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Citation Help

Learn to cite your sources correctly.

APA American Psychological Association

APA Style

This style is common in psychology, the social sciences, life sciences, and nursing. This page will give you an overview and further resources.

Style Guide

This and other style guides are located at the front desk of the J. W. Martin Library.

Style Template

APA Style includes specific rules for formatting your paper.

Since you will likely write more than one paper in this style, you should have a pre-formatted template in your word processor. Use this file to create a template in Microsoft Word:

To Use this Document

  1. Download and open the file in Microsoft Word.

  2. Select FileSave AsThis PC.

  3. Select any location to save the file.

  4. In the Save As dialog box, select Word Template (*.dotx) from the Save as type: dropdown menu.

  5. Give the file any name you wish (e.g., “APA Format”) and select Save.

The template will now be available whenever you open Word. Use the style presets in the Styles pane to conform your document to APA Style.

Note: This Word file is formatted for a professional academic paper. A student paper has slightly different formatting, but the changes are easy to make. See the instructions and examples below.

Bibliography Cheat Sheet

This document contains examples of the most common types of bibliographic entries, with explanations.

Formatting a Student Paper

Student papers differ slightly from professional papers.

Follow these guidelines:

  • Use a consistent, readable font. Most professors prefer 12-point Times New Roman.

  • Use one-inch margins on all sides. In most word processors, this is the default setting.

  • Use your word processor’s built-in headers and page-numbering features to add a page number to the upper right corner of every page.

  • Present the title, your name, and relevant class information on the first page (Figure 1).

  • Double-space your entire document and indent your paragraphs half an inch.

  • Use your word processor’s heading styles to create headings for your document. Divide your paper into sections and give each section a heading to keep your material organized.

  • Use the title of your paper as the heading of the first section. Then give short, descriptive headings to subsequent sections (Figure 2).

  • Include a References page at the end of your paper (Figure 3).

Your professor’s requirements supersede anything in this guide. Be sure to read your syllabus and assignment instructions carefully.

Rules for Headings

There are five levels of heading in APA Style.

In most cases, you should not need all five levels. If you use more than three levels, consider restructuring your paper.

All the headings should be double-spaced and have the same font and font size as your body text. Remember, do not skip heading levels.

The heading levels and their styles are as follows:

  1. Centered, Bold, Title Case

  2. Flush Left, Bold, Title Case

  3. Flush Left, Bold Italic, Title Case

  4. Indented, Bold, Title Case, Ending with a Period.

  5. Indented, Bold Italic, Title Case, Ending with a Period.

You can see some heading examples in Figure 2.

Do not create headings by simply styling the font. Your word processor has a feature called Styles, which allows you to insert semantic headings and give them a consistent look.

If you use them properly, these headings will create a dynamic outline of your paper, making it more navigable both for you and for other readers. If you use the provided template, we have already styled these headings for you.

Sample Pages

These figures display pages of a student paper.

Because these examples are designed to imitate the dimensions of an 8½-by-11 sheet of paper, they are best viewed on a desktop monitor. They will display on tablets and phones, but some text may be missing or illegible.

The examples are interactive! Tap or hover over any text with a dashed underline to learn more about styling your paper.

Figure 1

Sample Title Page

1

Guided Imagery and Progressive Muscle Relaxation in Group Psychotherapy

Hannah K. Greenbaum

Department of Psychology, The George Washington University

PSYC 3170: Clinical Psychology

Dr. Tia M. Benedetto

Note. Adapted from Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, , p. 61. Copyright by the American Psychological Association.

Figure 2

Sample Paper Body

2

Guided Imagery and Progressive Muscle Relaxation in Group Psychotherapy

A majority of Americans experience stress in their daily lives (American Psychological Association,

Group psychotherapy effectively promotes positive treatment outcomes in patients in a cost-effective way. Its efficacy is in part attributable to variables unique to the group experience of therapy as compared with individual psychotherapy (Bottomley, ; Yalom & Leszcz, ).

Guided Imagery

Features of Guided Imagery

Guided imagery involves a person visualizing a mental image and engaging each sense (e.g., sight, smell, touch) in the process. Guided imagery was first examined in a psychological context in the 1960s, when the behavior theorist Joseph Wolpe helped pioneer the use of relaxation techniques suc as aversive imagery, exposure, and imaginal flooding in behavior therapy (Achterberg, ; Utay & Miller, ).

