128 posts categorized "References"

March 21, 2016

How to Cite a Chapter Written by Someone Other Than the Book’s Authors

David Becker

By David Becker

Dear APA Style Experts,

I want to cite a chapter from Theoretical Basis for Nursing, 4th Edition, which is an authored textbook. However, the author of this chapter is not one of the authors listed on the front cover. What should I do?

—Frustrated Nursing Student

Dear FNS,

When referring to a chapter in an authored book, usually you would not cite that chapter in the reference list. Instead, you would cite the whole book and, if necessary, cite the chapter in text. This rule applies whether the chapter is written by one of the book’s primary authors or by a separate contributor.

Nursing Student

Even though it might seem sensible to cite that chapter as one would cite a chapter from an edited book, doing so could cause confusion. If you were to cite a chapter from an authored book in this manner, most of the information from the book reference templates at the bottom of page 202 in the Publication Manual would be maintained, with the names of the book's primary authors in the editor position. However, because you would be crediting them as authors and not as editors, you would need to delete the Eds. in parentheses. Authored books that contain chapters written by other contributors are relatively uncommon, and APA Style users are so accustomed to the format for citing a chapter in an edited book that this slight change might lead your readers to assume that you are incorrectly citing an edited book by accidentally leaving out the Eds. component. Although this may not seem like such a big deal, it could cost a student a few points for not following proper APA Style format. Or, if you're publishing your paper in a journal, you could find yourself battling with a prickly copyeditor.

To avoid all of this mess, the simplest solution is to just cite the entire book like you would do with any other authored volume:

McEwen, M., & Wills, E. M. (2014). Theoretical basis for nursing (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

In doing so, you are presenting readers with a reference format that they can immediately recognize as representing an authored book, which will help them retrieve your source. Then, you can clarify the unique nature of your source by simply crediting the chapter author in your narrative and identifying the chapter number as part of your in-text citation:

According to Melinda Oberleitner, "The hallmark of the transformational leader is vision and the ability to communicate that vision to others so that it becomes a shared vision" (McEwen & Wills, 2014, Chapter 16, p. 363).

This method also works when citing a foreword written by someone other than the book’s authors, which is a bit more common. However, foreword authors are sometimes given cover credit through a "with" statement—as in, "With a foreword by Charles Todd." In this case, it would be appropriate to cite the foreword author parenthetically in your reference, as described on page 184 in the Publication Manual. Here's an example of how such a reference would look:

Christie, A. (with Todd, C.). (2013). Hercule Poirot: The complete short stories. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Your in-text citation would only include the name of the book's primary author. The author of the foreword would simply be named in your narrative in the same way that you would credit the author of any other chapter not written by the book's main author:

In his foreword, Charles Todd described the characteristics of the famous detective Hercule Poirot (Christie, 2013).

If you come across any other complications when citing a book, feel free to leave a comment below or contact us.

February 23, 2016

How to Cite a TED Talk in APA Style

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

Dear APA Style Experts,

How should I cite a TED Talk? Is the author TED or TED Talks or the speaker giving the talk?

—TED Listener

Thanks for asking! References include the who-when-what-where information that, ideally, allows your reader to find not just the source material but the source exactly where you found it. For online sources this is particularly important because the presentation and sometimes even the information provided can vary from one online location to the next.

Take, for example, this TED Talk by Amanda Palmer:

If you viewed the video on the TED website, a reference to this TED Talk would be as follows:


Palmer, A. (2013, February). Amanda Palmer: The art of asking [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_palmer_the_art_of_asking

In-text citation: Palmer (2013) or (Palmer, 2013)

Note that the TED page and the video itself give only "February" as the date, so that's what you can include in the reference.

(As an aside, you’ll note that Amanda Palmer's name is also included in the title. This is not an extra element of our APA Style reference; it's included because her name is part of the title itself. TED videos include speaker names as part of the video titles.)

