July 14, 2016

The Origins of APA Style

Anne blog image
by Anne Breitenbach 

APA Style is older than virtually all of its users—if you were born after 1929, then APA Style is older than you are. But just because APA Style is nearing its 10th decade doesn’t mean that its origins need to be lost to the mists of time. This post will share some of the origins of APA Style.

The first glimmer of what has become APA Style emerged in a seven-page article published by the Conference of Editors and Business Managers of Anthropological and Psychological Periodicals following a 2-day meeting in Washington, DC. This article appeared in one of psychology’s preeminent journals, APA’s own Psychological Bulletin.


A prime incentive for publishing that first article was to save publishers money and time, as submitted manuscripts were often too long, inconsistently formatted, and wandered through their content. The authors were responding to a real need and genuinely trying to help would-be authors as well as improve the quality of the submissions. That they were aware that setting guidelines has a substantial and direct effect on those would-be authors is evident, as is conveyed by the downright diffident tone of their opening paragraphs.

The committee realizes that it neither has, nor wishes to assume, any authority in dictating to authors, publishers or editors; but it suggests the following recommendations for use as a standard of procedure, to which exceptions would doubtless be necessary, but to which reference might be made in cases of doubt, and which might be cited to authors for their general guidance in the preparation of scientific articles. (Bentley et al., 1929, p. 57)

In those seven pages you can find the core of the APA Style you know and love. Authors are urged to brevity in making their arguments; use of headings to impose logical structure; and subdivision into an introduction, statement of results, and discussion. There is a discussion of what to cite and how to cite a reference, and space is given to the use of tables and figures. Other familiar elements are not yet present and will be added over time. For example, there is no guidance on writing style or grammar—beyond the exhortation that those who are incompetent should get help. Reference types were few, and so the explosion of reference formats lies in the future. Nor would you have found instruction on how to avoid plagiarism or use bias-free language to write sensitively about participants or people in general.

As the APA Style Publication Manual evolved into its current sixth edition, the content has expanded and the tone has become more confident of a right, even a responsibility, to set standards, at least in APA’s own journals. In the future, especially given the explosion of digital technologies now used to disseminate content, we will continue striving to ensure that clear communication continues.


Bentley, M., Peerenboom, C. A., Hodge, F. W., Passano, E. B., Warren, H. C., & Washburn, M. F. (1929). Instructions in regard to preparation of manuscript. Psychological Bulletin, 26, 57–63. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0071487

July 11, 2016

Introducing APA Style CENTRAL

We are proud to announce the launch of APA Style CENTRAL, a learning, writing, research, and publishing solution developed for academic institutions by the American Psychological Association!

Free trials are available today for institutions. Students and faculty: If you are interested, please contact your institutional library. For more, see this short video!

To learn more, see http://apastyle.org/asc!

June 22, 2016

Navigating Copyright: How to Cite Sources in a Table

David Becker

By David Becker

Dear Style Experts,

I am creating a table that presents information from multiple sources, and I can't figure out how to cite these sources within the table. What should I do?

—Vera K.

Dear Vera,

How you cite your sources depends on the context. If you are reproducing or adapting an existing table, you will need to seek permission and cite the source in a credit line beneath the table. Note that this credit line can identify particular sets of data in your table (e.g., “The data in column 1 are from…”). Thus, if you are adapting material from multiple sources—that is, extracting rows or columns from previously published tables and integrating them into a single table—you might need to include multiple permission statements, one for each source.


If you are simply pulling data from multiple sources, rather than repurposing columns or rows from preexisting tables (the data are not subject to copyright, but their presentation is), then it may be appropriate to just include standard author–date text citations within the table. This type of table is often used to summarize the results of multiple studies, which makes it easier for readers to digest the information, and is commonly used in meta-analyses. Below is a sample table in which each row represents a different study:

Table 1

Summary of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis on the Effectiveness of Rocking Out Like No One’s Watching (ROLNOW)



Cohen’s d


Atashin (2013)




Dumile & Jackson (2015)




Garcia, Homme, Oliveri, & Bjork (2014)




Iyer, Lehman, & Sorey (2014)




Onuki, Agata, & Hamamoto (2014)




Although studies are usually cited in the first column of a summary table, I’ve come across tables that list the citations in one of the middle columns or across the first row. Some tables might include multiple citations in a single column or row if these studies share similar features. How you choose to organize the contents of your table will depend on context and how you want readers to process the information.

It’s worth noting that the order of the rows in Table 1 reflects the alphabetical order of the citations as they would appear in the reference list. Even though APA Style does not address this directly, organizing the rows or columns of a table in this manner is a standard convention for summary tables. It also follows the general APA Style guideline about alphabetizing multiple sources within the same parenthetical citation to match how they are ordered in the reference list (see pp. 177—178 in the Publication Manual). If it makes more sense to organize the rows and columns in your table using a different standard—again, depending on the context—feel free to do so. Just make sure that readers can easily follow the flow of information!

In some cases, you may not want to devote an entire row or column to citing resources. Or, perhaps your citations apply to just a few cells or particular pieces of data. If so, it may be appropriate to cite your sources, using the author–date format, in one of two ways. First, you could include parenthetical citations within the table itself next to the relevant information, just as you would do with a standard text citation. Another approach would be to cite your sources below the table in a general note—as demonstrated in the Table 1 note from Sample Paper 1 on page 52 of the Publication Manual—or in multiple specific notes that connect your citations to particular cells via superscript, lowercase letters (see pp. 138–139 in the Publication Manual for more details). This latter method can be handy if one source applies to more than one cell and is used in the example table below, but parenthetical citations within the cells would be equally acceptable.

Table 2

Sample Responses to the ROLNOW Survey



Sample responses


How cool did you feel?

“Cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce.”a

“Not at all cool. I actually felt kind of dorky.”b


How motivated and energized did you feel?

“I felt ready to take on the world!”c

“Not very. I almost fell asleep!”b


How happy were you?

“I was completely elated and filled with positive thoughts!”d

“I was pretty happy, but I don’t think rocking out had anything to do with it.”a


How physically attractive did you feel?

“I felt pretty, oh so pretty!”e

“I was a gyrating mess of flailing limbs, so I probably didn’t look all that attractive.”c

aDumile and Jackson (2015, p. 31). bIyer, Lehman, and Sorey (2014, p. 79). cOnuki, Agata, and Hamamoto (2014, p. 101). dGarcia, Homme, Oliveri, and Bjork (2014, p. 47). eAtashin (2013, p. 56).

You may have noticed a few differences between the citations in Tables 1 and 2. One is that the Table 2 notes—unlike the rows in Table 1—are not alphabetized. Specific notes are organized according to where the superscripts appear in the table, following the left-to-right and top-to-bottom order described on page 138 in the Publication Manual. Another difference is that Table 1 includes ampersands, whereas Table 2 spells out and. Although and is usually written instead of & when the authors are listed before the parenthetical citation, page 175 in the Publication Manual states that ampersands should be used within the body of the table (and should still be used outside of parentheses in table notes, as shown in the Table 1 note from Sample Paper 1). This helps save space because two fewer characters can sometimes make all the difference in such tight quarters. Finally, direct quotations are presented in Table 2, so the citations in the table note include page numbers. However, you do not need to include page numbers when citing numerical data, as in Table 1.

The example tables in this post offer a very limited scope when considering the many different types of tables that can be found in the wilds of academic publishing—and they are admittedly a tad sillier than is typical. However, the general citation guidelines they present can be easily adapted to just about any kind of table you might need to create. To find example tables that are more relevant to your needs, I recommend combing through journals that follow APA Style.

May 31, 2016

You Can Word Count on This

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

Dear Style Expert,

What words count toward the word count in an APA Style paper? Am I supposed to count the title page, abstract, citations, and reference list? Are there minimums or maximums for the word count of a sentence or paragraph? How many words should go in the whole paper? Help me!

—Wordy William


Dear Wordy,

Counting the number of words in an APA Style paper is easy: Count all the words in the entire paper to get the total word count. That includes the title page, abstract, main text, quotations, headings, citations, footnotes, reference list, tables, figure captions, and appendices—everything. This gives an accurate representation of the overall length of your paper and saves you from having to perform elaborate calculations just to know whether your paper is too long, too short, or just right. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to count the words in your paper.

There is also no set minimum or maximum number of words allowed in a sentence or paragraph. Sentences and paragraphs of any length are technically allowed. However, there are still reasons to avoid very short or very long sentences and paragraphs that have nothing to do with arbitrary word counts. Very short sentences might be abrupt or choppy, and very long sentences might get confusing. Paragraphs shorter than two or three sentences might seem incomplete, and paragraphs longer than a page might contain too many ideas at once. Use very short or long sentences and paragraphs only when warranted by the information being presented.

The word count limit for an entire paper will be set by the journal to which you are submitting your work or by your professor for a university assignment. Limits vary widely and are dependent on the nature of the article you are writing—for example, a brief report will be short but a dissertation quite long.

The word count limit for the abstract is also set by the publisher or professor; abstract word limits vary from journal to journal and typically range from 150 to 250 words (for student assignments, the limit is typically 250 words as well).

If you’ve got other questions about word counts for your particular assignment, your professor or publisher will probably be the best resource for you. Leave any other questions or comments below.

May 12, 2016

Principles of Good Writing: Avoiding Plagiarism

HCooper 3-1-09

by Harris Cooper, PhD

Harris Cooper, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He is the author of Reporting Research in Psychology and editor of the APA Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology. He was the chair of the APA Journal Article Reporting Standards Working Group and served on the Publication Manual Revision Task Force for the sixth edition. In 2009, Dr. Cooper became the chief editorial advisor for APA's journal publishing program. In this role he served as a resource for the editors of APA journals as well as the mediator of disputes between editors and authors and between authors and authors.

Test quote 2Committing plagiarism can have devastating effects on your education or career. Perhaps most distressing is that it is so easily avoided.

Plagiarism involves the copying of text into a new work without crediting it to the original source. The main reasons why people plagiarize are simple. First, they want credit for someone else’s ideas. This motivation can come from a desire to impress others and to foster career advancement. Second, it can occur because people are just plain lazy. They have found a passage written by another that fits their paper well and is expressed clearly. They think it would be too much effort to rephrase and credit the source. 

Instances of plagiarism can range from stealing an entire work, by simply changing the name of the author, to paraphrasing someone’s work and not attributing the ideas to the original written document (Turnitin, 2012). Also, motivation can be used to distinguish among acts of plagiarism (Barnett & Campbell, 2012). Plagiarism can be intentional or conscious. It can also be unintentional or inadvertent; for example, when you read something and then later forget that it had a source other than yourself. Regardless of the motivation, plagiarism is plagiarism, and the possibility of unintentional plagiarism means the steps you take to avoid it ought not be based on your memory alone.

Students often ask “how many words in a row constitute plagiarism?” There is no black-and-white answer to this question. Different people will answer differently. Also, context might matter. For example, it is not unusual to find descriptions of research apparatus and psychological measures that share short strings of words without attribution to the original source, and without engendering charges of plagiarism.

Pull quote 2The first key to avoiding plagiarism is to avoid stealing ideas. This is called “intellectual theft” and it can occur without the material in question having ever been committed to print. When you mention another person’s idea in your paper, say who said it first. If the idea has been around for a while, you can cite the original source, the most representative source, or the most recent source. In most cases, which source is most appropriate will be evident from the context in which it is being cited.

But plagiarism is more than intellectual theft, though passing off others' ideas as your own is just as serious. Plagiarism involves copying words. Your first line of defense against an accusation of plagiarism is using quotation marks. A citation and a quote will protect you from charges of plagiarism. Long quotes, the type that require offset from the regular text by indenting them, are also legitimate but they should be used sparingly and may require the permission of the publisher of the original work. Different publishers have different standards for when their permission is needed. You will have to visit their websites to find this out. Remember however, if your paper contains too many quotes it will look like a mash-up, lazy, and not very original.

