You are here

Writing & formatting: APA (6th ed.) citation guide

This writing resource gives general tips on how to format a paper in APA style. These are guidelines only; your instructor has the final say on which APA style elements are required for a given assignment. 

Presentation 

See APA Publication Manual, 6th Edition, section 2, for more details and sample papers.

  • Use Times New Roman font size 12. 
  • Double space your entire paper, including all lines of the reference list. 
  • Ensure margins are at least 1 inch (2.54 cm) on all sides of every page. 
  • Number pages (1, 2, 3…) in the upper right-hand corner of each page, including the title page.

Note: Depending on the assignment requirements, you may need to include your title, name, and institutional affiliation on a title page (see Section 2.01-2.03). APA papers may also use a running header (abbreviation of your title) on each page including the title page (Section 8.03). 

Punctuation

See APA Publication Manual, 6th Edition, sections 4.01 to 4.11.

  • Include the final (Oxford) comma in a series of three or more items.

Example: Height, width, and depth 

  • Place question marks or exclamation points inside quotation marks if they are part of the quoted material. Do not include an extra period if your sentence ends with this question mark or exclamation mark. Place question marks or exclamation points outside quotation marks if not part of the quoted material. 

Example: The survey included the question “How often do you transit to campus?” 

Example: How will this study impact students who stated at the outset, “I never transit to campus”?

  • Include commas inside quotation marks. If your phrase ends with a quote, include the period within the quotation marks. If your phrase ends with a quote and then a citation, place the period after the citation. 

Example: Many images shown to the students were characterized as “raw,” “powerful,” and “evocative.” 

Example: Many images shown to the students were characterized as “evocative” (Jones, 2000, p. 5).

In-Text Citations

See APA Publication Manual, 6th Edition, sections 6.01 to 6.21. For more citation help, including examples, see the SFU Library's APA Citation Guide

  • Cite all sources that contributed to your work, whether you paraphrased the source or quoted it directly. Any ideas not your own – even if you wrote the idea in your own words – must be cited.

Example: University students are known to have busy schedules (Simms, 2007). 

  • Italicize and capitalize all major words of book titles within the body of the paper.

Example: Sacks (1985) includes descriptions of visual agnosia in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales.

  • Capitalize and place within quotation marks all major words of writing pieces that do not stand alone but are part of a greater whole (such as an article within a journal, or a chapter within a book).

Example: The article “Emotion: Clues from the Brain” (LeDoux, 1995) makes an important contribution to the mental health and acculturation literature.

  • If a direct quotation is under 40 words, incorporate it into your own sentence. Include page numbers after the publication year when citing a direct quote.

Example: One study’s results indicate that “a flexible mind is a healthy mind” (Palladino & Wade, 2010, p.147).

Example: “A flexible mind is a healthy mind,” according to Palladino and Wade’s (2010, p. 147) study.

  • If a direct quotation is 40 words or longer, use block format:
  1. introduce the quotation with a clause followed by a colon;
  2. start the quotation on a new line and indent the quotation a ½ inch;
  3. double space the entire quotation and omit quotation marks; and (4) place the citation after the final punctuation.

Example: Smith's 1998 study found the following: Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time citing sources. This difficulty could be attributed to the fact that many students failed to purchase a style manual or to ask their teacher for help. (p. 199) 

  • When citing a web page, do not place the URL in the text of your paper. Provide the author’s last name and the year the page was created or last updated. Use ‘(n.d.)’ if there is no date. Use the title of the web page if there is no author. If you are quoting from the page, also indicate the paragraph number or the section name.

Example : (Spearing, 2004)

Example : (Spearing, 2004, “Eating Disorders are Treatable”)

Example : ("GVU's 10th WWW User Survey," n.d.) 

Reference list 

See APA Publication Manual, 6th Edition, sections 6.22 to 6.26. For more citation help, including examples, see the SFU Library's APA Citation Guide

  • Ensure each citation appears in two places in your paper: in the body of your text (“in-text citations”) and in the reference list at the end of your paper.
  • Start the reference list on a new page. Entitle the list References and centre the title.

Further Help

Consult APA Publication Manual, 6th Edition.

For more writing help:

For more help with citing: