How to cite articles in APA format

Most APA citations have two parts:

In-Text Citations

In-text citations should have:

  • the author's (or authors') last name
  • the year of publication
  • the page number(s), if you're using a direct quote

There are two ways to do in-text citations:

  • Parenthetical citations – all citation information is in parentheses

    Ex. Some studies have found that students with disabilities are not always encouraged to go to college (Elmore, Veitch, & Harbor, 2018).

  • Narrative citations – citation information is split up

    Ex. Elmore, Veitch, and Harbor (2018) found that students with disabilities are not always encouraged to go to college.

General rules for in-text citations:

  • The quotation mark goes before the parentheses
  • The period goes after the parentheses
  • If the quotation is on just one page, use "p." before the page number. If the quotation spans across two pages, use "pp."

Reference List Citations

Most things in reference list citations should be lowercase - the exceptions are:

  • The first letter of the first word of the title
  • The first letter of the first word after a colon (see the example below)
  • Proper nouns (see the example below)
    • Not sure if something is a proper noun? Google it!

How to do article citations

In-text citation

Masta (2018) notes that participants in her study were "most at ease interacting with other Native American students" (p. 29).

Reference list

Masta, S. (2018). Strategy and resistance: How Native American students engage in accommodation in mainstream schools. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 49(1), 21-35.

Note: The general format for article citations is:

  • The author's (or authors') last name, followed by their first initial (and middle initial, if they choose)
  • The publication year
  • The article title
  • The journal or magazine title, in italics
  • The volume number, also in italics
  • The issue number, in parentheses but not in italics
  • The page numbers

Using database citation tools

Most of the library databases have citations for the articles they contain. These should only be considered a starting point - they often get things wrong. Here are some common errors that pop up: 

  • Incorrect capitalization
  • Incorrect volume and issue information
  • Incorrect page numbers
  • Incorrect punctuation (stray parentheses or periods, etc.) 

It's a good idea to be aware of APA citation rules in order to identify and fix those kinds of mistakes. If you need to brush up on your APA knowledge, here are a few good resources:

Learn how to do a hanging indent!

When putting together a reference list in APA style, the first line should be normal, but all other lines should be indented. This is called a hanging indent. Here's how you can do it.