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APA Sample Paper

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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 .

Media Files: APA Sample Student Paper  ,  APA Sample Professional Paper

This resource is enhanced by Acrobat PDF files. Download the free Acrobat Reader

Note: The APA Publication Manual, 7 th Edition specifies different formatting conventions for student  and  professional  papers (i.e., papers written for credit in a course and papers intended for scholarly publication). These differences mostly extend to the title page and running head. Crucially, citation practices do not differ between the two styles of paper.

However, for your convenience, we have provided two versions of our APA 7 sample paper below: one in  student style and one in  professional  style.

Note: For accessibility purposes, we have used "Track Changes" to make comments along the margins of these samples. Those authored by [AF] denote explanations of formatting and [AWC] denote directions for writing and citing in APA 7. 

APA 7 Student Paper:

Apa 7 professional paper:.

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Apa style: formatting & example paper.

This page will give you examples of how to format a paper in APA Style 7th edition. Formatting includes the rules for where to include your name, the title, page numbers, margins, references, etc.  For those who prefer video, we also have a short video on how to format a paper in APA Style.

Basic APA Format Rules:

  • Use size 12 letters
  • Use a font like Times New Roman
  • Everything should be double spaced
  • Margins should be 1 inch (this is the default in Word)
  • Use clear professional language in APA writing. No slang or metaphors.  Also, you generally don’t talk about your own experiences in an APA research paper unless asked to do so by your professor.  The focus should be on information gathered from research and arguments.
  • All APA Style Papers begin with a cover page.

Here is an example of an APA Style Cover Page. The Cover Page begins with the page number in the upper right.  In the center of the paper is the title in bold.  Below that is the writer’s name, the name of the college, the name of the class, the name of the professor, and finally the date the paper is due.

apa style paper college

Use this APA Style sample paper to see the rest of the format for an APA Paper.

Student Formatting APA Sample Paper (7th Edition)

APA Style allows for two slightly different ways to format a paper.  Student paper formatting and professional formatting.  Most instructors will accept the simpler student formatting in the example above but if your professor requires professional formatting here is an example of how to do that.

Professional Formatting APA Sample Paper (7th Edition)

If you have more detailed questions about APA Style formatting consult the APA website formatting guide , read the APA Style Publication Manual in the Library collection, or contact [email protected]

How to Write an APA Research Paper

Psychology/neuroscience 201, v iew in pdf format.

An APA-style paper includes the following sections: title page, abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references. Your paper may also include one or more tables and/or figures. Different types of information about your study are addressed in each of the sections, as described below.

General formatting rules are as follows:

Do not put page breaks in between the introduction, method, results, and discussion sections.

The title page, abstract, references, table(s), and figure(s) should be on their own pages. The entire paper should be written in the past tense, in a 12-point font, double-spaced, and with one-inch margins all around.

(see sample on p. 41 of APA manual)

  • Title should be between 10-12 words and should reflect content of paper (e.g., IV and DV).
  • Title, your name, and Hamilton College are all double-spaced (no extra spaces)
  • Create a page header using the “View header” function in MS Word. On the title page, the header should include the following: Flush left: Running head: THE RUNNING HEAD SHOULD BE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. The running head is a short title that appears at the top of pages of published articles. It should not exceed 50 characters, including punctuation and spacing. (Note: on the title page, you actually write the words “Running head,” but these words do not appear on subsequent pages; just the actual running head does. If you make a section break between the title page and the rest of the paper you can make the header different for those two parts of the manuscript). Flush right, on same line: page number. Use the toolbox to insert a page number, so it will automatically number each page.

Abstract (labeled, centered, not bold)

No more than 120 words, one paragraph, block format (i.e., don’t indent), double-spaced.

  • State topic, preferably in one sentence. Provide overview of method, results, and discussion.


(Do not label as “Introduction.” Title of paper goes at the top of the page—not bold)

The introduction of an APA-style paper is the most difficult to write. A good introduction will summarize, integrate, and critically evaluate the empirical knowledge in the relevant area(s) in a way that sets the stage for your study and why you conducted it. The introduction starts out broad (but not too broad!) and gets more focused toward the end. Here are some guidelines for constructing a good introduction:

  • Don’t put your readers to sleep by beginning your paper with the time-worn sentence, “Past research has shown (blah blah blah)” They’ll be snoring within a paragraph!  Try to draw your reader in by saying something interesting or thought-provoking right off the bat.  Take a look at articles you’ve read. Which ones captured your attention right away? How did the authors accomplish this task? Which ones didn’t?  Why not?  See if you can use articles you liked as a model. One way to begin (but not the only way) is to provide an example or anecdote illustrative of your topic area.
  • Although you won’t go into the details of your study and hypotheses until the end of the intro, you should foreshadow your study a bit at the end of the first paragraph by stating your purpose briefly, to give your reader a schema for all the information you will present next.
  • Your intro should be a logical flow of ideas that leads up to your hypothesis. Try to organize it in terms of the ideas rather than who did what when. In other words, your intro shouldn’t read like a story of “Schmirdley did such-and-such in 1991. Then Gurglehoff did something-or-other in 1993.  Then....(etc.)” First, brainstorm all of the ideas you think are necessary to include in your paper. Next, decide which ideas make sense to present first, second, third, and so forth, and think about how you want to transition between ideas. When an idea is complex, don’t be afraid to use a real-life example to clarify it for your reader. The introduction will end with a brief overview of your study and, finally, your specific hypotheses. The hypotheses should flow logically out of everything that’s been presented, so that the reader has the sense of, “Of course. This hypothesis makes complete sense, given all the other research that was presented.”
  • When incorporating references into your intro, you do not necessarily need to describe every single study in complete detail, particularly if different studies use similar methodologies. Certainly you want to summarize briefly key articles, though, and point out differences in methods or findings of relevant studies when necessary. Don’t make one mistake typical of a novice APA-paper writer by stating overtly why you’re including a particular article (e.g., “This article is relevant to my study because…”). It should be obvious to the reader why you’re including a reference without your explicitly saying so.  DO NOT quote from the articles, instead paraphrase by putting the information in your own words.
  • Be careful about citing your sources (see APA manual). Make sure there is a one-to-one correspondence between the articles you’ve cited in your intro and the articles listed in your reference section.
  • Remember that your audience is the broader scientific community, not the other students in your class or your professor.  Therefore, you should assume they have a basic understanding of psychology, but you need to provide them with the complete information necessary for them to understand the research you are presenting.

Method (labeled, centered, bold)

The Method section of an APA-style paper is the most straightforward to write, but requires precision. Your goal is to describe the details of your study in such a way that another researcher could duplicate your methods exactly.

The Method section typically includes Participants, Materials and/or Apparatus, and Procedure sections. If the design is particularly complicated (multiple IVs in a factorial experiment, for example), you might also include a separate Design subsection or have a “Design and Procedure” section.

Note that in some studies (e.g., questionnaire studies in which there are many measures to describe but the procedure is brief), it may be more useful to present the Procedure section prior to the Materials section rather than after it.

Participants (labeled, flush left, bold)

Total number of participants (# women, # men), age range, mean and SD for age, racial/ethnic composition (if applicable), population type (e.g., college students). Remember to write numbers out when they begin a sentence.

  • How were the participants recruited? (Don’t say “randomly” if it wasn’t random!) Were they compensated for their time in any way? (e.g., money, extra credit points)
  • Write for a broad audience. Thus, do not write, “Students in Psych. 280...” Rather, write (for instance), “Students in a psychological statistics and research methods course at a small liberal arts college….”
  • Try to avoid short, choppy sentences. Combine information into a longer sentence when possible.

Materials (labeled, flush left, bold)

Carefully describe any stimuli, questionnaires, and so forth. It is unnecessary to mention things such as the paper and pencil used to record the responses, the data recording sheet, the computer that ran the data analysis, the color of the computer, and so forth.

  • If you included a questionnaire, you should describe it in detail. For instance, note how many items were on the questionnaire, what the response format was (e.g., a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree)), how many items were reverse-scored, whether the measure had subscales, and so forth. Provide a sample item or two for your reader.
  • If you have created a new instrument, you should attach it as an Appendix.
  • If you presented participants with various word lists to remember or stimuli to judge, you should describe those in detail here. Use subheadings to separate different types of stimuli if needed.  If you are only describing questionnaires, you may call this section “Measures.”

Apparatus (labeled, flush left, bold)

Include an apparatus section if you used specialized equipment for your study (e.g., the eye tracking machine) and need to describe it in detail.

Procedure (labeled, flush left, bold)

What did participants do, and in what order? When you list a control variable (e.g., “Participants all sat two feet from the experimenter.”), explain WHY you did what you did.  In other words, what nuisance variable were you controlling for? Your procedure should be as brief and concise as possible. Read through it. Did you repeat yourself anywhere? If so, how can you rearrange things to avoid redundancy? You may either write the instructions to the participants verbatim or paraphrase, whichever you deem more appropriate. Don’t forget to include brief statements about informed consent and debriefing.

