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APA Citation and Writing

APA Citation and Writing Topic Guide

Introduction to APA Style

What is APA Style?

American Psychological Association (APA) Style is the writing approach and citation style that is commonly used by disciplines in the behavioral and social sciences.

Why do I cite my sources?

  • Citations give credit to the author(s) who influenced your work
  • Citations enhance your research by using credible sources
  • Citations help your readers locate the source material
  • Citations help you avoid plagiarism

When do I cite my sources?

You need to cite your sources every time you quote, paraphrase or summarize information or an idea from an author's work in your paper.

  • Direct quote: Using more than one of the author's words
  • Paraphrase or summary: Putting the author's words or ideas into your own words

How do I cite my sources?

APA citations include two parts:

  • In-Text: These citations are used within the body of your paper and include the author's last name and the year the work was published.
  • References: These citations are listed alphabetically at the end of the paper, and they correspond with the in-text citations. The main components of a reference citation is the author's name, year the work was published, title of the work, publication information, and source retrieval information for electronic works (e.g. DOI or URL).

Publication Manual of the APA

The Library strongly encourages students to use the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) as the primary source for APA citations. You may purchase a copy of this book at the Chamberlain Bookstore or at any major bookseller. 

Anatomy of an APA Reference Citation

Anatomy of an APA Citation

DOIs, URLs, and Permalinks?

You may have read in the APA Manual that correct references for journal articles must include either a DOI or the URL of the homepage of the journal where the article was published (see the rules starting on page 191, especially the last bullet on the page).

You may also have been instructed by your professor to find the Permalink for an article, and submit it along with your assignment -- even though Permalinks must not be included in your APA references!

The terminology -- URL, DOI, and Permalink -- and figuring out which one is required for which can be confusing! So, below, we've written some explanations to help you sort this all out. In short:

  • A DOI (DOcument Identifier) is just the term scholars use for the unique numbers that publishers assign articles and documents to make them easier to find. Think of the DOI as the article's Social Security Number or a Driver's License number. For an in-depth explanation of the DOI system, look at the bottom of page 188 in the APA Manual.
  • A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is like a mailing address, only for a piece of data or a page on the public web rather than to a physical house. An easy way to think about this is to remember that URLs are the web addresses you can use for everything outside of the Chamberlain Library's databases. For an in-depth explanation of URLs, take a look at the top of page 188 in the APA Manual.
  • A Permalink (Permanent Link), by contrast, is what we call web addresses that point to articles and pages inside the Chamberlain Library's databases and not on the public web. Because Permalinks are never included in APA references, they are not covered in the APA Manual. You can instead get more information about Permalinks, including instructions for where to find them, on Chamberlain Library's guide to Permalinks.

APA Quick Reference

Referencing Periodicals

Journal Article, No DOI: 

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, xx, pp-pp. Retrieved from http://xxxxxxxxx

Journal Article, With DOI: 

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, xx, pp-pp. doi:xx.xxxxxxxxxx

For periodical examples, see pages 198 - 202, Section 7.01 (Entries 1 - 17)

Referencing Books

Entire Print Book:

Author, A. A. (Year published). Title of work. Location: Publisher. 

Entire eBook, No DOI:

Author, A. A. (Year published). Title of work. Retrieved from http://xxxxxxxxx

Entire eBook, With DOI:

Author, A.A. (Year published). Title of work. doi:xx.xxxxxxxxxx

For book examples, see pages 202 - 205, Section 7.02 (Entries 18 - 30)

Referencing Other Types of Sources


Author, A. (Date). Title of document [Format description]. Retrieved from http://xxxxxxxxx

For website examples, see


Author, A. A. [Screen name]. (year, month day). Title of video [Video file]. Retrieved from http://xxxxxxxxx

For audiovisual media examples, see pages 209 - 210, Section 7.09 (Entries 49 - 53).

Personal Communication (email, interview, etc.):

Personal communications are not included in the reference list, but they need to be cited within the text.

For personal communication examples, see page 179, Section 6.20.


To include an image you found online in your paper or PowerPoint, follow the format below for the image citation:

Caption Under the Image: Figure X. Title. Adapted from "Title of Webpage" by Author, F., Year.

And then use a proper APA reference for that image at the end. Example: If it is from a website, follow the format for website citations below:

Author, A. (Date). Title of document [Format description]. Retrieved from http://xxxxxxxxx

For figure examples, see page 125, Chapter 5.

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