49 posts categorized "Electronic references"

January 26, 2012

How to Cite Cochrane Reviews in APA Style

by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

JeffDear Style Experts,

How should I format a reference for an article from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews? I have the names of the authors, the date and the title of the topic; however, there is no journal as such. Do I use "retrieved from" with the URL, or should I include the DOI?


Dear A.,

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews consists of original material written by members of the Cochrane Collaboration. Its articles may be published in database form, but it functions like an online journal: Numbered issues are published 12 times a year, and each article has its own DOI. Therefore, we can modify the journal article format to fit a Cochrane Review, as follows:

Singh, J., Kour, K., & Jayaram Mahesh, B. (2012). Acetylcholinesterase 
inhibitors for schizophrenia. Cochrane Database of Systematic
Reviews, 2012
(1), 1–101. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007967.pub2

Note that the year of publication does double duty as the volume number. The issue number is needed because the journal is not continuously paginated. And because we have a DOI, neither the URL nor the Cochrane-assigned ID number is needed.

Hope this helps,


January 13, 2012

APA Style Interactive Learning

AnneGasqueAnne Gasque

Have you ever had the urge to read the Publication Manual from beginning to end? We thought not. 

It takes a special kind of stamina and devotion to approach a manual of writing guidance and style rules with the excitement a person might bring to, say, John Grisham’s latest legal thriller. To help you find your way in the manual, we’ve created an interactive online course. This course, available for continuing education credit, provides a comprehensive tour of the guidance in the Publication Manual

Basics of APA Style: An Online Course follows the organization of the manual and offers an in-depth overview of the types of articles used in psychological and social research, manuscript elements, heading style, reducing bias in language, punctuation, capitalization, italics, numbers, tables, figures, citing references in text, creating a reference list, and reference templates and examples. Many of the sections in the course include relevant examples to provide context, and each section ends with two or three review questions to help you learn as you go along. The course ends with 20 assessment questions and offers 4 CE credits upon successful completion. We hope you find the course a helpful tool for learning APA Style!

If you would like a broader less detailed overview of APA Style, we offer a free tutorial, The Basics of APA Style, which shows you how to structure and format your work, recommends ways to reduce bias in language, identifies how to avoid charges of plagiarism, shows how to cite references in text, and provides selected reference examples.

January 05, 2012

Got Volume?

Daisiesby Stefanie


Just as no two snowflakes and no two people (and no two people who think they are special snowflakes) are alike, so too are no two references alike. Sometimes elements of standard reference formats are missing, and both the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth edition, and we here at the blog try to anticipate those situations with advice on what to do. Today’s blog post covers just such a situation: the missing volume number on a periodical.


First, double-check to make sure the volume number is actually missing. Search the front, back, and spine (if there is a spine) of the journal, magazine, or newsletter, as well as the table of contents page. Also, sometimes the volume number is buried (deep!) in the publication information. For example, I just picked up from the corner of my desk a back issue of my children’s Disney Adventures magazine. On the cover is the issue month and year (September 2006) but no volume number. On page 88, in 6-point type (OK, probably 4-point type; boy, it’s small)—along with the ISSN number, publisher contact numbers, subscription information, and copyright and trademark notices—the volume and numerical issue numbers (Vol. 18, No. 7) are included. So now I can create a reference for the Miley Cyrus and Ashley Tisdale interview that completely follows Example 7 (magazine article) on page 200 of the Publication Manual!


Barnes, D. (2006, September). Miley and Ashley BFF. Disney Adventures, 
(7), 26–29.


(Note to self: I need to clean off my desk more often.)

Second, double-check whether a volume number is needed at all. Note that in the case of online newsletters, the volume number is not required (see Example 9 on p. 200 of the Publication Manual).


(Online version of newsletter)

Blum, E. S. (2010). Building healthier communities from the ground up. 
Banking and Community Perspectives. Retrieved from


Third, consider whether the year is pulling double duty. If I have an issue number but no volume number for a publication paginated by issue and I am working from the hard copy (i.e., not the online version, or maybe no online version is available), I have a problem, because the issue number will look funny standing alone in parentheses without the volume number to anchor it. Yet, an issue number indicates that the issue is part of a larger volume. What is number of that volume? In some cases, the volume number is the year.


