Citing Sources in APA

APA style is a standard for formatting citations that is overseen by the American Psychological Association and is used by a number of disciplines.

Four elements of a reference


A reference generally has four elements: author, date, title, and source. Each element answers a question:

  1. Author: Who is responsible for this work?
  2. Date: When was this work published?
  3. Title: What is this work called?
  4. Source: Where can I retrieve this work?

Considering these four elements and answering these four questions will help you create a reference for any type of work, even if you do not see a specific example that matches it.

In-text citations


In-text citations should include the last name of the author(s) and the year of the publication. In this system, each work used in a paper has two parts: an in-text citation and a corresponding reference list entry.

In-text citations have two formats: parenthetical and narrative.

  1. Parenthetical – the author name and publication date appear in parentheses

Falsely balanced news coverage can distort the public’s perception of expert consensus on an issue (Koehler, 2016).

  1. Narrative – the author name and publication date are incorporated into the text as part of the sentence

Koehler (2016) noted the dangers of falsely balanced news coverage.

References list


The references list provides a reliable way for readers to locate the works authors cite to acknowledge previous scholarship.

Keep these tips in mind when compiling your references list:

  • Start the references list on a new page after the text and before any tables, figures, etc.
  • Alphabetize and double-space all reference list entries
  • Use hanging indents (i.e., all lines except the first of each citation should be indented)

More information

To see more examples and other situations of citing sources in APA style, see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th edition) located at the Research Help desk.