Results (labeled, centered, bold)

In this section, describe how you analyzed the data and what you found. If your data analyses were complex, feel free to break this section down into labeled subsections, perhaps one section for each hypothesis.

  • Include a section for descriptive statistics
  • List what type of analysis or test you conducted to test each hypothesis.
  • Refer to your Statistics textbook for the proper way to report results in APA style. A t-test, for example, is reported in the following format: t (18) = 3.57, p < .001, where 18 is the number of degrees of freedom (N – 2 for an independent-groups t test). For a correlation: r (32) = -.52, p < .001, where 32 is the number of degrees of freedom (N – 2 for a correlation). For a one-way ANOVA: F (2, 18) = 7.00, p < .001, where 2 represents the between and 18 represents df within Remember that if a finding has a p value greater than .05, it is “nonsignificant,” not “insignificant.” For nonsignificant findings, still provide the exact p values. For correlations, be sure to report the r 2 value as an assessment of the strength of the finding, to show what proportion of variability is shared by the two variables you’re correlating. For t- tests and ANOVAs, report eta 2 .
  • Report exact p values to two or three decimal places (e.g., p = .042; see p. 114 of APA manual).  However, for p-values less than .001, simply put p < .001.
  • Following the presentation of all the statistics and numbers, be sure to state the nature of your finding(s) in words and whether or not they support your hypothesis (e.g., “As predicted …”). This information can typically be presented in a sentence or two following the numbers (within the same paragraph). Also, be sure to include the relevant means and SDs.
  • It may be useful to include a table or figure to represent your results visually. Be sure to refer to these in your paper (e.g., “As illustrated in Figure 1…”). Remember that you may present a set of findings either as a table or as a figure, but not as both. Make sure that your text is not redundant with your tables/figures. For instance, if you present a table of means and standard deviations, you do not need to also report these in the text. However, if you use a figure to represent your results, you may wish to report means and standard deviations in the text, as these may not always be precisely ascertained by examining the figure. Do describe the trends shown in the figure.
  • Do not spend any time interpreting or explaining the results; save that for the Discussion section.

Discussion (labeled, centered, bold)

The goal of the discussion section is to interpret your findings and place them in the broader context of the literature in the area. A discussion section is like the reverse of the introduction, in that you begin with the specifics and work toward the more general (funnel out). Some points to consider:

  • Begin with a brief restatement of your main findings (using words, not numbers). Did they support the hypothesis or not? If not, why not, do you think? Were there any surprising or interesting findings? How do your findings tie into the existing literature on the topic, or extend previous research? What do the results say about the broader behavior under investigation? Bring back some of the literature you discussed in the Introduction, and show how your results fit in (or don’t fit in, as the case may be). If you have surprising findings, you might discuss other theories that can help to explain the findings. Begin with the assumption that your results are valid, and explain why they might differ from others in the literature.
  • What are the limitations of the study? If your findings differ from those of other researchers, or if you did not get statistically significant results, don’t spend pages and pages detailing what might have gone wrong with your study, but do provide one or two suggestions. Perhaps these could be incorporated into the future research section, below.
  • What additional questions were generated from this study? What further research should be conducted on the topic? What gaps are there in the current body of research? Whenever you present an idea for a future research study, be sure to explain why you think that particular study should be conducted. What new knowledge would be gained from it?  Don’t just say, “I think it would be interesting to re-run the study on a different college campus” or “It would be better to run the study again with more participants.” Really put some thought into what extensions of the research might be interesting/informative, and why.
  • What are the theoretical and/or practical implications of your findings? How do these results relate to larger issues of human thoughts, feelings, and behavior? Give your readers “the big picture.” Try to answer the question, “So what?

Final paragraph: Be sure to sum up your paper with a final concluding statement. Don’t just trail off with an idea for a future study. End on a positive note by reminding your reader why your study was important and what it added to the literature.

References (labeled, centered, not bold)

Provide an alphabetical listing of the references (alphabetize by last name of first author). Double-space all, with no extra spaces between references. The second line of each reference should be indented (this is called a hanging indent and is easily accomplished using the ruler in Microsoft Word). See the APA manual for how to format references correctly.

Examples of references to journal articles start on p. 198 of the manual, and examples of references to books and book chapters start on pp. 202. Digital object identifiers (DOIs) are now included for electronic sources (see pp. 187-192 of APA manual to learn more).