If you look at the first page of a Banking and Community Perspectives newsletter, for example, you can see that the year appears with the issue number, much as a traditional volume number would. Also, if you look at the archive for these newsletters, you can see that the archive is organized by year, and the issue numbers refer to the order in which the issues came out during each year, starting over at 1 every new year. Thus, if you are using a hard copy of a newsletter or magazine (and therefore need a volume number in the reference) and if a separate volume number is absent, the year may be pulling double duty, as is the case for Banking and Community Perspectives. If this is the situation with your publication, use the year in both places in the reference (i.e., the year position and the volume position).


(Hard copy of newsletter)

Blum, E. S. (2010). Building healthier communities from the ground up. 
Banking and Community Perspectives, 2010(2), 3–10, 12.


Other questions about volume numbers? Let us know in the comments or at stylexpert@apa.org! Please include examples or links to the publications or articles in question. Thank you!

December 22, 2011

How to Cite Recorded Music in APA Style (+ Playlist)

Jeffby Jeff Hume-Pratuch

It’s December 22, the date on which I traditionally panic about the holidays. Cards sit unwritten, unaddressed, and unstamped on my desk. Cookies are unbaked, gifts are unbought, and the house is distinctly underdecorated!

But this year I am as cool as a cup of eggnog, for I have come up with the perfect holiday playlist to accompany my last-minute flurry of activity. Don’t tell my colleagues, but certain people may be finding a mix tape in their stockings (accompanied by a reference list, of course—we are the APA Style Experts.)

The Basics
In a previous post, I showed you some examples for citing sheet music in APA Style. The format for a recorded song is similar, but it resembles a chapter rather than a book. The name of the songwriter goes in the author position:

Writer, A. (Copyright year). Title of song [Recorded by B. B. Artist]. 
    On Title of album [Medium of recording]. Location: Label. (Date of

So, for example, where the songwriter and performing artist are the same, the reference would look like this:

Baron Cohen, E. (2010). My Hanukkah (Keep the fire alive). On 
    Songs in the key of Hanukkah [MP3 file]. Burbank, CA:
    WaterTower Music.

Fuchs, G. (2004). Light the menorah. On Eight nights of Hanukkah [CD].
    Brick, NJ: Kid Kosher.

Lehrer, T. (2000). (I’m spending) Hanukkah in Santa Monica. On The
    remains of Tom Lehrer
[CD]. New York, NY: Rhino.

Variations on a Theme
If the song is recorded by someone other than the songwriter, include the information about the recording artist(s) in brackets after the song title.

Lavin, C. (2003). A Christmas/Kwanzaa/Solstice/Chanukah/Ramadan/
    Boxing Day song [Recorded by C. Lavin & the Mistletones]. On The
    runaway Christmas tree
[CD]. West Chester, PA: Appleseed Recordings.

Page, S. (2010). Hanukkah blessings [Recorded by Barenaked Ladies].
    On Barenaked for the holidays [CD]. London, England: Raisin Records.

If the recording identifies the lyricist and composer, include their roles in parentheses after the name:

Geisel, T. (Lyricist), & Hague, A. (Composer). (1966). Welcome 
    Christmas! On Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch stole Christmas &
    Horton hears a Who
[CD]. New York, NY: Rhino.

Wesley, C. (Lyricist), & Mendelssohn, F. (Composer). (2006). Hark! The
    herald angels sing [Recorded by the Vince Guaraldi Trio]. On A
    Charlie Brown Christmas
[CD]. Beverly Hills, CA: Fantasy Records.

However, it’s not necessary to note the species if performers are non-Homo sapiens:

Bagdasarian, R., Sr. (1962). The chipmunk song [Recorded by D. Seville 
    & The Chipmunks]. On Christmas with the Chipmunks [CD]. Los Angeles,
    CA: Capitol Records. (2002)

Burland, S. (1963). The chickens are in the chimes [Recorded by
    S. Burland, M. Adams, & The Skipjack Choir]. On The chickens are in
    the chimes
[Vinyl record]. New York, NY: RCA Victor.

