September 20, 2017

References Versus Citations

Timothy McAdooSlices-of-apples-juxtaposed-by-slices-of-oranges-183352038_997x1055by Timothy McAdoo

In the Publication Manual and in many, many blog posts here, we refer to both references and citations. If you are new to writing with APA Style, you might wonder “What’s the difference?” Like this apple and orange, they are created separately but work well together!



Small green apple onlyReferences appear at the end of a manuscript. They follow a whowhenwhatwhere format. For example:

McAdoo, T. (2017, September 20). References versus citations [Blog post]. Retrieved from

They appear (a) so you can give credit to your sources and (b) to provide a path for your readers to retrieve those sources and read them firsthand.



Small orange onlyCitations appear in the body of your paper and point your reader to your references. For that reason, we sometimes call them in-text citations. They are also sometimes called simply cites. Citations can appear in a paper in two ways:


  • parenthetically: (Becker, 2012; Lee, 2016; McAdoo, 2017) and
  • narratively: Becker (2012), Lee (2016), and McAdoo (2017) wrote blog posts about APA Style.

Include them in a paper to support claims you have made and/or to provide the sources for paraphrases and direct quotations.

As shown in the examples above, citations are almost always composed of an author surname or surnames and a date. The surname(s) that appear in a citation must exactly match those used in the reference. Likewise, the year in the citation matches the year shown in the reference. When the reference has a more precise date, the in-text citation includes the year only. For example, compare the reference and the in-text citation for a tweet. For more about creating in-text citations, see Writing In-Text Citations in APA Style.

Citations versus references

As noted above, most citations include author names; but, because some references have no author, their citations also have no author: When the reference includes no author, the citation includes the title (or a short version of the title). Also, many types of legal references do not include author names. To learn more about legal references and citations, see Introduction to APA Style Legal References.


September 06, 2017

Best of the APA Style Blog: 2017 Edition

Each fall we put together a “best of” post to highlight blog posts and pages that we think are helpful both for new students and to those who are familiar with APA Style. You can get the full story in our sixth edition Publication Manual(also available as an e-book) and our APA Style Guide to Electronic References, in addition to the pages linked below.

Getting Started

What is APA Style? 
Why is APA Style needed? 
Basics of APA Style Tutorial (free) 
FAQs about APA Style

Sample Papers

Sample Paper 1 
Sample Paper 2
Sample meta-analysis paper 
Sample published APA article


APA Style Basics Principles

How in-text citations work 
How reference list entries work 
How to handle missing information 
How to find the best example you need
   in the Publication Manual
"Cite what you see, cite what you use" 
How to avoid plagiarism

Grammar and spelling

The use of singular "they"
Punctuation Junction
 (what happens when punctuation marks collide)
Use of first person
Spelling tips 
Grammar tips

Student Resources

Citing a class or lecture
School intranet or Canvas/Blackboard class website materials
Classroom course packs and custom textbooks 
Research participant interview data 
Reference lists versus bibliographies 
MLA versus APA Style (in-text citations and the reference list)
Student Research Webinars From APA and Psi Chi


Understanding copyright status
Determining whether permission is needed to reproduce a table or figure
Securing permission
Writing the copyright permission statement for reproduced tables and figures
Attributing data in tables


References to Electronic Resources

Website references and in-text citations to websites
Citing multiple pages from the same website
Mobile apps
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) pages and posts
Blog posts and blog comments 
Online-only journal articles
YouTube videos and TED Talks 
New DOI display guidelines

Other “How-To” Citation Help

Translated sources (vs. your own translation)
Secondary sources (sources you found in another source) and why to avoid them
illustrators and illustrated books
Legal references 
Paraphrased work

Paper Formatting

Direct quotes and Block quotations
Lists (letterednumbered, or bulleted
Running heads

Keywords (vs. key terms)
Hyperlink formatting



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June 15, 2017

Creating a Reference for a Work Published With a Typo in the Title

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

If there’s a typo in a quotation, you use [sic] to show the reader that the error is in the original source and that you’re faithfully quoting it just as it appeared.

