31 posts categorized "Reference list"

November 20, 2014

How to Cite Multiple Pages From the Same Website

Timothy McAdoo

by Timothy McAdoo

Sometimes one's research relies on a very narrow thread of the World Wide Web.

What do I mean? We are sometimes asked how to cite multiple web pages from the same website. “Can’t I just cite the entire website?” our efficiency-minded readers ask. If you merely mention a website, yes.

But, if you quote or paraphrase information from individual pages on a website, create a unique reference for each one. This allows your reader to find your exact source. This may mean your reference list contains a number of references with similar, but distinct, URLs. That’s okay!

Laptop-filesLet’s look at an example:

Say you are writing a paper about Division 47 (Exercise and Sport Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA). In your paper, you begin by providing some background information about APA and about APA’s divisions, and then you provide more detailed information about Division 47 itself. In the process, you might quote or paraphrase from a number of pages on the APA website, and your reference list would include a unique reference for each.

American Psychological Association. (n.d.-a). Divisions. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/division/
American Psychological Association. (n.d.-b). Exercise and Sport Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/division/div47.aspx
American Psychological Association. (n.d.-c). For division leaders. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/division/officers/index.aspx
American Psychological Association. (n.d.-d). For division members. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/division/activities/index.aspx
American Psychological Association. (n.d.-e). Sample articles. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/spy/sample.aspx

It may seems a little unusual to have so many similar references, but in the context of this research topic, it makes perfect sense.

In-Text Citations

When you quote directly from a web page, be sure to include the paragraph number, in lieu of a page number, with the in-text citation. You may also include a paragraph number when paraphrasing. This will help readers locate the part of the page you are relying on.

Related Readings

May 15, 2014

Comparing MLA and APA: The Reference List

David Becker

By David Becker

Today, we continue with our series of posts highlighting some differences between APA and MLA reference styles. Last week, I outlined how the two styles handle in-text citations. Today’s post focuses on the reference list (or the “Works Cited” list as it is called in MLA Style). Below are examples of how each style would handle two common sources—a print book and a journal article from a research database. I have color coded the text to help you better visualize the differences in the basic elements of a generic reference. The who is in red, the when is in blue, the what is in yellow, and the where is in purple, all of which can be mixed and matched to form the Frankenreference.

Let’s begin with a print book, one of the simplest sources to cite:


Gordin, Michael D. The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe. Chicago: U Chicago P, 2012. Print.


Gordin, M. D. (2012). The pseudoscience wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the birth of the modern fringe. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

The two styles vary in a number of ways, including punctuation, capitalization, and placement of the date. Also, unlike APA Style, MLA Style includes the format of the source—either “Print” or “Web”—as an extra piece of “where” information, and it often requires writers to abbreviate publisher names.

Now let’s take a look at something a bit more complicated, a journal article from a research database:


Shafron, Gavin Ryan, and Mitchell P. Karno. “Heavy Metal Music and Emotional Dysphoria Among Listeners.” Psychology of Popular Media Culture 2.2 (2013): 74-85. PsycNET. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.


Shafron, G. R., & Karno, M. P. (2013). Heavy metal music and emotional dysphoria among listeners. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2, 74–85. doi:10.1037/a0031722

The most substantive difference is that MLA Style requires the name of the database from which you retrieved the article and the date of retrieval as well; it does not use the DOI. In contrast, APA Style requires a DOI (when there is one), but doesn’t require the date of access (see p. 198 of the Publication Manual for more detail). In most cases, the name of the database is not used in an APA Style reference, although a few exceptions are outlined in Chapter 7.

Understanding Style

I hope this comparison of MLA and APA styles is helpful to those of you who find yourself transitioning from one to the other. If you are a student switching from MLA to APA, your most important resources will be the Publication Manual and this blog. I also recommend that you try our free tutorial on the basics of APA Style and visit our FAQ page, in addition to our pages on quick answers for citing sources and formatting your research paper. If you have any questions after checking those resources, you can contact APA Style directly or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

April 24, 2014

Why Does APA Style Use Hanging Indents?