Be sure as well to check your citations for mistakes. First, read the referenced material carefully to make certain the ideas you are attributing to it are in there and you have portrayed them accurately. Second, carefully check the spellings and date in the reference. Copy editing can be tedious work, but it is important so that credit is given where it is due. Typically, an incorrect citation will not be viewed as plagiarism as long as the error is minor and it is clearly just a copy editing oversight, not intentional.

Your second line of defense is citing and rephrasing. If you have rephrased someone else’s work, be sure to cite the original source. Sometimes, rephrasing can be difficult because the original authors did such a good job of conveying their ideas. That is no excuse for copying without quotes. It is also where laziness creeps in. When you rephrase, think about your “voice” and how it might express the idea differently. Also, in many instances, you will want to shorten or summarize what the original authors said.

Finally, your last line of defense is using a plagiarism-detection services (e.g., iThenticate, at http://www.ithenticate.com; HelioBLAST, at http://helioblast.heliotext.com). Some charge fees, some don’t. These software programs will compare your paper with millions of other documents found online and in scholarly reference databases. They produce (a) a report that lists the documents that share the most material and (b) copies of those documents with the shared material highlighted. When you submit your paper to a detection service, you will be asked to decide how many shared words in a row should lead to getting flagged.

Pull quote 1bAlthough this may seem like overkill at first, it is a worthwhile step if your paper is long and complex and builds on the work of others as well as your own. Theses, dissertations, and any work being submitted to a professional journal fit this definition. If you are submitting to a scientific journal, the first thing that will happen to your paper is that the manuscript coordinator will submit it to a check. By doing it yourself, you will see what they will see. Also, remember that plagiarism sometimes can be unintentional. This is a great way to check yourself against the unconscious copying of words.

Computerization has made it easy to cut-and-paste the words of others. It has also made it easy to detect when plagiarism has occurred. You can avoid allegations of plagiarism through awareness and honest effort.


Here are two excellent sources of addition advice on avoiding plagiarism:

Roig, M. (2003). Avoiding plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and other questionable writing practices. Retrieved from http://ori.hhs.gov/avoiding-plagiarism-self-plagiarism-and-other-questionable-writing-practices-guide-ethical-writing

Stern, L. (2009). What every student should know about plagiarism. New York, NY: Pearson.

You can also read about plagiarism here:

Cooper, H. (2016). Ethical choices in research: Managing data, writing reports, and publishing results in the social sciences. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4312023.aspx


Barnett, J. E., & Campbell, L. F. (2012). Ethical issues in scholarship. In S. J. Knapp (Ed.), APA handbook of ethical issues in psychology: Vol. 2. Practice, teaching and research. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/13272-015

Turnitin. (2012). The plagiarism spectrum: Tagging 10 types of unoriginal work [Infographic]. Retrieved from http://turnitin.com/assets/en_us/media/plagiarism_spectrum.php

May 02, 2016

Principles of Writing: Passive and Active Voice

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

Few topics in scholarly writing raise as many questions as passive voice. Many writers have gotten the impression that passive voice isn’t allowed in APA Style or that if it is allowed, it is to be avoided at all costs. However, that’s an oversimplification. The reality is that sometimes the passive voice is appropriate, but many writers overuse it.

This post will show you how to identify the passive and active voices, explain the advantages and disadvantages of each, and help you choose the appropriate voice for your writing. Both passive and active voices are likely to appear in the same paper; it is just a matter of choosing the right voice given what you want to express.

Identifying Voice

Here is the classic formula for identifying the passive voice:

A “to be” verb + a past participle + the word by.

  • Active voice: The lion ate the mouse.

Lion eats mouse 1

  • Passive voice: The mouse was eaten by the lion.

Lion eats mouse 2

In the active voice sentence, the actor (the lion) is presented first, followed by the action (eating) and then the object of that action (the mouse). In the passive voice sentence, the order is reversed.

There are two caveats to this formula:

  1. Sometimes the word by is left out of a passive voice sentence but is still implicit in the meaning, for example, in a sentence like “This topic was addressed in the paper.” If you can ask “by whom?” and come up with a coherent answer (such as “by the researchers” or “by Smith”), then the sentence is still in the passive voice even though the word by does not appear. 