Journal article example: [Note that only the first letter of the first word of the article title is capitalized; the journal name and volume are italicized. If the journal name had multiple words, each of the major words would be capitalized.] 

Ebner-Priemer, U. W., & Trull, T. J. (2009). Ecological momentary assessment of mood disorders and mood dysregulation. Psychological Assessment, 21, 463-475. doi:10.1037/a0017075

Book chapter example: [Note that only the first letter of the first word of both the chapter title and book title are capitalized.]

Stephan, W. G. (1985). Intergroup relations. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (3 rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 599-658). New York: Random House.

Book example: Gray, P. (2010). Psychology (6 th ed.). New York: Worth

Table There are various formats for tables, depending upon the information you wish to include. See the APA manual. Be sure to provide a table number and table title (the latter is italicized). Tables can be single or double-spaced.

Figure If you have more than one figure, each one gets its own page. Use a sans serif font, such as Helvetica, for any text within your figure. Be sure to label your x- and y-axes clearly, and make sure you’ve noted the units of measurement of the DV. Underneath the figure provide a label and brief caption (e.g., “Figure 1. Mean evaluation of job applicant qualifications as a function of applicant attractiveness level”). The figure caption typically includes the IVs/predictor variables and the DV. Include error bars in your bar graphs, and note what the bars represent in the figure caption: Error bars represent one standard error above and below the mean.

In-Text Citations: (see pp. 174-179 of APA manual) When citing sources in your paper, you need to include the authors’ names and publication date.

You should use the following formats:

  • When including the citation as part of the sentence, use AND: “According to Jones and Smith (2003), the…”
  • When the citation appears in parentheses, use “&”: “Studies have shown that priming can affect actual motor behavior (Jones & Smith, 2003; Klein, Bailey, & Hammer, 1999).” The studies appearing in parentheses should be ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name, and should be separated by semicolons.
  • If you are quoting directly (which you should avoid), you also need to include the page number.
  • For sources with three or more authors, once you have listed all the authors’ names, you may write “et al.” on subsequent mentions. For example: “Klein et al. (1999) found that….” For sources with two authors, both authors must be included every time the source is cited. When a source has six or more authors, the first author’s last name and “et al.” are used every time the source is cited (including the first time). 

Secondary Sources

“Secondary source” is the term used to describe material that is cited in another source. If in his article entitled “Behavioral Study of Obedience” (1963), Stanley Milgram makes reference to the ideas of Snow (presented above), Snow (1961) is the primary source, and Milgram (1963) is the secondary source.

Try to avoid using secondary sources in your papers; in other words, try to find the primary source and read it before citing it in your own work. If you must use a secondary source, however, you should cite it in the following way:

Snow (as cited in Milgram, 1963) argued that, historically, the cause of most criminal acts... The reference for the Milgram article (but not the Snow reference) should then appear in the reference list at the end of your paper.

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Key Concepts

  • APA format, also known as the American Psychological Association style, is a citation and formatting style most researchers use.
  • Students will likely use APA format in upper-level classes when writing papers.
  • Purdue Owl is a fantastic resources for all information related to APA format. 
  • APA formatted papers include a Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References page. 
  • All APA formatted papers should be double-spaced and in 12 point font. 

APA format, also known as the American Psychological Association style, is a citation style developed by a group of researchers as a guide to format papers. In many of your upper level classes, you will use this format when submitting papers or publishing research.

Citing sources can get tricky, which is why the library has several tools to help you make it as easy as possible.  If you need to create citations with a citation generator and keep track of them in folders, get an account with RefWorks: go.rowan.edu/Refworks

If you need help understanding APA format better or help creating citations for formats not in RefWorks, APA Academic Writer has the entire APA manual for you to review: go.rowan.edu/APAacademicwriter

In general, Purdue Owl is a fantastic up to date resource for everything you need to know about APA formatting. As style guidelines tend to change frequently, it’s important to double check that any old guidebooks still have accurate information.

The following chapter explores the basics of APA formatting, including formatting the References  page, citing in-text, and formatting an APA-style paper.

While it’s absolutely fine to use a citation machine for you, it’s invaluable to understand on your own what a proper APA citation should look like. Purdue Owl always has up to date information on citation styles and answers any question you might have about APA format.

In general, for most standard articles, you will fill out the information below with your source’s information:

Muhammad, K. R. (2015). Everyday people: Public identities in contemporary hip-hop culture. Social Identities, 21(5), 425-443. doi:10.1080/13504630.2015.1093467

Author(s): Last name and Initials of the first and middle name ONLY

Your references page should be in alphabetical order, starting with the first letter that appears in each citation (this isn’t always the author’s last name).

