APA Formatting

Learning Objectives

  • Examine APA documentation formatting and practices

APA Format

Cartoon of someone writing in a notebook.

Figure 1. Citing sources can be complicated, but there are tons of resources available to ensure you are successful. Minimally, you want to be familiar and comfortable with the basic expectations of APA Style so that you can check that your references and make corrections as needed.

APA citations differ slightly from MLA expectations. For in-text citations, APA asks for the year and page number, when applicable:

  • (Author Last Name(s), Year, p. #)
  • (Smith, 2013, p. 43)

The reference page citations follow this basic format:

  • Author Last Name, First Initial. Year Published. Article titled capitalized like a sentence. Name of Journal, volume(issue), page range. DOI number/URL

For example, a journal from a print database is formatted this way (if it were from an online database, you would include the DOI or URL at the end):

Author’s Last name, Author’s First and Middle initials, & Last names and initials of other authors, if any. (Year). Title of article. Title of Journal italicized, Volume number italicized(Issue number), Page numbers. DOI

Light, M. A. & Light, I. H. (2008). The geographic expansion of Mexican immigration in the United States and its implications for local law enforcement. Law Enforcement Executive Forum Journal, 8(1), 73-82.

An online article is formatted this way:

Author’s Last name, Author’s First and Middle initials, & Last names and initials of other authors, if any. (Year, Month and Day of publication, if available). Title of article. Title of Magazine italicized, Volume number italicized(Issue number, if available). URL or DOI link

Farelly, E. (2008, March/April). Fear of not having had. Orionhttps://orionmagazine.org/article/fear-of-not-having-had/

In this example, above, note that the title of the magazine is italicized. In APA 7th edition, articles published in online news sources (e.g., BBC News, Bloomberg, CNN, HuffPost, MSNBC, Reuters, Salon, Vox) will have the title of the article italicized but not the name of the source. Sources that have both an online and print presence (e.g., OrionThe Washington Post or New York Times), will italicize the name of the source but not the title of the article. This table below shows you that distinction:

Author Date Article/Page Title Website Name URL
Author, A. A.

Name of Group.

(2009).

(2018, October 31).

(n.d.).

Title of the article.

Title of the digital-only article.

Name of Periodical.

Name of Site.

http://xxxx

 

APA In-Text Citations

Imagine that you’re using APA style and have the APA style guide rules nearby (or another site explaining APA in-text citations). In your psychogeography paper, you want to quote the authors of the book The Experience of Nature, by Rachel Kaplan and Stephen Kaplan, which was published in 1989. What you want to quote is from page 38 of the book.

Here’s what you want to quote:

  • “The way space is organized provides information about what one might want to do in that space. A relatively brief glance at a scene communicates whether there is room to roam, whether one’s path is clear or blocked.”

Skim the headings in the style guide to remind yourself of what its rules concern.

Since it has rules about the length of quotations, you count the number of words in what you want to quote and find that your quote has 38, which is within the range for short quotations (less than 40), according to the APA style guide. According to the rule for short quotations, you see that you’re supposed to introduce the quote by attributing the quote to the author (last name only) and adding the publication date in parentheses. You write:

  • According to the Kaplans (1989), “The way space is organized provides information about what one might want to do in that space. A relatively brief glance at a scene communicates whether there is room to roam, whether one’s path is clear or blocked.”

Then you notice that the example in the style guide includes the page number on which you found the quotation. It appears at the end of the quote (in parentheses and outside the quote marks but before the period ending the quotation). So you add that:

  • According to the Kaplans (1989), “The way space is organized provides information about what one might want to do in that space. A relatively brief glance at a scene communicates whether there is room to roam, whether one’s path is clear or blocked” (p. 38).

You’re feeling pretty good, but then you realize that you have overlooked the rule about having multiple authors. You have two and their last names are both Kaplan. So you change your sentence to:

  • According to Kaplan and Kaplan (1989), “The way space is organized provides information about what one might want to do in that space. A relatively brief glance at a scene communicates whether there is room to roam, whether one’s path is clear or blocked” (p. 38).

So you have your first in-text citation for your final product:

  • According to Kaplan and Kaplan (1989), “The way space is organized provides information about what one might want to do in that space. A relatively brief glance at a scene communicates whether there is room to roam, whether one’s path is clear or blocked” (p. 38).

Try It

Review and practice some of the APA formatting guidelines for in-text citations in the following exercise.

Citation for References List

Now you want to make the bibliographic citation for your Works Cited list. Your citation is for the book called The Experience of Nature, written by Rachel Kaplan and Stephen Kaplan and published in 1989.

  1. You start by trying to apply the basic rules of APA style, which tell you your citation will start with the last name of your author followed by his or her first initial, and that the second line of the citation will be indented. So you write: Kaplan, R. and Kaplan, S. and remind yourself to indent the second line when you get there.
  2. Since you have two authors, you look for a rule regarding that situation, which requires a comma between the authors and an ampersand between the names. So you write: Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S.
  3. Because you know your source is a book, you look for style guide rules and examples about books. For instance, the rules for APA style say that the publication date goes in parentheses, followed by a period, after the last author’s name. And that the title of the book is italicized. You apply the rules and examples and write the publication information you know about your source: Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S. (1989). The Experience of Nature.
  4. Next, you look at the rules and examples of book citations and notice that they show the publisher information. So you find that information about your source (in a book, usually on the title page or its back) and write:
    • Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S. (1989). The Experience of Nature. Cambridge University Press.

Congratulations, you have now created the first bibliographic citation for your final product. When you actually create the references page, you’ll need to follow appropriate formatting guidelines, which include alphabetizing all of your entries.

Try It

 

Writing Workshop: APA Citations

Open your Working Document and find the section for APA Citations.

Pick one of the journal articles from the PLOS One website. Write a one-paragraph paraphrase or summary of the article, or a portion of the article that you chose to read. In your paraphrase or summary, include the correct APA in-text citation.

At the end of the summary, write the complete APA works cited entry for your article. (Note that the website provides a citation for you, but it is not quite formatted correctly, so you’ll need to make any necessary changes).

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