How do I reference?

There are always two stages in APA referencing - the citation in the text, and the reference list at the end of your document.

This page explains those elements.  A sample assignment, with in text citations and a reference list, is shown on the Citations & Reference list page.

If you are new to APA format, you may find it useful to have a look at the APA’s free online presentation. The first few slides do not focus on citing and referencing, but these are covered in later slides, to which you can skip forward.

You can also visit the APA style homepage which includes Frequently Asked Questions, and their blog (which often has examples of obscure types of sources).


Citation in text

The citation is inserted into your text where you refer to (or have quoted from) someone else’s work. APA uses an “author-date” method.

You choose from two ways depending on how it fits the text. 

Method 1) Authors’ surname(s) are listed in the sentence, followed by the year in brackets right after the name(s), for example: Rogers (1956) proposed that three core conditions are necessary and sufficient for therapeutic personality change.

Method 2) At the end of the phrase or sentence, all in brackets are the authors’ surname(s), followed by a comma, then the year of publication, for example: Three core conditions may be necessary and sufficient for therapeutic personality change (Rogers, 1956).

Most writing uses both of these methods, as fits the sentence.

The number of names to give in citations in the text follows rules described on the Citations & Reference List page in this guide.

A page number follows the year ONLY if you have quoted directly from the original source. Otherwise, never give page or chapter numbers in the text.

Reference list

The reference list is located at the end of the main body of your work and gives the full details of works to which you have referred, in a specific format.

The list is arranged alphabetically by author.


Please note: the reference list contains only works you have referred to and cited in the text, and no others.

It is different to a bibliography (i.e. a list of all sources consulted even if not referred to in the text). Bibliographies are usually not used in APA format, but a reference list must always be present.

For the most up-to-date detail, including additional source types not covered in this guide, you can consult the current edition of the APA Manual itself (“Author” is given as the publisher here because it is published by the same organisation that wrote it):

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Paper copies are available in the library.