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How To...: APA Style

This guide offers all GNTC users How To guides on Citing Sources, Evaluating Sources, and Researching, as well as using GALILEO, LibGuides, and Web Safari.

APA Style

Welcome to the Guide on APA Style!

This guide will not provide an intensive look into APA, but it will give a basic idea of what an APA citation should look like and some of the basic formatting of an APA style paper. The information for this guide will come primarily from the APA Publication Manual and OWL at Purdue. Proper citations will be listed within the guide.

Note: You as a student are responsible for your APA citations--while this guide represents the style as accurately as possible at the time of completion, it is best to refer to the most recent APA style manual to ensure accuracy.

What is APA?

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. The APA style of research papers does not limit itself to the psychology field, though. It is used by a variety of subjects, particularly those in the behavioral and social sciences. Instructors may specify which style they would like their class to use; if not, make sure to ask!

The APA Style is a style of formatting research papers. It provides a standard for writers and for readers so that they know what to expect when reading a paper with that format. Every APA style paper should have the same style of heading, same title and abstract, references page, and page numbers. Additionally APA papers follow the same basic formula of organization. It has its own standards for punctuation, spelling, capitalization and more. For full details on the formatting side of APA, look at the Publication Manual.

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APA Style In-Text Citations

APA Style In-Text Citations

This section will cover how to create in-text citations for the most common situations. For how to cite materials outside of what is offered below, please consult the APA style Publication Manual, speak to a librarian, or speak to your instructor for individualized help. OWL at Purdue also offers citation information for a variety of sources.

In-text Citations

In-text citations are the same for the majority of materials. Always include the author and year of publication; when quoting directly, include page numbers.

To cite a single work by a single author, there are two methods for including the citation within the text. The first is by having both the author's last name and the year of publication in parentheses. The second is having the name within the text and the date within parentheses or offset by a comma.


"The author-date method of citation requires that the surname of the author (do not include suffixes such as Jr.) and the year of publication be inserted in the text at the appropriate point" (American Psychological Assoication, 2010, p. 174).

The American Psychological Assoication (2010) writes that "the author-date method of citation requires that the surname of the author (do not include suffixes such as Jr.) and the year of publication be inserted in the text at the appropriate point" (p. 174).

To cite a single work by multiple authors, follow the same basic pattern. The names can go within parentheses with the year, or they can go in the text as illustrated above. The difference comes in how the names are listed. With two authors, list both names each time. For three or more, list all for the first time, and then subsequent times, list the first author's name followed by et al. (APA, 2010).


"In crimes of violence and in burglary, the scene of the crimes may be the most important aspect of the investigation" (Nickell and Fischer, 1999, p. 23).

Shusta, Levine, Harris, and Wong (2002) "present practical reasons why officers should have an understanding of the cultural backgrounds of the groups they commonly encounter" (p. 3).

Because "the United States, compared to virtually all other nations, has experienced unparalleled growth in its multicultural population," it is important to focus on the relationships between culture and crimes (Shusta et al., 2002, p. 4).

To cite two or more works by separate authors, it should still be in author-date style. Place the citations in alphabetical order by the first listed author's last name.


Racial discrimination and profiling are still evident in the United States, and when officers are not aware of this, it can lead to defense lawyers using real or conceived racial tension to try and turn the case, such as in the O. J. Simpson case (Nickell and Fischer, 1999; Shusta et al., 2002).

To cite two or more works by the same author, simply list the dates in chronological order.


A common theme in the stories of Charles Dickens is the ability of his characters to overcome the difficult life they begin in. Pip gets entangled with criminals, but survives it to get married and earn a good job; Oliver starts as an orphan only to be found by distant relatives that are eager to take care of him (Dickens, 1985, 1998).

To cite a work without an author, use the title or a shortened version of a long title along with the date.


"Long-term memory has an enormous capacity. It includes all the facts and knowledge that we accumulate throughout our entire lives-from the rules of English grammar to the lyrics of a favorite song" ("Learning and Memory", n.d.).

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APA Style Reference Citations

APA Style Reference Citations

This section covers how to create reference citations for the three main resources. For how to cite materials besides books, articles, and websites, please consult the APA style Publication Manual, speak to a librarian, or speak to your instructor for individualized help. OWL at Purdue also offers citation information for a variety of sources.