But, what if there’s a mistake in an article’s title? Do you add [sic] to the reference? We recommend not doing that, because it may appear to be part of the reference title. Instead, we recommend using a footnote.

First, know that typos in titles of published journal articles and book chapters are rare. If you think you’ve found a typo, there are a three things to check first:

  1. Focused-businessman-is-reading-through--magnifying-glass-document-400Is it really a typo? Or is it a rhetorical device or an author’s creative license? For example, in a title like “It's More Than Reading, Writing and 'Rithmetic,” the author is aware of the misspelling, and you should not add a footnote. Likewise, you need not add a footnote if the title includes contractions or slang.

    Example article with an intentional misspelling (do not use [sic] or a footnote)
    DeAngelis, T. (2003). It's more than reading, writing and 'rithmetic. Monitor on Psychology, 34(9), 46–47.
  2. Did the typo appear in the published article? Or, is it a typo only in the database, web page, or other source where you found the title? That is, let’s say you discovered an article via a search of the PsycINFO database. If you notice a typo, first determine whether the article was published that way or whether that’s a mistake in the database record only. (If so, let us know, and we’ll correct the record!)

    To do so: First, find a PDF or a print copy of the article. Or, check the publisher’s website. Publishers often offer a free table of contents. If you can’t track down an original, you can always contact the publisher’s office.
  3. Was a correction published? If so, see our earlier post on how to cite a corrected journal article.

If the article title really included a typo, explain in a footnote, if you want to ensure that your readers know that the mistake is not yours.

Example article that published with a typo in the title (explain in a footnote)

Linn, L. (1968). Social identification and the seeking of pyschiatric1 care. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 38, 83–88.
1The published article includes this typo.


May 31, 2017

What’s in a Name? Names With Titles in Them

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on author names. Other posts in the series will be linked at the bottom of this post as they are published.

Typically APA Style reference list entries and in-text citations do not include the authors’ academic credentials or professional titles. For example, if a book is written by Samantha T. Smith, PhD, then the reference entry refers to Smith, S. T., and the in-text citation to Smith. Professional titles are also omitted from reference list entries and in-text citations. For example, for a Thomas the Train book written by the Reverend W. Awbry, the reference refers to Awbry, W., and the in-text citation will be to Awbry (1946).

Here are some common examples of academic credentials and professional titles to omit from references and citations (note this is not an exhaustive list—anything in a similar vein will count):

Academic degrees or
licenses to omit

Professional titles to omit

PhD, PsyD, EdD (any doctorate degree)

Reverend (Rev.)

MA, MS (any master’s degree)

Honorable (Hon.)

MD, RN, BSN (any medical degree or license)

President (or any governmental or administrative rank)

MBA (any business degree)

Dr. or Doctor

JD (any law degree)

Military ranks (General, Captain, Lieutenant, etc.)

MSW, LCSW, LPC (any social work or counseling degree or license)          


BA, BS (any bachelor’s degree)


Note that if you do want to mention an author’s academic credentials or professional title in the text because it is relevant to the discussion, you should use the format without periods (e.g., PhD, not Ph.D.; an exception is for abbreviations of a single word, such as Rev. for Reverend).

Exceptions for Religious Officials and Nobility

Exceptions to including the title in APA Style citations occur when the person’s title is in essence their name. For example, although Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he now writes using the name Pope Francis. Here is how to cite an encyclical letter by Pope Francis:

Pope Francis. (2013). Lumen fidei [The light of faith] [Encyclical letter]. Retrieved from

In text: (Pope Francis, 2013)

You should not abbreviate the Pope's name to Francis, P., because this would render it unintelligible to the reader.

And here is an example of how to cite a book by Prince Charles of Wales:

The Prince of Wales (with Juniper, T., & Skelly, I). (2010). Harmony: A new way of looking at our world. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

In text: (The Prince of Wales, 2010)


Note that the two authors who are credited after “with” on the cover are listed in parentheses in the reference list entry and are not cited in the in-text citation. (For more information on “with” authors, see page 184 of the Publication Manual, sixth bullet.)