  • You should use hanging indentations on your references page.
  • Once you get to the end of your essay/conclusion, finish it with a period.
  • Then hit either control+enter (windows) or command+enter (Mac) at the same time. This should work on Word or Drive. You can also typically go to “Insert” and then “Page Break” or “Break” then “Page Break”

The tools mentioned above will also help you with in-text citations.  In-text citations are when you give appropriate credit in the body of your work.  There are a few ways to do that and the Purdue OWL APA General Guidelines can also help you figure it out.  If you name the author in the sentence, then you put the publication year in parentheses directly after their name.  If you do not use the author’s name, then at the end of the sentence in parentheses you add the authors name followed by the publication year. Then in the parenthetical you just write the page (p.)/paragraph (para.) number. Remember to put any direct quotes in quotation marks and include page numbers!  Every idea that is not your own including direct quotes, paraphrasing, or summarizing needs to be cited.

Here are some examples:

Muhammad (2015) takes time to find differences in five subgroups of hip-hop culture.

There are five subgroups in hip-hop culture (Muhammad, 2015.)

According to Muhammad (2015), “Hip-Hop Fundamentalists are highly critical of the way that hip-hop has evolved away from principles associated with collective, political activism” (p. 431).

  • Your paper should be in 12 point font, with 1″ margins on all side. APA recommends using Times New Roman.
  • Your paper has four sections: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
  • Subsequent pages will just get “ TITLE OF PAPER ” — still on the top left.
  • Your title page also gets the title of your paper, your name, and your university completely centered.
  • All pages, including the title page, should have a number on the top right.

apa style paper college

  • The second page should get an  Abstract.
  • Abstract should be centered at the top of the page, and your abstract should be left aligned with no indentation.
  • After your abstract, you should have a line for keywords, which will be italicized, followed by non-italicized keywords.

apa style paper college

  • The first page of your actual paper (now your 3rd page) will get a title at the top.
  • All subsequent paragraphs will be indented .5 inches.
  • All text should be double-spaced, with no extra space between paragraphs.

apa style paper college

See an example of an APA formatted paper here .

College Comp II Copyright © 2019 by Jude Miller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Formatting a College Essay — APA Style

LESSON You will likely be asked to write numerous essays A short piece of writing that focuses on at least one main idea. Some essays are also focused on the author's unique point of view, making them personal or autobiographical, while others are focused on a particular literary, scientific, or political subject. over the course of your academic career. While the content The text in a writing that includes facts, thoughts, and ideas. The information that forms the body of the work. of your work is significant, it is also essential that you develop strong and accurate formatting The way in which content is arranged, usually following a set of rules. In writing, outlines and essays often follow a format specified by their purpose or where they are published. skills. Formatting an essay correctly is not only good authorship but is also important to instructors who often have to read hundreds of essays over the course of a semester. Your instructors will likely provide you with essay guidelines indicating whether you should use MLA A grammar and reference guide used mainly by students and scholars writing about the humanities (languages and literature). or APA A set of guidelines for citing sources used in literary and academic writing. APA style is most commonly used in the social sciences. style to format your paper. If you are uncertain as to your instructor's expectations, be sure to ask. Instructors appreciate students taking extra measures needed to correctly format essays. In this lesson, you will learn how to correctly format a college essay using APA style. Note: This foundation lesson is not meant to include or cover all of the rules and guidelines for properly formatting an essay. Be sure to refer to the APA style guide to ensure that you follow all of the formatting rules.

Part of formatting an essay is properly formatting in-text citations Information about a source, such as the author, date, and page number, in an essay or research paper that helps readers find the source in the works cited or references page. There are different rules for how to use in-text citations depending on the context of the citation and the style of formatting you are using. and your list of sources A person, book, article, or other thing that supplies information. . APA refers to the list of sources as a reference list An alphabetized list of publication information about the sources used in an APA-formatted essay or research paper. . Keep in mind that in-text citations and the reference list work together. Without one, you cannot have the other. The in-text citations lead readers to the listing of complete source information in the reference list.

Formatting an Essay in APA Style

Headers and page numbers

In APA style, the header Information that appears at the very top of a page and may appear on subsequent pages of a work. appears on each page. In student papers, it includes only a page number, placed flush with the right-hand margin. (Examples will follow in the next section.)