Guided Imagery in Group Psychotherapy

Guided imagery exercises improve treatement outcomes and prognosis in group psychotherapy contexts (Skovholt & Thoen, ). Lange () underscored two such benefits by showing (a) the role of the group psychotherapy leader in facilitating reflection on the guided imagery experience, including difficulties and stuck points, and (b) the benefits achieved by social comparision of guided imagery experience between group members.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Features of Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation involves diaphragmatic or deep breating and the tensing and releasing of muscles in the body (Jacobson, ). Edmund Jacobson developed progressive muscle relaxation in (as cited in Peterson et al., ) and directed participants to practice progressive muscle relaxation several times a week for a year.

Note. The text of this example has been condensed to better display the heading structure. Adapted from Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, , pp. 61–65. Copyright by the American Psychological Association.

Figure 3

Sample Reference List

10

References

  1. Achterberg, J. (). Imagery in healing. Shambhala Publications.

  2. American Psychological Association. (). Stress in America: The state of our nation. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2017/state-nation.pdf

  3. Bottomley, A. (). Group cognitive behavioural therapy interventions with cancer patients: A review of the literature. European Journal of Cancer Cure, 5(3), 143–146. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2354.1996.tb00225.x

  4. Jacobson, E. (). Progressive relaxation (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press.

  5. Lange, S. (). A realistic look at guided fantasy [Paper presentation]. American Psychological Association 90th Annual Convention, Washington, DC.

  6. McGuidan, F. J., & Lehrer, P. M. (). Progressive relaxation: Origins, principles, and clinical applications. In P. M. Lehrer, R. L. Woolfolk, & W. E. Sime (Eds.), Principles and practice of stress management (3rd ed., pp. 57–87). Guilford Press.

  7. Peterson, A. L., Hatch, J. P., Hryshko-Mullen, A. S., & Cigrang, J. A. (). Relaxation training with and without muscle contraction in subjects with psychophysiological disorders. Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research, 16(3–4), 138–147. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9861.2011.00070.x

  8. Skovholt, T. M., & Thoen, G. A. (). Mental imagery and parenthood decision making. Journal of Counseling & Development, 65(6), 315–316. https://doi.org/fxfsbq

  9. Utay, J., & Miller, M. (). Guided imagery as an effective therapeutic technique: A brief review of its history and efficacy research. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 33(1), 40–43.

  10. Yalom, I. D., & Leszcz, M. (). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy (5th ed.). Basic Books.

  11. Yu, S. F. (). Effects of progressive muscle relaxation training on psychological and health-related quality of life outcomes in elderly patients with heart failure (Publication No. 3182156) [Doctoral dissertation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Note. Several entries have been removed from this example list to reduce the length. Adapted from Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, , pp. 66–67. Copyright by the American Psychological Association.

In-Text Citations

Whenever you use ideas that are not your own, cite your sources.

A typical citation includes (a) the last names of up to two authors and (b) the year of publication.

If your source names no author, treat the publishing organization or website as the author. If a work has more than two authors, use the first author’s last name followed by the abbreviation et al. See the style manual for additional rules.

Cited material may be either (a) directly quoted or (b) paraphrased. A citation may be either (a) narrative or (b) parenthetical.

Direct Quotation

Place a short quotation between quotation marks, but set off a longer quotation in a block.

In-Line Quotation

Narrative Citation

In a narrative citation, the authors’ names and sometimes the year of publication are written out in the text.

According to Martin and Albers (), the traditional opinion that the cerebellum is exclusively associated with the control of balance, fine motor, and oculomotor coordination has been challenged on various fronts (p. 245).

In , Martin and Albers indicated that the traditional opinion that the cerebellum is exclusively associated with the control of balance, fine motor, and oculomotor coordination has been challenged on various fronts (p. 245).

Parenthetical Citation

In a parenthetical citation, the authors’ names and the date of publication go in parentheses with the page number.

The traditional opinion that the cerebellum is exclusively associated with the control of balance, fine motor, and oculomotor coordination has been challenged on various fronts (Martin & Albers, , p. 245).

Note the following:

  • Alternate between narrative and parenthetical citations to prevent monotony.

