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September 09, 2010

How to Cite a Press Release in APA Style

Chelsea blog by Chelsea Lee

When you’re researching a cutting-edge topic, there are few sources of information more of the moment than press releases. Citing them in APA Style is very simple. As for any reference list entry, the four elements you’ll need are the author, the date, the title (with a description of "Press release" in square brackets), and the source (e.g., a URL). Here are some example references for press releases:

American Psychological Association. (2018, January 31). Dishonest individuals perceived as less capable [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/01/dishonest-individuals.aspx

In text: (American Psychological Association, 2018)

 

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. (2010, August 4). Administration officials continue travel across the country holding “Recovery Summer” events, project site visits [Press release]. Retrieved from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/realitycheck/the-press-office/administration-officials-continue-travel-across-country-holding-recovery-summer-eve 

In text: (The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 2010)

  

MIT Sloan School of Management. (2017, April 13). Statistical approach to clinical trials may accelerate cancer drug development process [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/statistical-approach-to-clinical-trials-may-accelerate-cancer-drug-development-process-300439010.html

In text: (MIT Sloan School of Management, 2017)

 

North Carolina State University. (2018, February 6). Venus flytraps don't eat the insects that pollinate them [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180206140655.htm

In text: (North Carolina State University, 2018)

Determining Authorship for Press Releases

Determining authorship is probably the hardest part of writing the press release reference list entry. It helps to know that press releases are typically written by an organization about itself (their typical audience is journalists, who use them as a foundation for their own stories). So when you find press releases on an organization’s own website without a specific author attribution, you can assume the organization to be the author (as in the American Psychological Association example). When a reference includes a larger organization as well as a department or office within that organization, the larger entity comes first in the entry (as in The White House example).

Indexed Press Releases

Press releases also may be indexed on commercial distribution services, such as PR Newswire. However, PR Newswire is not the author of the release; it is the publisher—the author is actually indicated at the bottom of the release (as in the MIT Sloan School of Management example). For these indexed releases, be sure to identify the proper author of the release when writing your reference list entry.

Press Releases on News Sites

For press releases from news sites such as Science Daily, we recommend the same approach as for press releases from indexing sites. Credit the originating institution as the author in the reference, not Science Daily itself (as in the North Carolina State University example). Although Science Daily staff might have edited the content, they did not originate it. Crediting the institution that produced the research (which is listed as the source in the release itself) more accurately characterizes the provenance of the information for your audience. 

Other Details

In the text, you would cite a press release just like any other source, by using the author and year. If you use more than one press release per author per year (say, two from APA in 2018), call them 2018a and 2018b (whichever title comes first alphabetically will be 2018a). Italicize the title of a press release, followed by the description Press release in square brackets (without italics) to aid the reader in understanding the reference type, and finally the retrieval URL is given. Because press releases are published documents (not, for example, wikis, which are updated constantly), a retrieval date is not necessary.

Now you should be ready to cite press releases in your APA Style paper!

  Drawing of a boy holding a newspaper that reads "EXTRA!"

Note: This post was originally published on September 9, 2010. It was updated on February 6, 2018 with fresh examples and additional information about citing Science Daily press releases.The examples also clarify that the full date should be used when citing a press release. 

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