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What Is a References Page?
In APA style a references page (also known as a reference list page) is a separate page at the end of your paper that includes all of the sources that you've cited throughout your paper. Usually it is a single page of references, alphabetized by author. It includes all of the essential information to guide the reader back to a specific source to find additional information.
For example, if you use information from a book written by a famous author, you must provide the author's full name, title of book, date of publication, and publisher. This way the reader can quickly go directly to the source if he is interested in obtaining additional information.
Sometimes you might hear students refer to a bibliography page. A bibliography page is similar to a references page—the exception, of course, is that APA style specifically refers to it as a references page. In fact, you use the word "References" at the top of the page before you begin listing your sources. Even if your paper has only one source, the word "References" at the top of the page remains plural.
No matter what type of paper you are writing—a thesis paper, dissertation, or term paper—you will find yourself extracting research and information from print and online sources to support your own viewpoints and arguments in your paper.
Why Cite Sources?
To avoid plagiarism and to give proper credit to the originator of the information, you must take responsibility to cite every piece of information that you use in your paper. APA style has specific requirements for formatting various types of sources. In this article, I will focus on formatting print sources, such as books, magazines, journals, and articles.
Any source that you cite in the main text of your paper is called an in-text citation. An in-text citation is a brief reference marker in parenthesis that includes only the last name of the author and year. The full and complete information of each in-text citation is listed on the references page. Thus, only when you use an in-text citation do you add the complete information to the references page.
Before we learn how to format different print sources, let me give you an example of an in-text citation and how it relates to the references page. This will give you a visual understanding of how APA style wants you to cite sources.
Do you notice the in-text citation? If not, I pointed a big red arrow to it. :) Because this writer is paraphrasing unique information from three authors of a journal article, he must cite the authors as the source of the information.
Listing a Reference
The above image is a snapshot of the references page (at least the beginning of one since your paper will have many more references). Do you see how the in-text citation in the main text corresponds to the full source on a separate references page, and the reason why? To keep your paper coherent and readable, APA style avoids stuffing all of the bibliographic details for every citation in the main text of the paper. A separate page (i.e., the references page) at the end of the paper packages all of the details of every citation neatly and alphabetically on one or more pages.
(If you do not know how to set up a new paper, read my other article, "Format a New Paper in APA Style" for instructions.)
I will now show you how to format print sources for your references page. At the end I will show you what a completed references page looks like. Lastly, I will tell you the mechanics, such as margins, typeface, spacing, and all the boring stuff. :)
Citing an Article Source
To cite a source from an article published in a print journal, list the author’s last name, first name, publication year in parenthesis (month and year only), title of article (if applicable), title of source (in italics), and page numbers, such as:
Adding a Vol. Number and Issue Number
It is common that you will also need to provide the volume number and issue number of the publication because readers will appreciate this extra information. Add the volume number (italicized) after the name of the publication (separated by a comma), followed by the page number(s). To add the issue number as well, enclose the issue number in parenthesis (in plain text) next to the volume number (without a space), as in this example:
Citing a Book Source
When citing a book, you follow the same formatting as for articles, but you'll need to list the book title in italics and the location of the publisher, as well as the publisher’s name, in standard text. You do not need to list page numbers for a book citation, such as:
If the book has more than one author, simply add a comma with the "&" symbol and include the second author in the same format as the first author.
Citing a Graph Source
If you plan to use data from a printed graph or illustration in your paper, place the title of the graph in brackets after the publication date, such as:
Citing a Magazine Source
Formatting a source from a magazine article is similar to formatting a citation for an article published in a journal. The one difference is that you can include the month, day and year of publication (if available), whereas a journal article only requires the month and year.
Citing a Newspaper Source
When citing a source from a newspaper, you must add a “p.” to signify a single page number or a “pp.” to signify multiple page numbers when listing a newspaper article. If the entire article runs on separate pages, then use a comma to indicate discontinuous pages.
Citing a Review Source
You may choose to add a book review or product review as part of your sources list. If so, you just need to signify the fact that this source is a review of a book, meaning the actual book is not the source. List the fact that this is a review, along with the book or product that's being reviewed, inside square brackets, while also listing the publication in which the review appeared and the issue number of the publication (both in italics), followed by the page numbers. Also, be sure to start the paragraph with the name of the author of the review, rather than the author of the book, such as:
Formatting Your References Page
It is simple to layout and format your references page in APA Style, 6th edition. Follow my advice:
1. Use Times New Roman typeface, size 12pt.
2. Margins: 1 inch margins, left--right--top--bottom.
3. Type References (in plain text ) at the top and center it. (Do not bold-face or italicize it)
4. Your entire paper is double-spaced. Thus, your first reference is two lines below References.
5. Alphabetize. Based on the first entry in the references paragraph, which usually is an author's name, always alphabetize all listings. Alphabetize by 1) Author’s Last Name, 2) First Initial, and 3) Year of Publication.
6. Author names. When listing the author names, start with the last name, followed by the first name, or first initial, and middle initial. If you have between two and seven authors, list all of them, separated by commas, with an ampersand before the last author's name. If there are more than seven authors, list the first six authors of the source, followed by ellipses, and then the last author listed on the source. If different authors have the same Last Name and First Initial, enclose their First Names in brackets, such as Jones, T. [Timothy] and Jones, T. [Tara].
7. Date. Place the publication date in parenthesis, including the month and day if possible, such as: (2012, Jan. 1). If no date is available, place “n.d.” in parenthesis.
8. Publication year. If you have two sources from the same author in the same publication year, you'll want to make sure to mark the two years separately, so they can be distinguished easily using the in-text citation. Use a lowercase letter to distinguish the publication years for separate sources, such as: (2012a), (2012b), (2012c), etc.
9. Use hanging indentions on the references page only. Position the first line of the paragraph against the left margin and then indent subsequent lines of that paragraph by 0.5 inches.
10. Line spacing. Use double line spacing throughout your paper, including the references page.
The above shows the correct layout of a references page in APA style. Your references page will also have a running head (left) and page # (right), as shown below:
I welcome comments or corrections:
Chris on August 04, 2018:
Bold, or not bold? https://usercontent1.hubstatic.com/7257538_f520.jp...
JADE on December 30, 2014:
this was a big help than you very much i really needed help this page does help once again thank you very much'
Brian Scott (author) from United States on October 13, 2012:
Thanks for the positive comments! :)
Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on October 12, 2012:
A very well written hub. I have taught this as a MS Application Instructor, but not in detail as you did here. Even I have learned a thing or two I didn't know back then.
Your use of image makes it easier to grasp. Great info for those wanting to write their thesis or dissertation paper.
Voted up and useful. Sharing this.