Other Questions

Do you have more questions on author names in APA Style? See these other posts, or leave a comment below:


May 24, 2017

What’s in a Name? Authors With Only One Name

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on author names. Other posts in the series will be linked at the bottom of this post as they are published.

This post addresses how to cite authors who have only one name. These people include celebrities (like Madonna or [the artist formerly known as] Prince) as well as many people from Indonesia. To cite works by these people, provide the full name without abbreviation, because abbreviating the given name would render the name unintelligible. So for example, a work by Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia, would be cited as such:

Reference list:

Sukarno. (1965). Sukarno: An autobiography (C. Adams, Trans.). Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.

In text: (Sukarno, 1965)

This category does not include people who are well-known by their first name alone but who actually publish under their full name—for example, although you might know who Oprah is from her first name alone, she has published books as Oprah Winfrey and so would be credited in the reference list as Winfrey, O., and would be credited as Winfrey (or Oprah Winfrey) in the text—but never as just “Oprah” unless she published under only that name with no surname. 

Other Questions

Do you have more questions on author names in APA Style? See these other posts, or leave a comment below:

Individuality-concept -birds-on-a-wire-503081960_1261x835

May 17, 2017

What’s in a Name? Cultural Variations in Name Order

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on author names. Other posts in the series will be linked at the bottom of this post as they are published.

Most people have one or more given names and a surname. However, the order of these names varies across cultures. This can create confusion when a writer is figuring out how to cite an author from a culture with different naming practices than the writer’s own.

To help you resolve questions regarding name order, do a little detective work.

  1. Look at how the author has been cited in other works and follow that presentation of the name.
  2. Authors usually use the default name order for the language in which they are publishing, so take your cues for name order from the language in which the article is written. For example, Yi-Chun Chang may publish as Yi-Chun Chang in an English journal but as Chang Yi-Chun in a Chinese journal. In either case, the APA Style format for the name is Chang, Y.-C., in the reference list entry and Chang (2016) in the in-text citation.
  3. Sometimes the surname is presented in all-capital letters on the source to distinguish it from the given name(s), for example, CHANG Yi-Chun or Yi-Chun CHANG. Do not retain the all-caps style for the reference; still write this name as Chang, Y.-C., in the reference list entry and as Chang (2016) in the text citation.

Other Questions

Do you have more questions on author names in APA Style? See these other posts, or leave a comment below:


May 10, 2017

What’s in a Name? Inconsistent Formats and Name Changes

Chelsea blog 2  by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on author names. Other posts in the series will be linked at the bottom of this post as they are published.

Although APA encourages authors to use one format for their name throughout their publishing career, inconsistencies do arise, and some authors choose to change their name for professional publication. This post addresses how to cite works in each of these circumstances.

Inconsistent Presentation

Sometimes names are presented inconsistently across publications. If the author has used different forms of the same name on different works, then your reference list entries should match the form of the name on the work being cited for reasons of retrievability. For example, sometimes the author may use a middle initial and sometimes not (e.g., perhaps Jacob T. Baker sometimes publishes as Jacob Baker).

Because both names refer to the same person and the differences between names are minor (namely, a missing initial), it is not necessary to adjust the order of the works in the reference list to account for the missing initial or to put the author’s initials in the text citations to distinguish the references. (Read more about the order of works in the reference list and see examples.)

Name Changes

Another case is when an author has changed names, such as a surname change after marriage or divorce or a name change for a transgender author. Do not change the name on a work if an author has published under different names; cite the work using the name shown on the publication you read. In most cases, it is not necessary to note for the reader that two different names refer to the same person; just cite each work normally.