Reference Pages

References pages change slightly depending on the type of material being cited. In all cases, the author's last name is listed first and initials are used instead of first names. Editors are located in the author information, but with "ed." or "eds." in parentheses after it. The date of publication follows the author's name, and then the title followed by the publication information. The reference page is put in alphabetical order according to the first listed author's last name.


Information specific to books: book titles are italicized; chapter titles are left plain, without italics or quotation marks. Edition information is put in parentheses after the title without punctuation between.

Book template:
Author, A. A. (Date). Title. Location: Publisher.

Books written by a company have the entire name spelled out. Books with the same publisher as author should have "author" in place of the publisher's name.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Books with the same author should go in order by publication date


Dickens, C. (1985). Oliver Twist. New York: Penguin.
Dickens, C. (1998). Great Expectations. New York: Tor.

Books with multiple authors include up to seven names and use the "&" sign instead of the word. If there are more than seven authors, list the first six names and then add "..." (ellipsis points) and add the last author's name.


Nickell, J. & Fischer, J. F. (1999). Crime science: Methods of forensic detection. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.

Shusta, R. M., Levine, D. R., Harris, P. R., Wong, H. Z. (2002). Multicultural law enforcement: strategies for peacekeeping in a diverse society (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.


Information specific to print (physical) articles: titles are left plain, without italics or quotation marks. The periodicals the article came from (journals, newsletters, newspapers, or magazines) have italicized titles with first letters of most words capitalized. Volume numbers follow the periodical title and are italicized. Issue numbers are not italicized and are placed in parentheses beside volume numbers. Page numbers must include entire article.

Information specific to online articles from databases or online journals: include a URL (uniform resource locator), or if possible a digital object identifier (DOI). No date of retrieval is necessary, unless information is subject to change, such as a wikipedia article (APA 2011). If accessing from a database, such as GALILEO, to give a URL, find the journal's website if possible and link to that URL.

Print Article Template:
Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year, season/month/date). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number (issue number), page numbers.

Online Article Template:
Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year, season/month/date). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number (issue number), page numbers. Retrieved from URL OR, if available doi:xx.xxxxxxxxxx.

Print article from a magazine.


Woodbridge, K. (2011, December). Make your own small-business facebook page., 29(12), 29-32.

Print article from a journal.


Nelson, R. (2011, November). AJN reports: Childhood vaccinations. American Journal of Nursing, 111(11), 19-20.

Print article from a newspaper.


Fram, A. (2011, November 18). Congress approves bill averting weekend government shutdown. Chattanooga Times Free Press, 142(339), p. A6.

Online article from a magazine.


Harbert, T. (2011, November 21). IT's age problem. Computerworld. Retrieved from

Online article from a journal.


Turale, S. (2011, September). Preparing nurses for the 21st century: Reflecting on nursing shortages and other challenges in practice and education. Nursing and Health Sciences, 13(3), 229-231. doi:10.1111/j.1442-2018.2011.00638.x.

Online article from a newspaper.


Taylor, A. (2011, November 22). Debt panel's demise sets up partisan wrangling. Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved from


Information specific to websites: When referring to an entire website, simply put the URL in parentheses in the text. When citing specific information from a website, use in-text citations and include an entry on the references page.

Website template:
Author, A. A. (Year). Page title. Website title. Retrieved from URL.

Website page


Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., ... Keck, R. (2011, May 10). Reference list: Electronic sources (Web publications). Purdue University Online Writing Lab. Retrieved from

Website page from database


Learning and Memory (n.d.). The Human Body: How It Works Online. Retrieved from

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APA Style Formatting

APA Style Formatting


Aside from having its own method for creating citations, the APA Style has specific requirements for formatting papers so that each paper looks similar and is easy to read. Below are some basic instructions for formatting an APA style paper. Please note that your instructor may not require some elements be in APA formatting (such as the title and author information on the title page).

Elements of an APA paper

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Footnotes (when necessary)
  • Appendices (when necessary)

Title Page
The title page is the first page of a paper. It is numbered 1 and has the title centered in the upper half of the page. The title is followed by the author's first name, middle initial, and last name. Underneath the author's name is their institutional affiliation. In this case, it would be Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

Many instructors will not require a title page. In this case, if they ask for APA style, double check how they want title created--it may simply be justified to the left or to the right and include your name, the date, the instructor's name, the class, and then the title centered. Always check on this if it is not specified!

