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Setting Up the APA Reference Page | Formatting & References (Examples)

Published on November 4, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on August 23, 2022.

APA reference page (7th edition)

On the APA reference page, you list all the sources that you’ve cited in your paper. The list starts on a new page right after the body text.

Follow these instructions to set up your APA reference page:

  • Place the section label “References” in bold at the top of the page (centered).
  • Order the references alphabetically .
  • Double-space all text.
  • Apply a hanging indent of 0.5 inches.

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apa reference page formatting

References are ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name. If the author is unknown, order the reference entry by the first meaningful word of the title (ignoring articles: “the”, “a”, or “an”).

Word processors like Word or Google Docs and citation generators can usually order the reference list automatically. However, ordering becomes challenging when citing multiple works by the same author or works by authors with the same last name.

Our in-depth article on ordering references in APA Style explains what to do in these situations.

Only include references for sources cited in the body text (with an APA in-text citation ). Don’t include references for:

  • Sources that you only consulted;
  • Personal communications (e.g., emails or phone calls);
  • General mentions of websites or periodicals ;
  • Common knowledge .

For some student papers, it’s common to describe or evaluate the source in an annotation . These annotations are placed on a new line below the corresponding reference entry. The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inches.

If an annotation consists of multiple paragraphs, the first line of the second and any subsequent paragraphs is indented an additional 0.5 inches.

APA annotated bibliography (7th edition)

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The format of an APA reference differs depending on the source type. Play around with the options in the Scribbr Example Generator to get familiar with APA Style.

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APA citation examples

Check out Scribbr’s citation examples to learn more about citing each type of source, ranging from books and journals to podcasts and tweets !


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  • Newspaper article

Reports and gray literature

  • Press release
  • Dissertation or thesis
  • Conference paper

Books and reference works

  • Dictionary entry
  • Encyclopedia entry

Audiovisual works

  • Movie or documentary
  • YouTube video

Online media

  • Personal communication
  • Tables and figures

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How to Format an APA Reference Page

Matt Ellis

In APA format, a reference page is the page at the end of a written work that lists all the sources used for citations along with their bibliographic information. “Reference page” is the name used by APA format, whereas MLA calls it a “works cited page,” and Chicago uses “bibliography.”

Because each format has particular rules about how to cite and list sources, the APA format reference page is very different from the works cited page or other bibliographies. If you’re writing a paper in APA format, use the rules and guidelines below to make sure your reference page is correct.

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What is a reference page?

Although it has unique rules for formatting sources, the reference page in APA format is essentially a bibliography. It contains all the sources whose ideas influenced the work, including details like the sources’ authors’ names, publication data, and URLs.

In academic writing, every time you use an idea or evidence from another source, you must credit that source using an in-text citation. An in-text citation in APA usually includes the author’s surname, the year of publication, and often a page number.

At the end of the work, all the sources used for in-text citations are listed on the reference page, along with the extra details that didn’t fit in the in-text citations, such as the full title and the name of the publisher.

This system of citations and references is necessary for verifying a work’s accuracy and prove that you didn’t just make everything up! Following the reference page rules is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your paper, especially if you’re having trouble passing a plagiarism checker .

What to include in an APA format reference page

APA format maintains that each reference page entry—one entry per source—should ideally include four parts:

  • date of publication
  • source type (not always applicable)

How this information is organized depends on the type of source used, such as a book, website, or video. For example, the same article could be cited on the reference page two different ways depending on whether it was found online or in print.

Check out our citation guides below for specific instructions on how to cite each type of source in the APA format reference page.

  • How to Cite a Book in APA Format
  • How to Cite a Website in APA Format
  • How to Cite an Article in APA Format
  • How to Cite an Image or Photo in APA Format
  • How to Cite a Movie in APA Format
  • How to Cite a TV Show in APA Format
  • How to Cite Wikipedia in APA Format
  • How to Cite a YouTube Video in APA Format
  • How to Cite a PDF in APA Format
  • How to Cite a Lecture or Speech in APA Format

Otherwise, check out our citation generator to cite sources automatically.

