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Citing sources in APA style 6th ed.

Crediting sources and formatting references according to the style of the American Psychological Association (APA). Based on the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the APA.


At the end of a paper or publication the reference list is included. Here you find references of all of the publications that are cited in the text. Do not include references of publications that are not cited in the text. The reference list is named "Reference list" or "References". The references are arranged in alphabetical order. Please note however: never change the order of author names within a reference! The rules for sorting the references you find in the next box.

Some basic rules for the reference list:

  • Start the first line of a reference at the left margin, but indent the next line(s) of a reference a few positions to the right (hanging indent).
  • If there is no year, use (n.d.) instead of the year; this means: no date.
  • If there are seven authors, then list all seven. If there are more than seven authors, list the first six, then comma and  . . .  and list the last author.
  • Multiple editors of a book are formatted the same way as multiple authors.
  • In titles of books and articles use upper case only for the first word of the title and the first word of the subtitle. In titles of journals and serial works use upper case except for articles, prepositions, conjunction words,
  • Certain parts of a reference are given in italics (for instance the title of a book, the name and volume of a journal).
  • Do not use p. or pp. before the page numbers of journal articles or serial works unless you are dealing with a newspaper article. Before the page numbers in books use p. or pp.
  • Insert a space after each punctuation mark unless the punctuation mark is followed by another punctuation mark. An exception is the opening parenthesis: do not include a space after the opening parenthesis. Before the opening parenthesis insert a space even if a punctuation mark is placed there.

In the next part of this module you find reference examples for different publication types. Pay attention to punctuation, use of italics, parentheses and brackets and the use of upper and lower case. These are prescribed. Not all of the rules of the Publication manual with regard to references are given here. For complete information, please use the manual.


As said, the references are arranged in alphabetical order by the surname of the first author followed by his or her initials. Please note: never change the order of author names within a reference!

Use the following rules for special cases:

  • if references have the same first author, entries with one author precede multi-author entries.​

Kaufman, J. R. (2014).

Kaufman, J. R., & Cochran, D. F. (2012).

  • entries with the same first author but different second or third authors are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the second author or, if the second author is the same, the surname of the third author, and so on.

Kaufman, J. R., Jones, K., & Cochran, D. F. (2008).

Kaufman, J. R., & Wong, D. F. (2014).

  • references with the same author(s) are arranged by year of of publication, the earliest first.

Kaufman, J. R., & Jones, K. (2009).

Kaufman, J. R., & Jones, K. (2011).

  • references by the same author(s) and the same publication year are arranged alphabetically by title (excluding particles as A and The). Place lowercase letters (a, b, c, and so forth) immediately after the year.

Kaufman, J. R. (2010a). The control . . .

Kaufman, J. R. (2010b). Roles of . . .

  • references of authors with the same surname and different initials are arranged alphabetically by initials.

Eliot, A. L. (2014).

Eliot, G. E. (2010).