APA Lesson




APA Style Lesson

Marlin Schaich, PhD

Writing Across the Curriculum Committee at Nebraska Methodist College




OTHER COMPONENTS OF PAPER............................2



PART 2: IN-TEXT CITATIONS: INTRODUCTION..............................................................................4

DETAILS............................................................................ 5



"AUTHOR" SECTION........................................................ 7

DATE................................................................................. 8

TITLE................................................................................. 9

TITLE/SPECIAL CASES...................................................10


PUBLICATION INFO / BOOKS.........................................12


FINAL TIPS.....................................................................................................................................................14




Welcome to an APA Style lesson, produced by the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Commitee at Nebraska Methodist College! Most courses at NMC require that papers and even presentation slides (like PowerPoint) be formatted and documented using APA Style. Because using APA style (6th edition) may be new to you, we have developed this lesson to help you learn. You'll be writing many formal papers, and possibly participating in online discussions that use source material. You'll need to use APA Style as you write papers and online discussions, and also when you create visual aids for presentations during your time as an NMC student.

This is an interactive tutorial, with activities and examples along the way to help you to prepare for using correct and professional writing using APA Style consistently. This tutorial has three main parts. You'll be reminded about (a) the demands of the overall appearance of an APA-style paper, (b) the form and content of the in-text citations used in the body of a paper or PowerPoint, and (c) APA-style Reference list.

Please have a copy of the APA manual at your side—you must use the 6th edition. Throughout this tutorial, you'll see page numbers for rules, examples, and other information that you should note. You will also see examples in APA Style highlighted in yellow in the lesson below.

Mastery of APA style comes with repeated use, and with a willingness to ask your professors questions about details, such as whether or not to capitalize, whether or not to use italic letters, and whether—and which—punctuation marks should or should not be used. Mastering APA Style can only happen if you take the time to use the many resources available to look up specific rules. You will find numerous online helps, though the most authoritative source of APA information is the manual itself.

Learning the APA style completely and precisely is important for several reasons. First, it is the means by which a writer or speaker gives credit to sources used, and to omit such citations is to commit unintentional plagiarism. So you can see how serious this is. Secondly, following the expected patterns helps you to connect with a specific, professional discourse community. Your readers will expect to see these patterns, and will wonder about your credibility if you fail to follow them. Finally, the APA rules in place are designed to aid in communication, so problems in the form of your language do not interfere with your intended meaning. All of us want to be able to communicate effectively with our audiences, especially when these audiences are professionals.

All topics are listed under "Contents," above.

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The expected appearance of an APA-Style paper includes the use of margins of at least one inch on all sides of all pages, the use of doublespacing throughout, and an APA-styletitle page, which is illustrated on page 41 of the APA manual. A paper using APA Style correctly will place in the "header" region (½" down from the top edge) a "running head" in all-CAPs throughout the paper: this version of your title uses the very first 50 or fewer characters (including blank spaces) in your title only. In order for your title page to be correct, all pages must include the "Running head" line, flush with the left margin, and the numeral (alone--no "Page" or "p." intro) for each page number flush with the right-hand margin. You can format this header by opening "Insert" on the "Home" page of Word. Click here to view a short tutorial on this operation. (This video is housed on the home page of NMC's Writing Across the Curriculum, or "WAC," website—look for the orange "WAC" tab at the top of MyMethodist.) Rules for the running head are discussed on page 229 of your APA manual, and they are portrayed in the model papers on pages 41-59. Click here to view a different model paper, published by the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University.

paste_image1.jpg An APA-Style title page is unique. Centered about halfway down the page should appear three components, all double-spaced: your paper's title in lowercase letters (except for the first letter of significant words like nouns, adjectives, and even prepositions of four or more letters), your full name, and the name of our institution: Nebraska Methodist College. Here is a visual model of a title page:


Practice Activity: Which of the following items should APA have?





An abstract is a short summary of the main ideas/findings in your paper, and in APA Style, if it is needed, it appears on page 2 and is introduced with a centered title: Abstract [Not boldfaced--see p. 41 in your APA manual].

Shorter papers like reflections or online discussions do not need an Abstract, so check with your instructor to see if an Abstract is required for each one of your assignments. The paragraph containing the Abstract should not begin with an indented line. Abstracts in APA-Style papers should be 150 to 250 words in length. Lines on the Abstract page should be double-spaced. Keywords should be included, beginning with a separate line at the end of the abstract, indented 1/2", and using italics.