But, if you viewed the video on YouTube, the same TED Talk would be referenced as follows:


TED. (2013, March 1). Amanda Palmer: The art of asking [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMj_P_6H69g

In-text citation:

TED (2013) or (TED, 2013)

YouTube shows the date that the video was posted as March 1, 2013, so that's the date to use in this reference.

The author name is TED in this case because the TED organization posted the video to YouTube, and that’s the information your reader needs to retrieve the reference. That is, for the "who" portion of a reference to a YouTube video, we use the name of the person or organization that posted the video

In that case, you might include information about the speaker, if necessary, in the context of your paper.


Amanda Palmer used examples from her career as a busker and a musician to discuss the sharing economy (TED, 2013).

August 04, 2015

How to Cite Online Maps in APA Style

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

I was recently asked how to cite the directions created with Google Maps. Because Google Maps is not addressed specifically in the reference examples in the Publication Manual, it’s time to stitch together a Frankenreference.  

For this example, let’s say you want to travel from Ingolstadt, Germany, to Geneva, Switzerland (as Frankenstein’s monster did in part of his journeys). And, let's assume you're driving, not walking or bicycling. Your reference for the directions would look like this:

Google. (n.d.). [Google Maps directions for driving from Ingolstadt, Germany, to Geneva, Switzerland]. Retrieved August 4, 2015, from https://goo.gl/maps/ILt8O

I assembled this Frankenreference from the four following pieces:

Who: The author is Google. (Google Maps is a service provided by Google, Inc.  We recommend dropping “Inc.” and “Co.” from names in references. See also our post on Group Authors.)

Sm.edit.iStock_000066763803_FullWhen: Because Google Maps pages are created on the fly, they have no published date. Use “n.d.”
What: When a page has no title, we recommend creating a description, in brackets.  Because the page has no title, the exact wording to use is up to you.  In this example, I'll use "[Google Maps directions for driving from Ingolstadt, Germany, to Geneva, Switzerland]." Note that I included “driving” in my description. I recommend including the mode of transportation (walking, driving, biking, etc.) in the description because it does affect the URL that Google provides.
Where:  Note that I’ve included the retrieval date. Although retrieval dates are not necessary for most APA Style references, we recommend them for pages that might change or be updated over time. Directions are certainly subject to change, so we recommend including the retrieval date in this case.

Google Maps Reference

I’ve used Google Maps in this example, but the reference format would be similar for other online mapping sites. I hope you’ve found this helpful. Happy travels!

May 05, 2015

How to Cite an Article With an Article Number Instead of a Page Range

Several online-only journals publish articles that have article numbers rather than unique page ranges. That is, instead of the first article in the issue starting on page 1, the second on page 20, the third on page 47, and so on, every article starts on page 1. Why choose this approach? Because the online-only publisher does not have to worry about creating a print issue (where a continuous page range would assist the reader in locating a piece), this numbering system simplifies the publication process. So to still demarcate the order in which the articles in a volume or issue were published, the publisher assigns these works article numbers.

Many of our readers wonder what to do when citing these references in APA Style. No special treatment is required—simply include the page range as it is reported for the article in your APA Style reference. The page range may be listed on the DOI landing page for the article and/or on the PDF version of the article. Here is an example of an article with a page range, from the journal PLoS ONE:

Simon, S. L., Field, J., Miller, L. E., DiFrancesco, M., & Beebe, D. W. (2015). Sweet/dessert foods are more appealing to adolescents after sleep restriction. PLoS ONE, 10, 1–8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0115434

If the article is published in a format without page numbers entirely, just leave off this part of the reference (i.e., end the reference with the volume/issue information for the article). Here is an example article without any page numbers, from the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Cheryan, S., Master, A., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2015). Cultural stereotypes as gatekeepers: Increasing girls’ interest in computer science and engineering by diversifying stereotypes. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00049

In-Text Citations of Direct Quotations

In the text, citations of direct quotations should refer to the page number as shown on the article, if it has been assigned. If the article has not been assigned page numbers, you have three options to provide the reader with an alternate method of locating the quotation:

  • 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, plus a paragraph number within that section.

