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Referencing styles - a Practical Guide


American Psychological Association (APA) referencing style

Used by: Education, Language & Linguistic Science, Psychology

Introduction to APA referencing style

The American Psychological Association (APA) style is used in psychology, health and the social sciences. This guide has been fully updated to APA Style 7th edition. Check your department requirements for which version to use.

In-text citations

Information from sources in the text is shown with in-text citations that include the author's surname and the publication year (and a page number in some situations). These can appear after the information, or integrated into the sentence:

Passive tutorials (Anderson & Wilson, 2009) or text-based resources (Sachs et al., 2013) can be as effective as interactive resources.
Parramore (2019) discusses online active learning in more depth...

The in-text citation examples given throughout this guide use the (Neville, 2010) version.

Reference list

The reference list at the end of the document includes the full details of each source so the reader can find them themselves. The list is organised alphabetically by author surname. 

The information to include depends on the types of source - see the examples on this page.

Useful resources

Guidance for all source types

This guidance applies to all source types.

1 author

In-text: (Santrock, 2011)

Reference List:

Santrock, J. W. (2011). Child development. McGraw-Hill.

2 authors

List both authors in the order they appear in the publication. Use an ampersand (&), not 'and' between names.

In-text: (Lee & Benati, 2007)

Reference List:

Lee, J. F., & Benati, A. G. (2007). Second language processing: An analysis of theory, problems and possible solutions. Continuum.

3-20 authors

In the citation use the surname of the first author followed by 'et al.' (including the full stop). In the reference list, list all authors in the order they appear in the publication. Use an ampersand (&), not 'and' between names. In subsequent citations, give the first author's name followed by et al. (the full stop is important!).

In-text (Wilkinson et al., 2011)

Reference List:

Wilkinson, A., Meares, K., & Freeston, M. (2011). CBT for worry and generalised anxiety disorder. Sage Publications.

21+ authors

In all in-text citations, give the first author's name followed by et al. (the full stop is important!). In the reference list, include the names of the first 19 authors, insert an ellipsis (three dots) but no ampersand, then include the name of the final author.

In-text: (Halonen, et al., 2003)

Reference List:

Halonen, J. S., Bosack, T., Clay, S. McCarthy, M., Dunn, D. S., Hill, G.W.,IV, … Whitlock, K. (2003). A rubric for learning, teaching, and assessing scientific inquiry in psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 30(3), 196-208.

If you're pulling together information from a number of sources to support your argument you may want to include more than one source in one in-text citation. For example:

As is widely stated in the literature... (Carroll, 2002; Mallon,1991; Neville, 2010).

They should appear alphabetically, matching the order in which they will appear in your reference list.

If an author (or a group of authors) have more than one publications in the same year, add lower-case letters (a, b, c, etc.) to the year to differentiate between them. Add a to the first source cited, b to the second course and so on.  For example:

In-text: (Carroll, 2007a; Carroll, 2007b)


Carroll, J. (2007a). A handbook for deterring plagiarism in higher education. Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development, Oxford Brookes University.
Carroll, J. (2007b). Do national statistics about plagiarism tell you about your students? LINK Newsletter on Academic Integrity. The Hospitality, Sport and Leisure Subject Centre, 18, 3-9.

No author name

It's important to use quality sources to support your arguments, so you should carefully consider the value of using any source when you can't identify its author. 

For online sources, look carefully for named contributors, such as in the ‘about us’ sections. For printed material look carefully at the publication/ copyright information, which is often on the inside cover of a book or back page of a report. If you cannot locate the information you could use the name of the organisation for the author, for example (NSPCC, 2012).

No publication date

Knowing when a source was created, published, or last updated is important as this helps you to determine the relevance and reliability of the source. For online sources look carefully for created and/ or last updated dates on the page(s). If you can't locate a date write (n.d.) instead of the year to denote ‘no date’.

Quotations are word-for-word text included in your work and must be clearly distinguished from your own words and ideas. You must also include the page number(s) in the in-text citation.

Short quotations (fewer than 40 words)

Use a brief phrase within your paragraph or sentence to introduce the quotation before including it inside double quotation marks “ ”.  For example:

As Neville (2010) states, “you should cite all sources and present full details of these in your list of references” (p.37).

