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How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA

In this citation guide, you will learn how to reference and cite an undergraduate thesis, master’s thesis, or doctoral dissertation. This guide will also review the differences between a thesis or dissertation that is published and one that has remained unpublished. The guidelines below come from the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2020a), pages 333 and 334. Please note that the association is not affiliated with this guide.

Alternatively, you can visit EasyBib.com for helpful citation tools to cite your thesis or dissertation .

Guide Overview

Citing an unpublished thesis or dissertation, citing a published dissertation or thesis from a database, citing a thesis or dissertation published online but not from a database, citing a thesis or dissertation: reference overview, what you need.

Since unpublished theses can usually only be sourced in print form from a university library, the correct citation structure includes the university name where the publisher element usually goes.

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year published). Title in sentence case [Unpublished degree type thesis or dissertation]. Name of institution.

Ames, J. H., & Doughty, L. H. (1911). The proposed plans for the Iowa State College athletic field including the design of a reinforced concrete grandstand and wall [Unpublished bachelor’s thesis]. Iowa State University.

In-text citation example:

  • Parenthetical :  (Ames & Doughty, 1911)
  • Narrative :  Ames & Doughty (1911)

If a thesis or dissertation has been published and is found on a database, then follow the structure below. It’s similar to the format for an unpublished dissertation/thesis, but with a few differences:

  • The institution is presented in brackets after the title
  • The archive or database name is included

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year published). Title in sentence case (Publication or Document No.) [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Database name.

Examples 1:

Knight, K. A. (2011). Media epidemics: Viral structures in literature and new media (Accession No. 2013420395) [Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Example dissertation-thesis

Trotman, J.B. (2018). New insights into the biochemistry and cell biology of RNA recapping (Document No. osu1523896565730483) [Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University]. OhioLINK Electronic Theses & Dissertations Center.

In the example given above, the dissertation is presented with a Document Number (Document No.). Sometimes called a database number or publication number, this is the identifier that is used by the database’s indexing system. If the database you are using provides you with such a number, then include it directly after the work’s title in parentheses.

If you are interested in learning more about how to handle works that were accessed via academic research databases, see Section 9.3 of the Publication Manual.

In-text citation examples :

  • Parenthetical citation : (Trotman, 2018)
  • Narrative citation : Trotman (2018)

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year Published). Title in sentence case [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Name of archive or collection. URL

Kim, O. (2019). Soviet tableau: cinema and history under late socialism [Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh]. Institutional Repository at the University of Pittsburgh. https://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/37669/7/Olga%20Kim%20Final%20ETD.pdf

Stiles, T. W. (2001). Doing science: Teachers’ authentic experiences at the Lone Star Dinosaur Field Institute [Master’s thesis, Texas A&M University]. OAKTrust. https://hdl.handle.net/1969.1/ETD-TAMU-2001-THESIS-S745

It is important to note that not every thesis or dissertation published online will be associated with a specific archive or collection. If the work is published on a private website, provide only the URL as the source element.

In-text citation examples:

  • Parenthetical citation : (Kim, 2019)
  • Narrative citation : Kim (2019)
  • Parenthetical citation : (Stiles, 2001)
  • Narrative citation : Stiles (2001)

dissertation and thesis Citations for APA 7

We hope that the information provided here will serve as an effective guide for your research. If you’re looking for even more citation info, visit EasyBib.com for a comprehensive collection of educational materials covering multiple source types.

If you’re citing a variety of different sources, consider taking the EasyBib citation generator for a spin. It can help you cite easily and offers citation forms for several different kinds of sources.

To start things off, let’s take a look at the different types of literature that are classified under Chapter 10.6 of the Publication Manual :

  • Undergraduate thesis
  • Master’s thesis
  • Doctoral dissertation

You will need to know which type you are citing. You’ll also need to know if it is published or unpublished .

When you decide to cite a dissertation or thesis, you’ll need to look for the following information to use in your citation:

  • Author’s last name, and first and middle initials
  • Year published
  • Title of thesis or dissertation
  • If it is unpublished
  • Publication or document number (if applicable; for published work)
  • Degree type (bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral)
  • Thesis or dissertation
  • Name of institution awarding degree
  • DOI (https://doi.org/xxxxx) or URL (if applicable)

Since theses and dissertations are directly linked to educational degrees, it is necessary to list the name of the associated institution; i.e., the college, university, or school that is awarding the associated degree.

To get an idea of the proper form, take a look at the examples below. There are three outlined scenarios:

  • Unpublished thesis or dissertation
  • Published thesis or dissertation from a database
  • Thesis or dissertation published online but not from a database

American Psychological Association. (2020a). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

American Psychological Association. (2020b). Style-Grammar-Guidelines. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/citations/basic-principles/parenthetical-versus-narrative

Published August 10, 2012. Updated March 24, 2020.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

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To cite a published thesis in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the author, publication year, title of the thesis, institute name, archive name, and URL (uniform resource locator). The templates for an in-text citation and reference list entry of a thesis, along with examples, are given below:

In-text citation template and example:

Use the author surname and the publication year in the in-text citation.

Author Surname (Publication Year)

Cartmel (2007)

Parenthetical:

(Author Surname, Publication Year)

(Cartmel, 2007)

Reference list entry template and example:

The title of the thesis is set in sentence case and italicized. Enclose the thesis and the institute awarding the degree inside brackets following the publication year. Then add the name of the database followed by the URL.

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the thesis [Master’s thesis, Institute Name]. Name of the Database. URL

Cartmel, J. (2007). Outside school hours care and schools [Master’s thesis, Queensland University of Technology]. EPrints. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/17810/1/Jennifer_Cartmel_Thesis.pdf

To cite an unpublished dissertation in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the author, year, title of the dissertation, and institute name. The templates for in-text citation and reference list entry of an online thesis, along with examples, are given below:

Author Surname (Year)

Averill (2009)

(Author Surname, Year)

(Averill, 2009)

The title of the dissertation is set in sentence case and italicized. Enclose “Unpublished doctoral dissertation” inside brackets following the year. Then add the name of the institution awarding the degree.

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the dissertation [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Name of the Institute.

Averill, R. (2009). Teacher–student relationships in diverse New Zealand year 10 mathematics classrooms: Teacher care [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Victoria University of Wellington.

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Dissertation or thesis available from a database service:

Author Surname, First Initial. Second Initial. (year of publication).  Title of dissertation or thesis (Doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis).  Retrieved from Name of database.  (Accession or Order No.)

For an unpublished dissertation or thesis:

Author Surname, First Initial. Second Initial. (year of creation).  Title of dissertation or thesis (Unpublished doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis).  Name of Institution, Location.

See Ch 7 pp. 207-208 APA Manual for more examples and formatting rules

Formatting:

  • Italicize the title
  • Identify whether source is doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis in parentheses after the title
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Format for dissertations and theses

Dissertations and theses database.

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Author last name, first initial. (Year).  Title of dissertation/thesis  (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation/Master's thesis, University]. Database. URL

  • Author:  List the last name, followed by the first initial (and second initial). See  Authors  for more information.
  • Year:  List the year between parentheses, followed by a period.
  • Title of dissertation/thesis:  In italics. Capitalize the first word of the title, subtitle, and proper nouns.
  • Publication number: Can be found in Dissertations and Theses database, listed in the item record as “Dissertation/thesis number.”
  • Doctoral dissertation/Master's thesis:  List whether it is a dissertation or a thesis.
  • University:  List the university associated with the dissertation/thesis.
  • Database:  List database the dissertation/thesis was found in, if found in a database.
  • URL:  List URL if found on the free Web rather than in a database.

See specific examples below.

Dissertations:

Pecore, J. T. (2004). Sounding the spirit of Cambodia: The living tradition of Khmer music and dance-drama in a Washington, DC community  (Publication No. 3114720) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. 

Master's Theses:

Hollander, M. M. (2017). Resitance to authority: Methodological innovations and new lessons from the Milgram experiment   (Publication No. 10289373) [Master's thesis, University of Wisconsin - Madison]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

APA calls for the citation to include a unique identifying number for the dissertation, labeling it “Publication No.” That number can be found in Dissertations and Theses database, listed in the item record as “Dissertation/thesis number.”