APA Headers

Cover pages

APA style requires the use of a cover page A page that comes before an essay or article and contains basic information about the work, including its title and author. The format of a cover page (also called the title page) will vary depending on the style guide in use. . The cover page should include the title of your essay, your full name, the course name and number, the name of the instructor, and the the date, all double-spaced and centered on the page. It should also include your header, as described above. (Some colleges and/or classes require additional or different information on the cover page; again, if you are unsure, be sure to visit your writing center or ask your instructor.)

APA Cover Page

Below is an example of an APA cover page:

Below is an example of the first page of content in an APA paper:

Note the title, "College to Career," is in bold font.

Margins, font, and spacing

APA has specific requirements with respect to margins, font A set of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks that are the same style. Examples: Times New Roman and Arial are fonts. , and line spacing The vertical distance between lines of text on a page. The most common types of spacing are single and double. . Set one-inch margins on all sides. Use a consistent and accessible font that is legible and includes commonly used special characters. If you are ever in doubt as to which font to use, ask your instructor. Whichever font you choose, remain consistent throughout your essay. Your essay should always be double-spaced throughout. Indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the margin. Use only one space after all end punctuation The punctuation at the end of a sentence, which can be a period, a question mark, or an exclamation point. The end punctuation helps define the tone and meaning of a sentence. Notice the difference in tone in these examples: Someone ate my last cookie! (I'm really mad about that.) Someone ate my last cookie. (Oh well, I wasn't hungry anyway.) Someone ate my last cookie? (I'm not sure I even had another cookie.) .

APA Margins, Font, and Spacing

Look online to see samples of a properly formatted APA essay.

Punctuating and Formatting In-text Citations

Here are the guidelines for using in-text citations when using APA style.

  • For every in-text reference, provide the author's name (or the work's title if there is no author) and the date of publication.
  • In cases where a particular part of a source is cited, include the author's last name, the date of publication, and the location (page number, chapter number or name, time stamp, etc.).

Evan's work has been characterized as "masterful, but distinctly odd" (Thomas, 2011, p. 45).

"(Thomas, 2011, p. 45)" is the in-text citation with the author, year of publication, and page number.

  • If the author's name is mentioned in the attributive phrase A short introduction to source material that identifies the author and often the title of a work that will be quoted or discussed in an essay or research paper. , the year of publication should follow the author's name in parentheses. In this case, only the page number appears in the parenthetical in-text citation.

Thomas (2011) characterizes Evan's work as "masterful, but distinctly odd" (p. 45).

"Thomas...characterizes" is the attributive phrase with the author's name. "(2011)" is the year of publication. "(p. 45)" is the page number.

  • There are occasions when all pertinent information is included in the attributive phrase. In these cases, a parenthetical citation is not used.

On page 45, Thomas (2011) describes Evan's work as "masterful, but distinctly odd."

"On page 45, Thomas (2011) describes" is the attributive phrase with the author's name, page number, and year of publication. An in-text citation is not needed in this case.

There will be times when all the information for a citation is not available--for example, websites do not always list dates and usually do not include page numbers, sources are sometimes published without authors, and so on. If you cannot obtain all the required information on a source, provide as much information as you can in order to allow readers to find your source.

Here is an example of how to cite a web source without page numbers. In this example, the time stamp from a news video is used to locate the quotation:

According to a recent study, "more than seventy-five percent of payday loans are to people taking out new loans to cover the original one" (CNN, 2014, 2:15-2:20).

"According to a recent study" is the attributive phrase with the year of publication. "(CNN, 2014, 2:15-2:20)" is the source with the time stamp from the news video when the quote occurs.

Here are some more specific requirements with respect to the punctuation Marks such as such as a comma (,), period (.), question mark (?), and exclamation mark (!), among others, that help break a writing into phrases, clauses, and sentences. Different types of punctuation marks give the reader different impressions of the writer’s purpose in that sentence. and format of APA in-text citations:

  • The in-text citation goes inside the end punctuation. Remember that the in-text citation is part of the sentence in which the source material Information that is quoted or paraphrased from outside works, such as journal articles, online documents, and books. is used, so it must be included in the sentence by placing the period after the parentheses.
  • When citing a quotation An exact copy of the words from a speech or text. These words are placed inside quotation marks to show that they are a perfect repeat of the original. , both the in-text citation and end punctuation go outside the closing quotation marks A set of single or double inverted commas (' ' or " ") that are placed around a word or passage to mark the beginning and end of a direct quotation or a title. . If the quoted material includes an ending period, place it after the in-text citation. This is one of the few instances in which end punctuation goes outside the quotation marks.
  • Indent, by 0.5 inches, entire quotations that exceed forty words (however, do not indent the attributive phrase).
  • In block quotations A copy of a long section of a text or speech, set off from the rest of a text. Block quotations, like direct quotations, are exact repeats of wording, but because of their length they are indented or printed in a different font rather than placed inside quotation marks. , the in-text citation goes outside the end punctuation.

