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APA Style: APA Basics

An introduction to APA style for academic papers, based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th Edition.

APA style is the format used by publications of the American Psychological Association. Most papers written for classes in the social sciences use APA style; some instructors in other disciplines also prefer APA format.

An Introduction to APA Style

APA Style Basics

Page Layout

  • Double space throughout
  • Use one-inch margins on all sides
  • Font should be clear and readable, 11 or 12 pt. size depending on instructor requirements
  • Page numbers should appear in the right-hand corner of every page, half an inch from the top of the page

Elements of an APA Paper

Title Page

        Three or four lines from the top of the first page, center the following:

  • Title, using bold type and title case (capitalize first word and all important words)
  • Name of student
  • Department and college name
  • Course name and number
  • Name of instructor
  • Date of submission

         Note: Add an additional line space between the title and the student’s name

Text of the Paper

  • Center the title at the top of the first page of text using bold type and title case
  • Do not use a sub-heading for the introduction
  • Use appropriate sub-headings for major divisions in the text (see p. 8)

References List

  • Center the word References in bold at the top of the page
  • Use a hanging indent to format entries
  • List sources in alphabetical order by authors’ last names
  • Alphabetize unsigned sources by the first word of the title (except A, An, The)

Note on 7th Edition

         APA no longer recommends running heads or abstracts for student papers, but some instructors may still require them.


Using Source Material:

In-Text Citations

  • When you incorporate any information drawn from an outside source in your paper, you need to identify the source within your text in one of the following ways:
    1. Introduce the information with a signal phrase including the author’s last name and the year of publication.
      • According to Smith (2010) . . . or Smith (2010) reported . . .
    2. Follow the information with the author's last name and the year of publication in parentheses::
      • (Smith, 2010).
  •   For a direct quote, include the location (e.g., page number):
    • (Smith, 2010, p. 475).
  • For sources with two authors, include both authors’ names in the citation:​
    • Smith and Jones (2010) reported . . . or (Smith & Jones, 2010).
  • For a source with three or more authors, use the last name of the first author listed, followed by the abbreviation et al. (meaning “and others”):
    • Smith et al. (2010) reported . . . or (Smith et al., 2010)
  • For a source with an unknown author, use the first piece of information on the References entry for that source, usually the title. Long titles may be shortened to a few words. Use title case, and put article titles in quotation marks; use italics for book titles and other titles italicized on the References list:
    • According to “Latest Developments” (2019) . . . or
    • (“Latest Developments,” 2019)
  • For a source with no known publication date, use the initials n.d. where the year would appear:
    • According to Lopez and Rivera (n.d.), . . . or (Lopez & Rivera, n.d.).
  • To cite multiple sources, list alphabetically and separate with semi-colons:
    • (Brooks, 2017; Park & Schmidt, 2015; Weil, 2019).


Using Source Material:


When you use the author’s exact words, even for a short phrase, you must identify the material as a quote and include the exact location of the quote.

  • For sources with page numbers (e.g. print sources or pdf versions) use the page number:

(Terrell & Watson, 2018, p. 149)

  • For web pages without page numbers use the section heading or paragraph number:

(Olsen, 2017, When to Change section);

(Olsen, 2017, para. 2);

  • For videos, use the time stamp:

(Expert Vagabond, 2016, 1:04).

A direct quote of fewer than 40 words begins and ends with quotation marks and should be incorporated into the text:

Ablon (1971) stated that the wave of emigration from American Samoa began in 1951, when the U.S. Navy “closed the naval base at Pago Pago on the major island of Tutuila” (p. 71).

A direct quote of 40 words or more begins on a new line, is indented half an inch from the left-hand margin, and does not use quotation marks:

According to Ablon (1971), the population of American Samoa dropped dramatically as a result of a wave of emigration following the withdrawal of the Navy from Pago Pago in 1951:

Many Samoan naval personnel and their dependents were then moved to Honolulu and from there to the West Coast cities in the late 1950’s. Many of these naval personnel have since retired and their families have remained in California. Other Samoans who are currently in the various branches of the service are based in California cities where their wives and children establish homes and reside during their tours of duty. (p. 77)


To omit unnecessary wording within a quote, use an ellipsis; to add material within a quote, use brackets:

According to James (2017), “Dishonesty . . . is never [emphasis added] acceptable.”

