The basic idea behind a reference is that it should include enough information about the source so that the reader can easily find it. Therefore it is necessary to write your references consistently.
Who created the source?
This is either one or several authors, or an organization.
When was the source created?
In most cases this is the year the source was published, but in some cases, for example newspaper articles, you also include the month and day as well. When no year can be identified in the source, you can instead write n.d. (= no date) in its place.
What is the name of the source?
This is the title of a book, an article, a book chapter, a website, a report, a piece of music or a blog post.
Where can you find the source?
This part should answer the question "Where", and that means different things depending on what kind of source we are dealing with. If it is a book, it would be the publisher, if it is something on a website, it is a web link, if it is journal article, it is the journal, and if it is a book chapter, it is the book in which you can find the chapter.
APA is one of the most developed and used styles among those that originate from the so-called Harvard system. According to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), cited sources are written in the text within parentheses with information about the author and year. The style is frequently used in the natural sciences, social and behavioural sciences and medicine.
This guide is based on the latest edition of APA (the 7th edition).
There are several changes in the 7th edition of the APA manual. Here are some of the more important ones:
1. The publisher's location is no longer included in the reference.
2. The in-text citations for works with three or more authors are now shortened from the first citation. You only include the first author's name "et al.".
3. Up to 20 authors should now be provided in the reference list. If a publication has more than 20 authors, use (...) as before.
4. DOIs are written the same way as URLs. The label "DOI:" is no longer needed.
5. URLs are no longer preceded by "Retrieved from" unless the date is needed. The website name is included (unless it's the same as the author), and web page titles are italicized.
6. The format, platform or device is no longer included in references for ebooks. Instead, the publisher is included.
7. There are clear guidelines for including contributors other than authors and editors. For example, when citing a podcast episode, you include the host of the episode.
8. More examples of online sources are added, such as social media posts and YouTube videos. The use of hashtags and emojis is also explained.
Read more about the changes in the 7th edition in APA's free guide What’s New in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition (PDF, 1.3MB)