Reference List

APA style requires a list of sources at the end of the work. Here are the guidelines for formatting a reference list.

  • The reference list should be double-spaced, and in the same font as the rest of the essay. Do not use bold font, do not underline any words, and do not resize the font in any way.
  • The reference list should always begin a new page. The title—"References"—should be centered and bold, but not underlined or enclosed in quotes. (Note: if there is only one source, the list should be titled "Reference.")
  • Individual citations must be arranged alphabetically by author's last name. If you have more than one article or work from the same author, list the entries chronologically, from the oldest to the most recent.
  • Each full citation should have a hanging indent, which means that the first line should be on the left margin and all following lines indented by .5 inches.
  • Author(s) (listed by last name then initials)
  • Year of publication
  • Title of work (chapter, article, web page, etc.)
  • Title of larger work, if applicable (book, newspaper, journal, magazine, website, etc.) in italics
  • Page numbers, when applicable
  • Publisher's name, when applicable
  • For online sources, include either the "doi" (direct object identifier), if included in the source's bibliographic information, or the URL.

Note the title is "References" and is in bold face font. The citations are listed in alphabetical order, and each citation has a hanging indent.

You will encounter various situations over the course of your academic career in which you will be required to provide work with properly cited references. For example, imagine that your psychology instructor assigns an essay requiring evidentiary sources Specific media, such as journal articles, newspapers, and research studies that provide the support for claims or viewpoints expressed in an essay and help convince readers that an argument has merit. Evidentiary sources may provide facts and statistics, expert opinions, or anecdotal evidence. . This will require you to research and compile a list of citations for your sources. As you are writing, you will incorporate in-text citations into your essay. Another scenario in which you will need to provide in-text citations and a reference list is when you are asked to write an essay to support your findings in a science lab. While this essay should be based upon your own experiential evidence in the lab, you will need to do research to provide additional support for your findings.

Any time you use the ideas A thought, opinion, or impression. , arguments A set of statements or reasons making a case for or against something. , theories In science, a well tested and widely accepted explanation for a phenomenon. Theories incorporate facts, observations, experiments, laws, and careful reasoning. In more general usage, theory may merely mean an unproven idea, speculation, or guesswork. , or words of another writer, you must provide correct and properly formatted citations. Be sure to check with your instructors regarding what style they prefer for formatting any essay you are assigned.

Exercise 1:  APA In-text Citations

This section provides five examples demonstrating incorrect punctuation and format for in-text citations in APA style. As you read, notice the errors and how they should be corrected.

  • Marciano (2007) challenges fellow educators to present to students "the other side of history" that "rarely makes it into schools, textbooks, and mass media" (Marciano, 2007).

This sentence contains one error. Since the author's name and the year of publication are given in the attributive phrase, and a particular passage is quoted, the in-text citation should include the page number rather than the author's name and year.

Correction: Marciano (2007) challenges fellow educators to present to students "the other side of history" that "rarely makes it into schools, textbooks, and mass media" (p. 598).

  • In The Future Is Up to Us, Peery claims that the U.S. is "by far the most ideological nation on earth" (2002, pg. 235).

This sentence contains three errors. First, the name of the book should appear in italics. Second, the year of publication should appear in parentheses after the author's name when the author's name appears in the attributive phrase. Third, the correct APA page number abbreviation is "p." not "pg."

Correction: In The Future Is Up to Us , Peery (2002) claims that the U.S. is "by far the most ideological nation on earth" (p. 235).  

  • Arguably, fascist propaganda became more prevalent in U.S. society during the Cold War: "As we know, fascist agitation has by now come to be a profession, as it were, a livelihood. It had plenty of time to test the effectiveness of its various appeals and, through what might be called natural selection, only the most catchy ones have survived" (Adorno, 1951, p. 148).

This sentence contains two errors. Quotations over forty words should be formatted as block quotations, with the entire quotation being indented by one-half inch and without using quotation marks. Second, if the quotation is formatted as a block quotation, the period is placed before the parenthetical citation.

