September 26, 2019

Archiving the Sixth Edition APA Style Blog

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes, oh, look out you rock 'n rollers

—David Bowie, “Changes,” Hunky Dory

Change just aheadWe launched the sixth edition APA Style blog in 2009 on the very day that the sixth edition of the Publication Manual was published. During the past 10 years, we’ve enjoyed talking about writing, research, grammar, and style. And, we’ve learned so much from you! Your questions informed us about how APA Style is taught and applied, you shared which of our examples and guidelines needed clarification, and we observed how language changed. We discussed all aspects of sixth edition APA Style, and we answered thousands of questions. These discussions informed our thinking as we worked on the seventh edition. Thank you for helping us make this blog a success!

With the new edition of the Publication Manual, we’re beginning a new blog. On October 1st, you’ll find the new blog at

But not to worry! We know that editors, instructors, and students need time to learn the new style and begin applying it. With that in mind, we’ll be keeping an archive of the sixth edition APA Style blog. (We’ll share the link for that on the new site.) To keep things streamlined, we’ll be closing comments on the sixth edition posts as of today. We will continue to answer questions and discuss style points on the seventh edition blog. And, we’ll be happy to answer questions about sixth edition style via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and email ([email protected]).

You’ll find many other changes on our website soon, too! We’ll archive the FAQs and other sixth edition resources. On the APA Style website, you’ll find new pages that highlight seventh edition APA Style. On these pages, we’ll show what’s new, what’s revised or updated, and what’s unchanged in seventh edition style. Please visit the APA Style website on October 1st to see the changes!

August 09, 2019

Introducing the 7th Edition of the Publication Manual

August 06, 2019

The Seventh Edition of the Publication Manual Is Available for Preorder!

We are thrilled to announce that the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is available for preorder!

Many, many updates are included. But first, let us say thank you. Over the last 10 years, you’ve asked us more than 30,000 questions, here on the blog and via email, phone calls, and social media. And, you’ve made many great suggestions along the way. The APA Style team considered and incorporated all of your feedback into every decision we made about the seventh edition!

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.)You can place your preorder now, and the Publication Manual (7th ed.) will be published and ready for delivery beginning in October 2019. You can choose from hardcover, paperback, and new tabbed spiral-bound formats! Ebook versions will also be available in October 2019 and are not part of the preorder.

Highlights include the following:

  • full color throughout for the first time
  • debut of a tabbed spiral-bound edition, in addition to the paperback, hardcover, and ebook formats
  • an updated chapter on guidelines for writing without bias that addresses age, disability, gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality, including the use of the singular "they"
  • an all-new chapter about APA journal article reporting standards (JARS), which now include new guidelines for qualitative and mixed methods research as well as updated guidelines for quantitative research
  • new student-specific resources, including a sample paper, guidelines for formatting an annotated bibliography, and recommendations for adapting a dissertation or thesis into a journal article
  • best practices for ethical writing, including discussions on avoiding plagiarism and updated guidance on navigating the publication process and disseminating research findings
  • 100+ new reference examples, with new templates that offer a uniform approach to referencing print and electronic sources
  • corresponding in-text citations with all reference examples
  • reference examples covering websites, social media, classroom resources, and much more
  • simplified guidelines for writing in-text citations
  • more than 40 new sample tables and figures

In the days and weeks to come, we will post much more about the new edition. But for now, let us just say this, we heard you: How many spaces should appear after a period at the end of a sentence? One!

July 11, 2019

When to Include Page Numbers in a Reference List Entry

David Becker

By David Becker

Dear APA Style Experts,

When I cite page numbers in text, does that mean I have to include them in the reference as well? If not, then when should I include page numbers in a reference?

—Laurel H.

Dear Laurel,

The quick answer to your first question is, “No.” Just because you cite one or more page numbers in text—whether you are directly quoting a source or just paraphrasing it—does not necessarily mean you need to include them in the reference list. References help readers find the work you are citing, whereas in-text citations help readers find the location of the quoted or paraphrased material within that source. Here is an example of the correct format for an in-text citation to an authored book and its corresponding reference:

In-text citation:

(Moghaddam, 2018, p. 30)


Moghaddam, F. M. (2018). Mutual radicalization: How groups and nations drive each other to extremes.