What sources are not included in the reference page?

The only sources that are not mentioned in the reference page are personal communications. These informal sources require only in-text citations that mention the name of the communicator and the phrase “personal communication,” as well as the exact date of the conversation—but you don’t need to add them to the reference page.

Personal communications include:

  • in-person conversations
  • telephone conversations
  • text messages
  • online chats or direct messages
  • personal interviews
  • classroom lectures with original content (like personal anecdotes)
  • memos and letters

However, personal communications do not include interviews conducted as part of your own research. These require a specific entry in the reference page.

How to make a reference page: Format and rules

Aside from the rules for how to write each entry, you also have to correctly format the reference page itself. Here are the fundamental formatting rules for how to make a reference page in APA format:

  • The reference page comes after the body text but before any final tables or appendices.
  • Start the reference list on a new page.
  • Place the title “References” in bold and center-aligned at the top of the page.
  • Reference pages are double-spaced, both within the entries and between them.
  • Each entry uses a hanging indent: The first line is not indented, but every line after the first is. The standard indentation is half an inch. See our APA reference page example below.
  • Author names are inverted, and the given first name or names are listed as initials with a period. So if you were crediting Louisa May Alcott, you would write her name as Alcott, L. M.
  • If a source has more than one author, list the names in the order they’re given by the source. Use commas in between names and place an ampersand (&) before the final author.
  • Titles in the reference list are written in sentence case, not title case. That means only the first letter is capitalized (e.g., Much ado about nothing ).
  • Entries are listed alphabetically by the authors’ surnames. If the same author is the only credit for more than one source, order their sources chronologically by publication. If there is no listed author, alphabetize by whatever word comes first, usually the first word of the title.
  • Reference pages include the APA format’s running head. For student papers, this is simply the page number flush right at the top of the page.

APA reference page example

Brown, D. (2022). Quitting Twitter? What people say about life after social media. The Wall Street Journal.

Kohout, S., Kruikemeier, S., & Bakker, B. N. (2023). May I have your attention, please? An eye tracking study on emotional social media comments. Computers in Human Behavior , 139(1), 1-9. j.chb.2022.107495

McMahon, C. (2019). The Psychology of Social Media.  Routledge. 

What’s the difference between a reference page, bibliography, and works cited page?

Reference page , works cited page , and bibliography are all terms used by different formats to refer to the page of bibliographical information at the end of a work. Although the pages all display the same kind of information, the different formats all use their own names:

  • APA format calls it the “reference page”
  • MLA format calls it the “works cited page”
  • Chicago calls it the “bibliography page”

In all cases, the page displays the detailed information for all the sources used in the paper or work, including specifics like the publisher and publication dates.

However, the format to display the information, such as the order the information comes in and the punctuation used to separate it, varies among styles. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the individual guidelines for whatever style you’re using.

APA reference page FAQs

A reference page is the section of a piece of writing that displays the bibliographical information for all the sources used, such as the title of the source, the publisher, and the publication date. “Reference page” is the name used by the APA format, although other styles have their own names.

What to include in an APA format reference page?

The APA format reference page includes a separate entry for each source used as a reference in the writing. Each entry should include the source’s author or authors, date of publication, and title, as well as where to find it if applicable (for example, a URL).

How is an APA reference page formatted?

An APA reference page includes the title “References,” bold and centered at the top, and all references written double-spaced. It uses a hanging indent, which means the first line of each entry is not indented, but all lines after the first are. Like all pages in APA format, include the page number at the top in the running head.

A reference page, bibliography, and works cited page all refer to the section of a work that contains the bibliographical information of the sources used. Each style has their own name for it: APA calls it a “reference page,” MLA calls it a “works cited page,” and Chicago calls it a “bibliography.”

apa reference page formatting

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

General Format

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.

You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel .

General APA Guidelines

Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides.   Include a page header (also known as the “ running head ”) at the top of every page. For a professional paper, this includes your paper title and the page number. For a student paper, this only includes the page number. To create a page header/running head , insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.

