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Reference List: Basic Rules
Your reference list should appear at the end of your paper. It provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source you cite in the body of the paper. Each source you cite in the paper must appear in your reference list; likewise, each entry in the reference list must be cited in your text.
Your references should begin on a new page separate from the text of the essay; label this page "References" centered at the top of the page (do NOT bold, underline, or use quotation marks for the title). All text should be double-spaced just like the rest of your essay.
- All lines after the first line of each entry in your reference list should be indented one-half inch from the left margin. This is called hanging indentation.
- Authors' names are inverted (last name first); give the last name and initials for all authors of a particular work for up to and including seven authors. If the work has more than seven authors, list the first six authors and then use ellipses after the sixth author's name. After the ellipses, list the last author's name of the work.
- Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.
- For multiple articles by the same author, or authors listed in the same order, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to most recent.
- Present the journal title in full.
- Maintain the punctuation and capitalization that is used by the journal in its title.
- For example: ReCALL not RECALL or Knowledge Management Research & Practicenot Knowledge Management Research and Practice.
- Capitalize all major words in journal titles.
- When referring to books, chapters, articles, or Web pages, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns. Do not capitalize the first letter of the second word in a hyphenated compound word.
- Italicize titles of longer works such as books and journals.
- Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles or essays in edited collections.
- Please note: While the APA manual provides many examples of how to cite common types of sources, it does not provide rules on how to cite all types of sources. Therefore, if you have a source that APA does not include, APA suggests that you find the example that is most similar to your source and use that format. For more information, see page 193 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).
Information courtesy of:
Purdue University. (2015). Reference list: Basic rules. Retrieved from Purdue Online Writing Lab website:
Additional APA Resources
These OWL resources will help you learn how to use the American Psychological Association (APA) citation and format style. This section contains resources on in-text citation and the References page, as well as APA sample papers, slide presentations, and the APA classroom poster.
Website based on the book Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age, Fifth Edition, by Diana Hacker and Barbara Fister. For APA use the Social Sciences tab. Includes sample APA papers. Also a great source for MLA and Chicago styles.
On this site, you will find tutorials, FAQs, and other resources to help you improve your writing, master APA Style, and learn the conventions of scholarly publishing.
Read what writing experts say each week about all aspects of writing and style—from publication ethics to precision in reporting research to reference style and the clear expression of ideas. Join the discussion!
On this site, you will find a color-coded breakdown of various APA citations.
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NoodleTools Information Evaluation
Advanced information-evaluation support that covers a broad range of source types
Word APA Handouts
These documents have step-by-step instructions for how to format different portions of your paper.