Regarding your broader question about when to include page numbers in a reference, the answer depends on what type of source you are citing. A page range is included in a reference to a source that is part of a larger paginated work, such as a chapter in an edited book, an entry in a reference book, a work in an anthology, or an article in a periodical (i.e., a journal or a print magazine or newspaper). Here is a sample in-text citation and a corresponding reference to a chapter from an edited book:

In-text citation:

(Lanier, 2018, pp. 288–289)


Lanier, C. S. (2018). “Dreaming that I’m swimming in the beautiful Caribbean Sea”: One man’s story on surviving death row. In H. Toch, J. R. Acker, & V. M. Bonventre (Eds.), Living on death row: The psychology of waiting to die (pp. 277–300).

If you are referencing a paginated work in its entirety—such as a technical or research report, a whole book, or a special issue of a periodical—then don’t include a page range, just like in the Moghaddam (2018) reference.

More information can be found in another APA Style Blog post about when to include page numbers in text citations. If you can’t find an answer to your question in the Publication Manual, Sixth Edition or the blog, feel free to email us at [email protected].

Page Numbers

May 30, 2019

The Relation of Tables and Figures With Text

David Becker

By David Becker

It’s time for some relationship advice! No, I’m not talking about romantic relationships. APA Style doesn’t cover that sort of thing (although, we do suggest that you never use et al. when writing to your one true love). But, the Publication Manual, Sixth Edition does cover the relationship between tables and figures and the text, including how to discuss and cite them.

Discussing Tables and Figures in Text

Figures in a Paper

In my last post on what qualifies as tables and figures in APA Style, I mentioned that these graphical displays are useful for presenting information that would be difficult to interpret if described in narrative format, such as large amounts of numerical data. However, some APA Style users incorrectly duplicate data both in text and in a table or a figure. In 2010, Onwuegbuzie, Combs, Slate, and Frels identified “improperly prepared tables and figures,” which includes “repeating information in the text” (p. xii), as the sixth most common APA Style error.

The Publication Manual states that effective tables and figures supplement or augment the text rather than duplicate it (see pp. 130 and 152). This does not mean that there can’t be any overlap between tables, figures, and the text. In fact, the Publication Manual stresses that key pieces of information from a table or a figure can also be highlighted in the text.

Meta-analyses nicely illustrate the relation between visual displays of data and the main text. They often contain tables and figures (e.g., forest plots) that summarize data from multiple studies, including sample sizes, effect sizes, standard deviations, statistical significance, and so forth. These data give readers important contextual information about the studies. Presenting them in tables and/or figures makes the data much easier to digest than if they were described in narrative format. In the text, authors can then highlight and analyze specific data that stand out from the rest, such as pointing out that one study found a much greater effect for a given treatment approach than any other study and explaining why that might be the case.

Citing Tables and Figures in Text

When citing a table or a figure in text, refer to it by its number, such as “Table 3” or “Figure 2.” Do not refer to it by its position relative to the text (e.g., “the figure below”) or its page number (e.g., “the table on page 12”); these will change when your paper is typeset, assuming you are writing a draft manuscript that will eventually be published.

The APA Style guidelines in the Publication Manual were written with draft journal articles in mind, so they do not address how to cite figures and tables in other contexts, such as books and dissertations that are divided into chapters. Even so, these guidelines can be adapted to meet your needs (e.g., if you are writing a dissertation, follow your school’s dissertation guidelines).


Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Combs, J. P., Slate, J. R., & Frels, R. K. (2010). Editorial: Evidence-based guidelines for avoiding the most common APA errors in journal article submissions. Research in the Schools, 16(2), ix–xxxvi. Retrieved from

March 04, 2019

What Qualifies as a Table or a Figure in APA Style?

David Becker

By David Becker

A common issue I encounter as a book editor is when an author labels something as a table or a figure that doesn’t qualify as either. Often, it’s just a numbered list or a bulleted list inside a text box, which should be presented in the main body of the paper, as described on pages 63–65 in the Publication Manual, Sixth Edition. Simply surrounding a block of text with four borders is not enough to make it a figure or a table. But, that raises the question: What does qualify as a figure or a table in APA Style?

What are figures and tables

There are some basic structural criteria to consider first. Regarding tables, the Publication Manual states that they are “arranged in an orderly display of columns and rows” (p. 125). Note that columns and rows are pluralized, meaning that more than one of each of these elements are necessary for something to be considered a table. A text box consisting of one row and one column is therefore not a table in APA Style.

