APA Format Writing Guidelines: Citing Sources

Updated on March 15, 2017

It's All About Documenting

In this guide I will often refer to the APA Manual. The link to the manual is below.

Why document?

  • Enables the reader to identify your sources and judge the quality of your work.
  • Encourages the reader to retrieve and read the articles or books you cite.

What needs to be documented?

  • Direct quotes.
  • Paraphrases of material from your sources.
  • Judgments or original insights from others.
  • Illustrations, tables, charts from your sources.

How to document:

  • Use the American Psychological Association (APA) style, 2010, 6th edition.
  • Follow this method of documentation consistently throughout your paper.
  • The preferred typeface is 12 point Times New Roman or 12 point Courier.
  • See sample papers in the APA manual, pages 41-59.
  • Use of headings and subheadings, see pages 62-63.
  • Citing references in text, see pages 174-179.
  • Citing references in reference list, see pages 180-224.
  • For more information, see the APA website: http://www.apastyle.org


1. Citation of references in the text of the paper

a. Work by a single author

Parenthetical reference
In a recent study (Fido, 2009) on the benefits of pet therapy…

b. Personal Communication

Cite personal communication in the text only; personal communications are not included on the reference list. Provide exact date of communication. (See APA Manual, page 179)

According to Eickhoff (personal communication, November 15, 2014) nurses must provide culturally sensitive care at end-of-life for children.

c. Direct Quotes (see APA Manual pages 170-172)

Include author, year and page number for any material directly quoted from a source. The following are some examples:

“Whatever you can do to stay positive and motivated about your school experience will help you feel less stressed overall” (Dunham, 2008, p. 49).

According to Dunham (2008) “Whatever you can do to stay positive and motivated about your school experience will help you feel less stressed overall” (p. 49).

2. Citation of references in the reference list

  • All references cited in your paper must appear on the reference list.
  • The reference list should be double spaced.
  • The first line of each reference is set flush to the left and each subsequent line is indented 5 spaces.
  • Arrange entries in alphabetical order by surname of first author.
  • The name of a journal and the volume are placed in italics.
  • The name of a book is placed in italics and all lower case.

Example of References Page

References / Works Cited

a. journal article (see page 199)

Gary, K. (2014). Transforming the world of nursing: The North Memorial Model of Care. Advances in Nursing Science, 22 (11), 36 – 42.

Pool, A., & Soucy, E. (2013). The art and science of emergency nursing care.

Journal of Emergency Nursing, 33(10), 44- 56.

b. book (see page 202)

Dunham, K. (2008). How to survive & maybe even love nursing school.

Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.

c. edited book (see page 202)

Huebscher, B., &Wiklund, D. (Eds.). (2011). The comprehensive guide to neonatal nursing. St. Louis: Mosby.3

d. chapter in a book (see page 204)

Barnett, M., & Bird, S. (2012). The heart and science of cardiac nursing. In K. Dunlap

& M. Frisvold (Eds.), Foundations of nursing care (pp. 51-87). St. Louis: Mosby.

APA Format Video Guide

Essay Writing Guide



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