  • Example change of surname: If Morgan J. McDonald now publishes as Morgan J. Williams, then cite the works in the text as McDonald (2005) and Williams (2017), respectively; in the reference list, the works should be alphabetized under M and W, respectively.
  • Example change to a hyphenated or two-part surname: If Taylor T. Hartley now publishes as Taylor T. Hartley-Jones, then cite the works in the text as Hartley (2010) and Hartley-Jones (2017), respectively; in the reference list, all works by Hartley come before those published by Hartley-Jones because of the rules of alphabetizing the reference list. (The same principle applies if Taylor had decided to use no hyphen between the surnames, for example, Taylor T. Hartley Jones.) See this blog post on two-part surnames for more.
  • Example first name change for a transgender author (different initials): If John J. Smith now publishes under the name Rebecca L. Smith, and if you cite works published under both names in your paper, then cite the works in the text as J. J. Smith (2001) and R. L. Smith (2015), respectively; in the reference list, take the initials into account and put works by Smith, J. J., before works by Smith, R. L. Note: If you cite only works published as John or only works published as Rebecca, then no initials in the text or description of the author’s name change are necessary; just cite the works normally.
  • Example first name change for a transgender author (same initials): If Alicia K. Johnson now publishes under the name Adam K. Johnson, and if you cite works published under both names in your paper, then cite the works in the text as Alicia K. Johnson (2004) and Adam K. Johnson (2017), respectively—including the full name of the author because the initials are the same but the names themselves are different. In the reference list, put the author’s first name in brackets to alert the reader that the first names are different. The entries would be as follows:
    • Johnson, A. [Adam] K. (2017). ...
    • Johnson, A. [Alicia] K. (2004). ...

Note that if you cite only works published as Alicia or only works published as Adam, then no full names in the text and reference list or description of the author’s name change are necessary.

Making Note of a Name Change

Although in most cases it is not necessary to note that two different names refer to the same person, there are cases when it would be relevant or useful to do so.  For example, if you are reviewing multiple works by an author to describe the history of their research and a difference in name might confuse the reader, explain in the text that the two different names refer to the same person. Be warned; this might require some finesse to straighten out the citations. For example, you might write,

Smith-Hartman (publishing as Smith, 2010) pioneered treatment for depression and anxiety. In particular, she discovered a novel therapy involving the use of animals (Smith-Hartman, 2016).

Other Questions

Do you have more questions on author names in APA Style? See these other posts, or leave a comment below:


May 04, 2017

What’s in a Name? Two-Part Surnames in APA Style

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on author namesOther posts in the series will be linked at the bottom of this post as they are published.

The APA Style format for author names in reference list entries is to provide the author’s surname(s) followed by the initials of their given name(s). 

  • Example: Lee, C. L. (2017).

In the in-text citation, provide only the surname(s) along with the year. (Note: The author's full name can be included in the in-text citation in limited circumstances, such as if the author is famous or if the whole purpose of the paper is to give an in-depth discussion of an author's work.)

  • Example: (Lee, 2017) or Lee (2017)

Many different name formats are possible; for example, authors might have two surnames (with or without a hyphen), names with particles, and names with suffixes. Sometimes it might be difficult to determine whether a name is a given name or a surname.

However, in all cases, the name in the reference list entry and in-text citation should match the name on the work being cited. Your task now is just a matter of figuring out the proper format. 


Formatting Names With Multiple Parts

  • If the surname is hyphenated, include both names and the hyphen in the reference list entry and in-text citation.
  • If the surname has two parts separated by a space and no hyphen, include both names in the reference list entry and in-text citation. Many Spanish names follow this format. 
  • If the surname includes a particle (e.g., de, de la, der, van, von), include the particle before the surname in the reference list entry and in-text citation.*
  • If the surname includes a suffix (e.g., Jr., Sr., III), include the suffix after the initials in the reference list entry but do not include it in the in-text citation.

Here are some examples:

Full Name

Name in Reference List

Name in In-Text Citation

Diego J. Rivera-Gutierrez

Rivera-Gutierrez, D. J. (2016).

(Rivera-Gutierrez, 2016)

Rena Torres Cacoullos

Torres Cacoullos, R. (2012).

(Torres Cacoullos, 2012)

Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz

von Thiele Schwarz, U. (2015).

(von Thiele Schwarz, 2015)

Simone de Beauvoir

de Beauvoir, S. (1944).