The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual requires that the chosen font be accessible (i.e., legible) to all readers and that it be used consistently throughout the paper. It acknowledges that many font choices are legitimate, and it advises writers to check with their publishers, instructors, or institutions for guidance in cases of uncertainty.

While the APA Manual does not specify a single font or set of  fonts for professional writing, it does recommend a few fonts that are widely available. These include sans serif fonts such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, and 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode as well as serif fonts such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, 10-point Computer Modern.

Major Paper Sections

Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page , Abstract , Main Body , and References .

Note: APA 7 provides slightly different directions for formatting the title pages of professional papers (e.g., those intended for scholarly publication) and student papers (e.g., those turned in for credit in a high school or college course).

The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name , and the institutional affiliation . A professional paper should also include the author note . A student paper should also include the course number and name , instructor name , and assignment due date .

Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. The title should be centered and written in boldface. APA recommends that your title be focused and succinct and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.

Beneath the title, type the author's name : first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).

Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation , which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.

A professional paper should include the author note beneath the institutional affiliation, in the bottom half of the title page. This should be divided up into several paragraphs, with any paragraphs that are not relevant omitted. The first paragraph should include the author’s name, the symbol for the ORCID iD, and the URL for the ORCID iD. Any authors who do not have an ORCID iD should be omitted. The second paragraph should show any change in affiliation or any deaths of the authors. The third paragraph should include any disclosures or acknowledgements, such as study registration, open practices and data sharing, disclosure of related reports and conflicts of interest, and acknowledgement of financial support and other assistance. The fourth paragraph should include contact information for the corresponding author.

A student paper should not include an author note.

Note again that page headers/page numbers (described above for professional and student papers) also appear at the top of the title page. In other words, a professional paper's title page will include the title of the paper flush left in all capitals and the page number flush right, while a student paper will only contain the page number flush right.

Student APA title page

This image shows the title page for a student APA seventh edition paper.

Title page for a student paper in APA 7 style.

Professional paper APA title page

This image shows the title page for a professional APA seventh edition paper.

Title page for a professional paper in APA 7 style.

Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center and bold the word “Abstract” (no italics, underlining, or quotation marks).

Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced. Your abstract should typically be no more than 250 words.

You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.

Abstracts are common in scholarly journal articles and are not typically required for student papers unless advised by an instructor. If you are unsure whether or not your work requires an abstract, consult your instructor for further guidance.

APA Abstract Page

This image shows the title page for a student APA seventh edition paper.

Abstract page for a student paper in APA 7 style.

Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.

How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA

Individual resources.

The page template for the new OWL site does not include contributors' names or the page's last edited date. However, select pages  still include this information.

In the absence of contributor/edit date information, treat the page as a source with a group author and use the abbreviation "n.d." for "no date":

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.).  Title of resource.  Purdue Online Writing Lab. http://Web address for OWL resource

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.).  General Writing FAQs. Purdue Online Writing Lab.

The generic APA citation for OWL pages, which includes author/edit date information, is this:

Contributors' names. (Last edited date).  Title of resource . Site Name. http://Web address for OWL resource

Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style  can be found here .


APA (7th Edition) Referencing Guide

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Notes on the layout for your reference list:

Layout of page:

  • The reference list starts on a new page, after your assignment and before any appendices. Place the word "References", centered, in bold, at the top of the page. APA does not require other formatting for the title of your reference page (like underlining), but check with your lecturer.
  • Each entry in the reference list has a hanging indent , so that the first line of the entry is flush with the left margin, but all other lines are indented (this is the opposite of the paragraph structure in the body of your essay). Tip: You can do this easily by selecting your references, and pressing Ctrl + T on a PC, or Command (⌘) + T on a Mac. (For Word Online, see the instructions for creating a hanging indent here: ).

