Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

APA Style for Writing: How Do I Cite?

This guide will cover APA format for papers.


Note: All citations should be double spaced and have a hanging indent in a Reference List.

A "hanging indent" means that each subsequent line after the first line of your citation should be indented by 0.5 inches.

Citation Components

All APA citations contain four main components:

  1. Author 
  2. Date 
  3. Title 
  4. Retrieval information



List the full last name, a comma, and then the initials of the author, with a space between the initials. Do not list the full first or middle name of an author.

  • William Shakespeare  Shakespeare, W.
  • Louisa May Alcott  Alcott, L. M.
  • Leonardo da Vinci  da Vinci, L.
  • George W. Ogden  Ogden, G. W.
  • Jean-Luc Lebrun  Lebrun, J.-L.

Do not use courtesy or academic titles in your citations. Do include suffixes such as Jr., Sr., III, etc.

  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  Doyle, A. C.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  King, M. L., Jr.
  • Ronald C. White, Sr.  White, R. C., Sr.

List authors in the order they appear on the source. Spell out up to seven authors' names in the reference list in this format:

Two Authors:

Smith, J., & Miller, W. C. (date). Title of item. Retrieval information.

(Smith & Miller, 2009)

Three to Five Authors:

Smith, J., Jones, B. E., Brown, K. E., & Doe, J. (date). Title of item. Retrieval information.

List all authors in the first in-text citation; all subsequent references can only include the first author and add et al.

First Time: (Smith, Jones, Brown, & Doe, 2009)

All Subsequent Times: (Smith et al., 2009)

Six to Seven Authors:

Smith, J., Jones, B. E., Brown, K. E., Doe, J., Chan, L., & Garcia, S. M. (date). Title of item. Retrieval information.

In the in-text citation, only include the first author and add et al.

(Smith et al., 2009)

Eight or More Authors:

Include the first six authors, then three ellipsis points (. . .), and then the last author. In the in-text citation, only include the first author and add et al.

Smith, J., Jones, B. E., Brown, K. E., Doe, J., Chan, L., Garcia, S. M., ... Zhang, Z. Z. (date). Title of item. Retrieval information.

(Smith et al., 2009)

Some resources may be attributed to a group or organization, instead of a specific person or persons. In this case, give the name of the group or organization, capitalized as needed. If the resource is published by that same organization, use Author as the publisher. You may abbreviate the organization to a common abbreviation beginning with the second in-text citation.

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association(6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

First In-Text Citation:

(American Psychological Association [APA], 2009)

Subsequent In-Text Citations:

(APA, 2009)

For government authors that may have multiple departments as a hierarchy (for example, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine), you may use the responsible agency only.

National Library of Medicine. (2018). A brief history of NLM. Retrieved from

(National Library of Medicine, 2018)

If a book is compiled by an editor (usually specified on the cover or title page), list the names as usual, but add (Ed.)or (Eds.) after the names, to signify editor or editors.

Forrester, D. A. (Ed.). (2016). Nursing's greatest leaders: A history of activism. New York, NY: Springer.

(Forrester, 2016)

If there is no listed author or editor, start your citation with the title, place the date after the title, and continue the citation as normal. Remember that authors can be a company, organization, or group author, and that should be used as the author if provided.


Title(date). Retrieval information.


Oxford English dictionary (2nd ed.). (1989). Oxford, United Kingdom: Clarendon Press.

Many parents, caregivers lack basic child-safety information. (2009). Retrieved from

For in-text citations, use the title of the item, followed by the date. If the title is long, you may abbreviate it to the first few words. Book titles are italicized; journal or website articles are put in quotations.

(Oxford English Dictionary, 1989).

("Many Parents," 2009)

If the item is expressly attributed to "Anonymous," list that as the author:

Anonymous. (2006). Go ask Alice. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.

(Anonymous, 2006)

Similar Names

If your reference list will have more than one author with the same surname and first initial, give the full first name in brackets, and cite the full name in the text.

Smith, J. [John]. (1979). ...

(John Smith, 1979)

Smith, J. [Justin]. (2003). ...

(Justin Smith, 2003)

Source: The Finer Points of APA Style: When Authors Have the Same Surname [APA Style Blog]


Some authors may employ pseudonyms (Mark Twain for Samuel Clemens, for example). APA guidelines state that you should cite what you see—cite what is listed on the book or resource you are using.

Twain, M. (2006). The adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York, NY: Sterling. (Original work published 1884)

(Twain, 1884/2006)

Source: How to Cite Pseudonyms [APA Style Blog]

Religious/Nobility Titles

Some names, such as those with religious or nobility titles, may need to be listed differently in the References page in order to preserve the meaning:

Pope Francis. (2014). The church of mercy: A vision for the church. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press.

(Pope Francis, 2014)

Queen Raina of Jordan, & Tusa, T. (with DiPucchio, K.). (2010). The sandwich swap. New York, NY: Disney-Hyperion.

(Queen Raina & Tusa, 2010)

Source: What's in a Name? Names With Titles in Them [APA Style Blog]

Unusual Capitalization

Some authors may purposefully present their names with unusual capitalization, such as all lowercase. Preserve this capitalization in your references and in-text citations. However, keep in mind that some articles or books may stylistically choose to list authors in all caps; this is not an author choice. Disregard and format author names as others.

boyd, d. (2015). It's complicated: The social lives of networked teens. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

(boyd, 2015)

If the author's last name begins a sentence, however, capitalize it.

Boyd (2015) speaks to the ...


Most sources (such as books, journal articles, videos, etc.) only require the year. For magazines, newsletters, and newspapers, provide the full date.