Jeffby Jeff Hume-Pratuch


Dear Style Experts,

I’m curious about how certain things got to be that way in APA Style. For example, how did you decide on using a hanging indent for references? Does this improve the readability of the paragraph, compared with some other way of offsetting the information? Or is there some other advantage to the hanging indent, beyond readability?
                                                                                              —Chris in Canada

Dear Chris,

To answer that question, we need to set the dial on the Wayback Machine for 1894, when the first issue of Psychological Review (APA’s first journal) was published. As you can see from the snapshot below, the references in that issue were not exactly formatted in the APA Style we know and love, but they do use a hanging indent. So you might say that the hanging indent is part of our DNA.


DNA_double_helix_vertikalAPA Style (like every other reference style) is less like a purpose-built machine and more like a set of family traditions. Some features, such as the DOI, have been added over the years for carefully articulated reasons; others, like the hanging indent, appeared unannounced. Taken together, they constitute “a standard of procedure . . . to which reference might be made in cases of doubt, and which might be cited to authors for their general guidance in the preparation of scientific articles” (Bentley et al., 1929, p. 57).

When Bentley et al. wrote that sentence in 1929, they probably did not suspect that the standard they outlined in seven pages would grow to embrace six editions, several revisions, and a host of supporting products, including this blog. I think it’s pretty cool to be part of something that has its roots in the Victorian Era and its head in the 21st century. That’s my kind of family tree!



Bentley, M., Peerenboom, C. A., Hodge, F. W., Passano, E. B., Warren,
     H. C., & Washburn, M. F. (1929). Instructions in regard to
     preparation of manuscript. Psychological Bulletin, 26, 57-63.

Butler, N. B. (1894). Psychological literature: Educational. Psychological
1, 82-83. doi:10.1037/h0067178

March 13, 2014

Reference List or Bibliography: What’s the Difference?

Jeffby Jeff Hume-Pratuch

Did  you know that there’s no such thing as a bibliography in APA Style? It’s a fact! APA Style uses text citations and a reference list, rather than footnotes and a bibliography, to document sources.

A reference list and a bibliography look a lot alike: They’re both composed of entries arranged alphabetically by author, for example, and they include the same basic information. The difference lies not so much in how they look as in what they contain.

QuestionA bibliography usually contains all the works cited in a paper, but it may also include other works that the author consulted, even if they are not mentioned in the text. Some bibliographies contain only the sources that the author feels are most significant or useful to readers.

In APA Style, however, each reference cited in text must appear in the reference list, and each entry in the reference list must be cited in text. If you cite only three sources in your paper, your reference list will be very short—even if you had to read 50 sources to find those three gems! (Hopefully, that hard work will pay off on your next assignment.)

The APA Style Experts are often asked to provide the “official APA-approved format” for annotated bibliographies (i.e., bibliographies that contain the author’s comments on each source). As you may have guessed, there isn’t one; APA Style doesn’t use bibliographies of any sort. In addition, though, the reference list in APA Style contains only the information that is necessary to help the reader uniquely identify and access each source. That’s why there is no format for an annotated bibliography in the Publication Manual.

January 30, 2014

How to Cite References Containing Lead Authors With the Same Surname and Publication Date




by Tyler Krupa

In a previous post, I provided guidelines on how to properly cite different groups of authors with the same lead author and publication date. As shown in that post, when you have two or more references of more than three surnames with the same year and they shorten to the same form (e.g., both Smith, Jones, Young, Brown, & Stanley, 2001, and Smith, Jones, Ward, Lee, & Stanley, 2001, shorten to Smith et al., 2001), you need to clarify which one you are citing each time. To do this, on the second and all subsequent citations, you should cite the surnames of the first two authors and of as many of the next authors as necessary to distinguish the two references, followed by a comma and et al. (see the sixth edition of the Publication Manual, p. 175).

