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APA – Citing Sources

The reference list - common questions

Author names

Always check how author names have been formatted in previous publications. The format can vary depending on the nationality of the named person. However, the general rule is that the format in the reference list and the in-text citation should match the name of the work being cited.

Two-party surnames with for example "de" or "von" is in the reference list alphabetized by the first letter: de Beauvoir goes under D.   

Here are a few examples:   

Full name In-text citation Reference list
Simone de Beauvoir de Beauvoir de Beauvoir, S.
Cora Fernández Anderson Fernández Anderson Fernández Anderson, C
Andrew M. St. Laurent St. Laurent St. Laurent, A. M.
Désirée von Ahlefeld Nisser von Ahlefeld Nisser  von Ahlefeld Nisser, D.

 

Missing reference information

It might happen that the information needed to create a reference is missing from the source. In that case, try to look for the source in a library catalogue. If you're lucky, the catalogue will provide you with the missing information. If not, APA has strategies to adapt the reference.

Read more about citing sources with information missing: Missing reference information

Author unknown

If there is no author, the reference begins with the work's title. Alphabetize the reference entry by the first significant word of the title (i.e. leave out "A, "An", and "The" at the beginning of titles).
Though, consider first whether the author of the work is a group or an organization. 

  • Scientific principles. (2021).

No date

If no date is given, use the abbreviation n.d. within parenthesis (= no date).

Example:

Johnson, A. (n.d.) The book. A publisher.

Several sources without the year of publication

If you have several sources without the year of publication, the sources are separated by adding a, b, c, etc. after n.d.
Please note that there is a hyphen between the n.d. and the letter:

  • Anderson, T. (n.d.-a). Algebra from the past. Cambridge University Press.
  • Anderson, T. (n.d.-b). Mathematical journeys through time. Cambridge University Press.

In the reference, references with no date precede references with dates. 

Anderson, T. (n.d.)
Anderson, T. (2020)

The order of the reference list entries

The references in the reference list are ordered in alphabetical order by their entries, i.e., the author(s) or the organization. Examples:

  • Anderson, D., Wall, B., & James, S. (2010). 
  • Phillips, H., & Anderson, T. (2015).
  • World Health Organization. (2012).

Note: 

Two-party surnames with for example "de" or "von" is in the reference list alphabetized by the first letter: de Beauvoir goes under D.   

The non-significant words "a", "an" and "the" are ignored at the beginning of an author name for the purposes of alphabetizing: The Center for Autism is for example alphabetized under C in the reference list. 

Reference starting with numerals

If the reference entry begins with numerals, alphabetize it as though it was spelt out. Thus, "700 years" precedes "Turner", because when spelt out, "Seven hundred" appears alphabetically before "Turner".

Several works by the same author

If the same author(s) has several publications in the reference list, they are sorted by year in ascending order, i.e., the earliest year first:

  • Phillips, H., & Anderson, T. (2015).
  • Phillips, H., & Anderson, T. (2017).

Several works by the same author in the same year

If the same author(s) has several publications in the reference list, in the same year, they are sorted alphabetically by their titles. To be able to distinguish them when you cite them in the text, where you only use author and year, you add a letter after the year as well. Add a, b, and c etc. in the order they appear in the reference list:

  • Phillips, H., & Anderson, T. (2018a). Algebra: an introduction. Cambridge University Press.
  • Phillips, H., & Anderson, T. (2018b). Mathematical problems for everyone. Cambridge University Press.
  • Phillips, H., & Anderson, T. (2018c). String theory explained. Cambridge University Press.

This also applies if the sources have no year. Please note that there is a hyphen between n.d. and the letter:

  • Anderson, T. (n.d.-a). Algebra from the past. Cambridge University Press.
  • Anderson, T. (n.d.-b). Mathematical journeys through time. Cambridge University Press

Several works by the same first author

When you refer to several works by the same first author, you go in alphabetical order by the last name of the second author (or the third author if both the first and second authors are the same on two sources).

Example:

Arriaga, X. B., Capezza, N. M., Reed, J. T., Wesselman, E. D., & Williams, K. D. (2014). With partners like you, who needs strangers?: Ostracism involving a romantic partner. Personal Relationships, 21(4), 557-569.

Arriaga, X. B., Kumashiro, M., Finkel, E. J., VanderDrift, L. E., & Luchies, L. B. (2014). Filling the void: Bolstering attachment security in committed relationships. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(4), 398-405.

Read more: Citing several works by the same first author

Titles

In the reference list, capitalize the first word of titles of articles, books, reports, webpages, and other works. Also, capitalize the first word of subtitles. 

Example: 

  • Democracy in decline: Rebuilding its future

All major words of periodicals (for example journals, magazines and newspapers) are capitalized. (Nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, and all words of four letters or more are considered major words).  

Example: 

  • International Journal of Theoretical Physics

Works in another language

If you are multilingual and reference works in a language the reader is not expected to understand, add a translation of the title in the reference list. Use square brackets.

For works that are part of a greater whole (e.g. a journal article or an edited book chapter), translate only the title of the work being cited (e.g. the article or book chapter. You do not need to translate the title of the greater whole (e.g. the title of the journal or the edited book).

Read more: 
APA Style: Citing works written in another language
APA Style: When and how to transliterate titles in references

Basic format: 

Author, A. (year). Title [Translation]. Publisher.

Example Book: 

Housel, M. (2021). Über die Psychologie des Geldes: Zeitlose Lektionen über Reichtum, Gier und Glück [On the Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Luck]. FinanzBuch Verlag.

Example Journal article

Pérez-Gutiérrez, R., Casado-Muñoz, R., & Ordóñez-Fernández, F. (2022). Co-enseñanza como modelo de gestión organizativa en las aulas inclusivas: Fortalezas y debilidades [Co-teaching as a Model of Organizational Management in Inclusive Classroom: Strengths and Weaknesses]. Education in the Knowledge Society, 23, Article e28842. https://doi.org/10.14201/eks.28842

URLs in the reference list

  • A URL in a reference should link directly to the referenced web page when possible.
  • The link should be written as a hyperlink: http: // or https: //
  • You can choose whether you want the link to look like your writing program creates them (usually blue and underlined) or whether the link should look like the rest of the text.
  • The link should be clickable as a service to the reader.