  2. Not all instances of to be indicate the passive voice, as in a sentence like “The participants were hungry.” Asking “hungry by whom?” makes no sense, so this sentence is not in the passive voice even though it has a to be verb.

Advantages of the Active Voice

The Publication Manual says to “prefer the active voice” (p. 77), and there are two main reasons why. First, the active voice clearly lays out the chain of events: Lion eats mouse. With a passive voice sentence, the reader must wait until the end of the sentence to discover who was responsible for the action. When used in a long sentence, the passive voice may confuse readers. Second, the active voice usually creates shorter sentences. Although your paper should include a variety of sentence lengths, shorter sentences are usually easier to understand than longer ones.

Here are two common cases in which you should prefer the active voice rather than the passive voice:

  1. Use the active voice to describe your own actions. It is completely permissible, and in fact encouraged, to use the first person to describe your own actions in APA Style. Use I to refer to yourself if you worked alone and we if you worked as part of a group (see PM 3.09 for more).
    • Active voice: I conducted an experiment about body image.
    • Passive voice: An experiment about body image was conducted.

  2. Use the active voice to acknowledge the participation of people in research studies, which is an important part of reporting research (see Guideline 3 on p. 73 of the Publication Manual for more on this). For example, researchers often administer surveys to participants or observe them for certain behaviors. Show with your sentences how participants completed actions, rather than how researchers acted upon them, as in these examples:
    • Active voice: The students completed the surveys.
    • Passive voice: The surveys were completed by the students.

Advantages of the Passive Voice

The Publication Manual also states that “the passive voice is acceptable in expository writing [writing used to give information on a topic or to explain something] and when you want to focus on the object or recipient of the action rather than on the actor” (p. 77). Here is an example of appropriate passive voice:

  • First-year students have been underserved by the university administration.

In this sentence, the focus is on first-year students. Depending on the context, this may be exactly what you are going for. The active voice version (“The university administration has underserved first-year students”) puts the focus on the university administration, which is not necessarily what you want. Remember, APA Style doesn’t prohibit the passive voice; it just requires that you use it wisely.

Strategies for Choosing the Appropriate Voice

Both the active and passive voices have uses in scholarly writing, so employ them appropriately. However, newer writers especially tend to overuse the passive voice, which can lead to clumsy, long, and confusing sentences. With that in mind, we recommend the following:

  1. Prefer the active voice over the passive voice to create clear, concise sentences; however, remember that the passive voice can also be an appropriate choice under certain circumstances.

  2. Identify cases of the passive voice by looking for instances of the to be verb + a past participle + the word by.

  3. Try rewriting a passive voice sentence in the active voice to determine which voice more clearly communicates your ideas.

For more on this topic, see section 3.18 of the Publication Manual.

Leave a comment if you've got questions that you want to be answered by us.

April 07, 2016

How to Cite a Blog Comment in APA Style

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

We’ve covered how to cite an entire blog and how to cite a specific blog post. So, what about when you want to cite a comment on a blog?

The elements of the reference are as follows:

Blog-med"who": This is the name of the individual who made the comment, either real or a screen name, whichever is shown.

"when": This is the date of the comment (not the date of the blog post).

"what": Use "Re: " followed by the title of the blog post.

"where": Each comment usually has a unique URL. Unfortunately, blogs differ in how they present that URL, so you may have to hunt for it. Look for words like permalink or persistent link or just click the time stamp, which will often change the URL in your browser to the specific URL of that comment.

For example, click a time stamp in my first comment below and you’ll find that the URL in your browser becomes http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2016/04/how-to-cite-a-blog-comment-in-apa-style.html#comment-6a01157041f4e3970b01b8d1ba04c1970c. It’s important to use the URL of the comment itself because sometimes the same person will leave multiple comments, and this takes the guesswork out of which one you meant.

If the comment does not have a unique URL, just use the URL of the blog post itself.