Figures generally follow one simple rule: They need to contain some form of nontextual, visual element (bullet points or other basic symbols don’t count). A flow chart, for instance, may contain textual information, but it is organized in a visually distinct manner from normal text, using a series of lines and text boxes or bubbles. As another example, Figure 8.1 on page 232 in the Publication Manual presents a sample cover letter. Although this figure contains only text, the letter follows a different structure and format than the surrounding text, so there is still some basic visual element that makes it a figure.

It’s also important to consider the purpose of figures and tables, which is to present information in a way that cannot adequately be conveyed through a simple textual description. For instance, trying to describe lots of numerical data in narrative format often results in dense prose that can be difficult for readers to interpret. Presenting these data in a table or a figure makes them easier to understand.

On the other hand, if you want to highlight only a few simple pieces of information, presenting them in a graphical format might be overcomplicating matters. Even a small figure or table can take up a lot of space compared to a sentence or two and can unnecessarily interrupt the flow of a paper. If the content is easy to explain in narrative format, or if readers can easily understand it without a visual aid, then presenting it in the text may be preferable to creating a table or a figure (see, for instance, the sample text at the top of p. 127 in the Publication Manual). After all, being concise is important in scholarly writing, and a couple sentences are certainly more concise than a table or a figure.

For further advice, read our posts on constructing tables and figures.

December 10, 2018

How to Cite Instagram in APA Style

Note: For examples and guidelines for citing Instagram (photos, videos, highlights, and profiles) in seventh edition APA Style, see the seventh edition reference examples page.

The examples here are in sixth edition APA Style.

Instagram heart TMcAdoo-smby Timothy McAdoo

We’ve joined Instagram! Follow us for APA Style tips, FAQs, and maybe even some contests!

How do you cite Instagram? Whether you're citing a photo, a video, a profile page, or a highlight, just include the following in your reference:

  • who (name and Instagram username),
  • when (date posted),
  • what (the caption, highlight title, or profile page title), and
  • where (URL).

Elements of a Reference to an Instagram Photo or Video
Instagram post annotated to show APA Style elements
Example References to Instagram Photos or Videos

APA Style [@officialapastyle]. (2018, December 5). Welcome to the official Instagram for #APAStyle! We’re here to help you with your APA Style questions [Instagram photograph]. Retrieved from
Fox, M. J. [@realmikejfox]. (2018, June 5). It takes < than a min to learn how to save a life. Watch the video at #ICanSaveALife with #HandsOnlyCPR [Instagram photo]. Retrieved from
Public Interest Directorate [@apapubint]. (2018, May 12). Happy Mother’s Day!! “It is important for the son to have a close relationship with his mother while he is [Instagram video]. Retrieved from
  • in-text citations: (APA Style, 2018; Fox, 2018; Public Interest Directorate, 2018)

The Instagram username can be seen with the post. But, for the individual's surname and initials or for the official name of a brand or organization, you'll need to consult the profile page (by clicking the profile image).

Instagram date description showing hover text that provides the exact dateInclude the exact date of a post, as shown in the examples above. Instagram automatically shows the exact date for posts that are more than 1 week old. Very recent posts will give a description of the date (e.g., “1 day ago”); however, your reference should include the exact date. If viewing the post on a computer, rather than a mobile device, you can hover over the description to see the exact date.

Per our guidelines for citing other types of social media, include only the first 40 words of a caption.


Elements of a Reference to an Instagram Profile

Instagram profile page annotated to show APA Style elements

Example References for Instagram Profile Pages

Because profile pages are not dated, use "n.d." in the reference. Use “Posts” as the title.

APA Style [@officialapastyle]. (n.d.). Posts [Instagram profile]. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from
Star Wars [@starwars]. (n.d.). Posts [Instagram profile]. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from
  • in-text citations: (APA Style, n.d.; Star Wars, n.d.)

“Posts” is the default state of an Instagram profile page, but use “IGTV,” “Tagged,” “Followers,” or “Following” if you intend to cite those versions of the profile page.

Swift, T. [@taylorswift]. (n.d.). Tagged [Instagram profile]. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from
  • in-text citations: (Swift, n.d.)

