APA format for end references

APA format is the official style used by the American Psychological Association .

APA style is used primarily in the social sciences and communicates data in a concise style that precisely describes material, makes the relationship between ideas or data as clear as possible, is generally in the active voice, and utilizes the past tense. In addition to being scientific and precise, you must use bias-free and inclusive language when writing in APA style. Your role is to be objective, to be conscious of word choice, and to avoid discriminatory language.

View an official APA sample paper


The font should remain the same throughout the paper. Options include 11-point sans-serif fonts, such as Calibri or Arial, and 12-point serif fonts, such as Times New Roman. Ultimately, check with your instructors about their font preferences. All text, including block quotes and the references section, should be double spaced.


Margins should be 1 inch from top, bottom, right, and left edges of the paper.


The header includes only a page number at the top right-hand corner of the page. Student papers usually don’t require a running head , as seen in professional APA papers, unless requested by the instructor.

Title page

Title pages include the paper title (in bold) followed by an extra space, the author (your name), affiliation (department and college), course number and name, instructor, and due date.

View an example of a student title page


The body may be divided into sections and subsections; following the body is the reference section and any end materials such as appendices.

Crediting sources

Crediting sources ensures that students avoid plagiarism. Whenever you use words, facts, statistics, diagrams, charts, drawings, or ideas that are not your own within your paper, you must cite the source. Whether you quote, paraphrase, or summarize a single phrase or a whole chapter, you must acknowledge the original author no matter how much of the source you use or how often you use it.

In-text citations

In-text citations are included in the body of the paper. They identify the source by the author and its date of publication. Citations always correspond with an entry in the references section at the end of the paper. The two types of in-text citations, narrative and parenthetical, are shown below in the paraphrase and direct quotation examples.


Paraphrasing means summarizing relevant information from a source. This method of borrowing is more commonly used in APA papers than quotations because it allows a writer to maintain their objective voice and combine the source’s ideas with their own. Paraphrases are always cited both in the text of the paper and in the reference page.

Paraphrase example using the narrative citation method

The author’s last name is built into the sentence and the year of publication is shown in parentheses.

Rogers (1994) compared younger and older adults’ perceptions of economic stress.

Paraphrase example using the parenthetical citation method

The citation information is included at the end of the paraphrase in parenthesis.

In some instances, the hierarchical level at which employees worked significantly impacted their behavior in work groups (Mellers, Ortiz, & Smoot, 2006).

Direct quotations

Direct quotations are limited in APA style papers. Instead, you should paraphrase whenever possible to blend borrowed information with your context and voice. The APA Publication Manual, 7th Edition notes that a writer should use direct quotations “when reproducing an exact definition, when an author has said something memorably or succinctly, or when you want to respond to exact wording.” The author, years, and page number (or section identifier) is always paired with quoted material through the narrative or parenthetical citation format.

Short quotation example

This example uses the parenthetical in-text citation format.

In several double-blind experiments, "'the placebo effect' . . . disappeared when behaviors were studied in this manner" (Miele, 1993, p. 276).

Learn more about formatting block quotations of more than 40 words


Reference(s) section is included in every APA paper that contains cited sources. This section makes it possible for readers to retrieve the actual sources that you’ve cited throughout your paper. The format of a reference entry depends on the type of source it is. .

View a detailed explanation of the four elements of a reference

Reference example – Journal article with a DOI (APA Publication Manual, 7th Edition)

McCauley, S. M., & Christiansen, M. H. (2019). Language learning as language use: A cross-linguistic model of child language development. Psychological Review, 126(1), 1-51. http://doi.org/10.1037/rev0000126

Parenthetical citation: (McCauley & Christiansen, 2019)

Narrative citation: McCauley and Christiansen (2019)

View more examples of reference entries by various types of sources

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