Using some of the same examples from the previous post, here’s how to cite comments on a blog:

Example References

David, L. (2010, October 29). Re: E-ZPass is a life-saver (literally) [Blog comment]. Retrieved from http://freakonomics.com/2010/10/29/e-zpass-is-a-life-saver-literally/#comment-109178

Mt2mt2. (2015, November 12). Re: A fast graph isomorphism algorithm [Blog comment]. Retrieved from https://rjlipton.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/a-fast-graph-isomorphism-algorithm/#comment-72615

In-Text Citations

As with other APA Style references, the in-text citations will match the author name(s) and the year.

Example In-Text Citation

... a "significant difference in the definitions" (Mt2mt2, 2015).


Leave a comment and you may find yourself included in this post! In a few weeks, I will update the examples above to include a reference to one comment below.

April 05, 2016

How to Cite a Blog Post in APA Style

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

Dear APA Style Experts,

I’m a computer science major, and my favorite blog is called Gödel’s Lost Letter and P=NP, written by two esteemed computer science experts. Can I cite a post from that blog? I’m also writing a paper for my Introduction to Psychology class, and I want to cite the APA Books Blog. Can I?


Yes. You can create an APA Style reference to any retrievable source, though you should of course consider whether the source is reliable, primary, and timely.

Citing an Entire Blog

First, if you want to mention the blog as a whole, just include a mention of it in parentheses in your text, just as you would for mentioning an entire website.

Example Sentences

I really enjoy reading the new APA Books Blog (http://blog.apabooks.org).

I have learned a lot by reading the Psych Learning Curve blog (http://psychlearningcurve.org).

Note: In the first case, the word Blog is capitalized because Blog is part of the name (APA Books Blog). In the second example, blog is not part of the name (Psych Learning Curve). 

Blog-croppedCiting a Blog Post

However, if you are quoting or paraphrasing part of a blog post, you should create a reference to that specific post.

The elements of the reference are as follows:

"who": This is usually one or two people but can also be a company name or other type of group author. In the first example below, the post was credited to just “Freakonomics” (a screen name for the author or authors of the blog by the same name). If a byline is not evident, look at the beginning or end of the post for wording like “posted by.”

"when": Blog posts generally provide the year, month, and date. Include these within the parentheses in your reference. If the blog doesn’t give that level of detail, just include the year or year and month, if that’s all you can find. (Note that your in-text citation will include only the year; see the examples below).

"what": This it the title of the blog post followed by a notation of "[Blog post]." 

"where": Use “Retrieved from” and the URL of the blog post.

Example References

Freakonomics. (2010, October 29). E-ZPass is a life-saver (literally) [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/29/e-zpass-is-a-life-saver-literally/

Heasman, B., & Corti, K. (2015, August 18). How to build an echoborg: PhD researcher Kevin Corti featured on the BBC [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/psychologylse/2015/08/18/how-to-build-an-echoborg-phd-researcher-kevin-corti-featured-on-the-bbc/

Mathis, T. (2015, August 12). What is human systems integration? [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.apabooks.org/2015/08/12/what-is-human-systems-integration/

rjlipton. (2015). A fast graph isomorphism algorithm [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://rjlipton.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/a-fast-graph-isomorphism-algorithm/

The name of the blog itself is not part of the reference, although it's often evident from the URL.

In-Text Citations

As with other APA Style references, the in-text citations will match the author name(s) and the year.

Example In-Text Citations

... according to research on the health effects of the E-ZPass (Freakonomics, 2010).

Heasman and Corti (2015) wrote about an echoborg.

Mathis (2015) stated that...

Dr. Lipton noted two problems (rjlipton, 2015).

I hope you found these examples helpful! In my next post, I’ll discuss how to cite reader comments on a blog.

March 21, 2016

How to Cite a Chapter Written by Someone Other Than the Book’s Authors

David Becker

By David Becker

Dear APA Style Experts,

I want to cite a chapter from Theoretical Basis for Nursing, 4th Edition, which is an authored textbook. However, the author of this chapter is not one of the authors listed on the front cover. What should I do?