Karamanos, X. (2020). The influence of professional development models on student mathematics performance in New Jersey public elementary schools [Doctoral dissertation, Seton Hall University]. Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). https://scholarship.shu.edu/dissertations/2732

Bordo, V. C. (2011). Making a case for the use of foreign language in the educational activities of nonprofit arts organizations [Master's thesis, University of Akron]. OhioLINK Electronic Theses & Dissertations Center. http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=akron1311135640

Caprette, C. L. (2005). Conquering the cold shudder: The origin and evolution of snake eyes  [Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University].

Angelova, A. N. (2004). Data pruning  [Master's thesis, California Institute of Technology].

See  Publication Manual , 10.6.

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Citing Dissertations & Theses in APA Format

Dissertations & Theses

Dissertations and theses are formatted the same way in APA 7th edition. Theses are generally the culminating work for a master's or undergraduate degree and dissertations are often original research completed by doctoral students. Here are examples of a dissertation & a thesis, and how they would be formatted: 

Examples: 

Dissertation found in Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global: 

Reference:  

Banks, B. (2020). Addressing institutional racism in healthcare: A case study (Publication No. 28154307) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota]. Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global. 

In-Text Citation (Paraphrase):  

(Banks, 2020).

In-Text Citation (Direct Quote):

(Banks, 2020, p. 157).

Master's thesis from a University scholarship database: 

Sears, L. B. (2017). The public voice and sustainable food systems: Community engagement in food action plans [Unpublished master's thesis]. University of Kansas.  https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/handle/1808/26899  

In-Text Citation (Paraphrase):

(Sears, 2017). 

(Sears, 2017, p. 24). 

Carrie Forbes, MLS

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Citation information has been adapted from the APA Manual (7th Edition). Please refer to page 333 of the APA Manual (7th Edition) for more information.

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Terminology - Thesis, dissertation or exegesis?

Published theses and dissertations, unpublished theses and dissertations.

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Thesis and dissertation can mean different things depending on where the degree is awarded. Always check the title page, or subsequent pages, to determine exactly what the work is and use the information for your reference. ​

Auckland University of Technology (and other NZ universities)

  • Thesis is either for a doctoral or a master's degree.
  • Dissertation is either for a master's or a bachelor's degree with honours.
  • Exegesis is the written component of a practice-based thesis where the major output is a creative work;  e.g., a film, artwork, novel.

Other parts of the world

  • In North America and some other countries, dissertation is used for a doctoral degree and thesis for a master's degree.

Theses available in a database, a university archive or from a personal website.

Reference format

Theses published online (e.g. in institutional repositories), theses from proquest dissertations and theses global.

Find how to cite in text on the  In-text citation  page.

 Unpublished thesis or dissertations are usually sourced directly from the university in print form.

 Reference format

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How to cite a dissertation in APA

APA dissertation citation

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To cite a dissertation in a reference entry in APA style 6th edition include the following elements:

  • Author(s) of the dissertation: Give the last name and initials (e. g. Watson, J. D.) of up to seven authors with the last name preceded by an ampersand (&). For eight or more authors include the first six names followed by an ellipsis (…) and add the last author's name.
  • Year of publication: Give the year in brackets followed by a full stop.
  • Title of the dissertation: Only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns are capitalized.
  • URL: Give the full URL where the document can be retrieved from.

Here is the basic format for a reference list entry of a dissertation in APA style 6th edition:

Author(s) of the dissertation . ( Year of publication ). Title of the dissertation (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from URL

If the dissertation is available from a database, archive or any online platform use the following template:

  • Author(s) of the dissertation: Give the last name and initials (e. g. Watson, J. D.) of up to 20 authors with the last name preceded by an ampersand (&). For 21 or more authors include the first 19 names followed by an ellipsis (…) and add the last author's name.
  • Publication number: Give the identification number of the dissertation, if available.
  • Name of the degree awarding institution: Give the name of the institution.
  • Name of platform: Give the name of the database, archive or any platform that holds the dissertation.
  • URL: If the dissertation was found on a database, omit this element.

Here is the basic format for a reference list entry of a dissertation in APA style 7th edition:

Author(s) of the dissertation . ( Year of publication ). Title of the dissertation ( Publication number ) [Doctoral dissertation, Name of the degree awarding institution ]. Name of platform . URL

If the dissertation has not been published or is available from a database use the following template:

  • Location: Give the location of the institution. If outside the United States also include the country name.

Author(s) of the dissertation . ( Year of publication ). Title of the dissertation (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Name of the degree awarding institution , Location .

If the dissertation is not published, use the following template:

Author(s) of the dissertation . ( Year of publication ). Title of the dissertation [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Name of the degree awarding institution .

APA reference list examples

Take a look at our reference list examples that demonstrate the APA style guidelines for a dissertation citation in action:

A dissertation found in an online platform

Guo, J . ( 2018 ). Trust-based service management of internet of things systems and its applications ( Doctoral dissertation ). Retrieved from https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/82854
Guo, J . ( 2018 ). Trust-based service management of internet of things systems and its applications [ Doctoral dissertation , Virginia Tech ]. ETDs: Virginia Tech Electronic Theses and Dissertations . https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/82854

An unpublished doctoral dissertation

Neel, B. L . ( 2017 ). Three flute chamber works by Alberto Ginastera: Intertwining elements of art and folk music ( Unpublished doctoral dissertation ). University of Nebraska-Lincoln , NE .
Neel, B. L . ( 2017 ). Three flute chamber works by Alberto Ginastera: Intertwining elements of art and folk music [ Unpublished doctoral dissertation ]. University of Nebraska-Lincoln .

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This citation style guide is based on the official Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association ( 6 th edition).

More useful guides

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Published thesis

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of thesis [Type of thesis, Name of institution awarding degree]. Name of archive or site. https://xxxxxx

Stored in a database

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of thesis (Database Publication number, if assigned) [Type of thesis, Name of institution awarding degree]. Database Name.

Taffe, S. (2017).  The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders: The politics of inter-racial coalition in Australia, 1958–1973.  [Doctoral thesis, Monash University]. Bridges.  https://doi.org/10.4225/03/59d4482289ea4

Bozeman, A. Jr. (2007).  Age of onset as predictor of cognitive performance in children with seizure disorders  (Publication No. 3259752) [Doctoral dissertation, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Unpublished thesis

Author, A. A. (Year).  Title of thesis or dissertation  [Unpublished Doctoral dissertation or Master's thesis]. Name of Institution.

Imber, A. (2003).  Applicant reactions to graduate recruitment and selection  [Unpublished Doctoral dissertation]. Monash University. 

For further guidance, see the APA Style website- Published Dissertation or Thesis , Unpublished Dissertation or Theses .

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APA 7th edition publication manual

How to create APA citations

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This citation guide outlines the most important citation guidelines from the 7th edition APA Publication Manual (2020).

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APA in-text citations

APA in-text citations include the author’s last name, publication date, and, if relevant, a locator such as a page number or timestamp. For example, (Smith, 2021, p. 170) . See it as a shorter version of the entry in the reference list .

You should include in-text citations every time you’re quoting or paraphrasing someone else’s ideas or words. In doing so, you give credit to the original author and avoid plagiarism .

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Multiple authors and corporate authors

The in-text citation changes slightly when a source has multiple authors or an organization as an author. Pay attention to punctuation and the use of the ampersand (&) symbol.

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APA references

APA references generally include information about the author , publication date , title , and source . Depending on the type of source, you may have to include extra information that helps your reader locate the source.

It is not uncommon for certain information to be unknown or missing, especially with sources found online. In these cases, the reference is slightly adjusted.

Formatting the APA reference page

APA reference page (7th edition)

On the first line of the page, write the section label “References” (in bold and centered). On the second line, start listing your references in alphabetical order .

Apply these formatting guidelines to the APA reference page:

  • Double spacing (within and between references)
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Which sources to include

On the reference page, you only include sources that you have cited in the text (with an in-text citation ). You should not include references to personal communications that your reader can’t access (e.g. emails, phone conversations or private online material).

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  • APA Citation Generator

Free APA Citation Generator

Generate citations in APA format quickly and automatically, with MyBib!

APA 7 guide book cover

🤔 What is an APA Citation Generator?

An APA citation generator is a software tool that will automatically format academic citations in the American Psychological Association (APA) style.

It will usually request vital details about a source -- like the authors, title, and publish date -- and will output these details with the correct punctuation and layout required by the official APA style guide.

