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APA (6/e) Style Guide

A guide to help users create citations using APA (American Psychological Association) style.


APA style prefers you paraphrase information from other sources, and that you keep direct quotations to a minimum.

Paraphrases are restatements of written or spoken language in your own words.   Do not add your opinions in the middle of paraphrasing or summarizing unless it is clear your ideas are not the original author’s. Reintroduce the author’s name to clarify any ambiguity to the reader.  Paraphrases and summaries do not use quotation marks and require the author’s last name and year of publicationPage number is not required for paraphrases and summaries. 

When citing a source, you always have two choices:  1) Write the author’s name as part of your sentence in the text.  2) Write the author’s name in the parentheses.  Use only last name in all APA in-text citations and do not include the title of books or articles in the body of your paper. The date must go directly after the author’s name.

One to two authors in text:

Emery’s (2004) case study of a boy with autism found art therapy to be a useful tool to help him relate to others.

Abrams and Kane (2007) report the drop-out rate is double that of other schools.

Authors in parenthetical:

Art therapy was found to be a useful tool to help a young boy with autism relate to others (Emery, 2004).

The drop-out rate is double that of other schools (Abrams & Kane, 2007).

Multiple authors:  APA has specific rules for how you write authors’ names when there are more than two authors. 

Three – five authors: At first mention in the paper, write all authors’ names.  Thereafter, use et al.

Authors in text:

Hurtado, Dey, Gurin, and Gurin (2003) emphasize that to gain the benefits of educational diversity, universities must…..

Hurtado et al. (2003) emphasize that to gain the benefits of educational diversity, universities must . . .

Authors in parenthetical:                 

To gain the benefits of educational diversity, universities must . . . (Hurtado, Dey, Gurin, & Gurin, 2003).

To gain the benefits of educational diversity, universities must . . . (Hurtado et al., 2003).

Six or more authors:  Use only the first author’s name followed by et al.

(Kosslyn et al., 1996)

Multiple references in the same parentheses:  Put in alphabetical order by author’s last name and separate with semi-colon.

(Bruffee, 1993; Goodsell, Maher, & Tinto, 1992; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991; Pike, 1993)

Source with no author: Use abbreviated version of title.

(“Study Finds,” 2007)

…the book College Bound Seniors (2008) describes…


quotation is a word-for-word repetition of written or spoken language. Quotation marks directly before and after the material tell the reader these are the exact words of the source. Be stingy in your use of direct quotations -- never more than 10% of your paper.  Direct quotations must always include the author’s last name, year of publication, and page number.  Integrate direct quotations seamlessly into your paper by introducing the author’s last name before the quote. Remember the rule, “Don’t drop quotations!”

Author in text: You could choose this style if you are introducing the author or a study for the first time.

Interpreting these results, Robbins et al. (2003) suggested that the “therapists in dropout cases may have inadvertently validated parental negativity about the adolescent without adequately responding to the adolescent’s need or concerns” (p. 541), contributing to an overall climate of negativity.

Author in parenthetical:  You could choose this style if you’ve already mentioned the author in a previous citation.

“The low self-monitoring person is generally more attentive to his/her internal attitudes and dispositions than to externally based information such as others’ reactions and expectations” (Baxter, 1983, p. 29).

Long Quotations

If the source you are quoting is 40 or more words, start it on a new line and indent the entire quotation about a half inch from the margin (same position as a new paragraph).  Double space and do not use quotation marks. Note different position of period.

Miele (1993) found the following:

The “placebo effect,” which had been verified in previous studies, disappeared when behaviors were studied in this manner. Furthermore, the behaviors were never exhibited again even when reel [sic] drugs were administered. Earlier studies were clearly premature in attributing the results to a placebo effect.  (p. 276)