Basics of Citing in APA Style

One of the major citation formats you may be asked to use is APA style.  If you’re studying the social sciences—education, psychology, business, linguistics, things like that—APA style is something you’re going to have to become familiar with.

When you cite something in APA style, there are a couple things to keep in mind.  When you cite something in the text of your paper, you’ll need to include at least two pieces of information every time you cite a source: the last name of the author or authors, and the year of publication.  So it might look something like this:

Knowles (2015) has described in detail the decision-making process of San Francisco’s management.

If you use a direct quotation, you’ll want to include the page number in parenthesis with the abbreviation “p.” or “pp.”, like so:

The 2016 Olympics have “realized the worst fears of everyone who was concerned with Rio hosting the games” (Knowles, 2016, p. 32)

At the end of your paper should bed your list of references.  You’ll want to list only the works you cited in the text, not everything you read.  You’ll want to list them double-spaced, starting on a new, fresh page, and you’ll want to organize them by the last names of the primary authors.

APA style mandates you use the last name, followed by their initial, as well as the date in parenthesis after the author’s names.  Titles of books should be italicized, with only the first word of the title capitalized.   For an article in a journal, you italicize the name of the journal, but not the title of the article itself.  For specifics on how to reference things, Purdue’s Online Writing Lab is a fantastic resource.

A correctly formatted reference page would look something like this.


Knowles, B. (2016). A very important book indeed.  San Francisco: Full Court Press.

Overmeyer, S. (2014). How to succeed at work without really trying. Slackers Quarterly, 21, 35-37.

Stanton, W. & Evans, S. (1942).  Studies of things very complex and arcane.  Essex: Xavier Press.

Vasquez, A. (2015, May 8).  The importance of pants [Video file].   Retrieved from


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