Formatted citations created by a generator can be copied into the bibliography of an academic paper as a way to give credit to the sources referenced in the main body of the paper.

👩‍🎓 Who uses an APA Citation Generator?

College-level and post-graduate students are most likely to use an APA citation generator, because APA style is the most favored style at these learning levels. Before college, in middle and high school, MLA style is more likely to be used. In other parts of the world styles such as Harvard (UK and Australia) and DIN 1505 (Europe) are used more often.

🙌 Why should I use a Citation Generator?

Like almost every other citation style, APA style can be cryptic and hard to understand when formatting citations. Citations can take an unreasonable amount of time to format manually, and it is easy to accidentally include errors. By using a citation generator to do this work you will:

  • Save a considerable amount of time
  • Ensure that your citations are consistent and formatted correctly
  • Be rewarded with a higher grade

In academia, bibliographies are graded on their accuracy against the official APA rulebook, so it is important for students to ensure their citations are formatted correctly. Special attention should also be given to ensure the entire document (including main body) is structured according to the APA guidelines. Our complete APA format guide has everything you need know to make sure you get it right (including examples and diagrams).

⚙️ How do I use MyBib's APA Citation Generator?

Our APA generator was built with a focus on simplicity and speed. To generate a formatted reference list or bibliography just follow these steps:

  • Start by searching for the source you want to cite in the search box at the top of the page.
  • MyBib will automatically locate all the required information. If any is missing you can add it yourself.
  • Your citation will be generated correctly with the information provided and added to your bibliography.
  • Repeat for each citation, then download the formatted list and append it to the end of your paper.

MyBib supports the following for APA style:

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Daniel is a qualified librarian, former teacher, and citation expert. He has been contributing to MyBib since 2018.

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

In-Text Citations: The Basics

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style  can be found here .

Reference citations in text are covered on pages 261-268 of the Publication Manual. What follows are some general guidelines for referring to the works of others in your essay.

Note:  On pages 117-118, the Publication Manual suggests that authors of research papers should use the past tense or present perfect tense for signal phrases that occur in the literature review and procedure descriptions (for example, Jones (1998)  found  or Jones (1998)  has found ...). Contexts other than traditionally-structured research writing may permit the simple present tense (for example, Jones (1998)  finds ).

APA Citation Basics

When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, like, for example, (Jones, 1998). One complete reference for each source should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

If you are referring to an idea from another work but  NOT  directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your in-text reference.

On the other hand, if you are directly quoting or borrowing from another work, you should include the page number at the end of the parenthetical citation. Use the abbreviation “p.” (for one page) or “pp.” (for multiple pages) before listing the page number(s). Use an en dash for page ranges. For example, you might write (Jones, 1998, p. 199) or (Jones, 1998, pp. 199–201). This information is reiterated below.

Regardless of how they are referenced, all sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

In-text citation capitalization, quotes, and italics/underlining

  • Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names and initials: D. Jones.
  • If you refer to the title of a source within your paper, capitalize all words that are four letters long or greater within the title of a source:  Permanence and Change . Exceptions apply to short words that are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs:  Writing New Media ,  There Is Nothing Left to Lose .

( Note:  in your References list, only the first word of a title will be capitalized:  Writing new media .)

  • When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word:  Natural-Born Cyborgs .
  • Capitalize the first word after a dash or colon: "Defining Film Rhetoric: The Case of Hitchcock's  Vertigo ."
  • If the title of the work is italicized in your reference list, italicize it and use title case capitalization in the text:  The Closing of the American Mind ;  The Wizard of Oz ;  Friends .
  • If the title of the work is not italicized in your reference list, use double quotation marks and title case capitalization (even though the reference list uses sentence case): "Multimedia Narration: Constructing Possible Worlds;" "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry."

Short quotations

If you are directly quoting from a work, you will need to include the author, year of publication, and page number for the reference (preceded by "p." for a single page and “pp.” for a span of multiple pages, with the page numbers separated by an en dash).

You can introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.

If you do not include the author’s name in the text of the sentence, place the author's last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.

Long quotations

Place direct quotations that are 40 words or longer in a free-standing block of typewritten lines and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same place you would begin a new paragraph. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout, but do not add an extra blank line before or after it. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.

Because block quotation formatting is difficult for us to replicate in the OWL's content management system, we have simply provided a screenshot of a generic example below.

This image shows how to format a long quotation in an APA seventh edition paper.

Formatting example for block quotations in APA 7 style.

Quotations from sources without pages

Direct quotations from sources that do not contain pages should not reference a page number. Instead, you may reference another logical identifying element: a paragraph, a chapter number, a section number, a table number, or something else. Older works (like religious texts) can also incorporate special location identifiers like verse numbers. In short: pick a substitute for page numbers that makes sense for your source.

Summary or paraphrase

If you are paraphrasing an idea from another work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference and may omit the page numbers. APA guidelines, however, do encourage including a page range for a summary or paraphrase when it will help the reader find the information in a longer work. 

  • Plagiarism and grammar
  • Citation guides

APA Citation Generator

Keep all of your citations in one safe place

Create an account to save all of your citations

Don't let plagiarism errors spoil your paper

A comprehensive guide to apa citations and format, overview of this guide:.

This page provides you with an overview of APA format, 7th edition. Included is information about referencing, various citation formats with examples for each source type, and other helpful information.

If you’re looking for MLA format , check out the Citation Machine MLA Guide. Also, visit the Citation Machine homepage to use the APA formatter, which is an APA citation generator, and to see more styles .

Being responsible while researching

When you’re writing a research paper or creating a research project, you will probably use another individual’s work to help develop your own assignment. A good researcher or scholar uses another individual’s work in a responsible way. This involves indicating that the work of other individuals is included in your project (i.e., citing), which is one way to prevent plagiarism.

Plagiarism? What is it?

The word plagiarism is derived from the Latin word, plagiare , which means “to kidnap.” The term has evolved over the years to now mean the act of taking another individual’s work and using it as your own, without acknowledging the original author (American Psychological Association, 2020 p. 21). Plagiarism can be illegal and there can be serious ramifications for plagiarizing someone else’s work. Thankfully, plagiarism can be prevented. One way it can be prevented is by including citations and references in your research project. Want to make them quickly and easily? Try the Citation Machine citation generator, which is found on our homepage.

All about citations & references

Citations and references should be included anytime you use another individual’s work in your own assignment. When including a quote, paraphrased information, images, or any other piece of information from another’s work, you need to show where you found it by including a citation and a reference. This guide explains how to make them.

APA style citations are added in the body of a research paper or project and references are added to the last page.

Citations , which are called in-text citations, are included when you’re adding information from another individual’s work into your own project. When you add text word-for-word from another source into your project, or take information from another source and place it in your own words and writing style (known as paraphrasing), you create an in-text citation. These citations are short in length and are placed in the main part of your project, directly after the borrowed information.

References are found at the end of your research project, usually on the last page. Included on this reference list page is the full information for any in-text citations found in the body of the project. These references are listed in alphabetical order by the author's last name.

An APA in-text citation includes only three items: the last name(s) of the author(s), the year the source was published, and sometimes the page or location of the information. References include more information such as the name of the author(s), the year the source was published, the full title of the source, and the URL or page range.

Two example in-text citations.

Why is it important to include citations & references

Including APA citations and references in your research projects is a very important component of the research process. When you include citations, you’re being a responsible researcher. You’re showing readers that you were able to find valuable, high-quality information from other sources, place them into your project where appropriate, all while acknowledging the original authors and their work.

Common ways students and scholars accidentally plagiarize

Believe it or not, there are instances when you could attempt to include in-text and full references in the appropriate places, but still accidentally plagiarize. Here are some common mistakes to be aware of:

Mistake #1 - Misquoting sources: If you plan to use a direct quote, make sure you copy it exactly as is. Sure, you can use part of the full quote or sentence, but if you decide to put quotation marks around any words, those words should match exactly what was found in the original source. Here’s a line from The Little Prince , by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”

Here’s an acceptable option:

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves,” stated de Saint-Exupéry (1943, p. 3).

Here’s a misquote:

“Grown-ups barely ever understand anything by themselves,” stated de Saint-Exupéry (1943, p. 3).