Using Source Material:

References Page

The list of References begins on a new page. Center the title References in bold at the top of the page. The page should be double-spaced, and entries should use a hanging indent (the first line of each entry begins at the margin, but the second and all subsequent lines are indented an additional half inch.)

List the references in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names; alphabetize unsigned articles by the first word of the title (except for A, An, and The).

Each entry should contain the author, the date, the title, and the source.

Authors’ Names

List authors by last name, followed by a comma and the authors’ initials. For sources with two to twenty authors, include the names of all the authors, using an ampersand (&) before the final name:

Marcek, V. I., Lewis, M. J., & Han, H.

For sources with more than twenty authors, list the first nineteen names, followed by an ellipsis, followed by the final author’s name:

Abbot, A., Ross, L. B., Toma, J. J., Fresquez, M., French, P. F., Stoll, G. D., Schram, M., Eisen, I. F., Nelson, A. B., Tannen, B., Entwhistle, B. J., Tredwell, P. E., Thrisk, N. S., Fiorelli, G., Feldman, R. S., Stuyvesant, P., Southworth, R., Ellington, D., Nordyke, L. N., . . . Takahashi, M.


Place dates in parentheses after the authors’ names. For journal articles, use only the year; for other sources begin with the year, followed by a comma and the month and day.


Use sentence case capitalization for titles of works on the references list; that is, capitalize the first letter of the first word, the first word after a colon, and proper nouns. Use italics for titles of self-contained works (such as books, webpages, and plays).


The source for a self-contained work (such as a book) is the publisher. The source for a short work contained within a longer work (such as an article in a periodical) is usually the title and publication information for the longer work in which it appears. The source for a webpage is the name of the website, which should be written in title case without italics; omit the source if the name of the website is the same as the name of the author.

Sample References and In-Text Citations


Author’s last name, initial(s). (Year of publication). Title of book in italics. Publisher.

Book with One Author:

Macdonald, H. (2014). H is for hawk. Grove Press.

In-text citation: (Macdonald, 2014).

Book with Two Authors:

Owens, M., & Owens, D. (1984). Cry of the Kalahari. Houghton Mifflin.

In-text citation: (Owens & Owens, 1984).

Book with Three to Twenty Authors:

Dunne, P., Sibley, D., & Sutton, C. (2012). Hawks in flight: The flight identification of North American raptors. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

In-text citation: (Dunne et al., 2012).

       Book with an Editor:

Jung, C. G. (1953). The collected works of C. G. Jung (H. Read, M. Fordham, & G. Adler, Eds., Vol. 1). Pantheon Books.

       Chapter or Article in a Book or Entry from a Reference Book:

Storck, T. (1997). Censorship can be beneficial. In B. L. Stay (Ed.), Censorship: Opposing viewpoints (pp. 17-24). Greenhaven Press.

       Electronic Version of a Print Book:

Huxley, T. H. (2005) The advance of science in the last half-century. D. Appleton and Company. (Original work published 1889).


Author’s last name, First Initial., Middle Initial. (Publication date). Title of article. Title of Magazine or Journal, volume number(issue number), page numbers.

Journal Article in Print: (Include a DOI beginning with when available)

Merskey, H. (1996). Ethical issues in the search for repressed memories. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 50(3), 323-335.

Journal Article from an Academic Database: (Include a DOI beginning with when available; do not include a URL)

Ablon, J. (1971). The social organization of an urban Samoan community. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 27(1), 75-96.

Journal Article Online: (Include a DOI beginning with available; otherwise include a URL formatted as a hyperlink)

Bregant, J. (2014). Critical thinking in education: Why to avoid logical fallacies? Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 61, 18-27.

Magazine Article in Print:

Yeager, A. (2015, August 22). Maestros of learning and memory. Science News, 188(4), 18-21.

Magazine or Newspaper Article Online:

Olsen, P. (2017, September 4). 5 things to know about oil changes for your car. Consumer Reports.

