January 04, 2017

How to Cite Quality Standards and Guidelines in APA Style

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

To cite a quality standard or guideline in APA Style, provide the author, date, title, and source of the work. After the title of the work, provide any number or identifier for the standard in parentheses without italics. Here is a template for citing a standard:


Reference list: Organization That Made the Standard. (year). Title of the standard (Standard No. 1234). Retrieved from http://xxxxx

In text: (Organization That Made the Standard, year).

The only exception is if the standard appears in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), because federal standards are considered legal references and follow legal style; directions for citing standards in the CFR are at the end of this post.

Here are some examples of typical standard citations and their corresponding in-text citations. Note that most of the organizations that publish standards commonly go by acronyms (e.g., OSHA for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration). The acronym is optional to use. If you do use the acronym, use it in the text only, not in the reference list entry. Spell out the name of the group the first time you cite the work and provide the acronym either in parentheses or brackets (depending on whether the written-out form is already in parentheses); for any subsequent citations or mentions, use the acronym. If you use multiple works by the same group, you only need to introduce the acronym once. How to introduce the acronym is also shown in the example citations below.

ISO Standards

International Organization for Standardization. (2016). Occupational health and safety management systems—Requirements with guidance for use (ISO/DIS Standard No. 45001). Retrieved from http://www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail?csnumber=63787

  • In text, first citation: (International Organization for Standardization [ISO], 2016) or International Organization for Standardization (ISO, 2016).
  • In text, subsequent citations: (ISO, 2016) or ISO (2016).

OSHA Standards

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (1970). Occupational safety and health standards: Occupational health and environmental control (Standard No. 1910.95). Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9735
  • In text, first citation: (Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], 1970) or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, 1970).
  • In text, subsequent citations: (OSHA, 1970) or OSHA (1970).
  • Note that the date for an OSHA standard should be the effective date; for most standards, this is 1970. If you are citing multiple OSHA standards, create separate reference list entries for each one and differentiate them by using lowercase letters after the year (e.g., OSHA, 1970a, 1970b), as described in this post on “reference twins.”

NICE Guidelines

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2013). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (NICE Quality Standard 39). Retrieved from https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs39
  • In text, first citation: (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE], 2013) or National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE, 2013).
  • In text, subsequent citations: (NICE, 2013) or NICE (2013).

Standard Published as a Federal Regulation

Designation of Uses for the Establishment of Water Quality Standards, 40 C.F.R. § 131.10 (2015).
  • In text: (Designation of Uses for the Establishment of Water Quality Standards, 2015) or Designation of Uses for the Establishment of Water Quality Standards (2015).
  • For more information on citing federal regulations, see Section A7.06 of the Publication Manual (p. 223).

The template shown at the beginning of this post should cover all types of quality standards you might want to cite in APA Style, but if you have further questions, leave a comment below!


December 19, 2016

How to Cite a YouTube Channel

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

Dear APA Style Experts: I know you can create a reference to a YouTube video, but is it possible to cite an entire YouTube channel?

—Zeynep L.

Yes! A reference to a YouTube channel follows the usual who (YouTube username), when (date), what (title), and where (URL) format:


PsycINFO. (n.d.). Home [YouTube Channel]. Retrieved from http://youtube.com/PsycINFO

In-text citation:

PsycINFO (n.d.) or (PsycINFO, n.d.)

In this example,

Who = "PsycINFO.": Use the username shown in the "Who" section, as indicated in the image below.

When = "n.d." because YouTube channels are undated.

What = "Home [YouTube Channel]": As you can see below, every YouTube channel’s title is "Home" by default unless you are citing one of the other tabs (Videos, Playlists, Channels, Discussion, About) on the channel. If so, just substitute that tab’s name.

Where = "Retrieved from http://youtube.com/PsycINFO"

YouTube Channel graphic

November 30, 2016

Writing Website In-Text Citations and References

Dear Style Expert,

I found a very useful website and cited a lot of information from it in my paper. But how do I write an in-text citation for content I found on a website? Do I just put the URL in the sentence where I cite the information?




Dear Wallace,

This is a tricky question, but we can help! The short answer is that in most cases no, you do not put the URL in the text of the paper. In fact, the only time you would put a URL in the text would be to simply mention a website in passing. Because you’re citing specific information, you will need to write a regular APA Style author–date citation. Luckily, writing the in-text citation for a website or webpage is easy: Simply include the author and year of publication. The URL goes in the corresponding reference list entry (and yes, you can leave the links live).

Website Example 

In-text citation:

The American Nurses Association (2006) issued a position statement insisting that pharmaceutical companies immediately cease using thimerosal as a vaccine preservative.