Notice the slight change in the words. The incorrect phrasing is an instance of accidental plagiarism.

Mistake #2 - Problems with paraphrasing: When we paraphrase, we restate information using our own words and writing style. It’s not acceptable to substitute words from the original source with synonyms.

Let’s use the same sentence from The Little Prince .

A correct paraphrase could be:

de Saint-Exupéry (1943) shares various ways adults frustrate children. One of the biggest being that kids have to explain everything. It’s too bad adults are unable to comprehend anything on their own (p. 3).

An incorrect paraphrase would be:

de Saint-Exupéry (1943) shares that adults never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for kids to be always and forever clarifying things to them (p.3).

Notice how close the incorrect paraphrase is from the original. This is an instance of accidental plagiarism.

Make sure you quote and paraphrase properly in order to prevent accidental plagiarism.

If you’re having a difficult time paraphrasing properly, it is acceptable to paraphrase part of the text AND use a direct quote. Here’s an example:

de Saint-Exupery (1943) shares various ways adults frustrate children. One of the biggest being that kids have to explain everything, and “it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” (p. 3).

Information About APA

Who created it.

The American Psychological Association is an organization created for individuals in the psychology field. With close to 121,000 members, they provide educational opportunities, funding, guidance, and research information for everything psychology-related. They also have numerous high-quality databases, peer-reviewed journals, and books that revolve around mental health.

The American Psychological Association is also credited with creating their own specific citation and reference style. Today, this format is used by individuals not only in the psychology field, but many other subject areas as well. Education, economics, business, and social sciences also use APA style quite frequently. Click here for more information . This guide covers general information about the style, but is not affiliated with the American Psychological Association.

Why was this style created?

This format was first developed in 1929 to form a standardized way for researchers in science fields to document their sources. Prior to the inception of these standards and guidelines, individuals were recognizing the work of other authors by including bits and pieces of information in random order. There wasn’t a set way to format citations and references. You can probably imagine how difficult it was to understand the sources that were used for research projects!

Having a standard format for citing sources allows readers to glance at a citation or APA reference and easily locate the title, author, year published, and other critical pieces of information needed to understand a source.

The evolution of this style

The guide below is based on APA style 7th edition, which was released in 2020. In previous versions of APA format, researchers and scholars were required to include the publisher location for books and the date that an electronic resource was accessed. Both are no longer required to be included.

Details on the differences between the 6th and 7th editions is addressed later in this guide.

Citations & References

The appearance of citations & references.

The format for references varies, but most use this general format:

%%Author’s Last name, First initial. (Date published). Title . URL

Researchers and scholars must look up the proper format for the source that they’re attempting to cite. Books have a certain format, websites have a different format, periodicals have a different format, and so on. Scroll down to find the proper format for the source you’re citing or referencing.

If you would like help citing your sources, CitationMachine.com has a citation generator that will help make the APA citation process much easier for you. To start, simply click on the source type you're citing:

  • Journal articles

In-text citations

An APA in-text citation is included in research projects in three instances: When using a direct quote, paraphrasing information, or simply referring to a piece of information from another source.

Quite often, researchers and scholars use a small amount of text, word for word, from another source and include it in their own research projects. This is done for many reasons. Sometimes, another author’s words are so eloquently written that there isn’t a better way to rephrase it yourself. Other times, the author’s words can help prove a point or establish an understanding for something in your research project. When using another author’s exact words in your research project, include an APA in-text citation directly following it.

In addition to using the exact words from another source and placing them into your project, these citations are also added anytime you paraphrase information. Paraphrasing is when you take information from another source and rephrase it, in your own words.

When simply referring to another piece of information from another source, also include a citation directly following it.

Citations in the text are found near a direct quote, paraphrased information, or next to a mention of another source. To see examples of some narrative/ parenthetical citations in action, look at the image above, under “All About Citations & References.”

Note: *Only include the page or paragraph number when using a direct quote or paraphrase. Page numbers have a p. before the number, pp. before the page range, and para. before the paragraph number. This information is included to help the reader locate the exact portion of text themselves. It is unnecessary to include this information when you’re simply referring to another source.

Examples of APA in-text citations:

“Well, you’re about to enter the land of the free and the brave. And I don’t know how you got that stamp on your passport. The priest must know someone” (Tóibín, 2009, p. 52).
Student teachers who use technology in their lessons tend to continue using technology tools throughout their teaching careers (Kent & Giles, 2017, p. 12).

If including the author’s name in the sentence, place the year in the parentheses directly next to his or her name. Add the page number at the end, unless it’s a source without any pages or paragraph numbers (See Section 8.10 of the Publication manual for more details).

In-text citation APA example:

According to a study done by Kent and Giles (2017), student teachers who use technology in their lessons tend to continue using technology tools throughout their teaching careers.

The full references, or citations, for these sources can be found on the last part of a research project, titled the “References.”

Here’s how to create in-text citations for specific amounts of authors:

APA citation with no author

When the source lacks an author’s name, place the title, year, and page number (if available) in the text. The title should be in italics if it sits alone (such as a movie, brochure, or report). If the source is part of a whole (as many web pages and articles are), place the title in quotation marks without italics (See Section 8.14 of the Publication manual ).

Structure of an APA format citation in the text narratively, with the author's name missing:

Title of Source (Year) or “Title of Source” (Year)

Structure of an APA style format citation, in parentheses at the end of the sentence, with the author’s name missing: (Title of Source, Year) or (“Title of Source,” Year)

Structure for one author

In the text, narratively: Last name of Author (Year)...(page number).

In parentheses, at the end of the sentence: (Last name of Author, Year, page number).

Structure for two authors

Place the authors in the order they appear on the source. Only use the ampersand in the parenthetical citations (see Section 8.17 of the Publication manual ). Use ‘and’ to separate the author names if they’re in the text of the sentence.

In the text, narratively: Last name of Author 1 and Last name of Author 2 (Year)....(page number).

In parentheses, at the end of the sentence: (Last name of Author 1 & Last name of Author 2, Year, page number).

Structure for three or more authors

Only include the first listed author’s name in the first and any subsequent citations. Follow it with et al.

(Last name Author 1 et al., Year, page number)

(Agbayani et al., 2020, p. 99)

Last name of Author 1 et al. (Year)...(page).

Agbayani et al. (2020)...(p. 99)

One author, multiple works, same year

What do you do when you want to cite multiple works by an author, and the sources all written in the same year?

Include the letters ‘a’ ‘b’ ‘c’ and so on after the year in the citation.

(Jackson, 2013a)

Jackson (2013a)

Writers can even lump dates together.

Example: Jackson often studied mammals while in Africa (2013a, 2013b).

On the APA reference page, include the same letters in the full references.

Groups and organizations

Write out the full name of the group or organization in the first citation and place the abbreviation next to it in brackets. If the group or organization is cited again, only include the abbreviation. If it doesn’t have an abbreviation associated with it, write out the entire organization’s name each and every time (see Section 8.21 of the Publication manual ).

First APA citation for an organization with an abbreviation: (World Health Organization [WHO], Year)

World Health Organization (WHO, Year)

Notice in the example directly above, the name of the organization is written out in full in the text of the sentence, and the abbreviation is placed in parentheses next to it.

Subsequent APA citations in the text for an organization with an abbreviation: (WHO, Year) OR WHO (Year)

All citations in the text for an organization without an abbreviation: (Citation Machine, Year) or Citation Machine (Year)

One in-text citation, multiple works

Sometimes you’ll need to cite more than one work within an in-text citation. Follow the same format (author, year) format but place semicolons between works (p. 263).

(Obama, 2016; Monroe et al., 1820; Hoover & Coolidge, 1928)

Reminder: There are many citation tools available on CitationMachine.com. Head to our homepage to learn more, check out our APA citation website, and cite your sources easily! The most useful resource on our website? Our APA citation generator, which doesn’t just create full references, it’s also an APA in-text citation website! It’ll do both for you!

Click here to learn more about crediting work .

Reference list citation components

References display the full information for all the citations found in the body of a research project.