Hayes, B., & Johnson, J. W. (1948). Blue Christmas [Recorded by S. Swine
    & The Squeelers]. On John Boy and Billy’s Christmas album [Audio
    cassette]. Nashville, TN: Arista Records. (1998)

Particularly with traditional holiday music, the author may be unknown. In that case, the title of the song moves to the author position:

God rest ye merry, gentlemen [Recorded by Jars of Clay]. (2007). On 
    Christmas songs. Vancouver, Canada: Nettwerk.

I have a little dreidel [Recorded by Sister Hazel]. (2007). On Santa’s
    playlist. Newark, NJ: Rock Ridge Music.

Text Citations
For music recordings, the text citation consists of the songwriter(s) and date, along with the track number (or side and band, for vinyl records):

Lehrer (2000, track 11) noted that East St. Louis was not the optimal 
spot for a celebration of Shavuot.

If the copyright date and recording date are different, use both dates in the text citation:

Bernard, F. & Smith, R. B. (1934). Winter wonderland [Recorded by 
    The Eurythmics]. On A very special Christmas [CD]. Santa Monica,
    CA: A&M Records. (2006)

“Winter Wonderland” (Bernard & Smith, 1934/2006, track 5)

A Very Special APA Holiday
To all of our readers, we wish you happy holidays and a prosperous new year! You can listen to the entire playlist for this article on Spotify at APA Holiday.

December 08, 2011

Can't Find It in the Publication Manual!

Daisiesby Stefanie

The most common question—other than “How do I cite a website?”—that we get here is actually more of a panicked or frustrated declaration: “I can’t find this in the Publication Manual!” We understand: The manual is thick with information, and it takes time to familiarize yourself with it. Here are a few hints for finding what it is you might be looking for in the Publication Manual.
Formatting Specifics
Section 8.03, Preparing the Manuscript for Submission (pp. 228–230), covers all of the details you need to ensure that your manuscript formatting is consistent. This section includes information on font size and style (bottom of p. 228; 12-point Times New Roman), line spacing (top of p. 229; double-space everything from title to text to headings to references to figure captions), margins (middle of p. 229; uniform margins of at least 1 in. should appear at the top, bottom, left, and right of every page), and order of manuscript pages (pp. 229–230).
Many of these elements are also covered on the Checklist for Manuscript Submission (pp. 241–243).
Electronic References
Look closely at the sample references provided in Chapter 7: Many show examples of electronic versions of sources (e.g., journal articles, newspaper articles, books, book chapters, dissertations, reports).
If you retrieve a source from a database, see the third and fourth bullet points on page 192 for additional guidance on creating a reference for it.
The sample papers are full of formatting examples, along with handy tags showing where those formatting guidelines can be found in the Publication Manual proper. See pages 41–59 for examples of number style, hyphenation, punctuation, citation, statistics, references, headings, order of pages, tables, and figures.
What part of the Publication Manual has been most helpful to you?


October 06, 2011

Citing a Test Database


 By Anne Breitenbach

Some time ago, we had a post that explained how to find a DOI and provided a brief YouTube video of the process. We asked at the time for requests for tutorials about APA Style that could be useful. In response to that request, we were asked to create tutorials to explain how to cite content from two new databases APA is launching in September. The first of these, PsycTESTS, is a research database that provides descriptive and administrative information about tests, as well as access to some psychological tests, measures, scales, and other assessments. PsycTESTS is interesting in that it’s an example of citing the record itself, available only from a unique database, and not the test or supporting literature.

Take a look:


July 14, 2011

Punctuating the Reference List Entry

Chelsea blog 2  by Chelsea Lee

The basic APA Style reference list entry follows a familiar pattern: It can be divided up into four parts (author, date, title, and source), and each of these parts is separated from the others by punctuation. The following post shows in more detail how this process works and answers two common reference punctuation-related questions.

Basic Punctuation in a Reference List Entry

To begin, let’s look at a basic, run-of-the-mill reference list entry for a journal article:

Jacobson, N. S., & Truax, P. (1991). Clinical significance: A statistical approach to defining change in psychotherapy research. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59, 12–19. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.59.1.12
  • The highlighted periods show how punctuation comes after the author names, date (which goes inside parentheses), title, and source.
  • Note that you should not add punctuation marks after DOIs or URLs in reference list entries. These can function as live links to lead readers directly to article information; thus the precise alphanumeric string (without added punctuation) is needed.

