54 posts categorized "Electronic references"

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).

November 18, 2010

How to Cite Something You Found on a Website in APA Style

Chelsea blog by Chelsea Lee

Perhaps the most common question we get about APA Style is “How do I cite a website?” or “How do I cite something I found on a website?”

First, to cite a website in general, but not a specific document on that website, see this FAQ.

Once you’re at the level of citing a particular page or document, the key to writing the reference list entry is to determine what kind of content the page has. The Publication Manual reference examples in Chapter 7 are sorted by the type of content (e.g., journal article, e-book, newspaper story, blog post), not by the location of that content in a library or on the Internet. The Manual shows both print- and web-based references for the different types of content.

What seems to flummox our readers is what to do when the content doesn’t fall into an easily defined area. Sometimes the most you can say is that you're looking at information on a page—some kind of article, but not a journal article. To explore this idea, imagine the Internet as a fried egg. The yolk contains easier to categorize content like journal articles and e-books. In that runny, nebulous white you’ll find the harder to define content, like blog posts, lecture notes, or maps. To wit, the egg:

The Internet as an egg (free egg image from www.clker.com, modified by APA)
Content in that egg white area may seem confusing to cite, but the template for references from this area is actually very simple, with only four pieces (author, date, title, and source):

Author, A. (date). Title of document [Format description]. Retrieved from http://URL

That format description in brackets is used only when the format is something out of the ordinary, such as a blog post or lecture notes; otherwise, it's not necessary. Some other example format descriptions are listed on page 186 of the Publication Manual.


Examples of Online References

Here’s an example (a blog post) in which we have all four necessary pieces of information (also see Manual example #76):

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/

Sometimes, however, one or more of these four pieces is missing, such as when there is no identifiable author or no date. You can download a pdf version of the chart here that lists all the permutations of information that might occur with an online reference and shows how to adapt the reference.

Here’s an example where no author is identified in this online news article:

All 33 Chile miners freed in flawless rescue. (2010, October 13). Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39625809/ns/world_news-americas/

And here’s an example for a webpage where no date is identified:

The College of William and Mary. (n.d.). College mission statement. Retrieved from http://www.wm.edu/about/administration/provost/mission/index.php

We have also covered example references for tweets and Facebook updates, press releases, interviews, wikipedia articles, and artwork in other blog posts. Thanks for reading!

October 15, 2010

Translations of the Publication Manual


Anne Woodworth Gasque

This month the latest edition of the Publication Manual will be released in Spanish! Que bueno!  This event marks a long partnership with Manual Moderno, the distinguished Mexico City publisher whose first translation of the Publication Manual began with the fourth edition.  In addition to the Publication Manual, Spanish-speaking readers will find translated versions of the Concise Rules of APA Style and of Mastering APA Style.

If Spanish is not your native language, don’t despair.  We’re currently working with international publishing partners who are translating the manual into Arabic, Simple Chinese, Italian, Nepalese, Polish, Romanian, and Portugese, for starters.  We’ll let you know when those translations are available.  It’s hard to believe that what started as a six-page article in an APA journal (Psychological Bulletin) in 1929 that outlined simple style rules (including instructions for submitting drawings wrapped flat against stiff cardboard or rolled on tubes) has evolved into the current 272-page Publication Manual that offers guidance on bias-free language, writing style, and electronic references and is used around the world. 

How would you cite a translation of the Publication Manual? The sixth edition of the Publication Manual includes an example of a non-English reference book translated into English on page 205 (Example 28). Here is what the Spanish translation of the sixth edition would look like:

American Psychological Association. (2010). Manual de publicaciones de la American 
   Psychological Association [Publication manual of the American Psychological
   Association] (3rd ed.). Mexico City, Mexico: Manual Moderno.

The translation of the title appears in brackets immediately after the non-English title.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to contact us with questions about other types of translated sources.




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 form in square brackets, when the form is something different from the norm), and the source (e.g., a URL). Here are some example references for press releases:

American Psychological Association. (2010). Today’s superheroes send wrong image to boys, say researchers [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/08/macho-stereotype-unhealthy.aspx


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


King Fish Media. (2010). The perfect marriage of content and technology: Is social media the new CRM? [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-perfect-marriage-of-content-and-technology--is-social-media-the-new-crm-100760344.html


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 (this is true for the first example above). 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, which is the source of the third example above. However, PR Newswire is not the author of the third release; it is just the publisher—the author is actually indicated at the bottom of the release (in this case, King Fish Media). For these indexed releases, be sure to identify the proper author of the release when writing your reference list entry.