Some things to keep in mind when it comes to the references:

  • All references sit together on their own page, which is usually the last page(s) of a paper.
  • Title the page ‘References’
  • Place ‘References’ in the center of the page and bold it. Keep the title in the same font and size as the references. Do not italicize, underline, place the title in quotation marks, or increase the font size.
  • The entire page is double spaced.
  • All references are listed in alphabetical order by the first word in the reference, which is usually the author’s last name. If the source lacks an author, alphabetize the source by the title (ignore A, An, or The)
  • All references have a hanging indent, meaning that the second line of text is indented in half an inch. See examples throughout this guide.
  • Remember, each and every citation in the text of the paper MUST have a full reference displayed in the reference list. The citations in the text provide the reader with a quick glimpse about the sources used, but the references in the reference list provide the reader with all the information needed to seek out the source themselves.

Learn more about each component of the reference citation and how to format it in the sections that follow. See an APA sample paper reference list at the end of this entire section.

Author’s names

The names of authors are written in reverse order. Include the initials for the first and middle names. End this information with a period (see Section 9.8 of the Publication manual ).

Format: Last name, F. M.

  • Angelou, M.
  • Doyle, A. C.

Two or more authors

When two or more authors work together on a source, write them in the order in which they appear on the source. You can name up to 20 authors in the reference. For sources with 2 to 20 authors, place an ampersand (&) before the final author. Use this format:

Last name, F. M., & Last name, F. M.

Last name, F. M., Last name, F. M., Last name, F. M., Last name, F. M., & Last name, F. M.

Kent, A. G., Giles, R. M., Thorpe, A., Lukes, R., Bever, D. J., & He, Y.

If there are 21 or more authors listed on a source, only include the first 19 authors, add three ellipses, and then add the last author’s name.

Roberts, A., Johnson, M. C., Klein, J., Cheng, E. V., Sherman, A., Levin, K. K. , ...Lopez, G. S.

If you plan on using a free APA citation tool, like the one at CitationMachine.com, the names of the authors will format properly for you.

###No authors

If the source lacks an author, place the title in the first position in the reference (Section 9.12 of the Publication manual ). When the source’s title begins with a number (Such as 101 Dalmatians ), place the reference alphabetically as if the number was spelled out. 101 Dalmatians would be placed in the spot where ‘One hundred’ would go, but keep the numbers in their place.

Additionally, if the title begins with the words ‘A’, ‘An,’ or ‘The,’ ignore these words and place the title alphabetically according to the next word.

See the “Titles” section below for more information on formatting the title of sources.

###Corporate/Organization authors

On an APA reference page, corporate authors are always written out in full. In the text of your paper, you may have some abbreviations (such as UN for United Nations), but in the full references, always include the full names of the corporation or organization (following Section 9.11 of the official Publication manual ).

%%United Nations. (2019). Libya: $202 million needed to bring life-saving aid to half a million people hit by humanitarian crisis. https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/02/1031981

Publication date & retrieval date

Directly after the author’s name is the date the source was published. Include the full date for newspapers and magazine articles, and only the year for journals and all other sources. If no date is found on the source, include the initials, n.d. for “no date.”

%% Narducci, M. (2017, May 19). City renames part of 11th Street Ed Snider Way to honor Flyers founder. The Philadelphia Inquirer . http://www.philly.com/

If using our APA Citation Machine, our citation generator will add the correct format for you automatically.

Giving a retrieval date is not needed unless the online content is likely to be frequently updated and changed (e.g., encyclopedia article, dictionary entry, Twitter profile, etc.).

%%Citation Machine [@CiteMachine]. (n.d.). Tweets [Twitter profile]. Twitter. Retrieved October 10, 2019, from https://twitter.com/CiteMachine

When writing out titles for books, articles, chapters, or other non-periodical sources, only capitalize the first word of the title and the first word of the subtitle. Names of people, places, organizations, and other proper nouns also have the first letter capitalized. For books and reports, italicize the title in the APA citation.

Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Roots: The saga of an American family.

For articles and chapters in APA referencing, do not italicize the title.

Wake up the nation: Public libraries, policy making, and political discourse.

For newspapers, magazines, journals, newsletters, and other periodicals, capitalize the first letter in each word and italicize the title.

The Seattle Times.

A common question is whether to underline your title or place it in italics or quotation marks in the reference list. Here’s a good general rule: When a source sits alone and is not part of a larger whole, place the title in italics. If the source does not sit alone and is part of a larger whole, do not place it in italics.

Books, movies, journals, and television shows are placed in italics since they stand alone. Songs on an album, episodes of television shows, chapters in books, and articles in journals are not placed in italics since they are smaller pieces of larger wholes.

The Citation Machine citation generator will format the title in your citations automatically.

Additional information about the title

If you feel it would be helpful to include additional information about the source type, include a descriptive noun or two in brackets immediately following the title. Capitalize the first letter.

%%Kennedy, K., & Molen, G. R. (Producers), & Spielberg, S. (Director). (1993). Jurassic Park [Film]. USA: Universal.

Besides [Film], other common notations include:

  • [Audio podcast]
  • [Letter to the editor]
  • [Television series episode]
  • [Facebook page]
  • [Blog post]
  • [Lecture notes]
  • [PowerPoint presentation]
  • [Video file]

If you are using Citation Machine citing tools, additional information about the title is automatically added for you.

Publisher information

For books and reports, include the publisher name but not the location (see Section 9.29 of the Publication manual ). Older editions of the style required the city, state and/or country, but this hasn't been the case since the 7th edition was released.

It is not necessary to include the entire name of the publisher. It is acceptable to use a brief, intelligible form. However, if Books or Press are part of the publisher’s names, keep these words in the reference. Other common terms, such as Inc., Co., Publishers, and others can be omitted.

For newspapers, journals, magazines, and other periodicals, include the volume and issue number after the title. The volume number is listed first, by itself, in italics. The issue number is in parentheses immediately after it, not italicized. There is no space after the closing parenthesis and before the volume number.

%%Giannoukos, G., Besas, G., Hictour, V., & Georgas, T. (2016). A study on the role of computers in adult education. Educational Research and Reviews , 11 (9), 907-923. https://doi.org/10.5897/ERR2016.2688

After including the publisher information, end this section with a period.

Perseus Books.

Electronic source information:

For online sources, the URL or DOI (Direct Object Identifier) are included at the end of an APA citation.

DOI numbers are often created by publishers for journal articles and other periodical sources. They were created in response to the problem of broken or outdated links and URLs. When a journal article is assigned a DOI number, it is static and will never change. Because of its permanent characteristic, DOIs are the preferred type of electronic information to include in APA citations. When a DOI number is not available, include the source’s URL (see Section 9.34 in the Publication manual ).

For DOIs, include the number in this format:

http://doi.org/xxxx

For URLs, type them in this format:

http:// or https://

Other information about electronic sources:

  • If the URL is longer than a line, break it up before a punctuation mark.
  • Do not place a period at the end of the citation/URL.
  • It is unnecessary to include retrieval dates, unless the source changes often over time (like in a Wikipedia article).
  • It is not necessary to include the names of databases

If using the Citation Machine APA citation website autocite features, the online publication information will be automatically replaced by the DOI. The Citation Machine APA template will properly cite your online sources for you.

The image shows an example APA student page that is formatted using the guidelines described under the heading Paper Formatting.

Make sure you run your completed paper through the Citation Machine Plus smart proofreader, which scans for grammar, spelling, and plagiarism. Whether it’s an adjective , verb , or pronoun out-of-place, our technology helps edits your paper for you!

Annotated bibliographies:

An APA annotated bibliography is a full bibliography that includes a small note for each reference citation. Each note should be short (1-2 paragraphs) and contain a summary or your evaluation about each source. When creating your citations on CitationMachine.net, there is a field at the bottom of each form to add your own annotations.

Follow the publication manual guidelines on paper format and writing style. Let your instructor guide other details about your annotations. Still confused? Read our guide on annotated bibliographies .

These types of projects look different depending on the style you’re using. Use the link at the top of the page to access resources related to the Modern Language Association’s style. Here’s information related to Chicago citation style .

Page formatting

Need help with the design and formatting of your paper? Look no further! This section provides the ins and outs of properly displaying the information in your APA essay.

  • Times New Roman, 12-point size.
  • Calibri, Arial, or Georgia, 11-point size
  • Lucida, Sans Unicode, or Computer Modern, 10-point size
  • Indents = Every paragraph should start with an indent.
  • Margins = 1 inch around the entire document
  • Spacing = Double space everything!