Longer quotations (40 words or more)

Use block quotation, without quotation marks, but clearly indented to indicate these words are not your own. For example:

Neville (2010) comments that:

It can sometimes be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid using some of the author’s original words, particularly those that describe or label phenomena. However, you need to avoid copying out what the author said, word for word. Choose words that you feel give a true impression of the author’s original ideas or action. (p.38)

A secondary reference is given when you are referring to a source which you have not read yourself, but have read about in another source, for example referring to Jones’ work that you have read about in Smith. Avoid using secondary references wherever possible and locate the original source and reference that.

Only give a secondary reference where it's not possible to read the original source, and you think it's essential to use the material. It is important to think carefully about using secondary references as the explanation or interpretation of that source by the author you have read may not be accurate. For example, if Allport's work is cited in Nicholson and you did not read Allport's work, list the Nicholson reference in the reference list. In the text, use the following citation:

Allport's diary (as cited in Nicholson, 2003).

Only list the sources that you have read in your reference list - ie. list Nicholson but not Allport in the reference list.

Include the page number(s) in an in-text citation when:

  • quoting directly
  • referring to a specific detail in a text (eg, a specific theory or idea, an illustration, a table, a set of statistics).

Giving page numbers lets the reader locate the specific item you're referring to. Page numbers are not required when paraphrasing, but you may choose to do so in order to make it easier for readers to locate the information in a longer work.

You should only capitalise the first letter of the first word of a book, journal article, etc and any word following a colon in the title. The exception is if these include proper nouns – names of people or organisations.

Usually in-text citations are included in your word count as they are integral to your argument.

This may vary depending on the assignment you are writing and you should confirm this with your module tutor. If in-text citations are included this does not mean you should leave out citations where they are appropriate.

Questions about referencing?

Contact your Faculty Librarians if you have any questions about referencing.

Commonly used sources

Examples of in-text citations and reference list entries for key source types.

Use these examples alongside the information given in the 'Guidance for all source types' box. Pay particular attention to the guidance on formatting for one, two or more authors.

In-text: (Santrock, 2011)

Reference list:

Information to include
Author(s) Surname, Initial. (year). Name of book (Edition if not the first). Publisher name. Doi if available

Santrock, J. W. (2011). Child development (13th ed.). McGraw-Hill.

For books written or published in another language, see the Book (translated to English) and Book (read in another language) sections below.

Chapter in an edited book

In-text: (Alexander, 2009)

Reference list:

Information to include
Chapter author(s) Surname, Initial. (year). Title of chapter. In editor(s) Initial, Surname (Ed/Eds.), Title of edited book. (pp. Page numbers). Publisher name. Doi if available

Alexander, R. J. (2009). Pedagogy, culture and the power of comparison. In H. Daniels, H. Lauder, & J. Porter (Eds.), Educational theories, cultures and learning: A critical perspective (pp. 10-26). Routledge.


Edited book as a whole

In-text: (Daniels et al., 2009)

Reference list:

Information to include
Editor(s) Surname, Initial. (Ed/Eds.). (year). Title of edited book. Publisher name. Doi if available

Daniels, H., Lauder, H., & Porter, J. (Eds.). (2009). Educational theories, cultures and learning: A critical perspective. Routledge.

Most journal articles / papers are now available in electronic form, usually with a DOI (a special type of link). If there isn't a DOI, include the URL instead or leave this out if you are referencing a printed journal article / paper.

In-text: (Forlin, 2010)

Reference list:

Information to include
Author(s) Surname, Initial. (year). Title of paper / article. Name of journal, volume(issue), page numbers. DOI if available

Forlin, C. (2010). Developing and implementing quality inclusive education in Hong Kong: Implications for teacher education. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 10(issue supplement s1), 177-184.

Newspaper/magazine article

Include the most precise date of publication given - usually full date for newspaper articles, month and year for magazines.

In-text: (Clarkson, 2008; Swain, 2008)

Reference list:

Information needed
Author(s) Surname, Initial. (year, month date). Title of article. Name of newspaper/magazine. page number(s).