Here is an example direct quotation from an article without page numbers that uses the abbreviated heading plus paragraph number method:

To increase the number of women in science and engineering, those in positions of power should strive to create "inclusive cultures so that those who are considering these fields do not necessarily have to embody the stereotypes to believe that they fit there" (Cheryan, Master, & Meltzoff, 2015, "Conclusion," para. 2).

You can read more about including page numbers in in-text citations here. Also see section 6.05 of the Publication Manual.

Do you have additional questions about citing articles with article numbers? Please leave us a comment. 

March 17, 2015

How to Cite an Illustrated Book

David Becker

By David Becker

Dear APA Style Experts,

I want to cite an illustrated book and give proper credit to the illustrator, but I can’t find an example of how to do that in the Publication Manual. Can you give me some guidance?

Edward G.

Dear Edward,

Unfortunately, the Publication Manual doesn’t have the space to accommodate examples for every type of citation situation (cite-uation?). But, even though the manual doesn't specifically mention how to cite an illustrator, the basic book reference format described on pages 202–203 still applies to your cite-uation.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the goal of a reference is not necessarily to provide proper credit—it’s more about directing your readers to the right source. These two objectives generally go hand-in-hand, but not always. For instance, if you’re citing a book that includes illustrations that aren’t essential elements of the book, crediting the illustrator is probably not necessary—this information will likely not assist readers in finding the original source.

Take Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for example. The illustrations by Sir John Tenniel are very well-known, but the book can function perfectly fine without them, and your readers won’t need to know his name to find the source. With that in mind, here’s what the reference would look like:

Carroll, L. (2006). Alice’s adventures in Wonderland & through the looking-glass. New York, NY: Bantam Dell. (Original work published 1865)

Even if you were writing specifically about these illustrations, you would still use the same reference information, as well as the standard author–date format for parenthetical citations. You could simply refer to the illustrator and his work in your narrative: “Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations are excellent examples of surreal art from the 1800s (Carroll, 1865/2006).”

Alice in Wonderland

However, when citing a book where the illustrations are essential to understanding the content—a children’s picture book or a graphic novel, for example—it would be appropriate to cite both the author and the illustrator, especially if they are both given cover credit. But, you don't need to worry about their roles. Keep it simple and cite the book as you would cite a non-illustrated book with more than one author. Take Goodnight Moon for example:

Brown, M. W., & Hurd, C. (2007). Goodnight moon. New York, NY: HarperCollins. (Original work published 1947)

Although Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd are clearly identified on the book's front cover as the author and the illustrator, respectively, there's no need to indicate this in your reference entry.

One benefit of sticking with this basic citation format is that you can easily apply it to books where the author and illustrator roles are not clearly designated on the cover, which is the case with the graphic novel Watchmen:

Moore, A., & Gibbons, D. (1986). Watchmen. New York, NY: DC Comics.

Note that although John Higgins is credited as the colorist inside the book, he's not named on the front cover. Therefore, it's not necessary to cite him for retrievability purposes—just cite what you see on the front cover.

This simple citation format also works for wordless picture books where there is no author, only an illustrator:

Becker, A. (2013). Journey. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

If you’re trying to cite an illustrated book, I hope this information will help you resolve your cite-uation. If not, please leave a comment below or contact us.

January 13, 2015

How to Cite Software in APA Style

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

Can you cite computer software in APA Style? Yes! Here’s everything you need to know.

Q: Do I have to cite the computer software I mention in my paper?
A: The Publication Manual specifies that a reference is not necessary for “standard software.” What is “standard”? Examples are Microsoft Word, Java, and Adobe Photoshop. Even less ubiquitous software, like SPSS or SAS, does not need to be referenced.

