Exceptional APA Citation and Referencing Guide

  • Share this:

APA Citation Guide

APA (American Psychological Association) style is used to cite sources in the field of social sciences. It can be used for research papers in the subjects of social anthropology, sociology, social psychology, political science, and economics.

In this guide, we will provide you with specific directions on how to organize and properly cite different types of sources in APA format — along with citation examples. This article is a good aid for anyone who wishes to live up to high academic standards, avoid plagiarism, and cite their sources in accordance with the latest APA style rules. 

APA Referencing Basics: Reference List

A reference list is a list of all the sources one has used in their essay. Everything in other citation styles, such as the bibliography or works cited page, are simply called a reference list in the APA format. In order to make it easier for a reader to navigate your essay and look for cited sources, there are specific rules to follow to organize it:

  1. First, the reference page is always the last page in your essay. At the top of the page, place the word “References”. Do not make it bold or underline it. All the text on this page should have the same spacing as the rest of your essay.
  2. In the reference list, the author's last name goes first and then the first name.
  3. Each source on the reference page must start on a new line. If the source takes up more than one line, all the lines following the first one must be indented one-half inch from the left.
  4. If there are multiple works by the same author, they should be listed in chronological order, from earliest to latest.
  5. On the reference page, the sources should be alphabetized according to the last names of the authors (or the first author, if there are multiple authors for one source).
  6.  Always write out every title in full, and make sure to stick to the punctuation and capitalizations used by the author.
  7. Titles of longer sources, like books and journals, should be italicized.

APA Referencing Basics: In-Text Citation

  1. Two authors. In order to do the in-text citation, both authors should be named in parentheses after the thought is finished. Instead of using “and”, use an ampersand to combine the two last names. Then, put a coma and include the year of publication.


(Smith & Jones, 2002)

If you choose to use a signal phrase, you should use “and”, and only put the year of publication in parentheses:


According to Smith and Jones (2002), the circumstances of…

Three, four or five authors. All of the authors should be listed regardless of whether you choose to do an in-text citation or signal phrase while citing your quote or information. List them all except the last one—using commas. The last one should have a comma AND ampersand in front of it, followed by the year:


(Karleson, Jones, Smith, & Orozco, 2020)

In any follow-up citations throughout the text, instead of listing all of the authors, you should simply include the first name followed by “et al.” and the year:


(Karleson et al., 2020)

Six or more authors. In this case, you should not list all of the authors in the in-text citation. In parentheses, or in a signal phrase, put the last name of the first author and “et al.”, along with the year. This is the correct way to do an in-text citation for a publication with multiple authors:


Karleson et al. (2020) suggested…

(Karleson et al., 2020)

No authors. If it appears that some of your sources do not have an author, the in-text citation should be done using the name of the publication. In parentheses, you should include the two first words from the name of the publication in quotation marks, followed by the year. The same goes for a signal phrase in-text citation, but without the use of parentheses:

Elites Writing

Elites Writing

I love writing