Natanson, H. (2019, September 6). Forget what you may have been told. New study says strangers step in to help 90 percent of the The Washington Post.

Other Online Sources


Author’s Last Name, Initial. (year, month day). Title of document. Name of Website. URL formatted as a hyperlink

Munger, M. (2019, November 4). Starbucks too has surge pricing. American Institute for Economic Research.

Webpage with No Author Named:

Guideline for online shopping. (2018). Shop Online.

In-text citation: (Guideline for Online Shopping, 2018).

Webpage with Site Name Used as Author’s Name:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, January 24). Tuberculosis (TB) disease: Symptoms and risk factors.

YouTube Video:

Screen name. (year, month day). Title of video [Video]. YouTube. URL formatted as a hyperlink

Expert Vagabond. (2016, March 9). Mayan ruins of Coba – Mexico [Video]. YouTube.

Dictionary or Encyclopedia: (Include retrieval date if source is continuously updated)

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). dictionary. Retrieved February 13, 2020, from


Author. (year, month day). Up to the first 20 words of the post [Audiovisuals if present] [Tweet]. Twitter. url

The Colourblind Guy [@Osariik]. (2020, November 9). The magma chamber of the Yellowstone volcano is believed by scientists to be crystallized 

[Tweet]. Twitter.

Facebook Post:

Author. (year, month day). Title of post [Audiovisuals if present]. Facebook. url

US Forest Service. (2020, November 10). Mullen fire information [Image attached] [Status update]. Facebook.

Online Forum Post:

Author. (year, month day). Title of post [Online forum post]. Name of Site. url

Moneypenny, M. (2019, October 28). How do you identify a scam or phishing email message? [Online forum post]. Quora.

Content Generated by AI 

Notes on using AI:

  • When you incorporate any material generated by AI in your paper, you need to acknowledge it:
  1. Describe how you used AI in the introduction, methods, or other comparable section of your paper
  2. Include the prompt or the question you used in your AI chat before incorporating the resulting content in the paper
  • Follow the links to the sources provided by the AI tool you use to verify the credibility of the content and to identify the exact source of specific information or quotations. 
  • It is usually better to use the original source than the material generated by the AI tool.
  • Since your AI chats cannot be accessed by your reader, your instructor may require you to include the full text of any AI generated content as an appendix to your paper.

 AI References Entry:

Company responsible for the AI tool. (year of version). Name of the AI Tool (date of version) [other information about the AI tool]. URL of AI tool   

   OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model].

 AI In-text Citation:

When asked to summarize David Hume’s philosophy regarding inductive reasoning, ChatGPT indicated that Hume denied the validity of induction (OpenAI, 2023). According to OpenAI (2023), Hume believed that there is no rational basis for expecting future events to replicate past events.

Writing in APA Style


Abbreviations are used for:

  • Words that appear as word entries in the dictionary, such as ESP
  • Terms that are familiar to the reader as abbreviations; on first use write out the full term followed by the abbreviation in parentheses
  • Units of measurement accompanied by numerals: 18 kHz
  • Chemical compounds
  • Some units of time: hr (hour); min (minute); ms (millisecond); s (second)

Capitalizing Titles

APA uses two different styles of capitalization:

  • Title case: Capitalize the first word of the title, every important word thereafter (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs), and every word of four or more letters. Use for:
  • The title of your paper
  • Headings throughout your paper
  • The title of any work (book, article, name of website) used within the text of your paper, including in-text citations
  • Names of periodicals in the text of the paper and on the references list
  • Sentence-style case: Capitalize only the first word of the title, the first word after a colon, and proper nouns. Use on the References list for titles of works, including books, periodical articles, web pages, etc.


Use italics for:

  • Key terms used within the paper
  • Genus and species
  • Non-English words which do not appear in the dictionary and are likely to be unfamiliar to the reader
  • Letters used as statistical symbols or algebraic variables
  • Titles of self-contained works, such as books, magazines and journals, webpages, websites, plays, movies, tv series, etc.