Order of references:

  • For APA the reference list is arranged in alphabetical order of authors' surnames.
  • Arrange by first author's name, then by second author if you have the same first author, etc. ( check the page on Authors for how to lay out the reference if you have more than one author ).
  • If a reference has no author , list it alphabetically according to the title. Ignore the words 'A', 'An' and 'The' at the beginning of a corporate author or title for deciding where it fits alphabetically.
  • N.B. A year without a date is considered to be "older" than a year with a date ("nothing comes before something"), so 2018 will go before 2018, September - and a month without a day will go before a month with a day, so 2018, September will go before 2018, September 12. Please note that the year only is required in-text, so you will need to follow the advice below whenever you have multiple citations in the same year.
  • N.B. If you have a full date, only use the title to order the references if the date is identical. Always use 'a', 'b', etc after the year, if more than one work has been published by the same author in the same year, as this is used in the in-text referencing, e.g. (2019a, April 12), (2019b, March 23). For example:

Queensland Health. (2017a, April 9). Managing your asthma symptoms .

Queensland Health. (2017b, August 23). Five things you might not know about asthma .

Format of titles:

  • APA uses sentence case for all titles except for journal titles.
  • Begin each title and subtitle with a capital letter, but only names should be capitalised for all titles other than journal titles.

Below is an example of a reference list formatted in APA style.  Mouse over the references to find more information about writing a reference list.

This list has been single spaced for this guide, but you will probably be asked to double-space your assignment, and that includes the reference list.

Note: the DOIs and URLs in the reference list above should be hyperlinked to the appropriate page, but the code for hyperlinking and the code for mouseover text was not compatible. In your reference list, make sure your DOIs and URLs are hyperlinked to the relevant page.

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APA: Sample References Page

APA style dictates that the references page should be double-spaced, and that entries should be formatted with a hanging indent. A hanging indent is formatted so that the first line of each entry is at the left margin and subsequent lines in the same entry should be indented.

For titles starting with articles ("a" and "the"; and equivalents in other languages), the article is not considered when alphabetizing. Numerals and numbers are alphabetized as though they are spelled out.

What to include

In APA style, every reference cited in your text must be reflected in an entry on your references page. The only exceptions to this rule are personal communications with the author such as e-mails, conversations, and letters which need only be cited in text. Likewise, every item on the references page must correspond to an in-text citation somewhere in your work. Do not include works that you do not cite in the body of your paper.

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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format / APA Reference Page

How to Format an APA Reference Page

In APA, the “Works Cited” page is referred to as a “Reference List” or “Reference Page.” “Bibliography” also may be used interchangeably, even though there are some differences between the two.

If you are at the point in your article or research paper where you are looking up APA bibliography format, then congratulations! That means you’re almost done.

In this guide, you will learn how to successfully finish a paper by creating a properly formatted APA bibliography. More specifically, you will learn how to create a reference page . The guidelines presented here come from the 7 th edition of the APA’s Publication Manual .

A note on APA reference page style: In this guide, “bibliography” and “references” may be used interchangeably, even though there are some differences between the two. The most important thing is to use the label “References” when writing your paper since APA style recommends including a reference page.

Here’s a run-through of everything this page includes:

Difference between an APA bibliography and a reference page

What about annotated bibliographies, understanding apa reference page format, apa reference page formatting: alphabetizing by surname, q: what should not be on an apa reference page.

The difference between a bibliography and a reference page is a matter of scope. A bibliography usually includes all materials and sources that were used to write the paper. A reference page, on the other hand, only includes entries for works that were specifically cited in the text of the paper.

There are some cases in which a professor or journal might request an annotated bibliography . An annotated bibliography is basically a reference page that includes your comments and insights on each source.

An annotated bibliography can be a document all on its own, or part of a bigger document. That means creating an annotated bibliography by itself could be an assignment, or you may have to include one as part of your research paper, journal submission, or other project.

If you do need to add an APA annotated bibliography , it goes after the reference page on its own page, inside the appendices.

A properly formatted APA reference page begins on a new page, after the end of the text. It comes before any figures, tables, maps, or appendices. It’s double-spaced and features what’s called a hanging indent , where the first line of each reference is not indented, and the second line of each reference is indented 0.5 inches. The reference page is also labeled with a bold, center-justified, and capitalized “References.”

