APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).
Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2018-02-21 02:26:13
Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.
To see a side-by-side comparison of the three most widely used citation styles, including a chart of all APA citation guidelines, see the Citation Style Chart.
You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel.
General APA Guidelines
Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
Include a page header (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. To create a page header/running head, insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.
Major Paper Sections
Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. Please note that on the title page, your page header/running head should look like this:
Running head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER
Pages after the title page should have a running head that looks like this:
TITLE OF YOUR PAPER
After consulting with publication specialists at the APA, OWL staff learned that the APA 6th edition, first printing sample papers have incorrect examples of running heads on pages after the title page. This link will take you to the APA site where you can find a complete list of all the errors in the APA's 6th edition style guide.
Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends that your title be no more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.
Beneath the title, type the author's name: first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).
Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation, which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.
Image Caption: APA Title Page
Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting, italics, underlining, or quotation marks).
Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced. Your abstract should be between 150 and 250 words.
You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.
Image Caption: APA Abstract Page
Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.
How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA
Contributors' names and the last edited date can be found in the orange boxes at the top of every page on the OWL.
Contributors' names (Last edited date). Title of resource. Retrieved from http://Web address for OWL resource
Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
Always ask your mentor which style to use before you begin to write your paper.
The APA style refers to the method of writing research papers recommended by the American Psychological Association. The APA style is used in the social sciences and is governed by two basic ideas. The first is that a scientific paper attempts to show something that has already been proven true, so it calls for the past or present perfect tense when you cite the work of others. Second, the year of publication is important, so you need to feature it immediately after any named source in the text.
Smyth (1972) found that children often studied while watching television.
Williams and Maier (1994) have defined a new theory of cognition.
Use the present tense for generalizations and personal comments. Use the past or present perfect tenses only to introduce the work of cited sources.
Evidence of the rise of the heroin use exists for every age group, even children. Burroughs and Bruce (1996) reported on five incidents of heroin overdose in the under 10 age group.
Basic APA Facts
Always double space, including the text of your paper, quotations, notes, and the reference page.
Leave margins of at least one-inch at the top, bottom, right, and left of every page.
Use parenthetical citations to acknowledge direct quotations, indirect quotations, and/or any ideas you have borrowed from another person.
Use a reference page for reference to parenthetical citations.
Within the text of your paper, underline titles of books, plays, pamphlets, periodicals, films, television programs, and recordings; place in quotation marks titles of articles, essays in anthologies, book chapters, and lectures.
Number pages in the upper right hand corner. Include a running head.
Plagiarism is the use of the words and/or ideas of another person without acknowledging the source. Plagiarism is generally grounds for failure of a course and can lead to dismissal from college. To avoid plagiarism, acknowledge your sources with in-text citations and a reference page. Enclose direct quotations in quotation marks or otherwise indent them from the body of your text. If you use another person's idea or paraphrase another person's words, be sure to use your own language and style of writing — don't simply rearrange the words. Use an in-text citation to acknowledge the source, then list on a reference page the publications or sources from which you obtained your citations. For more detailed information on plagiarism and how to avoid it, see the handout available at the GVC Writing Center.
Cite the first appearance of another person's words and/or ideas by introducing the quotation or paraphrase with the author's name. After the first appearance, cite the author's name either within the text of your writing or within the parenthetical citation immediately following the cited passage. Always use the last name of the author/authors and the year of publication. The year of publication always follows the name of the cited/quoted authority. Note that commas separate items within parentheses. Following are some examples of in-text citation methods in the APA style.
In his study of the effects of alcohol on the ability to drive, Smith (1991) showed that the reaction times of participating drivers were adversely affected by as little as a twelve ounce can of beer.
If you don't use the author's name in the text, place it within the parenthetical citation with the date.
A recent study of the effects of alcohol on the ability to drive showed that as little as twelve ounces of beer adversely affected the reaction time of participating drivers (Smith, 1991).
Provide a page number when you use an exact quotation. Use quotation marks. Use the singular "p." or the plural "pp." to indicate page number(s).
In his study on the effects of alcohol on drivers, Smith (1991, p. 104) stated that "participants who drank twelve ounces of beer with a 3.5% alcohol content reacted, on average, 1.2 seconds more slowly to an emergency braking situation than they did when they had not ingested alcohol."
As an alternative, place the page number within parentheses at the end of the quotation. If you do so, remember to place the date immediately after the author's name.
In his study on the effects of alcohol on drivers, Smith (1991) stated that "participants who drank twelve ounces of beer with a 3.5% alcohol content reacted, on average, 1.2 seconds more slowly to an emergency braking situation than they did when they had not ingested alcohol" (p. 104).
Indent a direct quotation of 40 or more words five spaces from the left margin. If the quotation includes more than one paragraph, indent the first line of succeeding paragraphs five more spaces (ten spaces total). Don't use quotation marks, and be sure to double space the quotation as well as your own writing.