Levels of Headings

  • Level 1: centered, bold, title case; text begins on next line as a new paragraph
  • Level 2: flush left, bold, title case; text begins on next line as a new paragraph
  • Level 3: flush left, bold italics, title case; text begins on next line as a new paragraph
  • Level 4: indented, bold, title case, ends with a period; text begins on same line
  • Level 5: indented, bold italics, title case, ends with a period; text begins on same line


  • Write out numbers from zero to nine, numbers at the beginning of a sentence, common fractions, and numbers in common expressions (e.g. twelve-step programs).
  • Use numerals for numbers 10 and above, numbers preceding units of measurement, numbers used in statistical or mathematical contexts, and numbers referring to time, dates, ages, scores, and sums of money.

Paraphrasing and Summarizing

Paraphrase or summarize source material whenever possible; that is, put the material in your own words. Always identify the source by name and date; locations (page, section or paragraph numbers) are not usually required for paraphrases and summaries.

Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks for:

  • Direct quotes under 40 words long
  • Titles of short works contained within a longer works, such as periodical articles, book chapters, reference book entries, tv episodes, songs/poems, etc., when these titles appear within the text of your paper, including in-text citations.

                        According to “10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s” (2020) . . .  

                        (“10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s,” 2020).

Verb Tense in Signal Phrases and Summaries

Use past tense verbs in signal phrases and summaries:

            Williams (2016) argued that . . .

            Williams (2016) stated, “No evidence of misconduct was presented” (p. 124).






Hoarding Disorder: What It Is, Who Is Affected, and How It Can Be Treated


Mary J. Moore

Psychology Department, Laramie County Community College

PSYC 1000: General Psychology

Professor Wiley

May 12, 2020


























Hoarding Disorder: What It Is, Who Is Affected, and How It Can Be Treated

             No one likes to think about neighbors, friends or loved ones living in the midst of excessive clutter, and, worse yet, being hurt because

they simply have too much stuff. But a number of unexpected risks are associated with hoarding disorder (HD), and more people live with the

disorder than most people realize.


            What is hoarding disorder? Wheaton et al. (2012) defined it as a compulsion to acquire goods combined with an inability to get rid of them,

to the extent that the hoarder’s use of their living space is impaired, and their functioning within that space is also impaired. The hoarder acquires

an abnormal quantity of goods in variety of ways; in one study a majority of women identified shopping as their primary means of accumulating

goods, “whereas men were more likely to report collecting free items and stealing” (Kress et al., 2016, p. 84).  Having acquired the items, the

hoarder refuses to get rid of them, often demonstrating an inability to distinguish between the valuable and the worthless, difficulty in decision

making, and a high level of anxiety or even grief when an object must be thrown away (Gilliam & Tolin, 2010). The hoarder fills up their living

space, sometimes to the extent that they must creep around the house on trails through stacks of furniture, appliances, boxes, papers, and

garbage; in extreme cases there is no longer room to perform everyday household functions (Gilliam & Tolin, 2010). 

HD as a Compulsive Disorder

             Because the person with HD feels a compulsion to acquire objects and is obsessively attached to them, the condition was formerly

considered a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD; “When Keeping,” 2011). It differs from OCD, however, in some important ways, mainly

in that people with OCD tend to be aware of their dysfunction, while people with HD commonly don’t feel that there is anything wrong with their

behavior (Gilliam & Tolin, 2010).




Frost, R., & Steketee, G. (2010). Stuff: Compulsive hoarding and the meaning of things. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Gilliam, C., & Tolin, D. (2010). Compulsive hoarding. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 74(2), 93-121. 


Kress, V. E., Stargell, N. A., Zoldan, C. A., & Pavlo, M. J.  (2016). Hoarding disorder: Diagnosis, assessment, and treatment. Journal of 

             Counseling & Development, 94, 83-90.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014). Diseases and conditions: Hoarding disorder. Mayo Clinic.


Neziroglu, F. (2015, July). Hoarding: The basics. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. understanding-

              anxiety/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/ hoarding-basics

Tolin, D. F., Fitch, K., Frost, R. O., & Steketee, G. (2010). Family informants’ perceptions of insight in compulsive hoarding. Cognitive

              Therapy & Research 34, 69-81.

Wheaton, M., Fabricant, L., Beman N., & Abramowitz, J. (2013). Experiential avoidance in individuals with hoarding disorder. Cognitive

              Therapy & Research, 37, 779-785.

