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APA Citations (7th ed.): Reference List

This guide will help you learn how to properly cite sources in APA style and how to avoid plagiarism.

Elements of a Reference

A reference entry generally has four elements:

  • Author: Who is responsible for this work?
  • Date: When was this work published?
  • Title: What is this work called?
  • Source: Where can I retrieve this work?

Where to Find Information for a Journal Article

Typically, the information needed for a reference is found at the beginning of a journal article. See the example below with labeled elements.

Reference List Formatting

Use these guidelines to properly format your reference list in APA Style:

  • Begin the reference list on a new page after the text.
  • Place the section label "References" in bold at the top of the page, centered.
  • Order the reference list entries alphabetically.
  • Double-space the entire reference list (both within and between entries).
  • Apply a hanging indent of 0.5 in. to each reference list entry, meaning that the first line of the reference is flush left and subsequent lines are indented 0.5 in. from the left margin.

Reference List Order

Works are listed in alphabetical order in the reference list, by the first word of the reference list entry.

  • Arrange entries in alphabetical order by the surname of the first author followed by the initials of the author's given name(s).
  • When alphabetizing names, disregard any spaces or punctuation marks in two-word surnames. Also disregard anything in parentheses or square brackets.

If multiple works are by the same first author,

  • One-author entries should be arranged by year of publication, the earliest first. References with no date precede references with dates.
         Ling, C. (n.d.).
         Ling, C. (2016).
         Ling, C. (2019a).
         Ling, C. (2019b).

  • One-author entries should precede multiple-author entries beginning with the same first author, even if the multiple-author work is published earlier.
         Dorsey, A. E. (2019).
         Dorsey, A. E. & Kirkwood, M. (2015).

  • Multiple-author entries in which all authors appear in the same order should be arranged by year of publication.
         Hanks, A., & Hudson, C. S. (2017).
         Hanks, A., & Hudson, C. S. (2018).

  • Multiple-author entries with the same first author and different subsequent authors should be arranged alphabetically by the surname of the second author or, if the second author is the same, the surname of the third author, and so forth.

Other rules of alphabetizing include:

  • When alphabetizing by title, disregard the world "A," "An," and "The."
  • If a reference entry begins with "Anonymous," alphabetize it as if it were a true name.
  • If first authors of different works have the same surname and different initials, arrange alphabetically by first initial(s).
  • Alphabetize numerals as though they were spelled out.