Note: We don’t keep a comprehensive list of what programs are “standard.” You make the call.

In your text, if you mention a program, do include the version number of the software. For example, “We asked participants to type their responses in a Microsoft Word (Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010, Version 14.0.7128.5000) file.”

However, you should provide a reference for specialized software. For example, let's say you used an open source software package to display items to the participants in your study. You should cite it. The reference format follows our usual who-when-what-where format.

  • Use an individual’s name in the reference if he or she has proprietary rights to the program. In all other cases, create a reference as you would for unauthored works.
  • After the title, in brackets, provide a descriptor for the item. This helps the reader immensely.
  • If the software is available online, provide the URL rather than the publisher name and location.

Example References

Esolang, A. N. (2014). Obscure Reference Generator [Computer software]. Washington, DC: E & K Press.
Customized Synergy [Computer software]. (2014). Retrieved from http://customizedsynergy.com

Example Text Citations

“We used the Obscure Reference Generator (Version 2.1; Esolang, 2014) and Version 1.0 of Customized Synergy (2014) to complete our work."

Q: Is the name of the program italicized?
A: No: not in the text and not in the reference.

Q: Is the name of the program capitalized?
A: Yes, the name of the software is a proper noun and should be capitalized, both in the text and in the reference list.

Q: What about programming languages?
A: You don’t need to include references for programming languages. But, feel free to discuss them in the text of your paper, if relevant.

Q: What about mobile apps?
A: Yes, you can cite those, too. If you need to cite an app, this blog post has everything you need to know.

Q: What about video games?
A: Yes, video games are software. Follow the templates above for the reference and in-text citation.

Q: What if I used an online application to have my participants complete a survey?
A: Like Survey Monkey? If you mention the use of a site, simply provide the URL in your text (e.g., “Participants were given a link to an online survey, which the authors created using Survey Monkey (http://www.surveymonkey.com).” However, if you’re citing a particular page from the cite (e.g., a help document or the “About” page), you should reference that page just as you would any other. See this eggcellent post for more details about citing websites.

Q: What if I wrote the software myself?

A: If the reader can retrieve it, you can include a reference, following the template above. If you’ve created and published/posted software, that certainly falls into the “specialized” area noted above.

But, if you’ve written software that is not retrievable, a reference is not possible.  If, for example, you’ve included the full code as an appendix, you will want to mention that appendix in the text, but a reference is not needed. You might also find these post about how to write about yourself and whether and how to cite one’s own experiences helpful.

I've tried to cover everything, but please let me know what I missed. I look forward to questions and comments!

December 23, 2014

Making a List, Checking It Twice

Anne Breitenbach


By Anne Breitenbach

You know what I love? Assembly instructions.Recipes. Rules of engagement. Game plans. In essence, any tool that helps me clearly define what I need to have on hand to do a project properly and what steps I will need to take to complete it. So the first thing I do each morning when I arrive at my desk (well, after getting coffee) is jot down a checklist of what I hope to accomplish on this day. It gives me goals, focuses me, keeps tasks from getting lost, and—perhaps best of all—allows me to strike through each as it’s completed. (Microambition provides pretty constant self-congratulatory feedback.)   I’m not alone in my appreciation of checklists either.  Researchers, authors, and students ask us all the time if there is a roadmap to achieving a paper or a manuscript created correctly in APA Style.

So I’ve convinced you, right? You grab the Publication Manual and flip to the index looking for a handy “checklist” entry. I’m afraid it isn’t quite that clear cut. There are checklists of various kinds, but you have to know your manual or supporting APA resources well enough to know what and where they are and how to use them.  Let’s look at some examples. 