Clarkson, S. (2008, December). Wanted: 25 hours in the day. Red Magazine,  91-94.
Swain, H. (2008, September 23). The art of doing an assessed assignment. The Guardian: Education supplement.


Newspaper/magazine article (without named author)

Use the article title instead of the author name. In the in-text citation, put the title (or a shortened version) between quotation marks (").

In-text: ("Editorial: French Elections," 2012)

Reference list:

Information needed
Title of article. (year, month date). Name of newspaper/magazine. page number(s).

Editorial: French elections. Bitter-sweet victory for the left. (2012 April 23). The Guardian, 26.

Website with author

In-text: (Richardson, 2011)

Reference List:

Information to include
Author(s) Surname, Initial. (year). Name of specific webpage. Name of full website. URL

Richardson, H. (2011, July 7). Schools 'pushed into phonics by financial incentives. BBC News.

Website without named author

In-text: (BBC News, 2011)

Reference list:

Information to include
Name of full website (year). Name of specific webpage.  URL

BBC News. (2011, June 28). University changes: Threat or opportunity?

Further sources

Examples of in-text citations and reference list entries for other source types.

Use these examples alongside the information given in the 'Guidance for all source types' box. Pay particular attention to the guidance on formatting for one, two or more authors.

In-text: (Education Act 2011)

Reference list:

Reference list entry not required in APA 7

In-text: (Quigley, 2023)

Reference List:

Quigley, A. (2023, May 20). Closing the reading gap. The confident teacher.

If you are reading an English language version of a book originally published in another language follow this example.

In-text: (Freud, 1901/2002)
Bibliography/ Reference List:

Freud, S. (2002). The psychopathology of everyday life (A. Bell, Trans.). Penguin. (Original work published 1901)

If you are reading a book in another language, follow this example:

In-text: (Hoops, 1932)

Bibliography/ Reference List:

Hoops, J. (1932). Kommentar zum Beowulf. [Commentary on Beowulf]. Carl Winters Universitatsbuchhandlung.

In-text: (The Cogent Group, 2009)

Reference list:

The Cogent Group. (2009). COGENT (Version 2.3) [Computer software]. The Cogent Group, Birkbeck University of London.

If conference proceedings have been published in book form cite them as for a book.

In-text: (Kawkins & Hawkins, 2019)

Reference list:

Hawkins, C. A. & Hawkins, R. C. (2019, July 5-6). The value of incorporating spirituality into mental health practice: A professional imperative for the global 21st century [Paper presentation]. European Conference on Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences, Brighton, UK.

Include the type of resource in square brackets after its name: [CD], [CD-Rom], [DVD]

In-text: (Coppola, 1972)

Reference list:

Coppola, F. F. (Director, Writer). (1972). The Godfather [DVD]. Paramount Home Entertainment.

Online database (specific content)

In-text: (The National Autistic Society, n.d.)

Reference list:

The National Autistic Society. (n.d.). Employment: Tips for interviewing people with autism and Asperger syndrome. Autism Data [Electronic database]. The National Autistic Society. Retrieved July 24, 2023 from

Online database (as a whole)

In-text: (The National Autistic Society, n.d.)

Reference list:

The National Autistic Society. (n.d.). Autism data [Electronic database]. The National Autistic Society. Retrieved July 24, 2023 from

n.d. denotes no date given - include the year when known

In-text: (Paperback Oxford English Dictionary, 2006)

Reference list:

Paperback Oxford English Dictionary. (2006). Oxford University Press.

If there are no page numbers, give the chapter number for direct quotes eg, "…" (Bartram, 2010, ch.1).

In-text: (Bartram, 2010)

Reference list:

Bartram, B. (2010). Attitudes to modern foreign language learning: Insights from comparative education. Continuum International Publishing Group.

Personal communications such as personal emails, private letters, and telephone conversations are non-recoverable and so are not included in the reference list. Cite them in-text only with the initials and surname of the author.

In-text: (I. Johnson, personal communication, May 22 2023)

Note: No personal communication is included in your reference list; instead, parenthetically cite the communicator's name, the phrase "personal communication," and the date of the communication in your main text only.