Activity: Test your knowledge: 

 Hyperlink to Crossword Activity 

Other Components of Paper:

Abstracts do not replace the introduction. The introduction of the paper (beginning on page 3 if the paper has an Abstract) should report the paper's main idea and introduce the scope of the paper, most often with the use of a thesis statement (but the heading "Introduction" is not allowed in APA Style). You should type your full title (NOT in ALL CAPs) at the very top, centered, of your first page of discussion (see the visual model on p. 42 of your APA manual). After the main discussion of the paper comes the References page(s), and after the References page(s) come (in this order): Footnotes (if needed), Tables, Figures, and finally, any appendix or appendices needed. See the model papers in your APA manual on pp. 41-59.

Activity: Test your knowledge: Place the components of an APA Style paper in correct order below:



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Rules about spacing, the appearance of the margins, and the components of the title page are not the only appearance issues the APA manual addresses. The APA manual does not require the use of a specific font, but it recommends consistent use of Times New Roman, 12 pt., for all words in a paper (including in the "Running head" lines), except possibly using a sans serif font like Arial, 12 pt., for figures added at the end. Use black type, and avoid overly large or small or decorative fonts.

Reading a paper, especially a more lengthy paper, will be facilitated by the inclusion of headings and even subheadings to set off each section. Whether a sub-heading should appear centered, or towards the left margin, or indented from the left margin, and whether or not it's italicized or boldfaced, as well as whether a period comes at the end, depends upon its "level" in the overall outline of your paper. The levels of headings are discussed on pages 62-63.

Most quotations should appear between (double) quoation marks, but quotations of 40 or more words should be placed in a left-indented, double-spaced "block," which uses no quotation marks except for setting off embedded quotations, or quotes within the quote. All lines of a block quotation must be indented ½" on the left margin, and are left "ragged" on the right margin. This topic appears on page 171 of the APA manual.

Also, in the body of your paper, if you find the need to offer substantial lists of items, you'll need to use (a), (b), (c) [etc.] or bullet-points to list items that are shorter than one sentence in length. You'll need to use 1. 2. 3. [etc.], or bullet points, when you list items of one sentence or more in length. This is called "seriation" in the APA manual, and is dealt with on pages 63-65.

Below appears a visual image of a page in a APA-Style paper which contains both seriation and the use of both Level-1 and Level-2 headings:



Activity: Here is a very clear online resource for helping you to format headings and subheadings correctly in your paper:

Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M.,...Keck, R. (2013, April 3). APA

headings and seriation. Retrieved from


One last note: You should use standard, expected abbreviations, such as p. for "page," pp. for "pages," and para. for "paragraph." If the name of an organization with a common abbreviation is used repeatedly in your paper, then place the abbreviation in parentheses after spelling out all words in its first reference, and then you can use the abbreviation for the rest of the paper; e.g., "...by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)." If other questions about the overall appearance of a paper come to mind, try to look up the rules in the APA manual, which lists many standard abbreviations, and if you cannot find the rule, don't hesitate to ask your instructor.

Activity: Watch this 5-minute video for visual instructions on formatting many "appearance" issues of a paper in APA Style:

OWLPurdue. (2012, May 9). Purdue OWL: APA formatting - The basics.

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdAfIqRt60c&list=PL8F43A67F38DE3D5D


Practice Activity: "DragNDrop" items into the correct boxes below:

 Hyperlink to DragNDrop Activity 


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The second part of this lesson deals with the citing of reference sources in the body of a paper or PowerPoint. These citations are called "in-text citations," and are almost always accompanied by a "reference entry" on the "References" list (which is the subject of "Part 3" of this tutorial). The rules for citing references are what people who talk about "the APA format" are usually referring to, and knowing how to find and use these rules is especially important. Part 2 of this lesson deals with the rules for "in-text citations," or for giving credit to sources in the body of a paper.

You'll find nearly all of the rules you need for in-text citations on just a few pages in your APA manual: pp. 174-179. Like other documentation systems, the APA format allows writers to carry out basic goals for in-text citations. Particular rules dictate the specific ways in which writers should give credit for particular ideas, facts, and quotations--right where they are stated in the body of a paper or on a PowerPoint slide. APA in-text citations are much shorter than reference entries in the final reference list, and they are designed to lead readers to more complete information in the list at the end of the paper.