Reference list:

American Nurses Association. (2006). Mercury in vaccines [Position statement]. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/Positions-and-Resolutions/ANAPositionStatements/Archives/Mercury-in-Vaccines.html

Note that the title of the website or webpage should be italicized in the reference list if the work on the page stands alone but not italicized if it is part of a greater whole (if this is ambiguous on the source, just choose what you think makes the most sense for the situation). In deciding how to categorize material on a website for a reference, it may be helpful to consider whether what is on the website is similar to an existing category of document type—for example, this reference is a position statement, which is similar to a press release, white paper, or report; hence the italic title. To clarify the document type, you can also specify the format in brackets after the title. 

Determining Website Authors

It can be confusing to determine who the author of a website or webpage is. Often, the author is a group or agency rather than a particular individual. For example, the author of the position statement cited above is the American Nurses Association. If the website or webpage truly does not have an author, substitute the title of the page for the author in the in-text citation and reference list entry (see this post on missing reference pieces for examples of how to do this).

Determining Website Dates

A second source of confusion is that many websites or webpages do not include publication dates. If no date of publication is provided, use the letters n.d. (which stand for “no date”). The copyright date on the website itself should not be used as the publication date for particular content on that site.

If multiple dates are provided, use the most recent date on which the content was changed. For example, if the site says the content was first published in 2010 and last updated on August 6, 2016, then use the date 2016 in the in-text citation and reference list. However, if the site says it was first published in 2010 and last reviewed in July 2016, then use the date 2010 because a review does not imply that any information was changed.

Multiple Website Citations

If you use information from multiple pages on a website, create a separate reference list entry for each page, with in-text citations that correspond to the appropriate reference list entry. It is common for writers to have multiple entries with the same author and year, so to differentiate these entries, use a letter after the year (e.g., 2016a) or after n.d. (e.g., n.d.-a; more examples here), assigning the letter by putting the references in alphabetical order by title in the reference list. Put references with no date before references with dates, and put in-press references last.

Multiple reference list entries:

American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Know your disaster. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/WorkplaceSafety/Healthy-Work-Environment/DPR/KnowYourDisaster  

American Nurses Association. (1991a). Equipment/safety procedures to prevent transmission of bloodborne diseases [Position statement]. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/Positions-and-Resolutions/ANAPositionStatements/Position-Statements-Alphabetically/EquipmentSafety-Procedures-to-Prevent-Transmission-of-Bloodborne-Diseases.html

American Nurses Association. (1991b). Post-exposure programs in the event of occupational exposure to HIV/HBV [Position statement]. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/Positions-and-Resolutions/ANAPositionStatements/Position-Statements-Alphabetically/Post-Exposure-Programs-in-the-Event-of-Occupational-Exposure-to-HIVHBV.html

American Nurses Association. (2015). Academic progression to meet the needs of the registered nurse, the health care consumer, and the U.S. health care system [Position statement]. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/Positions-and-Resolutions/ANAPositionStatements/Position-Statements-Alphabetically/Academic-Progression-to-Meet-Needs-of-RN.html

In text, you can cite these references separately as usual (e.g., American Nurses Association, 1991b), or you can combine citations with the same author if desired. Simply state the author once and then provide the years of the applicable references in chronological order, separated by commas. 

Combined in-text citations:

American Nurses Association (n.d., 1991a, 1991b, 2015)

(American Nurses Association, n.d., 1991a, 1991b, 2015)

Do you have more questions about how to create in-text citations for content from websites or webpages? Leave a comment below.


—Chelsea Lee

November 14, 2016

Hyphenation Station: When Not to Use a Hyphen

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

In the previous posts in this series (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), we discussed the general principles of hyphenation, as describe in much more detail on pages 97–100 of the Publication Manual. 

General Principle 1 (from p. 98) says “If a compound adjective can be misread, use a hyphen.” But, the reverse is also true: If the compound adjective is clear as it stands, you do not need a hyphen. This may sound like a judgment call, but the following guidelines can help you make the call in many cases.

Examples of Adverbs Ending in -ly

widely attended gatherings
relatively comfortable chair
randomly assigned participants

Adverbs ending in -ly

Adverbs ending in -ly are understood to modify the word that follows. Adding a hyphen would be redundant.

For example, in the phrase widely attended gatherings readers understand that widely modifies attended. Adding a hyphen, to write this as widely-attended gatherings, would not give the reader any additional information.



Examples of Comparative or Superlative Adjectives

much maligned argument
better understood philosophy
less anticipated production
higher scoring participants

Comparative or superlative adjectives

In a similar way, comparative or superlative adjectives modify the word that follows and do not need hyphens.

These and other examples where a hyphen should not be included can be found in Table 4.1 on page 98 of the Manual. All five general principles for hyphens can also be found in this FAQ.