Arrange your pages in this order:

  • Page 1 - APA Title Page (see below for information on the title page)
  • Page 2 - Abstract (If your professor requests one)
  • Page 3 - First page of text
  • References begin on their own page. Include the list of references on the page after the text.
  • Tables and figures

Keep in mind that the order above is the recommendation for papers being submitted for peer review. If you’re writing an APA style paper for a class, your professor may be more lenient about the requirements. Also, if you’re submitting your paper for a specific journal, check the requirements on the journal’s website. Each journal has different rules and procedures.

Just a little nudge to remind you about the Citation Machine Plus smart proofreader. Whether it’s a conjunction or interjection out of place, a misspelled word, or an out of place citation, we’ll offer suggestions for improvement! Don’t forget to check out our APA citation maker while you’re at it!

Running heads

In older editions of APA, running heads were required for all papers. Since the 7th edition, that’s changed.

  • Student paper: No running head
  • Professional paper: Include a running head

The running head displays the title of the paper and the page number on all pages of the paper. This header is found on every page of a professional paper (not a student paper), even on the title page (sometimes called an APA cover page) and reference list (taken from Section 2.8 of the Publication manual ).

It's displayed all in capital letters at the top of the page. Across from the running head, along the right margin, is the page number.

  • Use the header feature in your word processor. Both Google Docs and Word have these features available.
  • Use one for the recommended fonts mentioned under "Page formatting."

Title pages

A title page, sometimes called an APA cover page, graces the cover of an essay or paper. An APA title page should follow rules from Section 2.3 of the official Publication manual and include:

  • Page number, which is page 1
  • Use title case and bold font
  • The title should be under 12 words in length
  • The title should be a direct explanation of the focus of the paper. Do not include any unnecessary descriptors such as “An Analysis of…” or “A Study of…”
  • Exclude any labels such as Mr., Ms., Dr, PhD...
  • Name of the school or institution
  • Course number and/or class name
  • Name of your instructor, including their preferred honorifics (e.g., PhD, Dr., etc.)
  • Paper’s due date
  • If this is a professional paper, also include a running head. If this is a student paper, do not include one.

Follow the directions for the running head and page number in the section above. Below the running head, a few lines beneath, and centered in the middle of the page, should be the title. The next line below is the author’s name(s), followed by the name of the school or institution, the class or course name, your instructor’s name, and the paper’s due date.

All components on this page should be written in the same font and size as the rest of your paper. Double space the title, names, name of school or institution, and all other information on the page (except for the running head and page number).

Example - Student Title Page APA:

The image shows an example APA student title page that is formatted using the guidelines described above under the heading Title Pages.

Example - Professional Title Page APA:

The image shows an example APA professional title page that is formatted using the guidelines described above under the heading Title Pages.

If you’re submitting your paper to a journal for publication, check the journal’s website for exact requirements. Each journal is different and some may request a different type of APA format cover page.

Looking to create an APA format title page? Head to CitationMachine.com’s homepage and choose “Title Page” at the top of the screen.

An abstract briefly but thoroughly summarizes dissertation contents. It’s found in the beginning of a professional paper, right after the title page. Abstracts are meant to help readers determine whether to continue reading the entire document. With that in mind, try to craft the lead sentence to entice the reader to continue reading.

Here are a few tips:

  • Be factual and keep your opinions out. An abstract should accurately reflect the paper or dissertation and should not involve information or commentary not in the thesis.
  • Communicate your main thesis. What was the examined problem or hypothesis? A reader should know this from reading your abstract.
  • Keep it brief. Stick to the main points and don’t add unnecessary words or facts. It should not exceed 250 words.
  • Consider your paper’s purpose. It’s important to cater your abstract to your paper type and think about what information the target audience for that paper type would want. For example, an empirical article may mention methodology or participant description. A quantitative or qualitative meta-analysis would mention the different variables considered and how information was synthesized.
  • Use verbs over noun equivalents, and active voice. Example: “There was research into…” becomes “We researched…”

Formatting guidelines:

  • The abstract goes after the title page.
  • It should have the same font (size and type) as the rest of the paper.
  • It should stick to one page.
  • Double-space all page text.
  • Center and bold the word “Abstract” at the top of the paper.
  • Don’t indent the first line of the abstract body. The body should also be in plain text.
  • For the keywords, place it on the line after the abstract and indent the first line (but not subsequent lines). The word “Keywords:” is capitalized, italicized, and followed by a colon. The actual keywords are sentence case and in plan font.
  • List each keyword one after the other, and separate them by a comma.
  • After the last keyword, no ending punctuation is needed.

The image shows an example APA abstract page that is formatted using the guidelines described above under the heading Abstracts.

Tables & Figures

If your paper includes a lot of numerical information or data, you may want to consider placing it into a table or a figure, rather than typing it all out. A visual figure or simple, organized table filled with numerical data is often easier for readers to digest and comprehend than tons of paragraphs filled with numbers. Chapter 7 of the Publication manual outlines formatting for tables and figures. Let's cover the basics below.

If you’d like to include a table or figure in your paper, here are a few key pieces of information to keep in mind:

  • At the end of the paper after the APA reference page
  • In the text after it is first mentioned
  • The table first mentioned in the text should be titled ‘Table 1.’ The next table mentioned in the text is ‘Table 2,’ and so on. For figures, it would be 'Figure 1,' 'Figure 2,' and so forth.

The image shows that an APA paper with tables can be organized as follows – 1. Title page, 2. Text of paper, 3. References, 4. Table 1, 5. Table 2.

  • Even though every table and figure is numbered, also create a title for each that describes the information it contains. Capitalize all important words in the title.
  • For tables, do not use any vertical lines, only use horizontal to break up information and headings.
  • Single spacing is acceptable to use in tables and figures. If you prefer double spacing your information, that is okay too.
  • Do not include extra information or “fluff.” Keep it simple!
  • Do not include the same exact information in the paper. Only include the complete information in one area—the table or the text.
  • All tables and figures must be referenced in the text. It is unacceptable to throw a table or figure into the back of the paper without first providing a brief summary or explanation of its relevance.

Example of formatting a table in APA style.

Publication Manual 6th Edition vs 7th Edition

The 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association was released in 2009. The current 7th edition came out in the fall of 2019 and was designed to be more student focused, provide more guidance on accessibility, and address changes that have developed over the last 10 years.

Below, we’ve listed what we feel are the most relevant changes related to APA format.

Journals and DOIs

DOI stands for “digital object identifier.” Many journal articles use and have a unique DOI that should be included in a full citation.

When including a DOI in a citation, format it as a URL. Do not label it “DOI.” Articles without DOIs from databases are treated as print works. For example:

6th edition:

%%Gänsicke, B. T., Schreiber, M. R., Toloza, O., Fusillo, N. P. G., Koester, D., & Manser, C. J. (2019). Accretion of a giant planet onto a white dwarf star. Nature, 576 (7785), 61–64. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1789-8

7th edition:

%%Gänsicke, B. T., Schreiber, M. R., Toloza, O., Fusillo, N. P. G., Koester, D., & Manser, C. J. (2019). Accretion of a giant planet onto a white dwarf star. Nature, 576 (7785), 61–64. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1789-8

Citing Books

There are few new guidelines when you are citing a book. First, the publisher location no longer needs to be indicated.

%%Zack, P. O. (2001). The shoals of time. Bloomington, IN: First Books Library.

%%Zack, P. O. (2001). The shoals of time. First Books Library.

Second, the format of an ebook (e.g., Kindle, etc.) no longer needs to be indicated.

%%Niven, J. (2012). Ada Blackjack: A true story of survival in the Arctic [Kindle].

%%Niven, J. (2012). Ada Blackjack: A true story of survival in the Arctic .

Lastly, books from research databases without DOIs are treated the same as print works.

When using a URL in a citation, you no longer need to include the term “Retrieved from” before URLs (except with retrieval dates). The font should be blue and underlined, or black and not underlined.

6th Edition:

%%Flood, A. (2019, December 6). Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010, figures show. The Guardian . Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/dec/06/britain-has-closed-almost-800-libraries-since-2010-figures-show

7th Edition:

%%Flood, A. (2019, December 6). Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010, figures show. The Guardian . https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/dec/06/britain-has-closed-almost-800-libraries-since-2010-figures-show

Within a full APA citation, you may spell out up to 20 author names. For two to 20 authors, include an ampersand (&) before the name of the last author. For sources with 21 or more authors, structure it as follows:

Structure: First 19 authors’ names, . . . Last author’s name.