More particularly, in the APA format, a complete in-text citation generally must report two items: (1) the author's last name (or the name of an organization which serves as author), and (2) the year of publication for each external source, usually in parentheses immediately after the author's name. You should place at least one in-text citation in every paragraph in which you have summarized, paraphrased, or directly quoted ideas, facts, opinions, or words you drew from an external source. To fail to include a citation for an idea taken from a source is to fail to properly cite sources, or to "plagiarize."

paste_image1.jpg If you have any questions about the proper way to credit a source, ask your instructor before the due date of your paper.

If the reference is to a "specific part" of a source, such as a direct quotation, then (in addition to author and year) a third item, in parentheses, is required—the page number (for printed sources displaying page numbers) or the paragraph number (for Internet sources not displaying page numbers) in parentheses. Before the page number and the paragraph number, you should use the standard abbreviation "p." or "para." See Section 6.19 on page 179 of the APA manual (6th edition).

Rarely a fourth item should be reported: on page 172 of the APA manual is a discussion of when to add a description of the section from which a quotation is taken: when it is buried deeply in a lengthy Internet source, and citing "para. 87" would pose problems for both writer and reader: instead, cite a paragraph within an identified section; e.g., (…, Conclusion section, para. 2).

Just as you would do when using any documentation system, you should report authors' names, dates, and page or paragraph numbers accurately. If the names of authors are so important that you mention them in your own sentence, there is no need to repeat these names in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Finally, get in the habit of placing necessary periods or commas after parenthetical in-text citations, not before (with one exception: the punctuation at the end of a lengthy, left-indented "block" quotation).

As a final check when editing a discussion, reflection, paper, or PowerPoint, make certain that the number of sources you have cited in the body of your paper equals the number of sources that appear in your reference list at the end. Only three kinds of sources should not appear on the References list, but only in the body:

(1) If you report and entire website or page for informational purposes, then place the Internet address (URL) in parentheses in your paragraph; don't compose an entry for this on your References list.

(2) If a quoted line contains an author's citation, then you should include this in your quotation, but you should not compose a reference entry for your own paper because you have not read this source.

(3) If you are citing a private letter, memo, email, or nonarchived electronic discussion, or a personal interview or phone conversation, then you should report the source in text but not on the References page. In text, you should add the phrase "personal communication" after the comma following the "author's" name, which must include available first and middle initials. In addition, you should report the month and day, not just the year, at the end of your in-text citation. See p. 179 in your APA manual.


Practice Activity: Drag the correct response to the appropriate box.

 Hyperlink to DragNDrop Activity 


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The general rule of including (Author, YEAR) for summarized ideas and (Author, YEAR, p. #) or (Author, YEAR, para. #) is simple to follow, but sometimes source materials raise questions about the specific requirements. One question that might arise is: How many authors' names should go in parentheses? The answer is: If the source has one or two authors, place the one author's or both of two authors' names in every citation (if two, separated by an ampersand); e.g., (Kulich & Mayhew, 2017). For sources with 3, 4 or 5 authors, place all the authors' names in the very first citation in the paper, but in later references to this exact source in your paper, place only the first author's name, plus the notation "et al" plus a period in the author section of the citation; e.g., (Klein et al., 2016). All that is needed for documenting sources with six or more authors is the first author's name listed, plus the notation "et al" plus a period. See the chart on page 177.

As you see in the model in-text citations that appear on pages 174-179 of the APA manual, the APA format dictates the form of the authors' names, too.

Generally, only the last name is reported in in-text citations—the only exception is the use of two sources by authors with the same surname, such as P. J. Smith and A. R. Smith. Use the authors' initials in in-text citations to distinguish them in this case, but otherwise, never cite an author's first name or even an initial for it.

The ampersand (&) is used in parenthetical in-text citations to set off the last author in a list of two to five authors; you should spell out the word "and," however, when the authors' names appear as part of the grammar of your own sentence instead of in parentheses.

If more than one source must be cited for one set of facts or ideas that you are reporting, don't begin a new set of parentheses; instead, separate each citation with a semicolon (; ); e.g., (Suskin, 2015; Hepp & Traymore, 2017).

If the author is an institution or an association rather than a person, you'll need to spell out the full name of this organization, and capitalize the first letter of content words, such as nouns and adjectives, and even prepositions with four or more letters; e.g., If you cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an in-text citation would begin: (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20xx….). If you wished to refer again and again to the "CDC," you should place this initialism in square brackets immediately after the spelled-out name the first time you cited the source; e.g., (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 20xx….). Identifying this source as simply CDC in all subsequent citations will suffice. But spell out the full author's name (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) when you report this author on your References list.