In her study of adult patterns of television watching, Roberts (1996) reported the following behaviors:
Response behaviors exhibited by participants who watched television without any other persons present in the viewing room included imitating the facial expressions and hand movements of television characters as well as talking to individual characters. Affective behaviors included exhibitions of anger such as shouting and throwing magazines at the television.
Such behaviors were less evident behaviors in participants who watched television in groups of three. Instead, participants in group watching were more likely to interject critical or humorous comments regarding the content of particular television programs.
If you're citing an author who's been quoted in another book or article, use the original author's name in the text, and cite in parentheses the source in which you found the quotation.
Behavior is affected by situation. As Wallace (1972) postulated in Individual and Group Behavior, a person who acts a certain way independently may act in an entirely different manner while the member of a group (cited in Barkin, 1992, p. 478).
When citing a work with two, three, four, or five authors within the text of the paper, name them all in the first entry, e.g., (Smith, Andrews, & Lawrence 1995). After the first entry, cite only the first author's name followed by "et al.," for example, (Smith, et. al., 1995).
When citing a work with six or more authors, name only the first author followed by et. al., for example, (Fredericks, et. al., 1995). If the author is not given, use the first word or two of the title in the parenthetical citation.
Massachusetts state and municipal governments have initiated several programs to improve public safety, including community policing and after school activities ("Innovations," 1997).
If "Anonymous" is specified as the author, treat it as if it were a real name: (Anonymous, 1996). In the bibliographic references, also use the name Anonymous as author.
The Reference Page
You must always have a reference page as well as in-text citations to avoid plagiarism. The Reference Page immediately follows the text of the paper. Items on the reference page are listed alphabetically. Begin the first line of a reference at the left margin (i.e., do not indent the first line as you did in the body text). All subsequent lines for a reference should be indented one-half inch this is sometimes known as an "outdent" or "hanging indent"). APA has a second format that uses normal (one-half inch) indents on the first line of a reference, then left justifies subsequent lines to the left margin. This format is only for documents being submitted for publishing. Student papers should always use the first (hanging indent) format. For the reference page, use the running head and page number, then center the title "References" two lines below.
List the author's last name first with initial of the first name; year of publication in parentheses; title of book underlined (capitalize only the first word of the title and of any subtitle, and all proper nouns); the edition (if any) in parentheses; place of publication; and publisher. Omit the words Publishing Company and Inc. from the publisher's name. Use one space after periods and other punctuation.
Book by one author
Zimbardo, P. (1992). Psychology and life (13 ed.). New York: Harper Collins.
List more than one book by the same author chronologically, earliest edition or work first.
Book by two or more authors—List authors as they are listed in the book; use an ampersand to indicate "and."
Brasco, D. & Corleone, M. (1992). Child development: A behavioral approach. New York: Calavita.
Tork, P., Jones, D., & Nesmith, M. (1968). Adolescent development: Behavioral mimicry. Los Angeles: Pasquin.
Textbook or anthology—List cited author, date of the cited author's work, the chapter or section title, the editor's name preceded by "In" and followed by (Ed.), the title of the textbook/anthology, edition number (if appropriate), page numbers on which the cited author's work is found, place of publication, and publisher.
Bailey, B. (1992). Jobs in the nineties. In V. Westerhaus (Ed.). Issues for the 21st century (pp. 55-63). New York: Holt.
Book with a corporate author—List alphabetically with authors; if published by the author of the book, list the publisher as the author.
American Psychiatric Association. (1992). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (3d ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Book with no author or editor—Alphabetize by book title.
Student planning guide for degree programs and portfolios. (1996). Saratoga Springs, NY: Empire State College.
Journal Article—List the author(s), year of publication in parentheses, title of article without quotation marks and with only the first word, proper nouns, and words after colons capitalized, name of the journal underlined and with all major words capitalized, volume number underlined, and inclusive page numbers not preceded by "p." or "pp."
Smith, A. (1975). Driver age and crash involvement. American Journal of Public Health. 9. 326-327.
Brown, W. & Williamson, L. J. (1983). The myth of carcinogenic elements in tobacco smoke. American Journal of Public Health. 14. 419-431.
Magazine—List the author(s), year and month of publication (without abbreviations), title of the article without quotation marks and with only the first word and proper nouns capitalized, name of the magazine underlined and with all major words capitalized, volume number, and inclusive page numbers preceded by "p." or "pp."
Jackson, L. M. (1997, April). Taking back the streets. School Planning and Management. pp. 30-31.
Newspaper—List the author(s), year, month, and day of publication (without abbreviations), title of the article with only the first word and proper nouns capitalized, complete name of the newspaper underlined with all major words capitalized, and the section with discontinuous page numbers preceded by "p." or "pp."
Raymond, C. (1990, September 12). Global migration will have widespread impact on society, scholars say. The Chronicle of Higher Education. pp. A1, A6.