Smith, Jones, Young, et al., 2001

Smith, Jones, Ward, et al., 2001

Now let’s add a twist and use references that contain different lead authors with the same surname and year of publication. Do you know what you should do differently? Let’s find out by looking at the following references:

Jones, B. T., Corbin, W., & Fromme, K. (2001). A review of expectancy theory and alcohol consumption. Addiction, 96, 57–72. http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1360-0443.2001.961575.x

Jones, S. E., Oeltmann, J., Wilson, T. W., Brener, N. D., & Hill, C. V. (2001). Binge drinking among undergraduate college students in the United States: Implications for other substance use. Journal of American College Health, 50, 33–38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07448480109595709

On the second and all subsequent citations, are you tempted to add the names of the additional authors to distinguish the two references? Although this seems like a logical way to proceed, because the lead authors are not the same person, you should instead include the lead author’s initials in all the text citations (for more information about when to use author initials for text citations, see my recent post). Therefore, the text cites for these two references would be as follows:


First citation: Previous studies (e.g., B. T. Jones, Corbin, & Fromme, 2001; S. E. Jones, Oeltmann, Wilson, Brener, & Hill, 2001) have shown that . . .

Subsequent citations: Both B. T. Jones et al. (2001) and S. E. Jones et al. (2001) produced similar results . . .


First citation: Previous studies (e.g., Jones, Corbin, & Fromme, 2001; Jones, Oeltmann, Wilson, Brener, & Hill, 2001) have shown that . . .

Subsequent citations: Both Jones, Corbin, and Fromme (2001) and Jones, Oeltmann, et al. (2001) produced similar results . . .


Subsequent citations: Both B. T. Jones, Corbin, and Fromme (2001) and S. E. Jones, Oeltmann, et al. (2001) produced similar results . . .

In these citations, because the lead authors are different, the lead author’s initials should be included in all text citations, regardless of how often they appear. In addition, there is no need to add the names of the additional authors to distinguish the two references on the second and subsequent citations because the initials before the surnames of the lead authors already accomplish that.

Questions? Leave us a comment.

January 23, 2014

When to Use Author Initials for Text Citations




by Tyler Krupa

You probably already know that references in APA Style are cited in text with an author–date system (e.g., Adams, 2012). But do you know how to proceed when a reference list includes publications by two or more different primary authors with the same surname? When this occurs, include the lead author’s initials in all text citations, even if the year of publication differs (see the sixth edition of the Publication Manual, p. 176). Including the initials helps the reader avoid confusion within the text and locate the entry in the reference list. For example, let’s look at the following two references and their corresponding text citations.


Campbell, A., Muncer, M., & Gorman, B. (1993). Sex and social representations of aggression: A communal-agentic analysis. Aggressive Behavior, 19, 125–135. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/1098-2337(1993)19:2<125::AID-AB2480190205>3.0.CO;2-1

Campbell, W. K., Bush, C. P., & Brunell, A. B. (2005). Understanding the social costs of narcissism: The case of the tragedy of the commons. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 1358–1368. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167205274855

Text Citations

First citation: Many studies (A. Campbell, Muncer, & Gorman, 1993; W. K. Campbell, Bush, & Brunell, 2005) have shown . . . .

Subsequent citations: Both A. Campbell et al. (1993) and W. K. Campbell et al. (2005) provided participants with . . . .

As you can see from the examples above, even though the year of publication differs in the two Campbell references, the lead author’s initials should be included in all text citations, regardless of how often they appear.

Although this rule seems straightforward, one thing that trips up some writers is how to proceed when different lead authors with the same surname are also listed in other references in which they are not the lead author. To help illustrate what should you do, let’s look at the earlier Campbell examples again, but now let’s add some additional references.


Brown, Y., & Campbell, W. K. (2004).

Campbell, A., Muncer, M., & Gorman, B. (1993).

Campbell, W. K., Bush, C. P., & Brunell, A. B. (2005).

Smith, L. N., Campbell, A., & Adams, K. (1992).

Although you may be tempted to include the initials every time the surname Campbell appears in the text citations, note that per APA Style, the initials should be included only when Campbell is the lead author. Therefore, initials should be used for only two of the above four references in the text citations.