Final notes: if the source absolutely has no known author (not even an organization), and the source is not signed "Anonymous," in place of the author's name in first position of an in-text citation, place the first couple of words from the title of this source, between double quotation marks, such as "Study Finds,"…. ; e.g, ("An Inquiry," 2016). See the discussion in Section 6.15 on pages 176-177 of the APA manual. If the ideas or words you are citing are your author's own cited, source material (the research he or she is using), then your own source is a "secondary," not a "primary" source. In this case, you'll need to name the author of the original ideas that were cited by your author, but you'll need to "cite" only the author of the source you have read, and to cite this author's name after the phrase "as cited in"; e.g., ...the "substitution clause" in Gifford's networking theory (as cited by Newark, 2016, p. 14). [A reference entry to credit "Newark," but not one for "Gifford," should appear on the References page.]

Here are some examples of using in-text citations correctly in APA Style:

Works with Multiple Authors

If there are two authors, name both authors each time you cite the work. Use the word "and" between the authors' names within the text, but use the ampersand (&) in the parentheses.

Example, Two authors in-text: Claxton and van Dulmen (2015) suggest that....

Example, Two authors in parentheses: ....(Claxton & van Dulmen, 2015)

If there are 3-5 authors, list all authors the first time they are cited. Use "and" between names within text, but ampersand if the names are in parentheses.

After the first citation, only use the first author's last name followed by "et al."

Example, Three authors first time in-text: Beck, Steer, and Carbin (2016) found that....

Example, Three authors 2+ time in-text: Beck et al. (2016) argued that....

Example, Three authors first time in parentheses....(Beck, Steer, & Carbin, 2016)

Example, Three authors 2+ time in parentheses....(Beck et al., 2016)

If there are 6 or more authors, simply use the first author's name, followed by "et al." for all citations.

Example, 6 authors in-text: Harris et al. (2017) found....

Example, 6 authors in parentheses: ....(Harris et al., 2017)


Multiple citations in a single parentheses

When multiple sources are used for the same statement, arrange the citations in the same order that they appear in the reference list (alphabetically by first authors name). Separate citations by a semicolon (;).

Example, Multiple citations: Several studies suggest that there are age differences in self-esteem (Robins,

Trzesniewski, Tracy, Gosling, & Potter, 2012; Robins & Trzesniewski, 2015; Tracy, Twenge, & Campbell, 2015).

Below appears an example of a page out of an APA-Style paper with a cited paraphrase, a cited quotation, and even a cited "block" quotation (42 words is "40 or more words); note also the placement of periods and the use of required "p." and "para." numbers in select in-text citations:



Activity: Test Your Knowledge: Answer the following questions about APA in-text citations:

 Hyperlink to DidYouKnow Activity 

 Hyperlink to DidYouKnow Activity 

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In addition to rules about the overall appearance of an APA-style paper (Part 1 of this lesson), and rules for the required form of APA in-text citations used in the body of a paper or on PowerPoint slides (Part 2 of this lesson), you'll need to be aware of APA requirements for entries on the References page at the end of a paper, or on the References slide at the end of a PowerPoint presentation. This is the topic of Part 3 of this lesson.

You'll find nearly all of the rules you need about how to compose reference entries for the list at the end on just a few pages in your APA manual: pp. 180-192. Also, the model reference entries in Chapter 7, "Reference Examples," are indispensable.

The References list should appear after the discussion in your formal paper or presentation comes to an end, beginning on a fresh, new sheet of paper, or on a separate PowerPoint slide. This list is entitled "References"; this title should be typed, centered, on the top line of this new page. This title must not be underlined, between quotation marks, in oversized or boldfaced type, or followed by a colon or period.

A visual model of an APA-style References page appears on pages 49-51 and on page 59 of the APA manual. You'll note that the References pages use the same margin size, font size, double spacing, and APA-style running head as the rest of the pages in the paper.

paste_image1.jpg The list at the end must include every single source cited in the body of the paper or PowerPoint, with only three rare exceptions: personal communications, in-text references to complete websites (just use parentheses in text), and sources named within quotations by another author. If you looked at a source, but ended up not using it, it should not appear in this list.