Encyclopedia as a whole

In-text: (Hornberger, 2008)

Reference list:

Hornberger, N. H. (2008). Encyclopedia of language and education. Springer.

Encyclopedia (specific entry)

In-text: (Manstead & Hewston, 1996)

Reference list:

Manstead, T., & Hewston, M. (1996). Empathy/sympathy and altruistic motivation. In The Blackwell encyclopedia of social psychology (p. 205). Wiley-Blackwell.

In-text: (Lloyd, 2008)

Reference list:

Lloyd, P. (Director). (2008). Mamma Mia [Film]. Universal Pictures.

In-text: (Great Britain. Dept. for Education, 2010)

Reference list:

Great Britain. Dept for Education. (2010). The importance of teaching. (Cm. 7980). The Stationery Office.

Cm. is the abbreviation used to designate a command paper. This example is command paper 7980.

Print copy, with figure number

In-text: [INSERT IMAGE] Table X Common Abbreviations for Units of Measurement (APA, 2020, p. 109, table 4.4)

Reference List:

APA. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) APA.

Online, no figure number

In-text: [INSERT IMAGE] Classical Conditioning (Kulich, 2006)

Reference list:

Kulich, R. J. (2006). Classical conditioning.

Conducted by someone else

If it is a published interview in a magazine, journal, website or newspaper, then use the referencing format for that source type.

Conducted yourself

You are not encouraged to cite these, except where an interview has been conducted as part of a non-empirical assignment. That is, only cite if you discuss an interview within your assignment where you had not been required to conduct interviews, but did so to augment your work. Consideration also needs to be given to confidentiality and interviewee anonymity as appropriate.

Not included in the reference list as it is non-retrievable communication for the reader.

In-text: (J. Smith, personal communication, March 2 2023)

In-text: (Waddle & Brown, 2023)

Reference list:

Waddle, M. & Brown, D. (2023, September 26). Good academic practice. [PowerPoint slides]. University of York VLE.

In-text: (Waddle & Brown, 2023)

Reference list:

Waddle, M. & Brown, D. (2023, September 26). Good academic practice. [Lecture notes]. University of York VLE.

Personal communications such as personal emails, private letters, and telephone conversations are non-recoverable and so are not included in the reference list. Cite them in-text only with the initials and surname of the author.

In-text: (J. Smith, personal communication, March 2, 2023)

Each one will have titles and references within it or you can refer to the actual microfiche record number, where it is stored and when accessed. This is an example of a historic periodical.

In-text: In-text: (Brown, 1794)

Reference list:

Brown, J. (1794). Freemason’s magazine [Microfiche]. Early English Newspaper series.

In-text: (Stringer, 2023)

Reference list:

Stringer, J. (Conductor). (2023, November 25). University Symphony Orchestra [Performance]. Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, York.

In-text: (Chopin, 1943)

Reference list:

Chopin, F. (1943). Scherzi and fantasy for the piano [Piano score]. G. Schirmer.

In-text: (American Psychological Association, 2023)

Reference list:

American Psychological Association. (2023). Why teen brains are particularly vulnerable to social media [Video]. YouTube.

In-text: (Monet, 1899)

Reference list:

Monet, C. (1899). The water-lily pond [Painting]. National Gallery, London.

In-text: (City of York Council, 2023)

Reference list:

City of York Council. (2023). York educational psychology service: Traded services brochure. City of York Council.

In-text:(Higher Education (Fees) Bill HL 2012-13)

Reference list:

Higher Education (Fees) Bill HL 2012-13 [22].


HC stands for House of Commons, with HL being used for Bills originating in the House of Lords. The date represents the parliamentary session and the number in [ ] the number of the bill.

In-text: (Jakubowski, 2023)

Reference list:

Jakubowski, D. B. (2023). Multi-housing charging devices and methods (US Patent No. 20230352987). US Patent and Trademark Office.

In-text: (Jarche, 1931)

Reference list:

Jarche, J. (1931). Miner with pit pony [Photograph]. National Media Museum, Bradford.

In-text: (Lynn, 2012)

Reference list:

Lynn, J. (Director). (2012, April 16). Yes, Prime Minister by J. Lynn [Play]. Theatre Royal, York.