Correction: Arguably, fascist propaganda became more prevalent in U.S. society during the Cold War:

  • During the early years of ecology as a field of study, scientists looked to communities of organisms to help them explain human behavior (Mitman; The State of Nature 2003; 352).

This sentence contains three errors. An APA in-text citation does not require the title of the source. Also, commas are used in in-text citations rather than semicolons, and "p." should precede the page number.

Correction: During the early years of ecology as a field of study, scientists looked to communities of organisms to help them explain human behavior (Mitman, 2003, p. 352).

  • In the 1950s, anti-union campaigns developed as a reaction to strong union participation in the 1930s and 1940s (Phillips & Fein).

This in-text citation is missing at least one key piece of information: the year of publication. If the citation refers to a complete work, as opposed to a particular page in the work, it would be correct to include only the author(s) and year of publication. If it refers to a particular page, it should include the page number (if available, and preceded by "p."), as well.   

Correction: In the 1950s, anti-union campaigns developed as a reaction to strong union participation in the 1930s and 1940s (Phillips & Fein, 2013, p. 503).

Exercise 1: APA In-text Citations

This section provides five examples of in-text citations in APA style. Now it's your turn to determine if the examples have been properly punctuated and formatted. Identify the errors, if any, and correct the in-text citation accordingly.

  • The Sabhnanis, Hindu Sindhi immigrants from India, own a perfumery that they run out of their home. They have been incarcerated for their abuses of Samirah and Enung (Konigsberg; page 320; 2008).

This in-text citation contains three errors. The punctuation mark used after "Konigsberg" should be a comma, not a semicolon; the page number should appear after the year of publication, not before it, and be preceded by "p." not "page."

Correction: The Sabhnanis, Hindu Sindhi immigrants from India, own a perfumery that they run out of their home. They have been incarcerated for their abuses of Samirah and Enung (Konigsberg, 2008, p. 320).

  • While slaves in the early Americas generally were limited to those from Africa, today the overwhelming majority of the 12.3 million ("U.N. and Partners") migrant domestic workers forced into labor are women and girls from a variety of second- and third-world countries.

This citation includes three errors. The citation is in the wrong place. The United Nations is the author, not the title of the work and should not be in quotation marks. Also, the writer left out the year of publication. (Because the citation refers to a complete study, rather than a quote or paraphrase, no specific page number is required.)

Correction: While slaves in the early Americas generally were limited to those from Africa, today the overwhelming majority of the 12.3 million migrant domestic workers forced into labor are women and girls from a variety of second- and third-world countries (United Nations, 2007).

  • According to two online sources, the Involuntary Domestic Servitude Report from the U.S. Department of State (2010), as well as the U.S. Department of State's 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report , domestic workers typically work without contracts or legal protection.

The year of publication is included in the attributive phrase introducing the first work, and is part of the title of the second source. Page numbers aren't required when summarizing a source.

No correction necessary.

  • With difficulty, she found help to leave this terrible situation and start her life over (Montouvalou 35).

This citation is not complete. Assuming it refers to a particular page in the source, it must contain the author's name, the year of publication, and the page number, all separated by commas. The page number should be indicated by the abbreviation "p."

Correction: With difficulty, she found help to leave this terrible situation and start her life over (Montouvalou, 2013, p. 35).

  • Smith and Donnerstein argue that "young children are less able to distinguish fantasy from reality, or to draw appropriate inferences from a violent story line, than are older children and adults." ("Harmful effects of exposure to media violence").

This citation contains four errors. The year of publication should follow the authors' names in the sentence. The name of the article in parentheses is not necessary because the reader will learn what article by Smith and Donnerstein is referenced by consulting the reference list. Since the reference is a quotation, the page number should be included. Finally, the period should not appear at the end of the quote, but only after the closing parenthesis.

Correction: Smith and Donnerstein (2008) argue that "young children are less able to distinguish fantasy from reality, or to draw appropriate inferences from a violent story line, than are older children and adults" (p. 286).

Sample Answer

It is important to correctly format my essays because instructors expect this of their students. Plus, if I turn in properly formatted essays, my instructors will know that I have made an effort to follow their guidelines, so it will probably positively impact my grade and reflect well on the quality of my work.

Neither the in-text citation information nor the reference list provide enough information regarding your sources by themselves. In-text citations and the reference list work together to allow you to write a smooth and cohesive essay (rather than one that is broken up by full citations), provide the details required by APA style, and enable your readers to locate any of your sources.

This lesson follows the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual , published in 2019. Check the APA Publication Manual for updates.

Copyright ©2022 The NROC Project


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