APA Referencing Guide

What is APA Referencing Style?

The American Psychological Association (APA) compiled its own referencing system known as the APA reference style to acknowledge different sources used in research. This style is internationally used in health, psychology and the social sciences. While APA style shares some similarities with the Harvard referencing style, there are also some differences that need to be noted when citing sources. This guide will give you a detailed understanding about the APA referencing style.

In-text Citations

The APA referencing style requires the writer to include the name of the author first, followed by the date of their publication in parentheses (). Depending on the use and placement of the source, an in-text citation can be quoted directly or indirectly. For example:

Direct: "fast food is one of the sources of health problems" (Davis, 2012:19).

Indirect: As Davis (2012) notes, eating a lot of fast food is unhealthy.

For sources consisting of three or more authors, the writer should include all names on the first mentioning and later use et al. after the first name. For example:

First citation: Davis, Gary and Lerner (2004) or (Davis, Gary & Lerner, 2004)

Subsequent citations: Davis et al. (2004) or (Davis et al., 2004)

Additionally, for citations in the main body of the text, ‘and’ should be used to join the names of authors, whereas, an ampersand (&) must be used when sources are included in parentheses (). For example:

Main body: Davis, Gary and Lerner (2004) state that carrots have a number of health benefits.

Within parentheses: Carrots have a number of health benefits (Davis, Gary & Lerner, 2004).

Reference List

All the bibliographic details should be given in the form of a reference list at the end. The sources must be listed in alphabetical order according to the author’s surname. In case of multiple citations by the same author, sources should be listed chronologically as per the year of publication. Additionally, to cite two different works by the same author published in the same year, labels such as 'a', 'b', 'c' and so on must be used directly after the year. For citing a publication with more than one author, ‘and’ should be used to link the names of the authors.

However, APA style follows different referencing formats for different sources such as a book, journal, news or a web article. Examples are provided below:

  • Books

Smith, P. (2012). The Nutrition Bible (2nd ed). New York: Sage Publications.

  • Journal Articles

Wein, M., Jenkins, O. & Martins, S. N. (1992). Guide for a Healthy Living. Health Journal, 8(11), 45-69.

  • Journal Articles accessed on a website or database

Wein, M, Jenkins, O. & Martins, S. N. (1992). Guide for a Healthy Living. Health Journal, 8(11), 45-69. Retrieved 2 May 2019 from: www.healthjournal.com/guideforahealthyliving

  • Newspaper and Magazine Articles – Print or Online:

Paul, B. (2010, May). Benefits of eating breakfast.  Lifestyle Magazine, 12-13.

Paul, B. (2010, May). Benefits of eating breakfast. Lifestyle Magazine, Retrieved 5 June 2018 from: www.lifestylemagazine.com/benefitsofeatingbreakfast2010

  • YouTube Videos

Healthy Living. (2015, 23 March). Simple Exercises. [YouTube video]. Retrieved 16 March 2016 from www.youtube.com/healthylivingsimpleexcercises