Elements of a Reference to an Instagram Highlight

Ig highlight annotated7

Example References for Instagram Highlights

Although each story within the highlight is dated, the highlight itself is not dated, so use "n.d." in the reference. Because the highlight can be changed at any time, with content added or removed, include the retrieval date with the URL:

APA Style [@officialapastyle]. (n.d.). FAQs [Instagram highlight]. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from
  • in-text citations: (APA Style, n.d.)


In-Text Citations

As can be seen in the examples above, in-text citations for Instagram (and other social media sources) match the surname or organizational name of the author as shown in the reference, but they do not include the username. This allows the in-text citations to match the references but also to be grouped with other in-text citations for works by the same author(s).

" learn CPR (Fox, 2017a, 2017b, 2018)."

"...from the American Psychological Association (APA Style, n.d., 2018; Public Interest Directorate, 2018)."



Hashtags may appear in the caption (and thus in your reference; see first example above). But, to discuss hashtags more generally, describe them in the text of your paper. For more, see our post on citing hashtags in APA Style.

Note: This post was edited after initial posting to update the highlight and profile references, which should include the retrieval date.

October 24, 2018

Mastering APA Style

Do you teach students about APA Style guidelines? APA has two instructional aids that can help you get started.

4210005-475Mastering APA Style: Instructor’s Resource Guide (6th ed.) "contains eight multiple-choice assessment surveys, correction keys, and answer sheets, along with informative instructions on how to incorporate this material into a curriculum." This guide is "designed to help improve students' understanding and use of APA Style before they begin writing term papers and research reports, allowing instructors in academic settings to concentrate more on course material and less on correcting style errors in students' papers."



4210006-475_tcm11-76755Mastering APA Style: Student's Workbook and Training Guide (6th ed.) "is a self-pacing, self-teaching workbook that can be used to learn APA Style quickly and effectively." This training guide includes "instructional exercises and practice tests on various aspects and features of the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, including electronic references and citations, grammar, headings, italics and capitalization, numbers style, and table formatting."



You can order these and other APA Style products for your library or classroom.

If you are college faculty seeking an examination or desk copy, information can be found on our website.

September 25, 2018

How to Cite a Government Report in APA Style

Note: For examples and guidelines for citing government reports in seventh edition APA Style, see the Reports and Gray Literature section of the seventh edition reference examples page.

The examples here are in sixth edition APA Style.

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

The basic citation for a government report follows the authordatetitlesource format of APA Style references. Here is a template:

Reference list:

Government Author. (year). Title of report: Subtitle of report if applicable (Report No. 123). Retrieved from http://xxxxx

In text:

(Government Author, year)


Note that the report number may not be present, or, when present, the wording may vary. Follow the wording shown on your report to write your reference (see how the wording is adjusted for the National Cancer Institute example later in this post).

Who Is the Author of a Government Report?

Most of the time the government department or agency is used as the author for an APA Style government report reference. Sometimes individual people are also credited as having written the report; however, their names do not appear in the APA Style reference unless their names also appear on the cover of the report (vs. within the report somewhere, such as on an acknowledgments page). So again, the name(s) on the cover or title page go in the reference, for reasons of retrievability, and most of the time, it is the name of the agency. 

Reference list (recommended format):

National Cancer Institute. (2016). Taking part in cancer treatment research studies (Publication No. 16-6249). Retrieved from

In text (recommended format):

(National Cancer Institute, 2016)

How Many Layers of Government Agencies Should Be Listed?

Government agencies frequently list the full hierarchy of departments on their reports. As anyone familiar with bureaucracy knows, this can add up to a lot of layers. For example, the author of the National Cancer Institute report in the example above might be fully written out as follows:

Reference list (long form, correct but not recommended):

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute. (2016). Taking part in cancer treatment research studies (Publication No. 16-6249). Retrieved from

In text (long form, correct but not recommended):

(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 2016)

You might notice that this author name is rather lengthy! Listing the full hierarchy of agencies as shown on the report in question (from largest to smallest) is correct; however, it is also correct to list the most specific responsible agency only (in this case, the National Cancer Institute).

We recommend the shorter, more specific format for a few reasons.

  • Our users have expressed to us that this shorter name form makes it easier to write references and in-text citations.
  • The shorter form makes it easier for readers to differentiate between reports authored by a variety of agencies. Imagine, for example, a paper containing many government reports; the citations and references could quickly overwhelm the text if the long form were used.

