52 posts categorized "Electronic references"

April 26, 2012

Reference Example Organization: How to Find the Example You Need in the Manual

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Consider the following questions that the APA Style team has received:

  • How do I cite a website?
  • How do I cite interlibrary loan?
  • How do I cite my Kindle?
  • How do I cite my iPhone?

What do they have in common? Well, in each case, the individual asking the question has been unable to find the appropriate reference example in the Publication Manual and has turned to the APA Style team for answers. However, don’t take the existence of these questions as evidence that the answers aren’t in the manual, because they usually are. But to find them, you have to understand how the manual is organized—that’s how you’ll get to the reference example you really need.

Document Type, Not Delivery Method or Format

Many readers may be surprised to realize that the reference examples in the Publication Manual are organized by document type (articles, books, reports, etc.), not by method of delivery (computers, interlibrary loan, e-readers, smartphones) or format (paper, HTML, DVD, etc.). So for every reader who writes to us to say, “I can’t believe out of 77 examples in the Publication Manual, not one is for a website,” we take this opportunity to point out that a full 47 examples—that’s 61%—refer to online resources you’d find on a website.

So, remember that for the purpose of citation (and of finding reference examples), it matters what's on the website, not that the document is on a website in and of itself. 

Using the Manual to Find What You Need

The Publication Manual provides a wonderful index of document types in Chapter 7 prior to the reference examples themselves (see pp. 193–198). In addition to variations on document type (96 of them!), subvariations on author, title, and publication information are also provided. This list is an essential reference for users of the Publication Manual, and we hope you’ll take advantage of it now if you haven’t before.

Clarifying the Distinctions Among Delivery Method, Format, and Type

Additionally, we give to you the table below, which lists examples of different document delivery methods, formats, and types. The third column, for document type, also links to other APA Style Blog posts on the topic and lists relevant reference examples in the Publication Manual.

So when you ask an APA Style question—say, “How do I cite ‘X’?”—first try to find your “X” in the table below or in the index of document types in the manual. If you find it listed only in one of the first two columns of the table below, then you haven’t figured out the document type yet (that’s the third column), and you’re not quite ready to write the reference. Note that there are as many possible document types out there as the day is long, so for brevity’s sake, this table includes only the most common. Many more are in the Chapter 7 index.  

Document delivery method

 Finding - computer

Document format

Finding - film

Document type

Finding - book



Journal article (ex: 1–6)

Internet browser

HTML (as on a website)

Magazine or newspaper article (ex: 7–11)

Mobile phone (e.g., iPhone, Android phone)

PDF (as on a website)

Special section in a journal (ex: 12)

Tablet computer (e.g., iPad)

Digital audio file (e.g., mp3, mp4)

Monograph (ex: 13)

E-reader (e.g., Kindle, Nook)

Digital video file (e.g., flash video, streaming video, wmv, mp4)

Editorial (ex: 14)

Interlibrary loan (e.g., ILLiad)

DVD or Blu-ray

Abstract (ex: 16, 17)

Visit to a library in person


Book or book chapter (ex: 18–26)


CD, cassette, or record

Report (technical, government, etc.) (ex: 31–35)

Movie projector

Art materials (paint, clay, etc.)

Dictionary or encyclopedia, whole book or entry (ex: 27–30)

Stereo or other audio player


Wikipedia or wiki entry



Proceedings from a meeting or symposium (ex: 38, 39)



Dissertation or thesis (ex: 40–44)

Archival collection


Review (ex: 45–48)

Physical object (e.g., book)


Video (e.g., YouTube video, movie, TV show) (ex: 49, 51)



Podcast (ex: 50)



Music recording (ex: 52)



Software (ex: 56)



Unpublished, informally published, or self-published work (ex: 58–62)



Letter (ex: 63–65)



Interview (recorded or transcribed) (ex: 69, 70)



Pamphlet or brochure



Artwork or images



Photograph (ex: 73)



Blog post (ex: 76)



Press release






Facebook update



Information on a webpage



Personal communication (e-mail, phone call, unrecorded interview, etc.) (see section 6.20)

Trouble Finding “X”

If you have trouble nailing down exactly what “X” is, other than perhaps you know it is on a website, then read our blog post on discerning different kinds of website material for more help. If you know what “X” is but you can’t find an exact example in the manual, read our blog post on what to do when you can’t find the exact document type in the Publication Manual

We hope this post will help you to find the APA Style reference example that you’re looking for. 

March 29, 2012

Jr., Sr., and Other Suffixes in APA Style

Timothy.mcadooby Timothy McAdoo

 Henry W. “Indiana” Jones Jr.: “I like Indiana."
Henry W. Jones Sr.: “We named the dog Indiana.”

Much like the intrepid Dr. Jones, when writing a paper, you never know what riddles you’ll have to solve. (Unlike Indiana, you can always ask the APA Style team for help!) I hope to clear up one such riddle here: how to handle suffixes in author names.