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 2010), call them 2010a and 2010b (whichever title comes first alphabetically will be 2010a). The description Press release in square brackets aids 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.

September 02, 2010

Computer Editing Tip: Paste Special

Chelsea blog by Chelsea Lee

If you have ever cut and pasted information from a webpage into a word-processing document, you know what a mess you can get of font face, size, color, and spacing. It takes one click to paste and then five more steps to get the format to match your default settings—very aggravating. Paste Special is a feature of Microsoft Word (the program I use—please share solutions for other software in the comments) that can make your work easier and more accurate. It allows you to skip the format wrangling and to paste just the text you selected using the same settings as in your document.

What Paste Special Is Good For

Paste Special is helpful when you want to copy and paste from your Internet browser window or PDF into your Word document. You can use Paste Special to help construct your reference list, and in doing so you can reduce transcription errors and save time. For example, you can use it to copy and paste 

  • DOIs,
  • URLs, and
  • text from PDFs or any webpage.

How to Use Paste Special

To use Paste Special, first copy the text you want from your webpage. Second, put your cursor where you want to paste in your Word document. Then select Paste Special from the Edit menu (Word 2003) or from the Paste button on the Home Tab (Word 2007, 2010). A dialog box like the one below will pop up.


Select “Unformatted text” or “Unformatted Unicode Text” (the latter seems to work better when copying from a PDF), and click OK. Your copied text will paste in the same format as the text that surrounds it in your document.  


If you prefer to use keyboard shortcuts, the combination for Paste Special is either ALT+V (Word 2003) or CTRL+ALT+V (Word 2007, 2010). Finally, if you really know your way around the computer, this DIY lesson will show you how to make a one-key shortcut for Paste Special (it uses a Word macro to skip the dialog box and paste unformatted text directly).

Stay tuned for more editing tips! And please share your own tips in the comments.

March 19, 2010

How to Cite Facebook: Fan Pages, Group Pages, and Profile Information

[Note 10/18/2013: Please view an updated and expanded version of this post at http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2013/10/how-to-cite-social-media-in-apa-style.html]

Chelsea blogby Chelsea Lee

Although Facebook citations may not be in the Publication Manual, this blog has addressed how to cite Facebook in general (just mention the URL in text) and how to cite particular Facebook status updates (make a reference list entry) in APA Style. That advice still holds true.

Now to discuss how to cite specific information from Facebook other than status updates, such as anything on a publically viewable page (e.g., a fan page, group page, info tab, boxes tab, etc.). Here are two templates, based on the APA Style FAQ for how to cite information from a website with no author, year, or page numbers:

Username or Group Name. (n.d.). In Facebook [Page type]. Retrieved Month 
Day, Year, from http://www.facebook.com/specificpageURL
  • When the date is unknown, use n.d. for “no date.”

  • Describe the source type inside square brackets.

Username or Group Name. [ca. 2010]. In Facebook [Page type]. Retrieved 
Month Day, Year, from http://www.facebook.com/specificpageURL
  • When the date can be reasonably certain but isn’t stated on the document, use a bracketed date and “ca.” (see also Example 67, p. 214).


Example Citations

Because examples make everything more fun, let’s say I am writing about the cognition skills of the great apes and I discuss Nonja, an orangutan armed with a digital camera who lives in the Vienna Tiergarten Zoo (read more about her in this Daily Mail article). Here’s a citation for her Facebook fan page:

Nonja. (n.d.). In Facebook [Fan page]. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from 

In my next paper about the power of nostalgia and viral marketing, I refer to the Facebook group page for When I was your age, Pluto was a planet. As of this writing it had more than 1.8 million members (and its founder has even been interviewed by NASA). Here’s a citation for the group page:

When I was your age, Pluto was a planet. [ca. 2009]. In Facebook [Group 
page]. Retrieved December 16, 2009,
from http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2207893888

For all these citations, whether to use "n.d." or "[ca. 2010]" is a judgment call and up to you, depending on the situation. And remember to double check your URLs—many pages can share the same name, so you need the right URL to tell them apart.


Private Page Citation

Because content from private or friends-only Facebook pages or profiles is not retrievable by everyone, if you cite it, it should be treated as personal communication (see section 6.20, p. 179).

What other social media citation conundrums do you have?

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