At the end of Chapter 8, “The Publication Process,” in section 8.07, you’ll find a précis of what a “good” manuscript looks like, with sections on format, title page and abstract, paragraphs and headings, abbreviations, mathematics and statistics, units of measurement, references, notes and footnotes, tables and figures, and copyright and quotations. This Checklist for Manuscript Submission is also available online in the Authors and Reviewers Resource Center on our website. Although designed for authors, it is just as handy as a cheat sheet for students. A bonus is that it provides you with the relevant section numbers in the Publication Manual

In fact, at the end of several sections you’ll also find a checklist. For example, section 5.19 summarizes the information about tables and reminds you, among other elements, to use tables only when necessary, review for consistency of presentation, keep your title brief, ensure all columns have a column head, define abbreviations, construct notes appropriately, and provide suggested statistics. It’s a very useful way to check that you’ve complied with all the recommendations. 

And the checklists don’t stop there. There’s one for figures in section 5.30 at the close of the figures section to gently remind you to use simple and clear figures that are clearly labeled. It reminds you to ensure the figures appear in order and are discussed in the text. It also reminded me of several other steps that I just had to go back to the checklist and check.

Of course, not all checklists may be so benign. You know who else loves checklists? That’s right. Santa’s making his list and checking it twice. Things might go better for you if he knows you're a checklist user too.

Bad santa


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

October 08, 2014

What a Tangled Web: Website Versus Web Page

Daisiesby Stefanie

Sitting here in the offices of APA, we APA Style experts find it easy to forget that not everyone uses or chats about APA Style every day of the week. Therefore, it is not surprising that sometimes we plunge into discussions without fully defining all of the terms we use. Today, I’d like to address what has become a recurring question from APA Style users: What constitutes a web page, and what is a website? That is, are these two different things or two names for the same thing?

These are two different things, although one is made up of the other. A web page is a computer file on World-wide-web-600 the web, displayed on a monitor or mobile device, which could provide text, pictures, or other forms of data. A website consists of a collection of web pages provided by one person or organization; all of the pages trace back to a common Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and usually are hyperlinked to each other.

Let’s use APA’s website as our example. The home page of the site, http://www.apa.org, is the gateway to the rest of the pages of the website. It’s also an excellent starting place from which to search for those individual web pages.

Let’s say I do a search from the home page on the term autism. This results in a whole list of web pages on the APA website that are related to autism. There is a page on which the term autism is defined. There’s a page about a video about autism spectrum disorders. There is a page for a children’s book that explains autism to kids. There’s a page on autism treatment options, and so forth. So, if I were writing about autism and wanted to refer people to APA’s website because I think it’s a good source of information that is always adding new pages on that topic, I would say, “APA’s website is a good source of information on autism (http://www.apa.org/).” But if I wanted to talk about something specific from one page, I would create a reference for that page and make sure to include a citation; for example, “Behavioral interventions are an important part of helping children with autism (American Psychological Association, n.d.).” The reference for the web page from which I got that information would look like this:

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Autism treatment options. 
Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/topics/autism/treatment.aspx

Photo credit: Photodisc/Thinkstock.

August 21, 2014

When to Include Retrieval Dates for Online Sources

David Becker

By David Becker

We’ve all had that experience when a dog or a child walks up to you holding something dangerous, disgusting, or some other d-word that you absolutely do not want in the house. What’s the one question we’ve all asked in that situation? “Where did you get that?” If it’s something particularly strange, we might also ask, “What in the world is that?” But rarely do we ask, “When did you get that?” We don’t care. We know it’s in the room now. We just want it to go back where it came from.

Dog Doing Research

APA Style generally asks the same thing: “What are you citing, and where did you get it?” We also ask, “Who created it, and when?” But we usually don’t ask, “When did you consult that source?” One exception to this rule would be for material that is subject to frequent change, such as Wikipedia entries. Because this information is designed to be constantly updated, it’s important to let readers know when you retrieved it.

So the next time you ask your dog to fetch sources for your research paper, make sure he tells you what they are, where he got them, who created them, and when they were created. You probably won’t need to ask when he got them, unless he’s a lazy dog who does all his research in Wikipedia. And if he comes back with a stick, don’t cite that.

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