In-text: (Webster, 1998)

Reference list:

Webster, J. (1998). The white devil. Oxford University Press.

In-text: (Kipling, 1999)

Reference list:

Kipling, R. (1999). The story of Uriah. In C. Ricks (Ed.), The Oxford book of English verse (p. 530). Oxford University Press.

In-text: (Mills & Blagrove, 2023)

Reference list:

Mills, K.I. & Blagrove, M. (Hosts). (2023, October 18). Why do we dream? [Audio podcast episode]. In Speaking of psychology. American Psychological Association.

In-text: (O'Dea, 2011)

Reference list:

O'Dea, B. (Producer). (2011, July 19). A good read. London: BBC Radio 4.

Religious and sacred texts such as the Bible, Talmud, and Qur’an follow the reference format for either a book or website depending on your source. Religious texts don't usually require an author. Include the original publication date if possible, but leave this blank if unknown or in dispute.

In-text: (King James Bible, 1769/2017)

Reference list:

King James Bible. (2017). King James Bible Online. (Original work published 1769)

Report (online)

In-text: (British Psychological Society, 2021)

Reference list:

British Psychological Society. (2021). Code of ethics and conduct. British Psychological Society.

Report (hard copy)

In-text: (Higher Education Academy, 2008)

Reference list:

Higher Education Academy (2008). Ethnicity, gender and degree attainment project: Final report. Higher Education Academy/ Equality Challenge Unit.

This format is for when you read a more recent version of an older work. In-text, the date of the original publication is given before the later one you read. In the bibliography/ reference list you give the date of the version you read with the original date at the end of the reference.

In-text: (Erikson, 1951/1977)

Reference list:

Erikson, E. H. (1977). Childhood and society. Triad/Paladin.(Original work published 1951)

In-text: (Runciman, 2002)

Reference list:

Runciman, W. G. (2002). Why are we here? [Review of the book Religion explained: The human instincts that fashion gods, spirits and ancestors, by P. Boyer]. London Review of Books, 24(3), 23-24.

In-text: Belle & Sebastian, 2003, track 8)

The track number is optional.

Reference list:

Belle & Sebastian. (2003). Wrapped up in books. On Dear catastrophe waitress [CD]. Rough Trade Records.

In-text: (British Standards Institute, 2006)

Reference list:

British Standards Institute. (2006). Loft ladders: Requirements, marking and testing (BSEN14975).

Full series

In-text: (Gilligan, 2008-2013)

Reference list:

Gilligan, V. (Executive Producer). (2008-2013). Breaking bad [TV series]. High Bridge Productions; Gran Via Productions; Sony Pictures Television.

Single episode

In-text: (Gilligan et al., 2013)

Reference list:

Gilligan, V., Walley-Beckett, M. (Writers) & Johnson, R. (Director). (2013, September 15). Ozymandias (Season 5, Episode 14) [TV series episode]. In V. Gilligan (Executive Producer), Breaking bad. High Bridge Productions; Gran Via Productions; Sony Pictures Television.

Personal communications such as personal emails, private letters, and telephone conversations are non-recoverable and so are not included in the reference list. Cite them in-text only with the initials and surname of the author.

In-text: (J. Smith, personal communication, March 2, 2023)

In-text: (Missuno, 2012)

Reference List:

Information to include
Author(s) Surname, Initial. (year). Title of thesis. [level of qualification, institution]. Database name.

Missuno, Filip. (2012). 'Shadow' and paradoxes of darkness in Old English and Old Norse poetic language. [Doctoral dissertation, University of York]. White Rose eTheses Online.

In-text: (Waddle & Brown, 2023)

Reference list:

Waddle, M. & Brown, D. (2023, September 26). Good academic practice [PowerPoint slides]. University of York VLE.

In-text: ("Psychometrics," 2014)

Reference list:

Psychometrics. (2014, September 9). In Psychology Wiki.

In-text: (UoY Press Office, 2023)

Reference list:

UoY Press Office [@UoYPress]. (2023, September 4). A study @YorkPsychology highlights that chronic stress is a major risk factor depression and pathological anxiety, but high-quality sleep and coping strategies can help to prevent poor mental health [Tweet]. X.