  • Place the page number after the direct quotation. Abbreviate page as p. and pages as pp.

  • Inside the parenthetical citation, abbreviate and as &.

  • Place the final punctuation (usually a period) outside the parenthetical citation, not inside the closing quotation mark.

Block Quotation

A quotation longer than forty words goes in a block quotation. Use block quotations sparingly in your paper.

Narrative Citation

Neurologists have extensively studied the cerebellum and its relationship to nonmotor functions. However, the term nonmotor functions is potentially misleading. According to Martin & Albers (),

The term nonmotor functions of the cerebellum implies a strict distinction between motor control and other domains of cerebral function (perception, emotion, cognition, etc.) that seems to be largely artificial. The same or analogous neuronal substrates may be involved in motor control as well as in cognition and emotion. (p. 245)

Parenthetical Citation

Neurologists have extensively studied the cerebellum and its relationship to nonmotor functions. However, the term nonmotor functions is potentially misleading:

The term nonmotor functions of the cerebellum implies a strict distinction between motor control and other domains of cerebral function (perception, emotion, cognition, etc.) that seems to be largely artificial. The same or analogous neuronal substrates may be involved in motor control as well as in cognition and emotion. (Martin & Albers, , p. 245)

Multiple Paragraphs

If you quote more than one paragraph, add an initial half-inch indentation to each paragraph after the first.

According to Martin and Albers () in their overview of the relationship between schizophrenia and the cerebellum,

The same or analogous neuronal substrates may be involved in motor control as well as in cognition and emotion.

In addition to this general objection, the traditional opinion that the cerebellum is exclusively associated with the control of balance, fine motor, and oculomotor coordination has been challenged on various fronts. (p. 245)

Note the following:

  • Indent the entire block quotation half an inch.

  • Don’t place quotation marks around a block quotation.

  • Place the ending citation after the final punctuation mark.

  • As with in-line quotations, you can use either narrative or parenthetical citations.

Paraphrase

Your paper should not consist of a string of quotations from other works, so it’s important to employ paraphrases.

A paraphrase must correctly represent the original source but also reword it completely to avoid plagiarism. A proper paraphrase changes both the word choice and the sentence structure of the cited material.

Narrative Citation

According to Martin and Albers (), it is no longer universally believed in the field of neuroscience that the cerebellum’s function is limited to balance and coordination.

Parenthetical Citation

Although it had long been believed that the cerebellum serves no fuction aside from balance and coordination, more recent research has modified that view (Martin & Albers, ).

Note the following:

  • Page numbers are optional when you paraphrase.

  • If you don’t call out the authors’ names in the text, then place their names together with the year in the parenthetical citation.

  • Keep names and publication year next to each other. A year in parentheses alerts the reader to the presence of a citation.

  • When paraphrasing, you must completely reword the thought of the original work to avoid plagiarism.

Without Page Numbers

If you quote a work without page numbers, use section titles or paragraph numbers instead.

The mind is highly complex, and conditions that relate to it can be hard to treat (Brazier, , “What Is Psychologysection).

Multiple Authors

Name up to two authors in an in-text citation. If a source has more than two authors, use the first author’s name followed by the abbreviation et al., which means “and others.”

Qualitative analysis of comments by children and teachers from 12 classes suggested that WOWW may be an effective classroom management intervention, increasing teacher confidence and also producing tangible improvements in the way children work and behave (Harker et al., , p. 169).

Reference List

The reference list helps others check your work.

The entries in the reference list provide enough information to enable others to locate your sources. To ensure their usability, they must follow certain standards. Begin your reference list on a new page. Use a level-one heading to entitle it References (Figure 3).

Remember these rules:

  • Order. Arrange sources alphabetically by author’s last name. If you cite multiple sources by one author, arrange that author’s works by date of publication.

  • Formatting. Give each reference a hanging indent of half an inch.

  • Name. Authors’ names are written in Last name, first initials order. Write the author’s last name followed by a comma, followed by the initials of all additional names. Never write out first names or middle names in APA Style.

  • Date. Date of publication follows the authors’ names in parentheses. Typically, only a year is necessary, but for newspapers, magazines, or blogs, include month and day if available.

  • Title. In APA Style, write titles of works in sentence case. Journal titles are the major exception.