The many reference list entries in Chapter 7 of the Publication Manual also show this punctuation pattern, and we encourage you to look there for more examples.

Next we’ll answer two common punctuation questions:

What Do I Do When the Title Ends in a Question Mark or Exclamation Point?

Authors and readers often ask how to deal with references that already contain punctuation—for example, a title that ends in a question mark or exclamation point. The short answer is, keep the original punctuation and do not add any extra. In the example below, the question mark at the end of the title takes the place of the period we would have otherwise inserted. There is no need to have two punctuation marks in a row.

Bushman, B. J., Baumeister, R. F., & Stack, A. D. (1999). Catharsis, aggression, and persuasive influence: Self-fulfilling or self-defeating prophecies? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 367–376. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.76.3.367

Should There Always Be a Period After the Author’s Name?

In the above examples, the authors were individuals whose names were listed in the format of surname, first initials. Because the initials already included punctuation, it was not necessary to add any additional punctuation in order for the author part of the entry to end in punctuation. However, when the author is a group, organization, institution, or something similar, there still needs to be a period at the end of the author piece of the reference. Here is an example of a reference with a group author (note the period after "Association"):

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.

Likewise, even when there is no author and the title moves to the author position, the rhythm of the punctuation stays constant. Here is an example of an unauthored entry in an online dictionary:

Reliability. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (11th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reliability
  • Here, periods come after each element, but again there is no period after the URL, to aid in retrievability. 
  • Note that when the title includes parenthetical or bracketed information, there is no period between the title and the opening parenthesis/bracket, but there is one after the closing parenthesis/bracket to show the end of the title part of the reference. 

What other reference list punctuation-related questions do you have? Please share them in the comments. 

June 16, 2011

Finding (and Using) Page Numbers for Kindle Books

Jeff by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

There’s no question that e-books make up a rapidly increasing segment of the publishing world. Amazon.com’s Kindle dominates this market, with hundreds of thousands of titles available in formats that can be read not only on the Kindle but on millions of iPads, iPhones, Blackberries, and Android devices as well.

Although the Kindle (and other e-book readers) are wonderfully portable, there has been one drawback to their use in research and scholarly writing: no page numbers. Instead, the device presents a number that roughly corresponds to the amount of text you’ve read. This number varies depending on the size of your display and the font settings you use; it has no relation to the pagination of the printed text.

Why Is This a Problem?

APA Style requires a page citation or paragraph number for directly quoted material (see the APA Publication Manual, 6th ed., pp. 170-171) to meet the overall goal of documentation, which is to fully credit your sources and allow your reader to retrieve them. A reader who picks up the same edition of a book you used can quickly turn to the exact source of your quotation. But because the Kindle location number depends on display and font size, readers sent to “Locations 2356-2445” may scroll in vain if they are using a different model or their settings are different from yours.

While the Publication Manual (pp. 170-172) provides some workarounds for citing unpaginated material (as outlined in this post), the only digital documents with real page numbers have been PDFs—until now, that is.

The Solution

In March, Amazon.com announced that the latest Kindle will display page numbers that correspond to those in the printed original of a digital book. If you have a Kindle 3G, you can view these page numbers by pressing the Menu button. The ISBN number of the original book is displayed on its product information page at Amazon.com. These page numbers meet the requirements for citations in APA Style.

Unfortunately, this is not a complete solution. If you have a Kindle 2, KindleDX, or other models, you won’t be able to see the page numbers. Amazon has no immediate plans to make this feature backward compatible, and so far the distributors of other devices (such as the Nook or Sony Reader) have not introduced similar features. However, for the users of the Kindle 3G, this is a great step forward.

June 03, 2011

How Do You Cite an E-Book (e.g., Kindle Book)?

Chelsea blog 2

by Chelsea Lee

E-books come in a variety of formats (e.g., Kindle, Adobe Digital Editions, EPub, HTML, and more) and can be read on a variety of devices (e.g., e-readers like the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader, as well as on personal computers and mobile devices through online portals such as NetLibrary, ebrary, and Google Books). This post shows how to cite any e-book in APA Style.

