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How To Format A Reference In An Essay

In-Text Citations: The Basics

Summary:

APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).

Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2018-02-21 02:50:04

Reference citations in text are covered on pages 169-179 of the Publication Manual. What follows are some general guidelines for referring to the works of others in your essay.

Note: APA style requires authors to use the past tense or present perfect tense when using signal phrases to describe earlier research, for example, Jones (1998) found or Jones (1998) has found...

APA citation basics

When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, for example, (Jones, 1998), and a complete reference should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

If you are referring to an idea from another work but NOT directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your in-text reference. All sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

In-text citation capitalization, quotes, and italics/underlining

  • Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names and initials: D. Jones.
  • If you refer to the title of a source within your paper, capitalize all words that are four letters long or greater within the title of a source: Permanence and Change. Exceptions apply to short words that are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs: Writing New Media, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.

    (Note: in your References list, only the first word of a title will be capitalized: Writing new media.)

  • When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word: Natural-Born Cyborgs.
  • Capitalize the first word after a dash or colon: "Defining Film Rhetoric: The Case of Hitchcock's Vertigo."
  • Italicize the titles of longer works such as books, edited collections, movies, television series, documentaries, or albums: The Closing of the American Mind; The Wizard of Oz; Friends.
  • Put quotation marks around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles, articles from edited collections, television series episodes, and song titles: "Multimedia Narration: Constructing Possible Worlds;" "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry."

Short quotations

If you are directly quoting from a work, you will need to include the author, year of publication, and page number for the reference (preceded by "p."). Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.

According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (p. 199).

Jones (1998) found "students often had difficulty using APA style" (p. 199); what implications does this have for teachers?

If the author is not named in a signal phrase, place the author's last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.

She stated, "Students often had difficulty using APA style" (Jones, 1998, p. 199), but she did not offer an explanation as to why.

Long quotations

Place direct quotations that are 40 words or longer in a free-standing block of typewritten lines and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same place you would begin a new paragraph. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.

Jones's (1998) study found the following:

Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time citingsources. This difficulty could be attributed to thefact that many students failed to purchase astyle manual or to ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)

Summary or paraphrase

If you are paraphrasing an idea from another work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference, but APA guidelines encourage you to also provide the page number (although it is not required.)

According to Jones (1998), APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners.
APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (Jones, 1998, p. 199).

It is simple to layout and format your References page in APA Style, 6th edition. Follow my advice:

1) Use Times New Roman typeface, size 12pt.

2) Margins: 1 inch margins, left--right--top--bottom.

3) Type References (in PLAIN text ) at the top and center it. (Do not bold-face or italicize it)

4) Your entire paper is double-spaced. Thus, your first reference is two lines below References.

5) Alphabetize. Based on the first entry in the references paragraph, which usually is an author's name, always alphabetize all listings. Alphabetize by 1) Author’s Last Name, 2) First
Initial, and 3) Year of Publication.

6) Author names. When listing the author names, start with the last name, followed by the first name, or first initial, and middle initial. If you have between two and seven authors, list all of them, separated by commas, with an ampersand before the last author's name. If there are more than seven authors, list the first six authors of the source, followed by ellipses, and then the last author listed on the source. If different authors have the same Last Name and First Initial, enclose their First Names in brackets, such as Jones, T. [Timothy] and Jones, T. [Tara].

7) Date. Place the publication date in parenthesis, including the month and day if possible, such as: (2012, Jan. 1). If no date is available, place “n.d.” in parenthesis.

8) Publication year. If you have two sources from the same author in the same publication year, you'll want to make sure to mark the two years separately, so they can be distinguished easily using the in-text citation. Use a lowercase letter to distinguish the publication years for separate sources, such as: (2012a), (2012b), (2012c), etc.

9) Use hanging indentions on the References page only. Position the first line of the paragraph against the left margin and then indent subsequent lines of that paragraph by 0.5 inches.

10)Line spacing. Use double line spacing throughout your paper, including the References page.

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