Text Citations

First citation: Many studies (Brown & Campbell, 2004; A. Campbell, Muncer, & Gorman, 1993; W. K. Campbell, Bush, & Brunell, 2005; Smith, Campbell, & Adams, 1992) have shown that . . .

Subsequent citations: . . . as was done in previous studies (Brown & Campbell, 2004; A. Campbell et al., 1993; W. K. Campbell et al., 2005; Smith et al., 1992).

Another related item to note is that if the reference list includes different lead authors who share the same surname and first initial, you should provide the authors’ full first names in brackets (see the Publication Manual, p. 184).


Janet, P. [Paul]. (1876).

Janet, P. [Pierre]. (1906).

Text Citations

(Paul Janet, 1876; Pierre Janet, 1906)

We hope these examples clear up any points of possible uncertainty. Still have questions? Leave us a comment.

November 14, 2013

How to Cite Part of a Work

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

This post will explain how to cite just part of a work—such as a footnote, table, figure, chapter in an authored book, paragraph, section, or page—in an APA Style paper. It’s actually quite simple: Just provide a citation for the whole work in the reference list, and in the text, include the regular author–date citation plus information about the specific part to which you want to bring the reader’s attention.

Puzzle pieces

The idea is to provide a path to the source. The in-text citation refers the reader to the reference list entry, which in turn provides enough information for the reader to find the source itself. The extra information in the in-text citation further specifies which part of the reference the reader should attend to.  If you need to cite a part within a part (such as a row within a table), just add that information into the text citation (e.g., Smith, 2013, Table 1, column 4).

Note that if you want to cite a chapter in an edited book, a separate format applies. Chapters in edited books, unlike those in authored books, receive their own reference list entries because different authors write different chapters in the book, and it is important to properly attribute the citation in the paper. Chapters in authored books, on the other hand, can be cited in the text, but the reference list entry should be to the whole book because that is what the reader would look up in a library catalog or database.

Example In-Text Citations to Parts of Sources

Here are a few examples showing how to cite part of a work in the text:

  • (Woo & Leon, 2013, Figure 3)
  • Caswell, Morgan, and Duka (2013, Table 1, row 3)
  • (Park, Van Bavel, Vasey, & Thayer, 2013, footnote 3)
  • Dweck (2006, Chapter 3)
  • (Ebrahim, Steen, & Paradise, 2012, Appendix)
  • (Breska, Ben-Shakhar, & Gronau, 2012, Method section)
  • Cook et al. (2012, General Discussion section, para. 2)
  • (Ferguson, 2012, pp. 64–67)

In each case, the reference list entry would reflect the larger work containing the piece, formatted according to the document type.

For example, the reference entry for the citation to Figure 3 in Woo and Leon’s (2013) article, shown in the illustration, would follow the format for a journal article.

Woo, C. C., & Leon, M. (2013). Environmental enrichment as an effective treatment for autism: A randomized controlled trial. Behavioral Neuroscience, 127, 487–497. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0033010

And the reference entry to Chapter 3 in the book by Dweck (2006) would follow the format for an authored book, and so on.

Dweck, C. S. (2007). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Formatting Requirements

In looking at the examples above, you may have noticed that the names of some parts were capitalized or abbreviated. Capitalization and formatting rules are described in section 4.17 of the Publication Manual and a condensed version of that advice is provided in the table below.



Abbreviated in parentheses



page (p.)



pages (pp.)



paragraph (para.)

Official section names or headings (e.g., Method section)

Descriptive section names (e.g., introduction, when introduction is not an actual heading in the document)



Keep in mind these rules will apply to any part of a source you can think of. If the particular part you have in mind is not listed above or addressed in section 4.17, feel free to ask about it in the comments.

October 18, 2013

How to Cite Social Media in APA Style (Twitter, Facebook, and Google+)

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Thanks to developments in technology and feedback from our users, the APA Style team has updated the formats for citing social media, including content from Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. These guidelines are the same as you’ll find in our APA Style Guide to Electronic References, Sixth Edition (available in PDF and Kindle formats).