The reference is alphabetized according to the first letter in each entry: either the first letter of the author's last name, or the first letter of the first "significant" word in a group author's name (i.e., An entry for "The Association of Nebraska Sonographers" should appear before, not after, an entry for "Atkinson, P. J."). The general form that each reference entry takes is "hanging indent": the first line of each new entry begins flush with the left margin, and any needed additional lines of the entry are indented ½" from the left-hand margin.

Here is a visual display of the beginning section of a standard APA-Style references list:


Notice here that the writer used two sources written by "Benner." If you encounter this problem in an APA Style paper, then just list the two sources in chronological order. If two or more sources by the author were published the same year, then you'll need to designate which source is which by adding lowercase letters "a," "b," "c," [etc] immediately after the year, both in-text, in citations like: (Renner, 2004b), and on the References page; e.g.:

Benner, P. (2004a). ...

Benner, P. (2004b). ...

Benner, P. (2004c). ...

Chapter 7 of the APA manual—"Reference Examples"—contains a list of model entries for a wide variety of types of sources. The pages leading up to Chapter 7—pages 180-192—describe the component parts of reference entries. You should begin writing each entry by looking in Chapter 7 for a model of the kind of source you have used.

As you look over the model entries in Chapter 7, or on the sample References lists on pages 49-51 and on page 59, you should see some similarities among the diverse entries. Generally, for example, the order of the components of each entry is the same, whether it is for a book, a journal article, an article on the Internet, or any other source: First comes the author, then the date, next the title, and finally the publication information. Except for DOIs or URLs (see below), each component ends with a period.

On two occasions a component does not end in a period: if you have reported a "Direct Object Identifier," or "doi," for a journal article, or if the reference entry for an Internet source requires the reporting of the "Uniform Resource Locator," or URL, which is the Internet address beginning "http" or "www," the period at the end should be omitted.


Click here to download a helpful handout from NMC's WAC Website: look for "DOWNLOAD: Anatomy of an APA Reference Entry."

Practice Activity: Drag items from the left-hand column to the correct order in the right-hand column below:



Only rarely are there exceptions to this ordering and punctuating of components. One exception occurs when the author of a source is not known and the source is not signed "Anonymous." In this case, the entry begins with the title of the source, followed by the date, and then publication information.


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The APA manual describes on page 184 the form that authors' personal names, or the names of organizational "authors," must take. With the rare exception of a source with no known author, all APA-style Reference entries on the References list begin with the author of the source. If a person's name is not clearly identified in the source as the author, consider other potential "authors" first before regarding the source as unknown, and then moving the title into the first position of the entry; your source may be authored by a "group." For example, the "author" could be an institution, a corporation, or some other kind of organization—even the name of a website. If this is the case, type the name of the organization first in the entry, beginning all content words with capital letters—it's a proper noun. In the title of an organization, capitalize the first letters in content words like nouns and adjectives, and even in prepositions of four or more letters, remembering to include a period at the end, and spell out all words in the name of the organization: e.g., American Society of Pediatric Nurses.

In usual cases, when the author is a person or a group of people, type the authors' last names, followed by a comma and their first and middle initials (if given), each followed by periods; e.g.:

Yankton, R. B., Rouse, E. E., & Trymore, W.

Holden, A.N., & Gizcard, Y. F.

Zull, P.

Drayton, B. P., et al.

Credentials such as "M.D." "M.S." or "Ph.D.," are never listed, and complete first or middle names are not spelled out. For sources written by more than one author, separate these authors' names with commas. A list of multiple authors should follow, exactly, the order of the authors listed in the source; the first author listed will be the lead writer or researcher, who deserves the most credit. The best examples of the format of multiple authors appears in separate model entries on pages 198-201, and in the sample References lists on pages 49-51 and 59 of the APA manual.

If two to seven authors are responsible, a comma and an ampersand (&) are placed immediately before the last author's name in the list. If more than seven authors are listed in the source, after the sixth author's name should appear a comma, plus three ellipsis points, and then the final author's name listed for your source. See pp. 198-199, as well as the "Rosler" entry on page 51. Here is another example:

Wick, D. R., Stanley, T., Franzoni, D., Preston, R. R., Lustig, B., Morehouse, W. R., ...Tell, G. P.

If—and only if—the source is signed "Anonymous," in first position, place: Anonymous. Usually unsigned sources are not signed this way, however. In these cases, move the title of the work into first position, and alphabetize these sources according to the first letter in the title.

Practice Activity: Which of the following reports of authors' names use correct APA Style?




