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Citation Guide: Basic APA Rules

A guide to create citations for bibliographies and works cited in reference papers.

Basic Rules

Some basic rules for APA References lists are:

  • All citations should be double spaced; Indent after the first line of each entry
  • Alphabetize by the first word of the entry; entries are not numbered
  • Editions of books are noted after the title in the following format: (2nd ed.) First editions are not listed as such. If no edition is listed, omit the edition section
  • Italics must be used for book and periodical titles. When listing article/chapter titles in the paper use quotes around the title of the article/chapter.
  • Capitalize ONLY the first word of a title, the first word of a subtitle, and proper nouns in titles of books and articles, no matter how they appear in a database or catalog
  • Use the abbreviations p. or pp. only for multi-page newspaper articles, encyclopedia entries, and chapters or articles in edited books; Do not use the abbreviation p. or pp. (or any other abbreviation) for magazine and journal articles
  • Dates are in Year, Month Day format (e.g., 1999, December 20)
  • If no author is listed, begin with title
  • Date is in parenthesis after the author's name (or title if no author is listed)
  • Use (n.d.) if no date is given
  • Personal Communication includes: private letters, memos, some electronic communication (i.e. email or messages from nonarchival discussion groups), personal interviews, telephone conversations, etc. These types of communication are not recoverable data and therefore should not be included on the Reference page. Cite personal communications in text only