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January 28, 2010

The Generic Reference: Where

Jeffby Jeff Hume-Pratuch

This post is part of an ongoing series about how references work. It began with an introduction to the generic APA Style reference and posts on the author or “who” element, the date or “when” element, and the title or “what” element. Upcoming posts will cover adding supplementary information in brackets and mixing and matching elements of example references.

The last generic element in an APA reference is where a reader should go to locate the reference you used. (An alternate label for this element might be how—as in, “How can I locate that source?”)


For journals, newsletters, and magazines, the primary locator element is the volume number. It goes after the periodical’s title, in italics, and the article’s page range follows:

Elk, A. (1972a). My theory on brontosauruses. Journal of the

 All-England Summarize Proust Competition, 31, 12–27.


If (and only if) the journal is one that restarts the page numbering at 1 for each issue, include the issue number in parentheses after the volume number:

Elk, A. (1972b). The other theory on brontosauruses. Journal of the 

 All-England Summarize Proust Competition, 31(4), 47–50.


Note that if the issue number is used, it is in roman (i.e., not italic) type, as is the comma following it.

Books, Reports, and So Forth

Give the name and location of the publisher (city and state or, outside the United States, city and country) for books, reports, brochures, and other nonperiodical publications.

Gumby, T. F. (1972). The brain specialist. Cambridge, England: 


Note that the name of the publisher is given in as brief a form as possible. Eliminate words such as Publishers, Co., and Inc., and use only the surname for publishing houses that are named after persons (e.g., Erlbaum, not Lawrence Erlbaum; Wiley, not John Wiley). The names of universities, associations, and so forth are given in full.

The “well-known city rule” is no longer in effect, so the state (or country, for non-U.S. publishers) is included for all publishers. However, there is one exception to this rule: If the publisher is a university whose name includes the name of the state, don’t repeat the state in the publisher location.

Clark, D. T., & Schoomaker, P. J. How not to be seen. Tampa:

 University of Florida.


Electronic Sources

The digital object identifier (DOI) is the new gold standard for locating electronic publications. Through the magic of international concordats and computer programming, it will get you to the online version of the article every time, even if the publisher has changed Web addresses. Over the past few months we have devoted considerable space on the blog to the use (and the pros and cons) of DOIs, so I’ll simply point you to Chelsea's DOI primer and handy flowchart for guidance on when to use DOI versus URL. You may also want to check out Tim's video on how to find those pesky DOIs, and Paige's discussion of document URL versus homepage URL.

Odd Cases

Do you have a locator problem that stumps you? Post it here and we’ll try to figure it out!



For seventh edition guidelines, visit the seventh edition APA Style blog.

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