To summarize, the reference page should be:

  • Placed on its own page, after the text but before any tables, figures, or appendices.
  • In the same font as the rest of the paper.
  • Double-spaced the whole way through (including individual references).
  • Formatted with hanging indents (each line after the first line of every entry indented 0.5 inches).
  • Labeled with a bold, center-justified, and capitalized “References.”

Note: You can use the paragraph function of your word processing program to apply the hanging indent.

Q: What font am I supposed to use for the reference page or bibliography?

The APA reference page/bibliography should be in the same font as the rest of your paper. However, APA Style does not actually call for one specific font. According to Section 2.19 of the Publication Manual , the main requirement is to choose a font that is readable and accessible to all users. Some of the recommended font options for APA style include:

  • Sans serif fonts: Calibri (11pt), Arial (11pt), or Lucida (10pt).
  • Serif fonts: Times New Roman (12pt), Georgia (11pt), or Normal/Computer Modern (10pt).

Q: What are the margins supposed to be for the reference page or bibliography?

Aside from the 0.5 inch hanging indent on the second line of each reference entry, you do not need to modify the margins of the reference page or bibliography. These should be the same as the rest of your paper, which according to APA is 1-inch margins on all sides of the page. This is the default margin setting for most computer word processors, so you probably won’t have to change anything.

Q: What information goes into an APA style reference page or bibliography?

An APA style reference page should include full citations for all the sources that were cited in your paper. This includes sources that were summarized, paraphrased, and directly quoted. Essentially, if you included an in-text citation in your paper, that source should also appear in your reference list. The reference list is organized in alphabetical order by author.

The formatting for reference list citations varies depending on the kind of source and the available information. But for most sources, your reference list entry will include the following:

  • The last name(s) and initials of the author(s).
  • The date the source was published (shown in parentheses).
  • The title of the source in sentence case. The title should be in italics if the source stands on its own (like a book, webpage, or movie).
  • The name of the periodical, database, or website if the source is an article from a magazine, journal, newspaper, etc. Names of periodicals are usually italicized; names of databases and websites usually are not.
  • The publisher of the source and/or the URL where the source can be found.

Here are a few templates and examples for how common sources should be formatted in an APA style reference list. If your source is not found here, there is also a guide highlighting different APA citation examples .

Citing a Book

Author’s last name, Author’s first initial. Author’s middle initial. (Year of publication). Title of work . Publisher.

James, Henry. (2009). The ambassadors . Serenity Publishers.

Citing a Journal

Author’s last name, Author’s first initial. Author’s middle initial. (Year, Month Date published). Article title. Journal Name , Volume(Issue), page number(s). or URL (if available)

Jacoby, W. G. (1994). Public attitudes toward government spending. American Journal of Political Science , 38(2), 336-361.

Citing a Website

Author’s last name, Author’s first initial. Author’s middle initial. (Year, Month Date published). Article title or page title . Site Name. URL

Limer, E. (2013, October 1). Heck yes! The first free wireless plan is finally here . Gizmodo.

Next, let’s take a look at a real example of a properly formatted APA reference page to see how these pieces come together.

APA reference page example

Creating an APA reference page is actually a lot easier than creating a bibliography with other style guides. In fact, as long as you are aware of the formatting rules, the reference page practically writes itself as you go.

Below is an example reference page that follows the guidelines detailed above. EasyBib also has a guide featuring a complete APA style sample paper , including the reference page.

apa example student reference page

All APA citations included in the reference page should be ordered alphabetically, using the first word of the reference entry. In most cases, this is the author’s surname (or the surname of the author listed first, when dealing with citations for sources with multiple authors ). However, there are times when a reference entry might begin with a different element.

Creating an alphabetized reference page or bibliography might seem like a simple task. But when you start dealing with multiple authors and similar last names, it can actually get a little tricky. Fortunately, there are a few basic rules that can keep you on track.