Reference List Entries

The reference list entry for a whole e-book should include elements of author, date, title (with e-reader book type in square brackets if applicable; italicize the title but not the bracketed material), and source (URL or DOI):

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of book [E-reader version, if applicable]. Retrieved from http://xxxxx

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of book [E-reader version, if applicable]. doi:xxxxx

  • If the book was read or acquired through an online library (e.g., Google Books, ebrary, NetLibrary) and not on an e-reader device, omit the bracketed information from the reference.

The reference list entry for a chapter in an edited e-book should be written as follows:

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of chapter. In B. B. Editor (Ed.), Title of book [E-reader version, if applicable] (pp. xxx–xxx). Retrieved from http://xxxxx

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of chapter. In B. B. Editor (Ed.), Title of book [E-reader version, if applicable] (pp. xxx–xxx). doi:xxxxx

  • If the e-book chapter does not have page numbers, omit that part of the reference.
  • To determine whether you need to cite the whole book or just a chapter, please see this post

In-Text Citations

For in-text citations of paraphrased material, provide the author and date, as for any APA Style reference. To cite a direct quotation, also provide page numbers if the e-book has page numbers. If there are no page numbers, you can include any of the following in the text to cite the quotation (see section 6.05 of the Publication Manual, pp. 171–172):

  • a paragraph number, if provided; alternatively, you can count paragraphs down from the beginning of the document; 
  • an overarching heading plus a paragraph number within that section; or 
  • an abbreviated heading (or the first few words of the heading) in quotation marks, in cases in which the heading is too unwieldy to cite in full.

A Note on Kindle Page Numbers and Location Numbers 

As of March 2011, many Kindle books now have real page numbers that correspond to those in print editions (as far as we know, this applies only for Kindle third generation products and going forward). These real page numbers are appropriate to use in academic citation (as are the page numbers of other paginated e-books). Kindle "location numbers," however, should not be used in citations because they have limited retrievability. Instead, for any e-book without page numbers, APA recommends the method described above for citations of directly quoted material.

See these links for further discussion of Kindles, e-books and e-book chapters, and citing unpaginated material, and see Publication Manual section 7.02 (pp. 202–205) for more examples.

February 24, 2011

Books and Book Chapters: What to Cite

 Chelsea blogby Chelsea Lee

After slogging through a 500-page tome, you may find but one or two shiny little facts relevant to your research. It might seem like going overboard to cite the entire book when you used just a paragraph or a chapter . . . so what to cite, then, the chapter or the book? 

The type of reference needed depends on who wrote what. Essentially, you should cite the largest entity that the author in question is responsible for.

Book References

If the author wrote the entire book, then provide a reference for the whole book. Here are templates for print books, electronic books, and books with DOIs (print or electronic), respectively:

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of work. Location: Publisher.
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of work [E-reader version, if applicable]. Retrieved from http://xxxxx
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of work [E-reader version, if applicable]. doi:xxxxx

Book Chapter References

On the other hand, if the chapter comes from a book where each chapter is written by different authors (and the whole thing is put together by an editor), then provide a separate reference for each chapter that you used. The templates for chapters in edited books are shown below, for print books, electronic books, and books with DOIs (either print or electronic), respectively:

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of chapter. In B. B. Editor (Ed.), Title of book (pp. xxx–xxx). Location: Publisher.
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of chapter. In B. B. Editor (Ed.), Title of book [E-reader version, if applicable] (pp. xxx–xxx). Retrieved from http://xxxxx
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of chapter. In B. B. Editor (Ed.), Title of book [E-reader version, if applicable] (pp. xxx–xxx). doi:xxxxx

Here information on both the whole book and the chapter is provided. This allows the reader to retrieve the book and to know who is responsible for both the whole book and the chapter in question. If there are no page numbers in the electronic book, omit that portion of the reference. 

Other Notes

If you read an e-book on an e-reader, such as a Kindle, Sony Reader, or Nook, provide the version that you read (e.g., Kindle DX version) in square brackets following the title, not italicized, as shown in the examples above. 

To help your reader find the cited material, you can provide additional detail (page numbers, chapter numbers, etc.) in the text reference. Always give specific location information (generally, page numbers; here's what to do when there are no page numbers) for direct quotations; it is optional for paraphrasing and other mentions. 

More information and real-life examples are provided in the sixth edition APA Publication Manual, section 7.02 (pp. 202–205).

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