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APA referencing

This guide will help you reference a source in the APA (American Psychological Association) style.

Reference list

Overview

See Chapter 9

A reference list is a list of all the sources cited in-text in your ssay/paper/report/article/presentation/etc.

The reference list provides the information necessary for a reader to be able to identify and locate all the sources you have cited.

 

Explore further

American Psychological Association. (2020). References. APA Style. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/references

The four elements of a reference

See 9.4

A reference generally needs four elements:

  • Author: Who is the person/people/group responsible for the work?
  • Date: When was the work published?
  • Title: What is the name of the work?
  • Source: Where can this work be retrieved?

Identifying these four elements will help you create a reference entry for any type of work, even if you can not find a specific example that matches it.

Examples

General format: Author. Date. Title. Source.

Book: Taylor, A. (2017). Troubled everyday: The aesthetics of violence and the everyday in European art cinema. Edinburgh University Press.

Journal article: Fritzon, K., Doley, R., & Hollows, K. (2014). Variations in the offence actions of deliberate firesetters: A cross-national analysis. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology58(10), 1150–1165. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X13487524

Newspaper article: Fineran, L. (2009, September 8). Bond University building wins Gold Coast urban design award. The Gold Coast Bulletin, 11.

 

Explore further

American Psychological Association. (2020). Elements of reference list entries. APA Style. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/references/elements-list-entry

See 9.79.12 

The author is the person, people or group responsible for creating the work.

  • Invert all individual authors’ names, providing the surname first, followed by a comma and the author's initials
  • Use a comma to separate an author’s initials from additional author names, even when there are only two authors. Use an ampersand (&) before the final author’s name
  • Provide surnames and initials for up to and including 20 authors. When there are two to 20 authors, use an ampersand before the final author’s name
  • When there are 21 or more authors, include the first 19 authors’ names, insert an ellipsis (but no ampersand), and then add the final author’s name
  • Use one space between initials
  • Write the author’s name exactly as it appears on the published work, including hyphenated surnames and two-part surnames
  • Retain the author’s preferred capitalisation
  • Use the editor abbreviation to indicate one (Ed.) or more (Eds.) editors as authors
  • Spell out the full name of a group author
  • Do not use abbreviations for group names in the reference list

See 9.139.17 

The date in the reference list should contain as much information as provided in the source (down to the level of day, do not include time of day published). It should be either:

  • Year (2020)
  • Year, month (2020, January)
  • Year, month day (2020, January 6)
  • Year, season (2020, Summer)
  • Date range (2019–2020)
  • No date (n.d.)

When citing a source that is likely to change or be updated over time (such as online maps, Facebook page, weather information, etc), provide a retrieval date in the source before the URL. The retrieval date follows the format month day, year.

Example

Bureau of Meteorology. (2019). Queensland warnings summary. Australian Government. Retrieved December 23, 2019, from http://www.bom.gov.au/qld/warnings

See 9.189.22 

In the reference list entry use sentence case for titles. In sentence case you only capitalise the first word of the title, first word of a subtitle, as well as any words such as proper nouns (People or country names, company names, etc.)

Titles fall into two categories:

  • Works that stand alone (e.g., whole books, reports, gray literature, dissertations and theses, informally published works, data sets, videos, films, TV series, albums, podcasts, social media, and works on websites)
  • Works that are part of a greater whole (e.g., periodical articles, edited book chapters, TV and podcast episodes, and songs)

When referencing a standalone work, such as a book, italicise the title. Place other information such as edition or report number, in parentheses after the title and non-italicised.

When referencing a work that is part of a greater whole, such as a journal or newspaper article, do not italicise or put quotation marks around the title of the article. You do, however, italicise the name of the greater whole, such as the name of the journal or newspaper

Examples

Stand alone work (book): Taylor, A. (2017). Troubled everyday: The aesthetics of violence and the everyday in European art cinema. Edinburgh University Press.

Stand alone work (book with an edition number): Shaw, A. (2019). Design for motion: Fundamentals and techniques of motion design (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Work that is part of a greater whole (journal article): Fritzon, K., Doley, R., & Hollows, K. (2014). Variations in the offence actions of deliberate firesetters: A cross-national analysis. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 58(10), 1150–1165. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X13487524

Work that is part of a greater whole (newspaper article): Fineran, L. (2009, September 8). Bond University building wins Gold Coast urban design award. The Gold Coast Bulletin, 11.

 

See 9.239.37

The source indicates where a work can be located.

In the reference list entry use title case for source names such as periodicals (e.g. name of journal or newspaper, website name). In title case you capitalise all words except conjunctions, articles or prepositions that are 3 letters or less (e.g. to, as, if, of, in, the, and). Always capitalise the first word of a title or subtitle.