The following information is provided in Harnack, A., & Kleppinger, E. (2000). Online! A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's.
World Wide Web sites
To document a specific file, provide as much as possible of the following information:
Date of publication or last revision (if known), in parentheses
Title of document
Title of complete work (if relevant), in italics or underlined
"Online" in square brackets
Availability (indicated by the word "Available")
Retrieval Date (indicated in square brackets at end of citation)
Patterson, O. (2001). Cultural continuity and collective memory. In The Emory center for myth and ritual in American life [Online]. Available: http://www.emory.edu/college/MARIAL/ [2001, October 29].
Author's name (last name, first and any middle initials). (Date of Internet publication). Document title. Where available: URL (or other retrieval information). Retrieval date.
Shapiro, H. (1999). Professional Communications. Available: http://www1.esc.edu/personalfac/hshapiro/professional_communications/default.htm [November 6, 2001].
An online book may be the electronic text of part or all of a printed book, or a book-length document available only on the Internet (e.g. a work of hyperfiction).
Bryant, P. (1999). Biodiversity and Conservation. [Online]. Available: http://darwin.bio.uci.edu/~sustain/bio65/Titlepage.htm [October 4, 1999].
Article in an electronic journal (ejournal)
Fine, M., and Kurdek, L.A. (1993, March 9). Reflections on determining authorship credit and authorship order on faculty-student collaborations. Available: American Psychologist. 48. 1141-1147 http://www.apa.org/journals/amp/kurdek.html [June 7, 1999].
Article in an electronic magazine (ezine)
Adler, J. (1999, May 17). Ghost of Everest. Available: Newsweek: http://newsweek.com/nwsrv/issue/20_99a/printed/us/so/so0120_1.htm [May 19, 1999].
Azar, B., & Martin, S. (1999, October). APA's Council of Representatives endorses new standards for testing, high school psychology. Available: APA Monitor. http://www.apa.org/monitor/inl.html [October 7,1999].
Bush, G. (1989, April 12). Principles of ethical conduct for government officers and employees. Exec. Order No. 12674. Pt. 1. Available: http://www.usoge.gov/exorders/eol2674.html [November 18, 1997].
E-mail. (Simply include a reference to the date sent and the subject heading)
Ward, Neil (email@example.com). (2001, October 22). Tutoring Japanese students. E-mail to Shirley Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
However, if the E-mail source is a consistently retrievable, subscriber-based journal or other text/document on E-mail, include it in the reference page as follows:
Funder, D. C. (1994, March). Judgmental process and content: Commentary of Koehler on base-rate [9 paragraphs]. Psycoloquy [On-line serial], 5, (17). Available E-mail: psyc@pucc Message: Get psyc 94-xxxx
Include the following information if your citation refers to an entire CD-ROM:
Beekman, G. (1991). Computer confluence (Version 1.0) [CD-ROM]. New York: Benjamin/Cummings.
Include the following information for an abstract on a CD-ROM:
Meyer, A. S., & Bock, K. (1992). The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon: Blocking or partial activation? [CD-ROM]. Memory & Cognition, 20. 715-726. Abstract from: Silver Platter File: PsycLIT Item: 80-16351
Norton, P. (1990). The new Norton guides 4.0 [Computer software]. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Whereas you might not always be able to supply all the above information, follow the general APA format for the specific type of source you are citing (journal, article, chapter, book, etc.). Include all necessary information to allow the reader to access the source material.
The APA style requires an abstract, an 80 to 120 word summary of the contents of the paper that immediately follows the title page. Be sure to ask your mentor whether or not s/he requires an abstract. The abstract should include the purpose, thesis, and conclusions of your paper and be accurate, self-contained, concise, coherent, and readable. Do not use a paragraph indentation for the abstract. The abstract requires a separate page and immediately follows the title page.
Nicotine has been identified as an addictive substance since the mid-nineteenth century, when it was the first substance used to explore and map the synaptic system of receptors. Moreover, the common perception of American society throughout the twentieth century regarded cigarette smoking as a bad "habit" akin to addiction. Yet, despite more than a century of scientific study into and acceptance of nicotine as an addictive substance, American political, medical, scientific, and common societies still carry on a dialogue regarding whether or not nicotine is addictive. This dialogue is the very foundation of the prevailing negative attitudes toward tobacco. The scientific and medical communities proclaim the costly outcomes of nicotine addiction while the tobacco industry claims that nicotine is a relatively innocuous product.
APA format requires a title page that establishes a running head. Ask your Mentor if you need to provide a title page for your paper.
Addiction: Societal Denial
of the Addictive Nature of Nicotine
William M. Reynolds
Austin Peay State University
Running Head: Addiction
Each successive page will then have the running head "Addiction" followed by the page number in the upper right-hand corner.
This style sheet was produced with the
aid of the Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (3rd ed.) and the Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (4th ed.)