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paste_image1.jpg The second component in all APA reference entries is the date. The format for the date requires parentheses, plus a period at the end. For example, if a book or journal article was published in 2016, the year 2016 will be placed in parentheses, with a period at the end; e.g., (2016).

Few complications to the general rules apply. Because the date is always the second component of an APA reference entry, even if no date for the source can be found, a placeholder, which is the abbreviation for "no date" should appear in parentheses; always use the lower case letters "n" and "d" with periods; e.g., (n.d.). If the source is published monthly, add the month, but only after the year and a comma; e.g., (2017, January). If the source is a daily publication, add both the month and year after the comma after the year; e.g., (2016, June 8). On rare occasions you may use two sources by the same author, whose two sources were published in the same year. In these cases, add a lower-case "a" and "b" immediately after the year so readers can tell the two sources apart; e.g., (2017a). and (2017b). See the bottom of page 182.


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Since most APA reference entries have four general components, if you have reported the author and the date of your source, you're halfway done! In reality the title and publication information vary the most in reference entries, but general rules do apply.

For example, only certain titles should be italicized. Use italic letters only for: titles of books and book-length works; titles of journals; and titles of newspapers, newsletters, and magazines. In addition, use italics for titles of brochures and reports; titles of theses and dissertations; titles of unpublished papers and poster sessions; and titles of TV shows and motion pictures. You should use your own judgment about the title of a website: if it is a massive, book-length website, its name should probably be italicized.

Reminder: the expected patterns of using capital letters to begin words in titles on an APA-style Reference list may vary from the patterns you learned in high school. In most titles, you should capitalize the first letter of only the first word of a title or a subtitle, and the first letter of major words in proper nouns, such as the "J" and "W" in Jean Watson, or the "C," "D," "C," and "P" of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is one additional notable exception: content words in the titles of periodicals must begin with capital letters. If you are citing a newspaper, a journal, or a magazine, then the content words, such as nouns and adjectives, as well as prepositions of four or more letters, in the titles of periodicals should begin with a capital letter.


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On occasion, you'll need to report not one but two titles, and the APA manual's model entries in Chapter 7 address this frequent "complication."

For example, someone citing an article that appears within an edited book will need to report both the title of the article and the title of the book. The first title to report is the title of the main source that has been used: the title of the article. This title ends with a period. But immediately a new "sentence" must begin to report the title of the book. This sentence begins with the word "In," with a capital "I," and it is followed by the name of the book's editor or editors. Unlike the names of authors, the names of editors begin with initials for the first and middle names, and then the last names. Use an ampersand to join the names of multiple editors working together. Immediately after the last editor's name, place the abbreviation "Ed." --or for more than one editor, "Eds."--in parentheses, followed by a comma. Then you are ready to report the title of the book-length collection of articles. Before ending this "sentence" with a period, however, place the page numbers of the article in parentheses, using the abbreviation for "pages," "pp."

See the models at the bottom of page 202. As an example, an article by G. A. Johnson entitled "Treatment as Prevention," on pages 112 through 129 in a book edited by B. H. Simon, would report the two titles, including the title of the book The Benefits of Appropriate Treatment, in this way:


Johnson, G. A. (2017). Treatment as prevention. In B. H. Simon (Ed.), The

Benefits of Appropriate Treatment (pp. 112-129). ........

(The only component left to report in the above entry is the publication information.)

The reference entry for a journal article also requires the reporting of two titles, after the author and the year, but the format of such an entry differs some from a reference entry for an article in a book-length collection. Like articles in books, articles within journals also require the reporting of two titles, but instead of the word "In" and an editor's name, the journal title begins right after the title of the journal article ends. See the models beginning on page 198.


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If you are writing a reference entry for a journal article, then you should add a comma after the italicized journal title, because immediately after the title will appear what might be regarded as "publication information," the fourth and last required component of the reference entry. After the comma and a space should appear the "volume" number. This number should be placed in italics. If you're citing a journal article, you'll see on the article itself both a "volume" number and an issue number, or "number" number. The "number" number usually does not need to be reported, but it must be reported if each issue of the journal begins with page 1. If you must report this number, immediately after the volume number, without even a space, add the "number" number in parentheses. But do not italicize the "number" number; e.g., Pediatrics, 109(4)….

Often the final component of all reference entries for journal articles in print form is the page numbers on which the article appears in the journal. These numbers appear as numerals (with no "pp.,"!), ending with a period.

