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APA Citation Guide: 2. Reference List

This guide will provide an overview of APA Citation Style.

APA Ref List


APA Ref List Directions

Reference List Citations

Reference list citations give a detailed description of the source being cited. They allow readers to know exactly which source was used so that they can look up the exact piece of information that was cited. For example, if information from a book was used to write a sentence in your paper, your reader should be able to look at the reference list and determine the book title, the author, the publisher, the copyright date and the edition of the book was used. The APA puts this information in a certain order and uses periods, italics, parenthesis, and other formatting to separate these pieces of the citation. Use the panels below to find out what your reference list citations should look like. Find the one that matches your source type, copy it, and fill it in with the information from your source. The format of the citation depends on what type of source you used (e.g. Was it a book? Website? Journal Article?)

Reference List Citation for a Book:

reference list example

Click on the format of the source you're citing:

APA Reference List Basics


  • 12pt, double-spaced, Times New Roman font
  • Put the word References centered at the top of the page
  • Put the list in order alphabetically by the first letter of the citation (Usually the author's last name)
  • Use a hanging indent on each citation (Tutorial | First line is flush left and each line after is indented)


  • Basic format of an APA reference list citation (in order): Author. Date. Title. Publication Information.
  • If your source has no date, put (n.d.) for the date
  • If using a web source that is updated frequently, include a retrieval date (when you accessed the site), like this:
    Retrieved July 19, 2016, from...
  • Companies or organizations can be authors
  • If there's no author, the basic format becomes: Title. Date. Publication Information. The date is ALWAYS in the second position

How to Format References

The basic format for a references citation is to include:

  • Author or authors
  • Date of publication (most recent date)
  • Title
  • Publication information - this will vary

Give as much information as you can and leave out anything you don't have.

To create a full citation, you'll need to have both the list of references at the end of your paper and the in text citation in the body of your paper (for most types of sources).

anatomy of an APA reference citation


You can download one of our templates! The template will show you where and how to add research to your project.

How to Enroll in the iTunes U APA Writing Style and Citation Guide

Downloadable APA Guide