7th edition example: Washington, G., Adams, J., Jefferson, T., Madison, J., Monroe, J., Adams, J. Q., Jackson, A., Van Buren, M., Harrison, W. H., Tyler, J., Polk, J. K., Taylor, Z., Filmore, M., Pierce, F., Buchanan, J., Lincoln, A., Johnson, A., Grant, U. S., Hayes, R. B., Garfield, . . . Trump, D.

When creating an in-text citation for a source with 3 or more authors, use “et al.” after the first author’s name. This helps abbreviate the mention.

6th Edition: (Honda, Johnson, Prosser, Rossi, 2019)

7th Edition: (Honda et al., 2019)

Tables and Figures

Instead of having different formats for tables and figures, both use one standardized format. Now both tables and figures have a number, a title, name of the table/figure, and a note at the bottom.

If you’re still typing into Google “how to cite a website APA” among other related questions and keywords, click here for further reading on the style .

When you’re through with your writing, toss your entire paper into the Citation Machine Plus plagiarism checker , which will scan your paper for grammar edits and give you up to 5 suggestions cards for free! Worry less about a determiner , preposition , or adverb out of place and focus on your research!

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) (2020). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

Updated March 3, 2020

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Wendy Ikemoto. Michele Kirschenbaum has been an awesome school librarian since 2006 and is an expert in citing sources. Wendy Ikemoto has a master’s degree in library and information science and has been working for Citation Machine since 2012.

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APA Style (7th ed.): Citation Guide

  • Getting Started with APA

Formatting a Paper in APA

Apa paper visual guide.

  • Citing Sources in APA
  • APA Citation Examples
  • Other APA Resources
  • Citation Guides Homepage

Sample Student Paper

  • Sample APA Paper

screenshot of front page of sample paper

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  • Paper Formatting
  • Headings within the Paper
  • References Page

APA Basic Formatting Rules for Student Papers

The following guidelines are the basic formatting rules outlined in the  APA Publication Manual  7th edition. If your instructor sets different requirements, always use your instructor's guidelines first.

  • clearly legible, regular-sized font
  • recommendations: 12pt Times New Roman, 11pt Arial, 11pt Calibri, 10pt Lucida Sans Unicode, 11pt Georgia
  • double spaced throughout all parts of the paper including title, headings, and footnotes
  • 1-inch margins on all sides
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph by 1/2-inch (tab)
  • left-justified for the body of the paper

Running Head & Page Numbers:

  • not required to include shortened version of the title for student papers- unless requested by your instructor
  • include the page number in the top right corner of all pages

APA Title Page for Student Papers

Page number:.

  • include the page number in the top right margin. (It will be 1 for the Title Page. Continue numbering throughout the paper and References page.)

Heading about a 1/3 of the way down the page:

  • Paper Title : bold, centered
  • Author : your name
  • Institutional Affiliation : Lone Star College- Online
  • Course : your course number and the name of the course (ex. PSYC 2301: General Psychology)
  • Instructor : your instructor's name (ex- Prof. Jane Smith)
  • Due Date:  Month day, year format (ex- January 1, 2024)

APA Headings within the Body of the Paper

Paper title:.

  • include on the first line of the first page of the body of your paper
  • bold and centered

Headings and Sub-headings (use when needed)

  • APA uses a hierarchy of five levels for headings within the paper
  • short paper may not need headings at all

References Page Formatting

The following guidelines are the basic formatting rules outlined in the APA Publication Manual  7th edition. If your instructor sets different requirements, always use your instructor's guidelines first.

  • needs to start on a new page following the end of your paper
  • include the title References centered on the first line of the page
  • everything after the title is left-justified
  • listed in alphabetical order by the first part of the citation (usually the author)
  • double spaced throughout all parts
  • Each citation should have a hanging indent- or it should start at the left margin and then have all lines after it indented by 1/2-inch

Click on the information circles for tips on how to use Microsoft Word to format your paper in APA Style.

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  • Last Updated: Feb 15, 2024 3:18 PM
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Education Blog

Apa vs. mla understanding citation styles for academic writing.

In the world of academic writing, mastering the art of citation is not just a requirement; it’s a skill that underscores the credibility and integrity of your work. Whether you’re penning a research paper, thesis, or any scholarly article, knowing when and how to use APA (American Psychological Association) or MLA (Modern Language Association) format is crucial. An essay writing service can help ensure that your work adheres to these essential standard

But why is proper citation so important? It not only gives credit where it’s due but also allows readers to trace the genesis of ideas, fostering a transparent and interconnected academic dialogue.

APA vs. MLA: A Comparative Overview

  • Origin and Application

APA and MLA stand as the two colossi in the field of academic citation, each with distinct origins and applications. APA, predominantly used in the social sciences, emphasizes the date of publication, reflecting the importance of recent research in these fields. MLA, on the other hand, is favored in the humanities, particularly for its more flexible approach to authorship and source integration.

  • General Formatting Guidelines

Before diving into specifics, understanding the general layout each style adheres to can illuminate the broader differences. APA champions a more structured format, with precise headings and subheadings, while MLA offers a bit more freedom, focusing on the fluid integration of sources into the text.

Understanding APA Format

  • In-text Citation

APA format requires the author’s last name and the year of publication within the text, catering to the style’s emphasis on the timeliness of research.

  • Reference List

The reference list is a staple of APA, offering a comprehensive overview of every source cited in the paper. This list not only includes books and journal articles but extends to audiovisual and electronic sources, reflecting the modern landscape of research.

Navigating MLA Format

MLA’s in-text citation style is more reader-friendly, often incorporating the author’s name into the narrative of the paper, which can enhance the flow of arguments.

  • Works Cited Page

Unlike APA’s reference list, MLA uses a works cited page, emphasizing the work over the publication date. This approach caters to the humanities’ focus on the evolution of ideas over time.

Key Differences Between APA and MLA

  • Citation in Text

The most noticeable difference lies in how each style approaches in-text citations. APA’s author-date format contrasts sharply with MLA’s author-page method, reflecting their differing emphases on timeliness and narrative flow, respectively.

  • Reference List vs. Works Cited

The terminology and structure of the final list of sources also differ, with APA focusing on a comprehensive reference list and MLA on a more selective works cited page.

When to Use APA and MLA

  • Subject Matter Consideration

Choosing between APA and MLA often comes down to the subject matter of your paper. Social sciences, education, and psychology lean towards APA, while literature, arts, and humanities prefer MLA.

  • Journal or Publisher Requirements

Always consider the requirements of the journal or publisher. Some are strict about citation styles, so knowing the expected format is essential.

Practical Tips for Effective Citation

  • Use Software

Modern citation and reference management software can automate much of the formatting process, allowing scholars to focus more on content than citation styles.

  • Stay Updated on Style Guidelines

Both APA and MLA periodically update their guidelines. Staying abreast of these changes ensures your citations remain current and accurate.

  • Keep a Detailed Research Log

As you gather sources, maintain a detailed log that includes all necessary citation information. This practice saves time and ensures accuracy when you’re ready to cite. Include notes on key points from each source to help integrate quotes and ideas seamlessly into your writing.

  • Understand the Purpose of Each Citation

Each citation style serves a different academic purpose. APA’s focus on dates highlights the timeliness of research, while MLA’s emphasis on page numbers facilitates reader engagement with primary sources. Recognizing this can help you choose the most effective way to incorporate and highlight your research.

  • Consistency is Key

Ensure that every citation follows the same format throughout your document. Inconsistencies can distract readers and undermine your work’s professionalism. Pay special attention to punctuation, capitalization, and italicization.

  • Use Direct Quotes Sparingly

While direct quotes can strengthen your argument, relying too heavily on them can disrupt the flow of your paper. Summarize or paraphrase where appropriate, and use direct quotes to highlight particularly impactful or unique phrases. Remember to always cite the original source, even when paraphrasing.

  • Cross-Check Your Citations

Before submitting your work, double-check your citations against the latest version of the citation style guide. Small errors, such as misplaced commas or incorrect publication years, can compromise your paper’s credibility.