An abstract is a summary of what the paper will contain. Many times, when searching GALILEO for articles, abstract is available and reading it can help determine if the content will be useful without reading the entire article. When an instructor asks for an abstract, make sure that it briefly covers the main points in no more than a paragraph. The abstract traditionally gets its own page, which is numbered 2 and has the title "Abstract" above it.

The introduction is the introduction of the paper. It should include the thesis and identify what problem or idea the paper is addressing. It will briefly describe how you intend to resolve the problem or explore the topic you are presenting. It does not receive a heading or title, and is placed at the beginning of the paper on the third page (when the title and abstract pages are present). Every paper, no matter the format, should include an introduction.

The method section of an APA paper is where readers are informed of the method used in conducting research. This is important for papers where experimentation, surveys, and other studies are conducted. This information allows the reader to evaluate your process and determine for themselves whether or not it is reliable. This section is labeled "Method" but does not receive a new page. If conducting a research paper that does not require a study or experiment, this part is the beginning of the body of the paper.

The results section receives a heading of "Results" but does not receive a new page. In a paper that requires an experiment, survey, or study, this is where the results are given. This is, for the most part, a summary of the data. Do not include raw statistics or individual answers. Do ensure that all results are accounted for, even unexpected results or ones that go against your original expectations. In a paper that is not conducting a study, this would be a continuation of the body.

The discussion section is an opportunity to talk about the sources have read in comparison to the data gathered in your paper. This section receives the heading "Discussion" and does not receive a new page. This is also an opportunity for explanation of your interpretation of the results. While it is somewhat subjective, the interpretation needs to be backed up by the results of the data. Take into account and counter any weakness in the study or research. This is the conclusion of the paper, so explain why the paper was important and where to go from that point.

The references section begins on a new page with the title "References" centered. Include the information from the APA Style Reference Citations. Each entry should be in alphabetical order by the author's last name. The first line should be all the way to the left, while any additional lines are indented (called a "hanging indent").

Footnotes are used to provide additional information that was too long to be included in the main paper or information concerning copyrights of materials used that are longer than necessary for a typical in-text citation. In the average paper for GNTC, a footnotes page will not be necessary.

The appendices pages or appendix page allow for significant amounts of additional information. There may be multiple appendices, and they receive a letter as the title if there are more than one. For example: Appendix A, Appendix B, and Appendix C. If there is only one, it is simply named "Appendix". Frequently, this is where tables, equations, or figures would go instead of being placed in the main paper, or in addition to. Appendices receive a new page and are numbered with the rest of the paper. Much like footnotes, in general, this will not be required.

Appearance of an APA Style Paper

Running Head
APA papers all have a running head. This is an abbreviated version of a long title, or all of a short title. It is on every page of an APA style paper and can be no longer than 50 characters. It is kept in all upper case. On the first page (title page), it has the words "Running head", on following pages, it is just the title. Use the "header" function in the word processor to keep the header the same for all pages. For example:

Title page

Abstract and following pages

APA papers are typically written using Times New Roman in 12 point font.

APA asks for double spacing for lines in every page, including title and references.

Paragraph Indentations
APA requires new paragraphs, except for the abstracts, titles and headings, and block quotations, to be indented by a single tab key.

Page Numbers
Pages are numbered consecutively starting with the title page and ending with the last page of either the references or the appendices if included. Use the "header" and "page number" functions in the word processor to obtain the page numbers rather than doing it by hand.

The APA requires sections to have headings in varying font styles. There are the major headings (Method, Results, and Discussion), and then there are sublevel headings, which are subsections individual to each paper. The abstract and references pages do not have bolded headings but are centered.

The Heading Levels

  • Method
    • Subsection 1
    • Subsection 1
      • Subsection 2
      • Subsection 2

For some excellent examples of APA Style papers, come to the library and look at the Publication Manual or visit the OWL at Purdue website!

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Subject Guide

Useful Links

References & Further Information

References & Further Information

Look here for the books, websites, and articles consulted when creating these resources. These are also excellent places to find more information on this topic.

  • American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: Author.
  • Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from
Georgia Northwestern Technical College is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia, and an Equal Opportunity Institution.