Three Ways to Cite Social Media

There are three main ways to cite social media content in an APA Style paper:

  • generally with a URL,
  • as a personal communication, and
  • with a typical APA Style in-text citation and reference list entry.

We'll look at each of these along with examples. 

General Mentions With a URL

If you discuss any website or page in general in a paper (including but not limited to social media), it is sufficient to give the URL in the text the first time it is mentioned. No reference list entry is needed. Here is an example:

News agencies like CNN provide breaking news coverage to millions of people every day on their website (http://www.cnn.com) and Twitter account (http://twitter.com/CNN). In our first investigation, we analyzed the content of CNN’s Twitter feed during the year 2012.

Personal Communications

If you paraphrase or quote specific information from social media but your readership will be unable to access the content (e.g., because of friends-only privacy settings or because the exchange occurred in a private message), cite the content as a personal communication (see Publication Manual § 6.20). A personal communication citation should be used because there is no direct, reliable path for all readers to retrieve the source. Here is an example: 

K. M. Ingraham (personal communication, October 5, 2013) stated that she found her career as an educational psychologist intellectually stimulating as well as emotionally fulfilling.

In-Text Citations and Reference List Entries

Finally, if you paraphrase or quote specific, retrievable information from social media, provide an in-text citation (with the author and date) and a reference list entry (with the author, date, title, and source URL). The guidelines below explain how to format each of these elements for any social media citation, and examples follow.


  • First, provide either an individual author’s real last name and initials in inverted format (Author, A. A.) or the full name of a group. This allows the reference to be associated with and alphabetized alongside any other works by that author.
  • Second, provide social media identity information. On Twitter, provide the author’s screen name in square brackets (if only the screen name is known, provide it without brackets). On Facebook and Google+, when the author is an individual, spell out his or her given name in square brackets.
  • The author reflects who posted the content, not necessarily who created it. Credit additional individuals in the narrative if necessary.


  • Provide the year, month, and day for items that have a specific date associated with them, such as status updates, tweets, photos, and videos; otherwise, provide only the year.
  • If the date is unknown, use “n.d.” (for no date) instead.
  • If the date is unknown but can be reasonably approximated, use “ca.” (for circa) followed by the approximated year, in square brackets.
  • For multiple citations from the same author in the same year (regardless of the month or day), alphabetize the entries by title and add a lowercase letter after the year (e.g., 2013a, 2013b; n.d.-a, n.d.-b; or [ca. 2013a], [ca. 2013b]). Ignore nonletter characters such as the at sign (@) and pound sign (#) when alphabetizing.


  • Provide the name of the page or the content or caption of the post (up to the first 40 words) as the title.
  • Do not italicize the titles of status updates, tweets, pages, or photographs; do italicize the titles of items that stand alone, such as videos and photo albums.
  • If the item contains no words (e.g., a photograph without a caption), provide a description of the item in square brackets.
  • Describe the content form (e.g., tweet, Facebook status update, photograph, timeline, video file) after the title in square brackets.


  • Provide a retrieval URL that leads as directly and reliably to the cited content as possible (click a post’s date stamp to access its archived URL).
  • Provide a retrieval date if the content may change (e.g., whole feeds or pages). Do not provide a retrieval date if the post has a specific date associated with it already (e.g., status updates, tweets, photos, and videos).


Example Citations

Tweet, Individual Author


Gates, B. [BillGates]. (2013, February 26). #Polio is 99% eradicated. Join me & @FCBarcelona as we work to finish the job and #EndPolio. VIDEO: http://b-gat.es/X75Lvy [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/BillGates/status/306195345845665792
  • In-text citation: (Gates, 2013).

Tweet, Group Author


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
  • In-text citation: (Stanford Medicine, 2012).

Facebook Status Update, Individual Author


Gaiman, N. [Neil]. (2012, February 29). Please celebrate Leap Year Day in the traditional manner by taking a writer out for dinner. It’s been four years since many authors had a good dinner. We are waiting. Many of us have our forks or chopsticks at the [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/neilgaiman/posts/10150574185041016
  • In-text citation: (Gaiman, 2012). 