Increasingly, however, journal articles have assigned Direct Object Identifiers (or "DOI" codes), and you must add the DOI code after the introductory abbreviation "doi:" if it is known. Recently published articles have all been assigned a specific identifying code, which uniquely sets each article apart. Sometimes the DOI is listed in database entries, but not always. Sometimes you can find the DOI printed on the first page of the actual article. But you can always try to find the DOI by searching for it on the "Crossref.org" website (http://www.crossref.org/guestquery/).

When you find the DOI for your article, at the very end of your APA-style reference entry, type the lowercase letters "doi" followed by a colon, and then copy and paste the character string forming the DOI itself. Just like URLs, these character strings also should include no ending period. See the examples on pages 198-199, as well as the discussion of DOIs on pages 188-192. Here's an example: doi:10.9n38878d/98m88

For example, if you were citing A. L. Wilson's article entitled "Walking Saves Lives," which appeared on pages 26 through 42 in volume 37, number 2, of a journal entitled Journal of Health (and which had been assigned the DOI "doi:10.55/588.K663L87," then after the author and year "sentences" would appear the two required titles, followed by the publication data:


Wilson, A. L. (2016). Walking saves lives. Journal of Health, 37(2),

pp. 26-42. doi:10.55/588.K663L87

See the examples on pages 198-199, and discussion on pages 188-192.


Note: Using the handy "Cite" button in databases: You will likely be using databases of indexed articles to locate relevant sources, many of which will be journal articles in graduate writing. Whether or not it includes a "full-text" readable copy of an article, each database entry will include a handy "Cite" button, which will lead you to select "APA" and see displayed at least a rough draft of an APA-Style reference entry.

Here is what to look for:



paste_image1.jpg Do treat this "Cite" button's display of an APA-Style reference entry as a "rough draft," however, as mistakes are nearly always inevitable. This means that you should feel free to "cut and paste" the reference entry displayed in the database record into your paper or PowerPoint, but you must commit yourself to "editing" out the entry's incorrect uses of capital or lowercase letters, missing italic letters, extra characters, etc.

Practice Activity: Use this flash card activity to confirm your knowledge about basic features of APA-Style reference entries.

 Hyperlink to Flash Card Activity 


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The "publication information" for a journal article from a print source is limited to the volume and page numbers, and sometimes the issue number, along with the "DOI" or perhaps a "Retrieved" line if you found the article on the Internet, but the material in the "publication information" of APA-style reference entries varies the most among all components of the reference entry. The information required, as well as the order and form of this information depends upon the kind of source you are using.

Like the publication information for a printed journal article, material in the publication information section for a reference entry for a book is quite simple, traditional, and limited. Usually all that must be reported is the city and state, followed by the name of the publisher (and separated by a colon [:]), and ending with a period. If the book you are citing lists multiple cities where the publisher resides, list only the first city.

Cities must be accompanied by the abbreviation for the state. The APA style uses postal abbreviations for states, with no following period; e.g., NE, NY. Separate the city and abbreviated state with a comma. Few complications arise to reporting the publication information about a book. If the book is in a 2nd or "revised" edition, a notation about this edition, abbreviated "ed." should appear in parentheses immediately after the title, but before the period after the title. See the models on pages 202-205.

For example, if you used portions from the entire book entitled Telemedicine: The Future of Preventive Care, in its second edition, and if this book was authored by Kaye James Robison and T. Willard Roshelm, and was published in 2015 by Norton Press whose headquarters are in New York, New York, then your reference entry should read:


Robison, K. J. (2015). Telemedicine: The future of preventive care (2nd ed.). New

York, NY: Norton.


Practice Activity: Place items in an APA-Style reference entry for a book in the correct order, below.



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Sources that appear on the Internet that do not have a "DOI" available also require publication information to be reported in the final section of an APA-style reference entry.

Internet sources also usually have authors, titles, and dates of publication to report in the earlier sections of a reference entry. Report the copyright date, usually at the top or bottom of the page, or report the date on which the Internet page was "Last updated." Remember, the date always appears in the second position of an APA-style reference entry. Internet sites sometimes report no date at all. While these sites are probably not as reputable as ones that do, if you must use such a source, be certain to place the abbreviation for "no date" in the Date position:e.g., (n.d.).