October 27, 2016

Hyphenation Station: Repeated Hyphens in a Phrase

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

A hyphen is usually used in APA Style when two or more words modify a common noun (and that noun comes after the modifiers), for example, 7-point scale or client-centered counseling. When multiple modifiers have a common base, the base can be omitted in all except the last modifier, but the hyphens should be retained. Also include spaces and commas as needed after the hyphens to create the list. Note that if the modifiers come after the common base, no hyphens should be used, but the base of the word can still be omitted.

Here are some examples:

Modifiers Before Common Base
(Use Hyphens)

Modifiers After Common Base
(No Hyphens)

short- and long-term effects

the effects were short and long term

4-, 5-, and 6-year-old girls

the girls were 4, 5, and 6 years old

10th- and 11th-grade students

the students were in the 10th and 11th grades

For more information on hyphenation principles, see Section 4.13 in the Publication Manual, our FAQ on hyphenation, or leave a comment below.

October 13, 2016

Hyphenation Station: Using Compound Adjectives

Cmerenda profile pictureby Claire Merenda

Most of us know what an adjective is. And many of us might remember learning about compound words, too. But what is a compound adjective?

Compound adjectives are two or more connected words acting as one modifier (e.g., client-centered or all-inclusive). These words work together to create a single concept that modifies a noun. Hyphenating this particular part of speech can be a challenge, so APA Style has some basic guidelines to follow in these situations.

Fingers-holding-puzzle-smWhen the compound adjective comes before the noun it modifies, and the meaning of the term could be misread, a hyphen is often needed to make the meaning clear (e.g., all inclusive classrooms has a different meaning that all-inclusive classrooms). One hyphen can make all the difference in clarity. For example, if a professor asks a class to write nine page reports, a well-placed hyphen would clarify if the students should each write nine separate reports about a page (nine “page reports”) or each write reports that are nine pages in length (nine-page reports). The correctly placed hyphen (nine-page reports) indicates that nine and page create a single concept, and that nine-page jointly modifies reports. A simple hyphen can make a student’s day.

However, if the compound adjective comes after the noun, the relationships between the words may be intelligible without a hyphen (e.g., counseling that is client centered). As a writer, if you’re struggling with hyphens in long modifier chains, moving the modifier to the end of the phrase can help untangle more obscure or dense sentences. If the professor in the previous example had asked for reports that are nine pages long, there would likely be no misunderstanding.

More examples:

Modifiers Before Noun

Modifiers After Noun

well-known researcher

a researcher that is well known

t-test results results from t tests

full-scale investigation

investigation on a full scale

multiple-author citation citation with multiple authors
in-press paper a paper that is in press 

Note: You don’t need a hyphen when multiple modifiers work independently to modify a noun (e.g., critical social issues). This is no longer a case of a compound, but rather two independent adjectives. Here’s a good test: Apply each modifier independently to the noun. If the original meaning is maintained, then it’s not a compound modifier.

Example: “Always strive for a concise writing tone in your research.” Is it a concise tone and a writing tone? Yes. A hyphen is not needed because concise and writing independently modify the noun tone.

Example: “Be sure to utilize bias-free language.” Is it bias language and free language? No. A hyphen is needed, because bias and free are both essential to convey the concept bias-free.

October 05, 2016

Hyphenation Station: The Hyphenation of Prefixes in APA Style

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

Most words with prefixes are written without a hyphen after the prefix in APA Style. The table below contains some of the most common prefixes, examples of correct usage, and examples of exceptions. A full list of prefixes (and suffixes) to which this rule applies appears in Table 4.2 of the Publication Manual


















post-graduate-level students









re-pair [to pair again]




A hyphen should be used with a prefix under the following conditions:

  • The word could be misread without a hyphen (e.g., re-pair, meaning to pair again, vs. repair, meaning to fix).
  • The double vowels aa, ii, oo, or uu would occur without a hyphen (e.g., anti-intellectual is correct, not antiintellectual).
  • The word that follows the hyphen is capitalized (e.g., un-American).
  • The word that follows the hyphen begins with a numeral (e.g., mid-2016).
  • The word is shown as permanently hyphenated in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary (e.g., pro-choice).
  • A prefix is being added to a compound word that is already hyphenated (e.g., adding post- to graduate-level students creates post-graduate-level students, but if the phrase is just graduate students [no hyphen] then adding post- as a prefix gives you the regular hyphenless postgraduate students).

For more information on hyphenation principles, see Section 4.13 of the Publication Manual, our FAQ, or leave a comment below. And stay tuned for more posts in our hyphenation station series!




September 21, 2016

How to Cite a YouTube Comment

David Becker

By David Becker

When researching a topic for your paper or manuscript, you may come across a few relevant YouTube videos—perhaps a TED Talk or two—that you would like to cite. Being the intrepid explorer of the Internet that you are, you may even brave those videos’ comment threads, desperately searching for some faint glint of rational discourse hidden within the dark, troll-infested depths. Or maybe you’re intentionally seeking out vile and offensive comments if you are writing about the psychology of Internet trolls. Whatever your reasons, you have found a YouTube comment that you would like to cite, but you don’t know how.