Facebook Status Update, Group Author

APA Style

APA Style. (2011, March 10). How do you spell success in APA Style? Easy! Consult Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary or APA’s Dictionary of Psychology. Read more over at the APA Style Blog [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/APAStyle/posts/206877529328877
  • In-text citation: (APA Style, 2011).

Google+ Post


Cornell University. (2012, October 11). Having a cup of coffee before closing your eyes is the most effective way to combat daytime drowsiness, according to research. Sounds counterintuitive, but it takes 20 minutes for the caffeine to get into your bloodstream. So if you take [Google+ post]. Retrieved from https://plus.google.com/116871314286286422580/posts/NqCFGr4eveT
  • In-text citation: (Cornell University, 2012). 

Social Media Video

APA video

American Psychological Association. (2011, September 19). This is psychology: Family caregivers [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150303396563992&set=vb.290103137578
  • In-text citation: (American Psychological Association, 2011).

Social Media Photo or Graphic, With Caption

National Geographic

National Geographic. (2012, November 20). A supertelephoto lens allowed Colleen Pinski to capture this image of an annual solar eclipse. See more top shots: http://on.natgeo.com/UasjJH [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151148294503951&set=pb.23497828950.-2207520000.1357225190
  • In-text citation: (National Geographic, 2012).
  • The photographer can be credited in the narrative, for example, “Colleen Pinski photographed a solar eclipse using a telephoto lens (National Geographic, 2012).”

Social Media Photo or Graphic, Without Caption

US Census Bureau

U.S. Census Bureau. (2012, October 10). [Pathways after a bachelor’s degree in psychology: Educational attainment, common occupations, and synthetic work-life earnings and estimates] [Infographic]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151027855527364&set=a.10151027848052364.407698.202626512363
  • In-text citation: (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012).

Social Media Photo Album

Red Bull Stratos

Red Bull Stratos. (2012, October 15). Mission to the edge of space, accomplished [Photo album]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.507275739283434.122701.122924687718543
  • In-text citation: (Red Bull Stratos, 2012). 
  • Include other details in the narrative, for example, "Felix Baumgartner broke the speed of sound in freefall during his jump from the edge of space (for photos from mission day, see Red Bull Stratos, 2012)." 

Social Media Page

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Timeline [Facebook page]. Retrieved September 27, 2013, from https://www.facebook.com/AmericanPsychologicalAssociation/info
  • In-text citation: (American Psychological Association, n.d.).

Day, F. [Felicia]. [ca. 2013]. Posts [Google+ page]. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from https://plus.google.com/+FeliciaDay/posts

  • In-text citation: (Day, [ca. 2013]).

National Institute of Mental Health [NIMHgov]. (n.d.). Tweets [Twitter page]. Retrieved October 17, 2013, from https://twitter.com/NIMHgov
  • In-text citation: (National Institute of Mental Health, n.d.).

For More

For more information on all kinds of electronic references, see the APA Style Guide to Electronic References, Sixth Edition (available in PDF and Kindle formats), as well as the APA Publication Manual. To cite social media items not covered here, follow the format that is most similar, and also see our post on what to do if your reference isn’t in the manual.

Thank you to all our readers who helped us develop these formats. Your feedback is always appreciated.

June 06, 2013

Executive Orders

by Melissa

By executive order, American presidents have created mental health care commissions, directed national councils to prioritize health care, and removed barriers to the funding of scientific research. Executive orders directly affect the field of psychology.

When you discuss executive orders, reference and cite them as shown in Section A7.07 (pp. 223–224) of the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual and this blog post.

Reference Format
These are the essential elements of a reference for an executive order that appears in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.):

  1. Order number
  2. Volume number and name of the code in which the order appears (e.g., executive orders always in appear in 3 C.F.R.)
  3. Page number
  4. Year that the order was promulgated

Here’s the basic format for an executive order reference:

Exec. Order No. xxxxx, 3 C.F.R. page (year).