  • Cite as You Write

Instead of leaving citations as the last step, cite sources as you incorporate them into your paper. This approach prevents accidental plagiarism and ensures you don’t overlook any sources.

  • Seek Feedback

Have peers, mentors, or writing centers review your citations. Fresh eyes can catch mistakes you might have overlooked and provide suggestions for improvement.

The choice between APA and MLA formatting styles is not merely a matter of preference but a strategic decision that reflects the nature of your work, its audience, and the norms of your academic discipline. By understanding the key differences and applications of each style, you can navigate the complex landscape of academic writing with greater ease and precision.

IMAGES

  1. APA Citations for a Thesis or Dissertation

    apa citation of a dissertation

  2. How to cite a thesis or dissertation using APA style

    apa citation of a dissertation

  3. APA Citations for a Thesis or Dissertation

    apa citation of a dissertation

  4. How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA

    apa citation of a dissertation

  5. 3 Ways to Cite a Dissertation in APA

    apa citation of a dissertation

  6. APA Citation Style

    apa citation of a dissertation

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  1. How to write References, Citations & Bibliography in Thesis/Dissertation

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  3. How to use AI for APA citation (Microsoft copilot)

  4. How to put reference and citation in APA system

  5. APA Citation & Avoiding Plagiarism Webinar

  6. APA Citation

COMMENTS

  1. Published Dissertation or Thesis References

    Learn how to cite published dissertations or theses in APA style with parenthetical and narrative citations. See the format and examples for different types of publications, such as doctoral, master's, and undergraduate theses.

  2. How to Cite a Dissertation in APA Style

    To cite an unpublished dissertation (one you got directly from the author or university in print form), add "Unpublished" to the bracketed description, and list the university at the end of the reference, outside the square brackets. APA format. Author last name, Initials. ( Year ).

  3. How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA

    To cite an unpublished dissertation in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the author, year, title of the dissertation, and institute name. The templates for in-text citation and reference list entry of an online thesis, along with examples, are given below: In-text citation template and example:

  4. PDF APA Style Dissertation Guidelines: Formatting Your Dissertation

    tutorials under the "Resources for Writing Your Dissertation" tab. APA Style, 7 th Edition: A Brief Overview This section provides a very brief overview of APA Style formatting. For more thorough information about APA Style, 7 th edition, please refer to Appendix A (on page 11) of this guide for additional APA resources. Headings

  5. APA Formatting and Style Guide (7th Edition)

    Basic guidelines for formatting the reference list at the end of a standard APA research paper Author/Authors Rules for handling works by a single author or multiple authors that apply to all APA-style references in your reference list, regardless of the type of work (book, article, electronic resource, etc.)

  6. Reference List: Other Print Sources

    Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style can be found here. Important Note: Because the 7 th edition of the APA Publication Manual heavily emphasizes digital and electronic sources, it does not contain explicit instructions for certain less-common print sources that ...

  7. Thesis/Dissertation

    Thesis, from a commercial database. Lope, M. D. (2014). Perceptions of global mindedness in the international baccalaureate middle years programme: The relationship to student academic performance and teacher characteristics (Order No. 3682837) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland].ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

  8. Thesis/Dissertation

    Title of dissertation or thesis (Doctoral dissertation or master's thesis). Retrieved from Name of database. (Accession or Order No.) For an unpublished dissertation or thesis: Author Surname, First Initial. Second Initial. (year of creation). Title of dissertation or thesis (Unpublished doctoral dissertation or master's thesis). Name of ...

  9. Dissertations and Theses

    Doctoral dissertation/Master's thesis: List whether it is a dissertation or a thesis. University: List the university associated with the dissertation/thesis. ... APA calls for the citation to include a unique identifying number for the dissertation, labeling it "Publication No." That number can be found in Dissertations and Theses database ...

  10. APA Citations for a Thesis or Dissertation

    The APA dissertation or thesis citation isn't a one size fits all type of citation. The reason behind this is because APA offers a different format for a published and unpublished thesis or dissertation. However, you'll need to include information like: Author, A. A. (Year). Title of doctoral dissertation or master's thesis (Publication ...

  11. APA Citation Style, 7th Edition: Dissertations & Thesis

    Dissertation found in Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global: Reference: Banks, B. (2020). Addressing institutional racism in healthcare: A case study (Publication No. 28154307) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota]. Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global. In-Text Citation (Paraphrase): (Banks, 2020). In-Text Citation (Direct Quote):

  12. APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.)

    Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines: Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides. Double-space all text, including headings. Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches. Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.).

  13. Theses and dissertations

    Thesis is either for a doctoral or a master's degree. Dissertation is either for a master's or a bachelor's degree with honours. Exegesis is the written component of a practice-based thesis where the major output is a creative work; e.g., a film, artwork, novel.

  14. How to Cite a Dissertation in APA

    Full Citation Rules. To cite a dissertation in APA on the References page, follow this formula: Author's Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis (Publication No. #) [Dissertation type, University]. Database.

  15. Unpublished dissertation or thesis references

    Narrative citation: Harris (2014) When a dissertation or thesis is unpublished, include the description " [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]" or " [Unpublished master's thesis]" in square brackets after the dissertation or thesis title. In the source element of the reference, provide the name of the institution that awarded the degree.

  16. APA: how to cite a dissertation [Update 2023]

    For 21 or more authors include the first 19 names followed by an ellipsis (…) and add the last author's name. Year of publication: Give the year in brackets followed by a full stop. Title of the dissertation: Only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns are capitalized. Publication number: Give the identification number of the ...

  17. Subject guides: APA 7th: Theses and dissertations

    Go to Getting started > In-text citation to view other examples such as multiple authors. ... Format Online. Author, A. A. (Year). Title of thesis [Type of thesis, Name of institution awarding degree]. Name of archive or site. https://xxxxxx. Stored in a database. ... see the APA Style website- Published Dissertation or Thesis, ...

  18. General Format

    Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.. How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA Individual Resources. The page template for the new OWL site does not include contributors' names or the page's last edited date.

  19. PDF How to Prepare your Dissertation in APA Style Style Manual Spacing Margins

    How to Prepare your Dissertation in APA Style This guide has been taken from the American Psychological Associations Website. Style Manual It is recommended that APA Style Seventh Edition is used. It should be in 12-point type using Times New Roman font. Spacing The test in the manuscript should be double-spaced.

  20. Free APA Citation Generator

    APA Style is widely used by students, researchers, and professionals in the social and behavioral sciences. Scribbr's free citation generator automatically generates accurate references and in-text citations. This citation guide outlines the most important citation guidelines from the 7th edition APA Publication Manual (2020).

  21. Free APA Citation Generator [Updated for 2024]

    Repeat for each citation, then download the formatted list and append it to the end of your paper. Done! Generate APA style citations quickly and accurately with our FREE APA citation generator. Enter a website URL, book ISBN, or search with keywords, and we do the rest! Updated with APA 7th Edition!

  22. How to Cite a Dissertation in APA Style

    To cite a dissertation or thesis published in a university archive (often in PDF form) or on a personal website, the format differs in that no publication number is included, and you do list a URL. APA format. Author last name, Initials. ( Year ). Dissertation title [ Type of dissertation/thesis, University Name ].

  23. In-Text Citations: The Basics

    APA Citation Basics. When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, like, for example, (Jones, 1998). One complete reference for each source should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

  24. Citation Machine®: APA Format & APA Citation Generator

    Generate APA citations in seconds. Start citing books, websites, journals, and more with the Citation Machine® APA Citation Generator. Plagiarism and grammar; Citation guides; ... An abstract briefly but thoroughly summarizes dissertation contents. It's found in the beginning of a professional paper, right after the title page. ...

  25. Formatting a Paper in APA

    The following guidelines are the basic formatting rules outlined in the APA Publication Manual 7th edition. If your instructor sets different requirements, always use your instructor's guidelines first. Page Number: include the page number in the top right margin. (It will be 1 for the Title Page.

  26. APA vs. MLA Understanding Citation Styles for Academic Writing

    Whether you're penning a research paper, thesis, or any scholarly article, knowing when and how to use APA (American Psychological Association) or MLA (Modern Language Association) format is crucial. ... The choice between APA and MLA formatting styles is not merely a matter of preference but a strategic decision that reflects the nature of ...

  27. Thesis Assignment Writing Help on Instagram: "Unlocking academic

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