When keeping stuff gets out of hand. (2011, November). Harvard Health Publishing.



Tables and Figures

A table consists of information, usually numeric, arranged in columns and rows. A figure may be a chart, a graph, or an illustration. Use the following style guidelines when placing a table or figure in a paper:

  • Above the table or figure at the left margin, type the word Table or Figure in bold type, followed by the number: e.g. Table 1
  • On a new line at the left margin, type the title of the table or figure in italics, using headline style capitalization: e.g. Response to Access to Healthcare Survey
  • Align the table or figure with the left margin
  • Include notes below the table or figure, containing explanatory material and source citations/copyright attribution as needed:
    • The word Note, followed by a period, should appear in italics under the table or figure, aligned with the left margin
    • Notes should be double spaced
    • Source citations should appear at the end of the note as follows:

Note. From "Title of Work," by A. A. Author and B. B. Author, Name of Publication, publication information, page number, (doi or url). Copyright date by copyright holder.

  • Sources cited in a note must also appear on the References list


1. Image from Website 

Figure 1

Exterior of a Coronavirus

Note. This illustration shows the spikes on the outer surface of a coronavirus, as seen through an electron microscope. From Coronavirus PHIL ID #23312, by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 10, 2020 ( In the public domain.

References Entry:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, February 10). Coronavirus PHIL IS #23312 [Illustration].

2. Image from Journal

Table 1

Crime-related Costs by Level of Education

Note. Values are in 2010 dollars, rounded to the nearest hundred. From "Accelerating Community College Graduation Rates: A Benefit-Cost Analysis," by H. M. Levin and E. Garcia, 2018, Journal of Higher Education 89(1), p. 14 ( Copyright 2018 by Taylor & Francis Ltd.

References Entry:

Levin, H. M., & Garcia, E. (2018). Accelerating community college graduation rates: A benefit-cost analysis. Journal of Higher Education 89(1), 1-27,

3. Image from Online Course Material

Figure 2

Diagram of External, Middle and Inner ear

Note. From "Clinical Specialties: Introduction to Audiology: External, Middle and Inner Ear (Layer 1)," by Primal Pictures, 2012, Anatomy TV, ( Copyright 2012 by Primal Pictures.

References Entry:

Primal Pictures. (2012). Clinical specialties: Introduction to audiology: External, middle and inner ear (layer 1) [Diagram]. Anatomy TV.

4. Image from Wikipedia

(Note: Copyright information refers to Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic License) 

Figure 3

Anatomy of the Human Ear

Note. From "Anatomy of the Human Ear," by L. Chittka & A. Brockmann, February 15, 2009, in Wikipedia ( CC by 2.5.

References Entry:

Chittka, L., & Brockmann, A. (2009, February 15). Anatomy of the human ear [Diagram]. In Wikipedia.

5. Untitled Image

Figure 4

Speech Pathologist Working With Child

Note. From [Photograph of Speech Pathologist and Child] by T. L. Marr, 2018, US Army ( In the public domain.

References Entry:

Marr, T. L. (2018). [Photograph of speech pathologist and child]. US Army.


Citing Social Media

Use the following References formats when citing original content from social media sites. The title may be the content of a post up to the first 20 words; if there are audiovisuals, their presence should be noted in brackets. Do not change spellings and capitalization from social media sources; replicate emojis when possible, or provide the name of the emoji in brackets.


Author. (date). Content of up to the first 20 words of the post [Description of audiovisuals] [Tweet]. Twitter. url.

The Colourblind Guy [@Osariik]. (2020, November 9). The magma chamber of the Yellowstone volcano is believed by scientists to be crystallized [Tweet]. Twitter.

Facebook Post

Author. (Date). Title in sentence style capitalization [Description of audiovisuals]. Facebook. url.

US Forest Service. (2020, November 10). Mullen fire information [Image attached] [Status update]. Facebook.

Online Forum Post

Author. (date). Title of post [Online forum post]. Name of Site. url

Moneypenny, M. (2019, October 28). How do you identify a scam or phishing email message? [Online forum post]. Quora.