Basics of APA

Please note! This page does not contain everything you'll ever need to know about APA. These are the basics. For more detailed information, please visit Purdue OWL or consult the APA handbook. A handbook is available for perusal without an appointment in the UWC, and you are welcome to make an appointment with a coach for additional help.

In-Text Citation

There are two elements that must be included in the first mention of a source in a paragraph: author name and year of publication. A direct quotation requires a page number as well. According to the most recent edition, subsequent mentions of the same source in the signal phrase of the same paragraph no longer require the year of publication. In other paragraphs, the year will need to be mentioned with the author name once again.

The custom of painting papier-mâché whales for the Norwegian holiday Day of the Dead Whales has its roots in a historical context. According to Janeway (2014), "whales were an important part of ancient Norwegian coming-of-age rituals" (p. 14). Those rituals included receiving nice haircuts, sitting by the ocean and thinking about stuff and things, and dancing like the whales around the April-pole. Janeway conducted an anthropological study, wherein she found remains along the Norwegian coast that suggest the custom has been celebrated for at least three years.

The exception is when one author has multiple sources in one paragraph. To clarify from which source information comes, the year must be included. Clarity is imperative.

Halco (2011) conducted a study, the purpose of which was to understand why space plankton flock to the same region of the Milky Way year after year. Previously, it had been found that space plankton were sensitive to cosmic vibrations (Halco, 2009). Those cosmic vibrations led space plankton to "traipse the universe along the same path forged by their ancestors" (Halco, 2011, p. 554).

If no date is provided, "n.d." should be substituted.

Paris (n.d.) discovered a unique form of sailing that was revolutionary for his time.

This form of sailing was dubbed Lean Boating, after the stature of the vessel required (Paris, n.d.).

Citation with Two Authors

In the case of a work with two authors, both names should mentioned for each citation.

If the names arise in the signal phrase, the word 'and' should come between the names.

Smith and Wesson (2000) studied the mating habits of cosmic shrimp.

If the names arise in the parenthetical, the symbol '&' should come between the names.

Contrary to assumptions, cosmic shrimp are asexual (Smith & Wesson, 2000).

Citation with Three to Five Authors

The first mention of the source requires all author names. Subsequent citations switch to the first author's last name followed by "et al."

Raimi, Raimi, Cunningham, and Craven (2015) conducted a study wherein young adults were exposed to horror films. Raimi et al. found that those who self-identified as fearful or anxious were less likely to vocally respond to horrific elements. Instead, the fearful or anxious participants closed their eyes and pretended they were somewhere else (Raimi et al., 2015).

Citation with Six or More Authors

All references to this source should list the first author name followed by "et al."

Picard et al. (1987) explained that the presence of beryllium alloys in deep space caused a number of confrontations.

The deposits, although physically flame retardant, were "inflammatory in nature, causing several cultures to fight" (Picard et al., 1987, p. 34).

Citation with No Author

Rather than an author name, use the first few words of the title followed by the year. The title of a book is italicized or underlined, while the title of a web page is in quotation marks.

Dogs are highly intelligent and generally very cute ("I love dogs," 2009).

According to Cats, Cats, Cats! (2010), dogs are very stupid and ugly.

Citation with an Abbreviated Organization

If you need to abbreviate an organization, write out the full name of said organization and then shorten that name. Later citations may use the abbreviation.

Highly contagious dance pathogens are found in most sick beats (National Organization of Dancers [NOD], 2011). According to NOD, resistance is futile, so those infected ought to get used to constant, unending dancing.

Reference Page

The reference page of a paper in APA style should have the word "References" centered at the top of the first page. All entries should be in alphabetical order, and the page should utilize a hanging indent.

Book with One Author

Last name, First initial. (year). Title of the piece: With appropriate capitalization. Location of

publication: Publisher.

Likier, K. (1991). Being an infant. San Jose, CA: Trash Inc.

Book with Two to Seven Authors

Last name, First initial, Last name, First initial, Last name, First initial, Last name, First initial, & Last name, First

initial. (year). Title of the piece: With appropriate capitalization. Location of publication: Publisher.

Paris, T., Kim, H., Torres, B., Chakotay, C., & Wildman, N. (1998). The life and times of American youth. Spain:

Books Forever.

Book with Eight or More Authors

List the first six authors followed by an ellipses (...) and the last author. Only seven authors should be listed. The others are omitted.

Last name, First initial, Last name, First initial, Last name, First initial, Last name, First initial, Last name, First

initial, Last name, First initial, ... Final Last name, First Initial. (year). Title of the piece: With appropriate

capitalization. Location of publication: Publisher. 

Alvin, C., Bobcha, Q., Cuerious, P., Daedalus, P., Erint, E., French, B., ... Zellous, R. R. (1878). How many

potatoes? London: Beginner Books.

Online Article with One Author

Please note that issue number may be omitted if the information is not available.

Last name, First initial. (year). Title of the piece: With appropriate capitalization. Title of Periodical, volume

number(issue number). Retrieved from url.

Palmer, A. (2011). Writing quality poetry: An introspective. Rad Modern Poets Monthly10. Retrieved from

Online Article with Multiple Authors

Online articles follow the same rules regarding multiple authors as books.

Two to seven authors are listed sequentially: Last name, First initial, Last name, First Initial, and so on.

Wright, M., Williams, K., Wheeler, B., & Sturgeon, C. (2009). Coaching: A mental competition

with no losers. Centered on Writing, 43(2). Retrieved from

Eight or more authors have the first six listed sequentially, an ellipses, and the last author's name.

Alligator, A., Bobcat, B., Chansey, C., Dragon, D., Elephant, E., Feraligatr, F., ... Zebra, Z. (2015).

The thin line between Pokémon and real animals. Is This Even Science?, 4(2). Retrieved


What if there is a DOI?

If a DOI is available, always include it in place of the url.

Last name, First initial. (year). Title of the piece: With appropriate capitalization. Title of Periodical, volume

number(issue number). doi: 000000000000000000.

Hanlon, R.T., Naud, M.J., Forsythe, J.W., Hall, K., Watson, A.C., McKechnie, J. (2007). Adaptable night

camouflage by cuttlefish. American Naturalist, 169(4). doi: 10.1086/512106.