If the order has been codified in the United States Code (U.S.C.), you can add the following elements at the end of the reference:

  1. Volume number and abbreviated name of the code
  2. Section number
  3. Explanatory information indicating that that the order was reprinted or amended or that it appeared in an appendix to the code (app. at xxx–xxx)
  4. Year of the most recent code in which the order appeared

Here’s the extended format:

Exec. Order No. xxxxx, 3 C.F.R. page (year), reprinted in title number 
U.S.C. § xxx app. at xxx–xxx (year).

For example, Executive Order 11,609, delegating some of the president’s authority to various federal agencies, is formatted as follows:

Exec. Order No. 11,609, 3 C.F.R. 586 (1971–1975), reprinted as amended 
3 U.S.C. § 301 app. at 404–407 (2006).

Text Citation Format
Here’s the in-text citation for executive orders:

Executive Order No. xx,xxx (year)
(Executive Order No. xx,xxx, year)

For more on executive orders, consult the latest edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.

May 30, 2013

From Microprocessors to Sticky Notes: Patent References and Citations




by Melissa

Psychologists use tools ranging from sophisticated computer hardware and software systems to simple sticky notes. Patent documents describe in detail the appearance and operation of many of these tools.

Sticky.note.imageIn this post, we describe how to use APA Style when incorporating information from patent documents in your work.

The first step is to gather information from patent documents by searching databases at intellectual property agencies like the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For information about other intellectual property agencies, consult the Member States page on the World Intellectual Property Organization website. 

With patent information in hand, now you’re ready to create a reference and citation for a patent using APA Style!

Patent Reference Format
The elements of a patent reference list entry are slightly different from those of the typical APA Style author/date/title/source reference.

Here are the four patent reference elements:

  • Name of the inventor to whom the patent was issued
  • Year the patent was issued,
  • Unique patent identifier (i.e., the patent number) 
  • Name of the official source of the patent information (usually the name of the patent office).

Below is the general patent reference format:

Surname, A. B. (year). Patent Identifier No. xxx. Location: Source Name.

See section A7.07 of the APA Publication Manual for more information on formatting patent references.


Patent Reference List Examples and Quiz
Reference list entries for a few famous patents appear below. Try to match these patent references with the following famous innovations: ballpoint pens, electrocardiographs, sticky notes, telephones, and microprocessors. The answers are at the end of this blog post.

  1. Bell, A. G. (1876). U.S. Patent No. 174,465. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  2. Biro, L. J. (1945). U.S. Patent No. 2,390,636. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  3. Einthoven, W. (1926). U.S. Patent No. 1,592,628. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  4. Fry, A. L. (1993). U.S. Patent No. 5,194,299. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  5. Hoff, M. E., Jr., Mazor, S., & Faggin, F. (1974). U.S. Patent No. 3,821,715. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Patent In-Text Citation Format
In text, cite the patent identifier and the year.

U.S. Patent No. 174,465 (1846)
(U.S. Patent No. 174,465, 1846)


Answers to the Patent Match Quiz
Alexander Graham Bell patented a device that he described in his patent application as improvements in telegraphy (U.S. Patent No. 174,465, 1876), a device commonly known as the telephone.

Laszlo Jozsef Biro invented a fountain pen that had a rotatable ball at one end (U.S. Patent No. 1,592,628, 1945), also known as a ballpoint pen.

Willem Frederik Einthoven’s U.S. Patent No. 1,592,628 (1926) described a device that is the precursor of modern electrocardiographs.

Arthur L. Fry’s patent for sticky notes was granted in the United States (U.S. Patent No. 5,194,299, 1993) and other countries (e.g., Canadian Patent No. CA 1340261, 1980; Canadian Patent No. CA 1340262, 1980).

Marcian Edward Hoff, Jr., Stanley Mazor, and Federico Faggin were among the early innovators who patented microprocessors (U.S. Patent No. 3,821,715, 1974).

For more links to patent resources and patent-related research information, check out the following Library of Congress website: http://www.loc.gov/rr/business/beonline/subjects.php?SubjectID=17



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