This Word document contains examples of the most common citations, with notes explaining their parts:

Citation Examples

Here are the most common types of sources you will cite. For more extensive examples and unusual cases, refer to the style guide.

Book

A book by one individual is the simplest source to cite.

Pashler, H. E. (). The psychology of attention. MIT Press.

Include these elements in this order:

  1. Authors. The authors’ names in Last name, first initial order.

  2. (Date). Only the year of publication is necessary.

  3. Book title. Italicize the title and write it in sentence case.

  4. Publisher. The name of the publisher. If the copyright page lists two or more publishers, include them all, separated by semicolons.

Article

An article citation includes additional information.

Most journals and magazines are divided into volumes and issues. Typically, a volume contains a year’s worth of issues. Academic journals are usually paginated by volume whereas popular magazines are paginated by issue.

Journal Article

Martin, P., & Albers, M. (). Cerebellum and schizophrenia: A selective review. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 21(2), 241–250. https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/21.2.241

Magazine Article

Gibbens, S. (). Psychology: Of romance and puppies. National Geographic, 233(5), 21.

Include these elements in this order:

  1. Authors. The authors’ names in Last name, first initial order.

  2. (Date). Only the year of publication is necessary for academic articles. For magazines, include all available date information.

  3. Article title. Write the title in sentence case. Do not place it in quotation marks.

  4. Periodical Title. Italicize the title of the journal or magazine and capitalize each major word.

  5. Volume number. Italicize the volume number but do not place a space between it and the issue number.

  6. (Issue number). Place the issue number in parentheses, followed by a comma.

  7. Page numbers. Include the page range of the article, followed by a period.

  8. Digital Object Identifier (DOI). Include a DOI, written as a web address, if one is available. If no DOI is available and the article is on the open web (i.e., not in a database or behind a paywall), include a URL.

Article in an Edited Book

The citations for collected articles in a book or individually written book chapters combine the elements of article and book citations.

Harker, M. E., Dean, S., & Monson, J. J. () Solution-oriented educational psychology practice. In B. Kelley, L. M. Woolfson, & J. Boyle (Eds.), Frameworks for practice in educational psychology (2nd ed., pp. 167–193). Jessica Kingsley.

Dictionary or Encyclopedia Entry
With Author

Care, N. S. (). Moral discourse. In A. E. Kazdin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Psychology (Vol. 5, pp. 302–306). American Psychological Association; Oxford University Press.

With No Author

Treat the organization that produced the work as the author.

If you cite undated or continuously updated material from the internet, use n.d. in place of a date and state when you retrieved the information.

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Positive transference. In APA dictionary of psychology. Retrieved , from https://dictionary.apa.org/positive-transference

Include these elements in this order:

  1. Authors. As with other citations, the authors’ names always come first.

  2. Title of article or chapter. Write it in sentence case with no surrounding quotation marks.

  3. Editors’ names. The book should name editors. Write the editors’ names in First initial, Last name order after the word In. Follow the editor or editors’ names with (Ed.) or (Eds.).

  4. Book title. Italicize the book title and write it in sentence case.

  5. (Edition and page numbers). In parentheses, note if this is an edition other than the first. Also include the page range of the cited article or chapter.

  6. Publisher. Include the publisher at the end, as with other books.

Webpage or Online News Article

With Known Author

Cite a webpage much as you would cite a book, treating the name of the website as the publisher. Follow the website name with the URL of the page.

Brazier, Y. (). What is psychology and what does it involve? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154874

With Unknown Author

If the author is unclear, use the name of the website or organization as the author. There is no need to repeat the website’s name after the name of the webpage.

Mayo Clinic. (). Electroconvulsive therapy for adolescents: Make sure it’s on the menu. https://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/psychiatry-psychology/news/electroconvulsive-therapy-for-adolescents-make-sure-its-on-the-menu/mac-20429824

Blog Post

It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a webpage and a blog post, but when you cite, the main difference between the two is which part you italicize.

If the site is not clearly a blog, default to webpage style. See the style guide for further details.

Bownds, D. (). Sullivan on what has happened to the belief system of the American elites. Deric’s Mind Blog. https://mindblog.dericbownds.net/2021/07/sullivan-on-what-has-happened-to-belief.html