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APA Citation & Formatting: APA Reference Citations

Useful information to help you create a well-formatted document in APA 7th edition style

The Reference List

The reference list displays full citations for any sources you have incorporated into your writing, by quoting or paraphrasing the authors, referring to data or statistics collected by the authors, or reproducing images created by them.

The list is arranged in alphabetical order by the surname of the first named author of a work, the first word of a corporate author name, or the first word of the title of a work when no author is named.

The core elements of an APA reference citation are author, date, title, and source. The general format for an APA reference citation is: Author. (Date). Title [Format]. Source.

Definitions, formats, and guidelines for describing each element accurately and consistently are defined in Chapter 9 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition.

For more information and examples see APA Style: Reference examples

1. Author Element

Individual or group authors are listed in Lastname, Initial(s) format:

  • One author: Author, A. A.
  • Two authors: Author, A. A., & Author, B. B.
  • More than two authors: Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C.C
  • More than 20 authors: list first 19 authors, insert ellipses (...) between author 19 & final author

Corporate authors are listed by name and may include any of these:

  • institutions (ex: Brookings Institution)
  • organization (ex: American Association for the Advancement of Science)
  • government agencies (ex: National Institutes of Health)

Other contributors may include:

  • editor (ex: encyclopedia articles)
  • translator (ex: classical literature)
  • director (ex: film)

2. Date Element

In general, publication date, but other dates may be used:

  • date when information was updated or reviewed
  • the date when information was retrieved

The date format may be displayed variously, depending on the source:

  • Year only (2019)
  • Year and season (2019, Spring)
  • Year and month (2019, May)
  • Year, month and day (2019, May 17)
  • no date (n. d.)

3. Title Element

Italic Title Format for works that stand alone:

books and reference works in their entirety -- government and other reports -- dissertations and theses -- films and videos -- social media posts -- webpages

Example (book)
Kitzman, Robert. (2020). Designing babies: How technology is changing the ways we create children. Oxford University Press.

Italic Source Format for works that are part of a greater whole:

magazine, journal, & newspaper articles -- book chapters -- blog posts -- podcast episodes

Example (journal article)
Liao, S. M. (2019). Designing humans: A human rights approach. Bioethics, 33(1), 98-104.

4. Source Element

Information for books may include: publisher name -- page range if only part of the book is used -- URL if the book can be found only online

Information for articles may include: journal title -- volume and issue number -- page number or page range -- DOI (digital object identifier)

Information for online sources may include: name of website -- publisher of website -- social media site -- video hosting platform - URL

Citation Information - Online Article

Citation format: 
Author. (Date). Title. Source.


Liao, S. M. (2019). Designing humans: A human rights approach. Bioethics, 33(1), 98-104.

Sample Citations - Common Source Types

Book citation -- two authors
Doudna, J. A., & Sternberg, S. H. (2017). A crack in creation: Gene editing and the unthinkable power to control evolution. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Credo Reference encyclopedia article citation --  no author
Genetic engineering. (2018). In P. Lagasse, & Columbia University, The Columbia encyclopedia (8th ed.). Columbia University Press.
Journal article citation -- three authors
Ravitsky, V., Birko, S., & Dupras-Leduc, R. (2015). The “three-parent baby”: A case study of how language frames the ethical debate regarding an emerging technology. American Journal of Bioethics, 15(12), 57–60. https://doi-org/10.1080/15265161.2015.1103809
Journal article citation -- 20+ authors
Xiang, X., Corsi, G. I., Anthon, C., Qu, K., Pan, X., Liang, X., Han, P., Dong, Z., Liu, L., Zhong, J., Ma, T., Wang, J., Zhang, X., Jiang, H., Xu, F., Liu, X., Xu, X., Wang, J., Yang, H., Bolund, L., … Luo, Y. (2021). Enhancing CRISPR-Cas9 gRNA efficiency prediction by data integration and deep learning. Nature Communications, 12(1), 1-9.
Webpage -- corporate author, no publication date
National Human Genome Research Institute. (n.d.). Introduction to genomics. National Institutes of Health.
YouTube Video
Reactions. (2017, September 6). Genetically modified humans? CRISPR/Cas-9 explained [Video]. YouTube.
Creative Commons License
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