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Why use APA?
Using outside sources like books or articles in your assignment makes your arguments more credible. You demonstrate that your arguments are not just your opinion, but are based on evidence. When you use other people’s ideas in your work, you must observe the rules of academic integrity and cite your sources. Citations prevent any confusion over what is original to you and what you are borrowing. Citation styles like APA (American Psychological Association) supply a standard method for identifying sources.
In-Text Citations: Quotations & Paraphrasing
An in-text citation is when an author's last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear on your Works Cited page.
Navigate to the Purdue OWL website for in-text citation formatting and examples.
Purdue OWL: APA - In-Text Citations - The Basics
Most of Mercyhurst University's databases have a "Cite" button on the landing page of our articles and books where you can find the APA citation. Please double check against our guides or style manual to make sure it is in the correct format. If you find you can't find the citation you could use an automatic citation generator like the one provided below.
Essay & Reference Page Formatting
The video to the left gives clear instructions on how to format your paper.
Things to remember:
- 1" margins on all sides
- 12 pt. Times New Roman font
- Page header (also known as the "running head") is a shortened version of your papers' title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.
- Four Sections: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, Reference
Purdue OWL: Basic Rules
- Your reference list should appear at the end of your paper on a new page separate
- Label this page "References" centered at the top of the page (do NOT bold, underline, or use quotation marks for the title).
- All text should be double-spaced just like the rest of your essay.
- All lines after the first line of each entry in your reference list should be indented one-half inch from the left margin. This is called hanging indentation.
- Alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.
- Authors' names are inverted (last name first).
- For multiple articles by the same author, or authors listed in the same order, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to most recent.
- Present the journal title in full.
- Maintain the punctuation and capitalization that is used by the journal in its title.
- Capitalize all major words in journal titles.
- When referring to books, chapters, articles, or Web pages, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns. Do not capitalize the first letter of the second word in a hyphenated compound word.
- Italicize titles of longer works such as books and journals.
- Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles or essays in edited collections.
Books: Basic Form
Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.
Note: For "Location," you should always list the city and the state using the two letter postal abbreviation without periods (New York, NY).
Calfee, R. C., & Valencia, R. R. (1991). APA guide to preparing manuscripts for journal publication. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Visit Purdue OWL for more information on: Reference List - Books
- Edited Book, No Author
- Edited Book with an Author or Authors
- A Translation
- Edition Other Than the First
- Article or Chapter in an Edited Book
- Multivolume Work
An Entry in an Encyclopedia
Bergmann, P. G. (1993). Relativity. In The New Encyclopedia Britannica. (Vol. 26, pp. 501-508). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica.
Visit Purdue OWL for more information: Reference List: Other Print Sources
- An Entry in an Encyclopedia
- Work Discussed in a Secondary Source
- Dissertation Abstract
- Dissertation, Published
- Dissertation, Unpublished
- Government Document
- Report from a Private Organization
- Conference Proceedings
Article in Periodicals: Basic Form
- Authors are named last name followed by initials.
- Publication year goes between parentheses, followed by a period.
- The title of the article is in sentence-case, meaning only the first word and proper nouns (a name used for an individual person, place, or organization, spelled with initial capital letters, e.g., Larry, Mexico, and Boston Red Sox.) in the title are capitalized.
- The periodical title is run in title case, and is followed by the volume number which, with the title, is also italicized.
- If a DOI has been assigned to the article that you are using, you should include this after the page numbers for the article.
- If no DOI has been assigned and you are accessing the periodical online, use the URL of the website from which you are retrieving the periodical.
Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages. http://dx.doi.org/xx.xxx/yyyyy
Visit Purdue OWL for more information: Reference List: Articles in Periodicals
- Articles in Journal Paginated by Volume
- Article in Journal Paginated by Issue
- Article in a Magazine
- Article in a Newspaper
- Letter to the Editor
Electronic Sources: Basic Form
- There are no spaces used with brackets in APA.
- When possible, include the year, month, and date in references. If the month and date are not available, use the year of publication.
- Online articles follow the same guidelines for printed articles. Include all information the online host makes available, including an issue number in parentheses.
Article From an Online Periodical
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Online Periodical, volume number(issue number if available). Retrieved from
Bernstein, M. (2002). 10 tips on writing the living Web. A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 149. Retrieved from http://www.alistapart.com/articles/writeliving
Visit Purdue OWL for more information on: Reference List - Electronic Sources (Web Publications)
- Article from an Online Periodical
- Online Scholarly Journal Article: Citing DOIs
- Article from an Online Periodical with DOI Assigned
- Article from an Online Periodical with no DOI Assigned
- Article from a Database
- Newspaper Article
- Electronic Books
- Kindle Books
- Chapter/Section of a Web Document or Online Book Chapter
- Online Book Reviews
- Dissertation/Thesis from a Database
- Online Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
- Online Bibliographies and Annotated Bibliographies
- Data Sets
- Graphic Data (e.g. Interactive Maps and Other Graphic Representations of Data)
- Qualitative Data and Online Interviews
- Online Lecture Notes and Presentation Slides
- Nonperiodical Web Document or Report
- Computer Software/Downloaded Software
- Online Forum or Discussion Board Posting
- Blog (Weblog) and Video Blog Post
- Audio Podcast
- Video Podcasts
Interviews, Email, and Other Personal Communication
No personal communication is included in your reference list; instead, parenthetically cite the communicator's name, the phrase "personal communication," and the date of the communication in your main text only.
(E. Robbins, personal communication, January 4, 2001).
A. P. Smith also claimed that many of her students had difficulties with APA style (personal communication, November 3, 2002).
Visit Purdue OWL for more information: Reference List: Other Non-Print Sources
- Interviews, Email, and Other Personal Communication
- Motion Picture
- A Motion Picture or Video Tape with International or National Availability
- A Motion Picture or Video Tape with Limited Availability
- Television Broadcast or Series Episode
- Single Episode of a Television Series
- Television Broadcast
- A Television Series
- Music Recording
Author(s): Basic Form
The following rules for handling works by a single author or multiple authors apply to all APA-style references in your reference list, regardless of the type of work (book, article, electronic resource, etc.)
Last name first, followed by author initials.
Berndt, T. J. (2002). Friendship quality and social development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 7-10.
Visit Purdue OWL for more information: Reference List: Author/Authors
- More than one author
- Organization as author
- Unknown author
- Two or more works by the same author
- Introductions, prefaces, forewords, and afterwords
What is a Citation?
A "citation" is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source. It also gives your readers the information necessary to find that source again, including:
- Information about the author.
- Title of the work.
- Name and location of the company that published your copy of the source.
- Date your copy was published.
- Page numbers of the material you are borrowing.
Giving credit to the original author by citing sources is the only way to use other people's work without plagiarizing. But there are a number of other reasons to cite sources:
- Citations are extremely helpful to anyone who wants to find out more about your ideas and where they came from.
- Not all sources are good or right -- your own ideas may often be more accurate or interesting than those of your sources. Proper citation will keep you from taking the rap for someone else's bad ideas.
- Citing sources shows the amount of research you've done.
- Citing sources strengthens your work by lending outside support to your ideas.
When to Cite?
Whenever you borrow words or ideas, you need to acknowledge their source. The following situations almost always require citation:
- Using an idea that someone else has already expressed.
- Making specific reference to the work of another.
- Someone else's work has been critical in developing your own ideas.
"What is a Citation?." Plagiarism.org. iParadigms, LLC, 2015. Web. 22 Nov. 2015. http://www.plagiarism.org/.