The “nothing precedes something” rule

When the surnames of two or more authors begin with the same letters, the “nothing precedes something” rule is how to figure it out. Here is an example of how it works.

Imagine your reference page includes the authors Berg, M.S. and Bergman, H.D. The first four letters of each author are the same. The fifth letters are M and H respectively. Since H comes before M in the alphabet, you might assume that Bergman, H.D. should be listed first.

APA Style requires that “nothing precede something,” which means that Berg will appear before Bergman. Similarly, a James would automatically appear before a Jameson, and a Michaels before a Michaelson.

Disregard spaces and punctuation marks

If a surname has a hyphen, apostrophe, or other punctuation mark, it can be ignored for alphabetization purposes. Similarly, anything that appears inside of parentheses or brackets should be disregarded.

Ordering multiple works by the same author

It is not uncommon for a research paper to reference multiple books by the same author. If you have more than one reference entry by the same person, then the entries should be listed chronologically by year of publication.

If a reference entry has no year of publication available, then it should precede any entries that do have a date. Here’s an example of a properly alphabetized order for multiple entries from the same author:

Guzman, M.B. (n.d.).

Guzman, M.B. (2016).

Guzman, M.B. (2017).

Guzman, M.B. (2019).

Guzman, M.B. (in press).

“In press” papers do not yet have a year of publication associated with them. All “in press” sources are listed last, like the one shown above.

Ordering works with the same author and same date

If the same author has multiple entries with the same year of publication, you need to differentiate them with lowercase letters. Otherwise, the in-text citations in your paper will correspond to more than one reference page entry.

Same author and same year of publication

Here’s a look at how to use lowercase letters to differentiate between entries with the same author and same year of publication:

Guzman, M.B. (2020a).

Guzman, M.B. (2020b).

Guzman, M.B. (2020c).

These lowercase letters are assigned to make the in-text citations more specific. However, it does not change the fact that their year of publication is the same. If no month or day is available for any of the sources, then they should be ordered alphabetically using the title of the work.

When alphabetizing by title, ignore the words “A,” “An,”,and “The” if they’re the first word of the title.

Same author and same year of publication, with more specific dates

If more specific dates are provided, such as a month or day, then it becomes possible to order these entries chronologically.

Guzman, M.B. (2020b, April 2).

Guzman, M.B. (2020c, October 15).

Ordering authors with the same surname but different initials

Authors who share the same surname but have different first or middle names can be alphabetized by their first initial or second initial.

Guzman, R.L. (2015).

Ordering works with no listed author, or an anonymous author

If you have reference entries with no listed author, the first thing to double-check is whether or not there was a group author instead. Group authors can be businesses, task forces, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, etc.

If there is no individual author listed, then have another look at the source. If it is published on a government agency website, for instance, there is a good chance that the agency was the author of the work, and should be listed as such in the reference entry. You can read more about how to handle group authors in Section 9.11 of the Publication Manual .

What if the work is actually authored by “Anonymous”?

If the work you’re referencing actually has the word “Anonymous” listed as the author, then you can list it as the author and alphabetize it as if it were a real name. But this is only if the work is actually signed “Anonymous.”

What if there is no listed author and it’s definitely not a group author?

If you have confirmed that there is no individual or group author for the work, then you can use the work’s title as the author element in the reference entry. In any case where you’re using the work’s title to alphabetize, you should skip the words “A,” “An,” and “The.”

An APA reference page should not contain any of the following:

  • The content of your paper (the reference page should start on its own page after the end of your paper).
  • Entries for works for further reading or background information or entries for an epigraph from a famous person (the reference page should only include works that are referenced or quoted in your paper as part of your argument).
  • Entries for personal communications such as emails, phone calls, text messages, etc. (since the reader would not be able to access them).
  • Entries for whole websites, periodicals, etc. (If needed, the names of these can be mentioned within the body of your paper instead.)
  • Entries for quotations from research participants (since they are part of your original research, they do not need to be included).

Published October 28, 2020.