  • The source for a work that stands alone (e.g. whole book, report, film, TV series, podcast, social media, webpage) is the publisher of the work, social media site or website, plus any applicable DOI or URL
  • The source for a work that is part of a greater whole (e.g. journal article, edited book chapter) is that greater whole (i.e., the journal or edited book), plus any applicable DOI or URL
  • Use 
  • A location is not required in the source element for most works (e.g. do not include the publisher location for book references)
  • Works associated with a specific location (e.g. artwork in a museum, conference presentations) include location information in the source
  • If a work is not recoverable, treat it as having no source

Sources for common reference types

Reference type Components to include
Journal article Title of journal, volume (if applicable), issue (if applicable), page range. DOI (if applicable)
Book Publisher name. DOI (if applicable)
Chapter in an edited book Information about the book the chapter comes from, including editor name, book title, edition and/or volume number (if applicable), page range, and publisher name. DOI (if applicable)
Webpage on a website (when authors are different from the site name) Website. URL
Webpage on a website (when authors are the same as the site name) URL
  • Always include a work's DOI (Digital Object Identifier) if it has one. Many journal articles and some books will have a DOI
  • For works without DOIs from academic databases, such as journal articles, you usually do not need to include a URL or database information
  • For online works such as websites, podcasts, social media posts, YouTube videos, etc., include the URL at the end of the reference, as long as the URL will work for any readers
  • Do not include a URL to any subscription only content

 

Explore DOIs and URLs further

American Psychological Association. (2020). DOIs and URLs. APA Style. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/references/dois-urls

See 9.4, Table 9.1

Missing element Solution Format
No missing elements Provide author, date, title & source Author. (Date). Title. Source.
Author Provide title, date & source Title. (Date). Source.
Date Provide author, indicate no date with (n.d.), title & source Author. (n.d.). Title. Source.
Title Provide author, date, describe the work in [square brackets] & source Author. (Date). [Description of work]. Source.
Author and date Provide title, (n.d.) & source Title. (n.d.). Source.
Author and title [Describe the work in square brackets], date & source [Description of work]. (Date). Source.
Date and title Provide author, (n.d.), [describe the work in square brackets] & source Author. (n.d.). [Description of work]. Source.
Author, date and title [Describe the work in square brackets], (n.d.) & source [Description of work]. (n.d.). Source.
Source Cite as personal communication (See 8.9) or find another work to cite (See 9.37). Do not put in reference list
Explore further

American Psychological Association. (2020). Missing reference information. APA Style. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/references/missing-information

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Reference list format and order

See 9.439.49

Please note that the formatting information below are general APA guidelines, however you should always follow the instructions provided from your teacher/rubric/assignment guidelines, even when they conflict with the guidelines below.

  • A reference list begins on a new page at the end of your work
  • At the top of the references, just put the word References, centre aligned and in bold type
  • Double space the entire reference list
  • Use hanging indents (instructions on creating a hanging indent in Microsoft Word: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/create-a-hanging-indent-7bdfb86a-c714-41a8-ac7a-3782a91ccad5)
  • Order all works alphabetically by the first word of the reference entry (usually author surname or group author name, but may be the title for works with no author)
  • For works with the same first author surname, arrange alphabetically by first author initials. If these are identical, arrange next by second author surname, etc.
  • For works with all identical author names, arrange works by year, oldest to newest

Example reference list

References

Armitage, L., & Burgin, S. (2015). The Pink Poodle, swimming pavilions and Miami Ice. In T. Hundloe, B. McDougall, & C. Page (Eds.), The Gold Coast transformed: From wilderness to urban ecosystem (pp. 131–139). CSIRO Publishing.

Bond University. (2018, May 2). Tackling social media risks and opportunities at Bond [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/ZeWW-VnOUnU

Brand, J. E., Todhunter, S., & Jervis, J. (2017). Digital Australia report 2018. Interactive Games and Entertainment Association. https://www.igea.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Digital-Australia-2018-DA18-Final-1.pdf

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. (n.d.). Overview of gene technology research at CSIRO. https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Farming-food/Innovation-and-technology-for-the-future/Gene-technology/Overview

Dellios, R. (2019). Security Landscape. In S. Romaniuk, M. Thapa, & P. Marton (Eds.). The Palgrave encyclopedia of global security studies. Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-74336-3_282-1

Fritzon, K., Doley, R., & Hollows, K. (2014). Variations in the offence actions of deliberate firesetters: A cross-national analysis. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 58(10), 1150–1165. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X13487524

Stapleton, P. B. (2017). EFT for Teens. Hay House.

Taylor, A. (2017). Troubled everyday: The aesthetics of violence and the everyday in European art cinema. Edinburgh University Press.

Watt, B. D., O'Leary, J., & O'Toole, S. (2017). Juvenile fitness for trial: Lawyer and youth justice officer professional survey. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 24(2), 191–204. https://doi.org/10.1080/13218719.2016.1220036