However, if using only the most specific responsible agency would cause confusion (e.g., if you are citing institutes with the same name from two countries, such as the United States and Canada), then include the parent agencies in the author element to differentiate them.

How Does the In-Text Citation Correspond to the Reference List Entry?

Ensure that the name of the government author you use in the in-text citation matches the name of the author in the reference list entry exactly. Do not use the long form in one spot and the short form in the other. An exception is that you can introduce an abbreviation for the government agency in the text if you will be referring to it frequently. Read this blog post to learn how to abbreviate group author names.


September 19, 2018

How to Cite Edition, Volume, and Page Numbers for Books

David Becker

By David Becker

Are you trying to create a reference for the second edition of a multivolume handbook but aren’t sure where or how to include the edition, volume, and page numbers? This is a frequent conundrum that APA Style users have brought to our attention. Their most common question is whether these numbers should be presented together or within separate parentheses.

When citing a chapter, the edition number, the volume number (which is different from a journal’s volume number), and the page range are all enclosed within the same parentheses—in that order—after the title of the book, and they are separated by commas. In a reference to a whole book, cite the edition and volume numbers—separated by a comma—but do not cite a page range.

Here are some templates for citing print versions of books that include edition and volume numbers:

Chapter in an Edited Book

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of chapter. In C. C. Editor & D. D. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (xx ed., Vol. xx, pp. xxx–xxx). Location: Publisher.

Authored Book

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of book (xx ed., Vol. xx). Location: Publisher.

Edited Book

Editor, E. E. (Ed.). (Year). Title of book (xx ed., Vol. xx). Location: Publisher.

Entire books and individual chapters are sometimes assigned their own unique digital object identifiers (DOIs). If the book or chapter you are citing lists a DOI, include it at the end of your reference in place of the publisher information, without a period.

Cite the edition of the book you used. If there aren’t multiple editions of the book, or if it isn’t a multivolume work, then do not include this information in your reference.

Here are a few sample references to chapters in edited books with parenthetical edition, volume, and/or page numbers:

Hamilton, R. B., & Newman, J. P. (2018). The response modulation hypothesis: Formulation, development, and implications for psychopathy. In C. J. Patrick (Ed.), Handbook of psychopathy (2nd ed., pp. 80–93). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Slee, R. (2014). Inclusive schooling as an apprenticeship in democracy? In L. Florian (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of special education (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 217–229). London, England: SAGE Publications.

Tetrick, L. E., & Peiró, J. M. (2012). Occupational safety and health. In S. W. J. Kozlowksi (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of organizational psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 1228–1244).

Some publishers title each volume of a multivolume work. In this case, include the volume number within the title when constructing your reference instead of citing it parenthetically. Here is an example reference to a volume with its own title (see also Example 24 on page 204 in the sixth edition of Publication Manual):

Wyer, M. (2018). In the company of feminist science. In C. B. Travis, J. W. White, S. L. Cook, & K. F. Wyche (Eds.), APA handbook of the psychology of women: Vol. 2. Perspectives on women’s private and public lives (pp. 459–474).

In APA Style, individual chapters from authored books are not cited in the reference list. We recommend citing the whole book instead. Then, you can cite specific chapters in text as needed.

When citing an entire multivolume work, include the full range of volumes in parentheses. If the volumes were published on different dates, cite the range of years as the publication date.

Here are some sample references to whole books:

Haight, J. M. (Ed.). (2012). The safety professionals handbook: Vol 1. Management applications (2nd ed.). Park Ridge, IL: American Society of Safety Engineers.

Kanegsberg, B., & Kanegsberg, E. (Eds.). (2011). Handbook for critical cleaning (2nd ed., Vols. 1–2). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Travis, C. B., White, J. W., Cook, S. L., & Wyche, K. F. (Eds.). (2018). APA handbook of the psychology of women: Vol. 2. Perspectives on women’s private and public lives.

Wypych, G. (2017). Handbook of odors in plastic materials (2nd ed.). Toronto, Canada: ChemTec Publishing.

If you have any additional questions about citing edition, volume, and page numbers, or about any other APA Style issue, feel free to email us at [email protected].

Book Volumes


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

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