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APA 7 referencing style: Referencing Guidelines

A guide to using the APA 7th edition referencing system for in-text citations and reference lists.

APA 7 Guiding Principles

These guiding principles will help you construct your in-text citations and full end-text reference list of sources across all format types. 

Go to our APA7 examples for specific common format types and explore the extensive format examples provided on the APA Style Blog.  

In-text citations - author and date

APA7 style requires that in-text citations consist of the author(s) and date, in brackets, with a comma in between, eg; (Smith, 2020).

 
Author
  • Use the surname/family name of the author(s).
  • Multiple authors:
Single author Two authors Three or more authors
Author's surname

Both author's surnames, in the same order as on the publication, separated by an ampersand ('&')

If using the author's name in your sentence (a "narrative reference") spell out the 'and'

List the first author's surname only, followed by "et al."
(Nguyen, 2020)

(Xi & Carson, 2019)

Salas and D'Agostino (2020) found...

(Martin et al., 2020)
  • Organisational or group author - if a company, organisation or group is the author, and no individual people are named, use the name of the organisation as the author. Write the name out in full the first time it appears, and include the abbreviation in square brackets.  In any later references to the same organisation, use the abbreviation. 
    • (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2020) in the first reference, then (NIMH, 2020) in subsequent references. 
  • For Government agencies - the most specific level appears in the in-text reference, (full details in the references list).
    • For example use 'National Institute of Nursing Research' as the author in-text rather than 'Department of Health and Human Services'
  • No author - Use a few words of the title in double quotation marks, and provide the date ("Title is", Year).  See APA missing information
  • If citing an author that is quoted or referred to in another publication see our advice for citing this as a secondary source.
 
Date
  • Use the year your reference was published, for example (Author, 2021) 
  • If no date, use "n.d.", for example, (Author, n.d.)
  • For items that have been accepted for publication but not yet published, use "in press".

 

Multiple references in the same location

If citing multiple items in the same point in your document, place in alphabetical order by first author's surname with a semicolon between them eg; (Barker & Atif, 2019;  Lai, 2019).

 

Use of page numbers in-text

Include a page number/s in your in-text reference where you are directly quoting. However it is best to paraphrase. Only quote if the original author's exact wording is definitely required. See this "Quotations" section of the APA Blog for guidance on when to use direct quotes and how to construct intext references from materials with and without page numbers.  

View our example text for a demonstration of the use of direct quotations and page numbers within an in-text reference. 

 

 

End-Text Reference list - author, date, title and source

The reference list contains enough information for the reader to locate the source you have referenced. See below for the basic information to include in all reference list entries and how they should be formatted, based on the APA Style Blog page Basic Principles of Reference List Entries and Elements of Reference List Entries. Refer to the examples to see exactly how these rules are applied.

 
Author - who is responsible for the work?
  • The author(s) may be a group or individual, and might be people who played other primary roles in creating the work, such as editors, directors of films or podcast hosts.
  • Group authors are common, look at the title page or cover for the correct spelling, and always spell out the names of group authors in full in the end-text reference list (they can be abbreviated in second and subsequent in-text citations as per instructions above).
  • Where layers of an organisation are listed, name the most specific agency as the author in the reference, and name the others in the Source element as the publisher (see examples)
  • Provide surnames and initials of first name(s). For references with up to 20 authors, list all authors, with an ampersand before the last author. If 21 or more authors, list the first 19, insert an ellipsis [...] then the last author's name, without an ampersand. (see examples)
 
Date - when was the work published?
  • Include the year of publication, and if more specific information is included (eg season, or month), include it after the year. For webpages, use the date it was last updated.
  • If a work has been accepted for publication but not yet published, enter "in press" instead of a year. However, if a work is unpublished, informally published or in progress, enter the year the work was produced.
  • Retrieval dates are only included if the work is unarchived and designed to change over time. Most online resources will not require a retrieval date when using APA referencing.
 
Title - what is the work called?
  • For books or other publications with a stand-alone title, this is used. For works that are part of a greater whole (eg a journal article or a book chapter), then also provide the name of the larger work, ie the journal or the book, respectively, as the source (see below).
  • Capitalisation - use sentence case for titles.
 
Source - where is the work available?
  • For works that are part of a greater whole (eg journal articles or book chapters), include the name of the larger work (ie the journal or the whole book) along with the DOI (preferred) or URL if it has one. 
  • For stand-alone works (eg whole books, reports, theses, films, datasets, social media, webpages) include the name of the publisher as well as the DOI (preferred) or URL if it has one.
  • The publisher's location is not required in APA7. However, if a work is associated with a particular place (such as an artwork in a museum or a conference presentation) then do include the location.
  • Only provide the name of the database if referring to original proprietary content, eg in UpToDate. 

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