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How to Write an APA Reference List

An APA reference list is on a separate page at the end of the essay. It begins with a heading "References" in bold and centered. Entries are in alphabetical order, double spaced with hanging indents. There are no extra spaces between entries. Use the paragraph dialog box to set up the hanging indent. You might think it's easier to hit "return" and then indent the next line, but in the end, setting it up correctly will be easier because you are sure to need to make edits to your entries.

APA Essay

Entries are in alphabetical order regardless of whether the author is a person or an instutition, or you used the title of an article as the identifier in the in-text citation. Note: it's last name first for human beings. Do not reverse names of instutions, publications, or governments. I've seen "States, U." cited for the United States. The World Bank goes after The United Nations and before Thompson, F. When you provide a URL for an online document, it must be accessible by anyone, so make sure it doesn't point to your library account. Also, you don't need the date you accessed it, except for sites that frequently can change, such as Wikipedia. However, since reliability is the most important factor in your citation, sources that are subject to change are probably not the best.

Do not reverse names of instutions, publications, or governments.

Remember, the four elements of a good citation are: Author, year, title, publisher. Usually the year only is sufficient, but for a newspaper or magazine, the full date or year and month might be used. Always put the year first. So a monthly magazine might be (2020, December) and a newspaper might be (2020, December 23). You can buy a copy of the APA citation manual (I have one), but the best online source for the most common citation forms is the OWL writing lab at Purdue University. For other sources, I usually use the APA style blog. This version of the style blog is for APA 6, and we are now on APA 7, but most citation formats haven't changed.

Capitals in titles

Capitals are the most common error in APA reference lists. APA uses a "sentence case" format for titles. That means, only the first letter of the title (and any proper nouns) has a capital. Even though the article title that you see has capitals throughout, you do not use them in your citation! The article you are citing could be "The Effect of Caffeine on Essay Writing"; your citation would be "The effect of caffeine on essay writing." However, journal titles are proper nouns (i.e., NAMES!); therefore, keep the capitals for journal titles. Book titles are not proper nouns, so do not keep the capitals in book titles.

If that's not confusing you, then here's one last twist. On occasion, you will cite an article or book title in the body of your APA essay. For those, keep the original capitals and enclose the title in quotation marks, without italics.

Download a copy of this list for quick references. Note:This is a very short version of what takes about 20 pages in the APA manual. These are the most common, in my opinion. For more help on APA referencing, visit the OWL at Purdue University.