(de Beauvoir, 1944)

Ashley M. St. John

St. John, A. M. (2016).

(St. John, 2016)

Herbert M. Turner III

Turner, H. M., III. (2013).

(Turner, 2013)


*Note: In German and Portuguese, the particle is usually dropped when only the surname is used; for example, Ludwig van Beethoven is usually referred to in English as Beethoven and so would be credited as Beethoven, L. van, in the reference list entry and as Beethoven in the text. If you are writing in English, include the particle as part of the surname unless you know that the name is one of the famous German or Portuguese exceptions like Beethoven.


Is the Middle Name a Surname or a Given Name?

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether an author has two surnames without a hyphen or two given names and one surname—for example, is Maria Perez Garcia cited as Garcia (2017) or Perez Garcia (2017)? Here are some techniques to help you determine what name format to use:

  • Follow the format shown in the database bibliographic record for the work you are citing.
  • If the author has cited their own work in their own reference list, follow the same format they have used.
  • Look at how other authors have cited the author’s name and follow the most common presentation.
  • Look at your article to see if the surname is written in a distinguishing font (e.g., all-capital letters). If the surname is in all caps, convert it to title case for your reference (e.g., Peter Chen WANG becomes Wang, P. C., not WANG, P. C.).
  • Search for the author’s website or curriculum vita (CV) and follow the format they have used there.

Other Questions

Do you have more questions on author names in APA Style? See these other posts, or leave a comment below:


April 12, 2017

How to Alphabetize a Number

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

If a reference list entry begins with a number (as might be the case for a reference with no author), you should alphabetize the entry in the reference list as though the number were spelled out. So in the following example, the reference that begins with 50 would be alphabetized as though 50 were written fifty.

Farthing, T., & Oates, P. P. (2010). The compendium of kittens (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cat Press.

50 ways to improve your life with cats. (2017). Retrieved from

French, J. S. (2015). Purr-fect: A book about cats. New York, NY: Cat Press.

For numbers that represent years, use the way the year is commonly said to alphabetize the reference. For example, a reference beginning with 1984 would be alphabetized as though it were written nineteen eighty-four, not one thousand nine hundred eighty-four.

In the text, cite references beginning with a number with the first two pieces of the reference list entry: here, that's the title and the year because the reference has no author. If the title in the reference list is nonitalic, put the title in double quotation marks in the in-text citation and captialize it using title case; if the title in the reference list is italic, keep the title in italics in the in-text citation and capitalize it using title case. If the title is long, you can use just the first few words.

Example in-text citation: ("50 Ways," 2017)

 Got other numerical alphabetization questions? Ask away in the comments section.


March 29, 2017

How to Create References When Words in the Title Are Italicized

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

Although the title of a journal article or book chapter is not usually italicized, sometimes words within the title may be italicized. These include book or movie titles, letters or words as linguistic examples, statistics, scientific names for animals, and other items that would be italicized in text, per APA Style guidelines.


Corballis, M. C., & McLaren, R. (1984). Winding one's Ps and Qs: Mental rotation and mirror-image discrimination. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 10, 318–327.
Foulkes, D. (1994). The interpretation of dreams and the scientific study of dreaming. Dreaming, 4, 82–85.
Lai, J., Fidler, F., & Cummings, G. (2015). Subjective p intervals: Researchers underestimate the variability of p values over replication. Methodology, 8, 51–62.
Yoder, A. M., Widen, S. C., & Russell, J. A. (2016). The word disgust may refer to more than one emotion. Emotion, 16, 301–308.

If the title of the work is already italicized, as with a reference for a book, report, or dissertation or thesis, then the item that would otherwise be italicized is reverse italicized (meaning that it is in roman type within an otherwise italicized title).


Blaylock, B. (2015). Coming of age: The narrative of adolescence in David Almond’s Kit’s wilderness and Nick Lake’s In darkness (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 10000726)
Reichenberg, L. (2013). DSM–5 essentials: The savvy clinician’s guide to the changes in criteria. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


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