Quick Summary (in case you need to make a dramatic exit before the end of this post!)*

"Jr.," “III,” or other suffixes are not included with in-text citations, but they are included in the reference list entries.


In a reference, include the suffix, set off with commas, as shown here:

Jones, H. W., Jr., & Jones, H. W., Sr. (1941). My adventures in Alexandretta.
      The Journal of Fictional Archeology, 1, 1–19. doi:46.34262/56637
Belloq, R. (1926). Shiny things. In B. C. Explorateur Jr. (Ed.), Artifacts lost and
[E-reader version] (pp. 210–223). Paris, France: Gaxotte Publishing.


You may note that in the first example, because the names in the author portion of a reference are inverted, commas are needed before the suffix. In the second example, the suffix is in the editor name; because names are not inverted in the editor portion of the reference, the comma is not needed. More examples can be found in this post on citing book chapters in APA Style.

If the suffixes are numerals, alphabetize the entries by these numerals. For example,

Lucas, G., I. (2001). Tinkering with details (Vol. 1). Hollywood, CA:
      A.G.F.F.A. Publishing.
Lucas, G., II. (2012). You can always change it later. Hollywood, CA:
      A.G.F.F.A. Publishing.



For the citation in your text, do not include the suffix. Just use the author’s last name as you normally would:

...which would lead to a fear of snakes (Jones & Jones, 1941). Jones and Jones (1941) also found that...


*If you’re feeling adventurous, you can find the keys to this post throughout the Publication Manual. The fourth bullet on page 184 explains how to punctuate suffixes within a reference, and page 204 has an example with “Jr.” (Example 24). The guideline for alphabetizing appears in the second bullet at the top of page 182.

March 01, 2012

How to Capitalize and Format Reference Titles in APA Style

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

APA Style has special formatting rules for the titles of the sources you use in your paper, such as the titles of books, articles, book chapters, reports, and webpages. The different formats that might be applied are capitalization (see Publication Manual, section 4.15), italics (see section 4.21), and quotation marks (see section 4.07), and they are used in different combinations for different kinds of sources in different contexts.

The formatting of the titles of sources you use in your paper depends on two factors: (a) the independence of the source (stands alone vs. part of a greater whole) and (b) the location of the title (in the text of the paper vs. in the reference list entry). The table below provides formatting directions and examples:

Independence of source


Reference list





Stands alone

(e.g., book, e-book, report [technical, government, etc.], dissertation, thesis, film, video, television series, podcast, YouTube video, artwork, map, music album, unpublished manuscript)

Italic, title case

Gone With the Wind

Italic, sentence case

Gone with the wind

Part of a greater whole

(e.g., journal article, book chapter, e-book chapter, newspaper article, magazine article, blog post, television episode, webisode, webpage, tweet, Facebook update, encyclopedia entry, Wikipedia entry, dictionary entry, song)

Inside double quotation marks, title case

“Longitudinal Impact of Parental and Adolescent Personality on Parenting”

Not inside any quotation marks, sentence case

Longitudinal impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting

More on Italics Versus Nonitalics

As you can see in the table above, the titles of works that stand alone (such as a book or a report) are italicized in both the text and the reference list. In contrast, the titles of works that are part of a greater whole (such as an article, which is part of a journal, or a book chapter, which is part of a book) are not italicized in either place, and only in the text are they put inside quotation marks. If you are having difficulty determining whether something stands alone (such as a webpage that may or may not be part of a greater website), choose not to italicize.

More on Capitalization: Title Case Versus Sentence Case

APA Style uses two kinds of capitalization to format reference titles, which are also mentioned in the table above: title case and sentence case. APA’s title case refers to a capitalization style in which most words are capitalized, and sentence case refers to a capitalization style in which most words are lowercased. In both cases, proper nouns and certain other types of words are always capitalized. Here are more detailed directions for implementing title case and sentence case.

Text Examples

As shown in the table above, title case is used for the titles of references when they appear in the text of an APA Style paper. Here are some examples of titles written in title case (of an article and a book, respectively), as they might appear in a sentence in the text of a paper:

The article “Psychological Distress, Acculturation, and Mental Health-Seeking Attitudes Among People of African Descent in the United States: A Preliminary Investigation” (Obasi & Leong, 2009) makes an important contribution to the mental health and acculturation literature. 
Students read stories of visual agnosia in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales (Sacks, 1985). 

Reference List Entry Examples

In contrast, sentence case is used for titles of references when they appear in reference list entries. See how the book and article titles look when capitalized in sentence case in these example reference list entries:

Obasi, E. M., & Leong, F. T. L. (2009). Psychological distress, acculturation, and mental health-seeking attitudes among people of African descent in the United States: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56, 227–238. doi:10.1037/a0014865
Sacks, O. (1985). The man who mistook his wife for a hat and other clinical tales. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

We hope this helps you understand how to capitalize and format reference titles in APA Style. 

More Posts on Capitalization

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. 

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