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Research Guides

Citation Styles & Tools: Formatting Guidelines

Quick help on citing sources and tools for storing and organizing sources.

In-Text Citations

In-text citation in APA Style uses an author-date system. Place the author's name and year of publication in parentheses, separated by a comma (#1). If the name of the author appears in the text, cite only the year in parentheses (#2). If both author and year appear in the text, don't include a parenthetical citation (#3).

#1: In the beginning stages... (Jenkins, 2003)

#2: Jenkins (2003) described the beginning stages...

#3: In his seminal 2003 study, Jenkins described ...

Sources with multiple authors:
2 authors: cite both names every time; e.g., (Smith & Jones, 2014)
3+ authors: cite only the 1st author plus et. al. subsequently; e.g., (Smith et al., 2013)

Direct quotations:
In general, for a direct quote (rather than a paraphrase), provide a page number in the citation in addition to the author and date.

But in the words of the inimitable Winnie: “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day” (Milne, 1926, p. 79).

**For more examples, please see the APA Manual or the OWL APA Guide

DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers)

A DOI is a unique, permanent locator for online materials.They are usually found at the top of an article or with the other citation information -- look for the letters "doi" followed by an alphanumeric sequence beginning with 10. Many older articles may not have a DOI.

Formatting Guidelines for References Page

APA style provides writers with a system for referencing sources through parenthetical citations, but also specifies guidelines for formatting papers. Below find basic guidelines for formatting your paper and References List. For more in-depth information on formatting, check out the OWL APA Formatting and Style Guide

You essay should be double-spaced with 1" margins. APA recommends using one of the following fonts and sizes: 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, or 11-point Georgia

References Title: Type the word "References" in the top center of a new page. Don't bold, underline, or use quotation marks for the label. Double-space citations and insert commas, colons, semicolons, and periods that separate parts of the citation. 

  • Indentation: First line of each citation is flush with the left margin; indent all subsequent lines of the citation.
  • Order: Alphabetize citations by first author's last name. Alphabetize sources without authors by title.
  • Authors: Invert all authors names; give surnames & initials for up to and including the 1st 20 authors. If there are more than 21 authors, list the first 20, then insert three ellipsis points and end with the last author's name. 
  • Capitalization: Capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle of books, articles and websites. However, capitalize all proper names/words and all words in the title of a journal, magazine, newspaper. Example: The Seattle Times.
  • DOI & URLs: If available, include a DOI or a URL at the end of the citation. THe signifier of DOI: is not needed within the citation.
  • Date: Follows the author's name, or the title if there is no author. Use full date when citing magazines, newspapers, newsletters and conference/symposium papers and proceedings. Use only the year when citing journal articles and books. If possible, include the date a web site was created or updated.
  • Italics: Titles of books and journals are italicized. Journal volume numbers are also italicized but issue numbers are not.
  • Page numbers: Use p. or pp. before page numbers for magazines and newspapers that don't have volume numbers. They are also used for pages for encyclopedia articles and chapters in edited books. Page number abbreviations aren't used when citing journal articles with volume numbers.
  • Publication information: Name of publisher.
  • Web sites: If the web site has a personal author it is cited similar to books etc including author, title, date etc. and retrieval date since content may change. When discussing an entire web site it is listed in the body of the page with name of web site or group and URL. Web site addresses are not included in the reference list.
  • Retrieved from: Use when there is no DOI for a journal or magazine article and you retrieved the article electronically, e.g., Retrieved from It isn't necessary to include a "retrieved from" statement with name of database from which an online article was retrieved. Exception: Add database name used when citing materials with limited circulation.