or audio is not available for the reader, then there really isn’t any point to create a full reference. These types of sources are not recoverable and the reader would be unable to find the interview on their own. Instead, only create a citation in the text of the paper. Use the first initial, middle initial, and last name of the person being interviewed, along with “personal communication,” and the date of the interview.
Check out this example:
W. I. Ikemoto (personal communication, June 2, 2019)
(W. I. Ikemoto, personal communication, June 2, 2019).
If the interview is recoverable, include the full reference on the final page of the project. If the interview was found in a magazine, use the magazine structure. If the interview was read on a blog, use the blog structure. Look for the APA headings above that match your specific source type.
Since the bible is considered a “classical work,” and widely known, it is not necessary to create a full reference. Only include a citation in the text of the paper.
Two items need to be included:
- The title and version of the source, such as the New Living Bible
- The names, verses, chapters, or any numbers associated with the section you’re referring to.
Check out this example:
“Then the king asked her, “What do you want, Esther? What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it’s half the kingdom” (Esther 5:5 New Living Translation).
Online encyclopedias & dictionaries
Title of heading (n.d.). In Title of reference work (Numbered edition, if available). Retrieved from www.websiteaddress.com
n.d. stands for “no date.” If there is a date included on the source, place the year in parentheses.
Kinetic energy (n.d.). In Encyclopedia britannica. Retrieved from //www.britannica.com/science/kinetic-energy
Title of entry (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved Month Day, Year, from website address.
Kinetic energy (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved June 6, 2019, from //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_energy
Don’t forget, our APA citation machine structures pretty much everything for you. Find it on EasyBib.com’s homepage and give our APA citation generator a try.
Didn’t find what you needed? Still a bit confused? Learn more here. You can also take the guesswork out of making your references with our handy APA citation generator, found at the top of this page.
Putting it All Together
You’ve structured your sources correctly, right? You have the periods, italics, and commas where they belong? Capital letters where they’re supposed to be? Great! You’re almost through! The last step is organizing your citations properly on the page. For easy to follow, in-depth instructions on structuring the last page in your project, check out our APA works cited page. If you’d like to see a sample APA paper, check out the main guide for this style on EasyBib.com!
Before you hit submit, make sure you run your paper through our plagiarism checker. It checks for instances of accidental plagiarism and scans for spelling and grammatical errors. Even if you think you have every verb, adverb, or interjection where it belongs, you may be surprised with what our innovative technology suggests.
Visit our EasyBib Twitter feed to discover more citing tips, fun grammar facts, and the latest product updates.
Published August 2, 2019. Updated September 3, 2019.
Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a dedicated school library media specialist and one of the in-house EasyBib librarians. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.
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