Author, A. A. (2014, September 14). Title of item. Retrieval information.

(Author, 2014)

If an item does not have a discernible date, you may use n.d. as the date (for no date); do not simply leave out the date. For webpages, do not use a general copyright date given for the website. Look for a specific created, updated, or modified date for the page or document you are using.

Author, A. A. (n.d.). Title of item. Retrieval information.

(Author, n.d.)

If you have two or more distinct works by the same author and published in the same year, differentiate them as follows:

Rowling, J. K. (1999a). Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets. New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine.

(Rowling, 1999a)

Rowling, J. K. (1999b). Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban. New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine.

(Rowling, 1999b)

For items that have a full date, such as blogs or newspaper articles, add the differentiating letter to the year, and keep the month and/or day:

Flaherty, C. (2018a, March 14). Same course, different ratings. Retrieved from

(Flaherty, 2018a)

Flaherty, C. (2018b, April 12). Diversifying a classic humanities course. Retrieved from

(Flaherty, 2018b)

If both items are using n.d. instead of a year, include a hyphen before the differentiating letter:

Santa Fe College. (n.d.-a). Priority admissions dates. Retrieved from

(Santa Fe College, n.d.-a)

Santa Fe College. (n.d.-b). SF to UF: A true story. Retrieved from

(Santa Fe College, n.d.-b)

If you are citing a classic work that has been reprinted or republished, you can include the original date at the end of the citation. Include both dates in the in-text citation.

Freud, S. (2005). Civilization and its discontents. New York, NY: Norton. (Original work published 1930)

(Freud, 1930/2005)


APA requires you to only capitalize certain words in a title. You should capitalize the following:

  • The first word of the title
  • The first word of the subtitle, usually directly after a colon :
  • Any proper nouns (places, people, organizations, etc.)
  • All significant words in a journal title

Examples of Correct Capitalization:

  • Aces high: The heroic saga of the two top-scoring American aces of World War II
  • Can’t remember what I forgot: The good news from the front lines of memory research
  • The elements of library research: What every student needs to know
  • The FBI: A history
  • Introduction to research in the health sciences
  • Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs [journal title]
  • The Oxford guide to library research
  • Preparing research articles
  • Publication manual of the American Psychological Association

APA requires you to italicize the titles of stand-alone works:

  • books
  • journals
  • films
  • reports

If you are citing something that is part of a bigger work, you do not italicize the titles:

  • chapters in books
  • title of entry in a reference book
  • articles from journals, magazines, or newspapers
  • Web page

If a title ends with a non-period punctuation mark (such as a question mark or an exclamation mark), use that as the ending punctuation without adding a period.

Jacobs, J. B. (2002). Can gun control work? Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

If the title uses an em dash instead of colons for a subtitle distinction, preserve those.

Jain, S. K., Singh, B. P., & Singh, R. P. (2004). Indian homemade firearm—A technical review. Forensic Science International144(1), 11–18.

If the information you are citing is not a routine format, use square brackets after the title to clarify. Common examples include:

  • [Abstract]
  • [Video file]
  • [Blog post]
  • [Letter to the editor]

Reed, M. J., Kennett, D. J., Lewis, T., Lund-Lucas, E., Stallberg, C.,  & Newbold, I. L. (2009). The relative effects of university success courses and individualized interventions for students with learning disabilities [Abstract]. Higher Education Research & Development28(4), 385–400.

(Reed et al., 2009)

Retrieval Information

Depending on what you are citing, retrieval information could be:

Place of publication and publisher (for a book)

New York, NY: Phaedon Press.

Book that a chapter is located in

In M. Meyer (Ed.), Literature to Go (pp. 56–78). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's.

Journal, volume, issue, and page numbers

Journal of Popular Culture, 42(2), 123–142.

You will italicize a journal's volume number, but not the issue number: 12(13), for instance, is volume 12, issue 13. Only 12 is italicized.

DOI (digital object identifier) for online journal articles


Retrieved from

Give the two letter state postal code after all American cities, unless the name of the state is included in the publisher's name. For foreign cities, spell out the name of the country.

Example 1: Including State

Harrison, G. P. (2012). 50 popular beliefs that people think are true. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

(Harrison, 2012)

Example 2: State Name Included in Publisher Name

Kerstein, R. J. (2012). Key West on the edge: Inventing the Conch Republic. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

(Kerstein, 2012)

Example 3: Book Published Abroad

Zuckerman, P. (2012). Faith no more: Why people reject religion. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

(Zuckerman, 2012)

APA requires you to provide DOIs if available when citing an electronic journal article. DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier. DOIs serve as a permanent link to electronic content. Because databases generate dynamic links (i.e.,links that change each time you access an article), it is impossible to use these links to direct someone to an article. If an article has a DOI, you can give that information and easily direct readers to your references. Below are different places that a DOI might appear:

In the Results List of a Database:

DOI in results list

In the Database's Citation of the Article:

(found by clicking the title of the article in the results list)

DOI in citation

In the PDF of the Article Itself:

DOI in article PDF

DOI Resolvers

Once you have a DOI, you need to use a DOI Resolver to access the article. There are several resolvers, but the and CrossRef resolvers are recommended. Input the entire DOI, and you will be directed to the main article page.

DOI Resolver

Sometimes this DOI will take you to a database that Santa Fe does not have access to. If this is the case, please call the reference desk at 352-395-5409 for help retrieving the full-text of an article.

You can format a DOI in your references list in the following three ways:

  • (preferred)
  • doi:XXXXX

© 2020 Dallas College

Report an Online Accessibility Issue