How does the 6th edition of APA differ from the 5th edition?

APA referencing format is revised occasionally when a new edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is released. The current edition is the 6th   edition which was released in 2010. The previous 5th edition was released in 2001; the new 6th edition introduced a handful of changes mainly to make the format more applicable to on-line publishing, which is now the norm.

You will often see references (e.g. in older books and journal articles) that used the 5th edition. In addition, many older study guides still refer to the 5th edition format. The differences are few and many references look identical in both 6th and 5th editions.

This page may be helpful to clarify differences between the 5th and 6th editions.


APA 6th edition (current)

APA 5th edition (previous)

In reference lists, if a source has more than seven authors, the first six are given, then an ellipsis (…) and then the final author.

If more than seven authors, only the first seven names used to be given followed by “et al.”

Journal articles have their DOI number given at end (DOI numbers are usually optional for student work, but required for professional work).

No DOI numbers for journal articles. They were in their infancy when the 5th edition was released in 2001.  

When giving a URL (e.g. reference to a webpage), no date of access is given.

Date of access used to be given.

Material read online (e.g. e-book or e-journal) is cited just as if it were the paper version, unless the material is exclusively available online.

Material read online used to be given a URL or even the online database it came from. However, in practice many simply referenced as if same as paper version. 

When giving the city of publication (e.g. in book reference), all cities have the country afterward, or state if in the USA, e.g. “London, UK”,  “Boston, MA”, “San Francisco, CA” or “Basingstoke, UK”

Major cities of publication did not need a country or state, such as New York, London, Boston, etc. However country or state was still given for non-major cities.

Small differences in the reference list format of less common sources.