—Frustrated Nursing Student

Dear FNS,

When referring to a chapter in an authored book, usually you would not cite that chapter in the reference list. Instead, you would cite the whole book and, if necessary, cite the chapter in text. This rule applies whether the chapter is written by one of the book’s primary authors or by a separate contributor.

Nursing Student

Even though it might seem sensible to cite that chapter as one would cite a chapter from an edited book, doing so could cause confusion. If you were to cite a chapter from an authored book in this manner, most of the information from the book reference templates at the bottom of page 202 in the Publication Manual would be maintained, with the names of the book's primary authors in the editor position. However, because you would be crediting them as authors and not as editors, you would need to delete the Eds. in parentheses. Authored books that contain chapters written by other contributors are relatively uncommon, and APA Style users are so accustomed to the format for citing a chapter in an edited book that this slight change might lead your readers to assume that you are incorrectly citing an edited book by accidentally leaving out the Eds. component. Although this may not seem like such a big deal, it could cost a student a few points for not following proper APA Style format. Or, if you're publishing your paper in a journal, you could find yourself battling with a prickly copyeditor.

To avoid all of this mess, the simplest solution is to just cite the entire book like you would do with any other authored volume:

McEwen, M., & Wills, E. M. (2014). Theoretical basis for nursing (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

In doing so, you are presenting readers with a reference format that they can immediately recognize as representing an authored book, which will help them retrieve your source. Then, you can clarify the unique nature of your source by simply crediting the chapter author in your narrative and identifying the chapter number as part of your in-text citation:

According to Melinda Oberleitner, "The hallmark of the transformational leader is vision and the ability to communicate that vision to others so that it becomes a shared vision" (McEwen & Wills, 2014, Chapter 16, p. 363).

This method also works when citing a foreword written by someone other than the book’s authors, which is a bit more common. However, foreword authors are sometimes given cover credit through a "with" statement—as in, "With a foreword by Charles Todd." In this case, it would be appropriate to cite the foreword author parenthetically in your reference, as described on page 184 in the Publication Manual. Here's an example of how such a reference would look:

Christie, A. (with Todd, C.). (2013). Hercule Poirot: The complete short stories. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Your in-text citation would only include the name of the book's primary author. The author of the foreword would simply be named in your narrative in the same way that you would credit the author of any other chapter not written by the book's main author:

In his foreword, Charles Todd described the characteristics of the famous detective Hercule Poirot (Christie, 2013).

If you come across any other complications when citing a book, feel free to leave a comment below or contact us.

February 23, 2016

How to Cite a TED Talk in APA Style

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

Dear APA Style Experts,

How should I cite a TED Talk? Is the author TED or TED Talks or the speaker giving the talk?

—TED Listener

Thanks for asking! References include the who-when-what-where information that, ideally, allows your reader to find not just the source material but the source exactly where you found it. For online sources this is particularly important because the presentation and sometimes even the information provided can vary from one online location to the next.

Take, for example, this TED Talk by Amanda Palmer:

If you viewed the video on the TED website, a reference to this TED Talk would be as follows:


Palmer, A. (2013, February). Amanda Palmer: The art of asking [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_palmer_the_art_of_asking

In-text citation: Palmer (2013) or (Palmer, 2013)

Note that the TED page and the video itself give only "February" as the date, so that's what you can include in the reference.

(As an aside, you’ll note that Amanda Palmer's name is also included in the title. This is not an extra element of our APA Style reference; it's included because her name is part of the title itself. TED videos include speaker names as part of the video titles.)

But, if you viewed the video on YouTube, the same TED Talk would be referenced as follows:


TED. (2013, March 1). Amanda Palmer: The art of asking [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMj_P_6H69g

In-text citation:

TED (2013) or (TED, 2013)

YouTube shows the date that the video was posted as March 1, 2013, so that's the date to use in this reference.

The author name is TED in this case because the TED organization posted the video to YouTube, and that’s the information your reader needs to retrieve the reference. That is, for the "who" portion of a reference to a YouTube video, we use the name of the person or organization that posted the video

In that case, you might include information about the speaker, if necessary, in the context of your paper.


Amanda Palmer used examples from her career as a busker and a musician to discuss the sharing economy (TED, 2013).

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