Some of the same principles for citing a blog comment also apply to citing a YouTube comment. For instance, list the commenter’s user name if their real name isn’t listed and add “Re:” followed by a space before the title of the video. Also, as with some blog comments, clicking on a YouTube comment’s time stamp will lead to a page with a unique URL that features that comment at the top of the comment thread. Include this unique URL in the “Retrieved from” portion of your reference.

YouTube Comments

There are, however, some important differences between citing blog comments and YouTube comments that are worth noting. Let’s first look at the publication date.

As with citing a blog comment, cite the date that the YouTube comment was posted, not the date that the video was uploaded. YouTube comments present a somewhat unique challenge in that they do not display precise publication dates. Rather, they indicate how long ago a comment was posted (e.g., “3 hours ago,” “2 weeks ago,” “10 months ago,” “4 years ago,” etc.). With such imprecision, there’s no sense in citing a day or a month, as you would do when citing a blog comment, so just cite the publication year.

The year that the comment was posted is easy to figure out using simple math. However, in the unlikely situation where there might be some ambiguity about what year a comment was posted, you can include “ca.” for circa after the publication date, much like when citing approximate dates for social media sources. This should be done as sparingly as possible.

Another difference between citing a YouTube comment and a blog comment is the formatting of the title. Whereas the title of a blog post is not italicized, the title of a video is italicized. However, the “Re:” is technically not part of the video title and therefore is not italicized.

Taking all this into consideration, here is a sample reference to a YouTube comment:

49metal. (2016). Re: Are you dating a psychopath? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP5HIjA9hh4&lc=z13bu5ghznaawh0ez23ajz0gnquidx1z004

And here is a sample text citation for that comment:

Some do not see the value in these sorts of informal, self-diagnosis measures: “This invitation for lay people to diagnose a rare psychological disorder… is profoundly irresponsible” (49metal, 2016).

Keep in mind the reliability of your source within the context your paper’s topic when deciding what to cite. A random comment from an unidentified YouTube user, such as the one above, is likely not appropriate in a research paper that coalesces expert opinions on a scholarly topic. However, this type of informal source could be more appropriate in a different kind of paper, such as one about how people interact with each other on social media.

September 05, 2016

Best of the APA Style Blog: 2016 Edition

Each fall we put together a “best of” post to highlight blog posts and apastyle.org 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 for Kindle) and our APA Style Guide to Electronic References, in addition to the pages linked below.

     Follow @APAStyleCENTRAL on Twitter

What's New?

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



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

70869049-edit-smAPA 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
Securing permission
Writing the copyright statement
Attributing data in tables

References to Electronic Resources

Mobile apps
Website material (and multiple pages from the same website)
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) pages and posts
blog posts and blog comments
Online-only journal articles
YouTube videos and Ted Talks

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 (lettered, numbered, or bulleted)
Running heads

Keywords (vs. key terms)
Hyperlink formatting

Keep in Touch!

We hope that these resources will be helpful to you as you write using APA Style. If you are interested in receiving tips about APA Style as well as general writing advice, we encourage you to follow us on social media. You can find us (and tell your friends) on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

August 15, 2016

Periods in Reference List Entries

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

APA Style references have four parts: author, date, title, and source, and these parts are separated by periods. This example of a book reference shows the pattern (the periods are highlighted to help you see them):

Author, A. (2017). Title of book. Publisher Location: Publisher Name.

Some cases can cause some confusion, however, such as group authors, screen names, and titles ending in punctuation such as question marks. Read on to learn how to handle reference punctuation in those cases.

Group Authors

When the author of a work is a group, add a period after the group name to end the author portion of the reference.

Community Preventive Services Task Force. (2015). Clinical decision support systems recommended to prevent cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 49, 796–799. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2015.03.041

Screen Names

When a user has a screen name as well as a real name (as with many social media references), put a period after the closing brackets that enclose the screen name (but do not put a period between the real name and the screen name).

Stanford Medicine [SUMedicine]. (2012, October 9). Animal study shows sleeping brain behaves as if it's remembering: http://stan.md/RrqyEt #sleep #neuroscience #research [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/SUMedicine/status/255644688630046720

Titles Ending in Punctuation

When the title of a work ends with a punctuation mark, such as a question mark or exclamation point, this punctuation mark takes the place of the period that would otherwise be added at the end of the title.

Millon, T. (2016). What is a personality disorder? Journal of Personality Disorders, 30, 289–306. http://dx.doi.org/10.1521/pedi.2016.30.3.289

References Ending in a DOI or URL

One case where you should never add a period is after a DOI or URL. This is to prevent the impression that the period is part of the DOI or URL (which would then prevent it from working).

Do you have other reference-punctuation questions? Leave them as a comment below.

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