Generally, the required publication information for an Internet source takes the form of a new "sentence" beginning with the phrase "Retrieved from" and the complete URL, or Internet address, for the page. It's easiest to open the Internet page, to highlight the address bar at the top of your Internet browser by right-clicking with your mouse, and then to copy and paste the complete URL after the word "from." If the specific web page, however, is readily available from the "Home" page (i.e., the website has a working "Search" bar), only the URL for the home page needs to be reported. The retrieval date is necessary only if the web page content is expected to change or be edited. In this event, place the month and day, plus the year (set off with commas), before the word "from" in the "Retrieved…" line; e.g., Retrieved July 23, 2017, from www.cnn.com

Model reference entries for Internet sources appear scattered throughout Chapter 7, but please note the use of identifying information, placed in square brackets immediately after the title, in entries for untypical sources such as podcasts, music CDs, and online maps on page 210. Also, because placing an extra period at the end of a URL will keep readers from accurately pasting your URL into their own browser, no period should appear after the URL.

This short tutorial cannot cover how to compose a reference entry for every single kind of complicated source you may use in a formal paper or project. Even the APA manual cannot do this. Nevertheless, the APA manual is the best resource to turn to when questions arise about entries on the References page (You'll need to use the 6th edition of the APA manual). Your question may be quite simple, such as how to report the edition number of a book, what the abbreviation for "Editor" is, or what to do when you use two sources by the same author. The index for the APA manual is the place to begin looking for answers. Especially if you choose to use sources outside the mainstream, such as sources from state statutes or in legal documents, you'll need to find a model entry in the APA manual that applies. Sometimes you'll need to synthesize the rules for two or three models together in order to fully and correctly report the publication information for your source.

Perhaps the first step in writing up a reference entry for a new source is to browse through the numbered list of the different models offered by the APA manual—this list appears on pages 198-224, though the most popular sources are illustrated on pages 198-210. If you're in doubt, it's always best to report too much publication information than not enough. Just keep one of your goals in mind in writing up the list in the first place: the entries on your References list should be clear and complete enough to lead your readers directly to your source so they can follow up on the work you have completed and continue to contribute to scholarship in your field.


Here is a useful resource to help you as you format your reference page in APA Style:

Paiz, J. M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M.,...Keck, R. (2012, October 31).

Reference list: Author/authors. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/06/ 


Watch this 3-minute video for visual instructions on formatting a References page, and correctly reporting authors' names and titles in APA-Style reference entries:

OWLPurdue. (2012, September 10). Purdue OWL: APA formatting: Reference list basics.

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpAOi8-WUY4


Watch this short video for visual instructions for composing a reference entry for a journal article in APA Style:

OWLPurdue. (2014, June 6). APA references: Periodicals.

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJiuBJoPAgQ&list=PL8F43A67F38DE3D5D&index=5

Practice Activity:


 Hyperlink to Selection Activity 


Please go to the next page.


paste_image1.jpg FINAL TIPS:

A call to edit: Once you have completed a draft of a formal paper or a PowerPoint in APA Style, having followed the expected format, included all the in-text citations, and written up the References list, you must reserve some time to edit your document to ensure that you have followed all the APA rules.

Start by scanning your References list to make certain that each and every entry uses all the components: Author, Date, Title or titles, and publication information. The only exception to this order occurs when the title must be placed first because an author is unknown. It's easy to check, for example, to see if the date of each entry, or the place-holder "(n.d.)." always appears in second position. As you do this, make sure these components are placed in the correct order. Look separately to make certain that the form of each component is conventional. Rules about the use of capital letters, italic letters, standard abbreviations, and "hanging indent" form must all be followed.

Information from interviews, phone calls, or emails will be cited only in the body of the paper or PowerPoint slideshow as "personal communications," but as a final check, make certain that each and every in-text citation to all other kinds of sources refers directly and exactly to one source that appears in the References list. The author, or the shortened title for sources that have no known author, must clearly point to one source, and only one source, in your list.

Supplemental resources: You may feel somewhat overwhelmed about the number of details that writers using APA Style are expected to know. This is natural at first. But resources are available. For instance, you can click here to download a helpful handout from NMC's WAC Website: look for "DOWNLOAD: How to Find Stuff in the APA Manual." If specific questions about APA arise while you are an MSN student, please feel free to ask your professor, or to contact NMC's coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum: Dr. Marlin Schaich (marlin.schaich@methodistcollege.edu).

Although the APA manual is the most authoritative source for APA rules, numerous online resources are available and are sometimes even easier for people to use. Here are perhaps the most useful sites:

We wish you well!

Writing Across the Curriculum Committee at NMC