APA Formatting Guide

APA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • In-text Citations
  • Multiple Authors
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Parenthetical Citations
  • Reference Page
  • Sample Paper
  • APA 7 Updates
  • View APA Guide

Citation Examples

  • Book Chapter
  • Journal Article
  • Magazine Article
  • Newspaper Article
  • Website (no author)
  • View all APA Examples

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The following rules will help you identify when to use DOIs and when to use URLs in references:

  • Use a DOI wherever available, be it a print version or online version.
  • For a print publication that does not have a DOI, do not add a DOI or URL (even if a URL is available).
  • For an online publication, if both a DOI and URL are given, include only the DOI.
  • For online publications that only have a URL (and no DOI), follow the below recommendations:
  • Add a URL in the reference list entry for publications from websites (other than databases). Double check that the URL will work for readers.
  • For publications from most academic research databases, which are easily accessible, do not include a URL or database information in the reference. In this case, the reference will be the same as the print version.
  • For publications from databases that publish limited/proprietary work that would only be available in that database, include the database name and the URL. If the URL would require a login, include the URL for the database home page or login page instead of the URL for the work.
  • If a URL will not work for the reader or is no longer accessible, follow the guidance for citing works with no source.

To format your APA references list, follow these recommendations:

  • Begin the references on a new page. This page should be placed at the end of the paper.
  • All sides of the paper should have a 1-inch margin.
  • Set the heading as “References” in bold text and center it.
  • Arrange the reference entries alphabetically according to the first item within the entries (usually the author surname or title).
  •  Add a hanging indent of 0.5 inches (i.e., indent any line after the first line of a reference list entry).

See above for a visual example of a reference page and additional examples.

Special Cases

Multiple entries with the same author(s) are arranged by publication year. Entries with no dates first, then in chronological order. If the year published is also the same, a letter is added to the year and the entries are arranged alphabetically (after arrangement by year).

  • Robin, M. T. (n.d.)
  • Robin, M. T. (1987)
  • Robin, M. T. (1989a)
  • Robin, M. T. (1989b)

Single-author source and multi-author source that share one author. One-author entries are listed first even if the multi-author entries were published earlier.

  • Dave, S. P., Jr. (2006)
  • Dave, S. P., Jr., & Glyn, T. L. (2005)

For references with multiple authors that have the same first author but different subsequent authors, alphabetize the entries by the last name of the second author (or third if the first two authors are the same).

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APA References Page Formatting and Example

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Educator, Researcher

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Learn about our Editorial Process

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

The APA reference page (also called the reference list) is the final page of your paper where all sources you cited in the main text are listed.

It should include the full details of all sources you cited in the main text, arranged A-Z alphabetically by author’s surname.

Everything cited in the text must appear in the reference list, and everything on your reference page must be something you have referred to in the text. Make sure you don”t have anything in one place that isn’t in the other.

Reference Page vs. Bibliography

A reference list includes all works that have been cited in the assignment. A bibliography is a detailed list of references cited in your work, plus the background readings or other material you may have read, but not cited.

Note : This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019.

Reference Page: Basic Rules

List references on a new page. Type “References” as page heading, written in boldface, at the top center of the page. Use double spacing. Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work. For multiple articles by the same author, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to most recent. Indent second and subsequent lines of each entry using a hanging indent of 5-7 spaces (by pressing Ctrl + T on a PC, or Command (⌘) + T on a Mac). All references in APA end with a full stop except when the reference ends with a URL or a DOI.

APA Reference List Example

An Example of an APA Format Reference List

Journal Article Reference in APA Format

  • Author or authors. The surname is followed by a comma and the first initials.
  • Year of publication of the article (in parentheses). End with a period.
  • Article title. Capitalize only the first letter of the first word. End with a period.
  • Capitalize all major words in the title of the journal, followed by a comma.
  • Italicize journal title and volume number. Do not put a space between in the volue number and the parentheses around the issue number.
  • Issue number of journal in parentheses (no italics) followed by a comma.
  • Page range of article. Use an en dash (not a hyphen); do not put spaces around the dash. End with a period.
  • Include a DOI (digital object identifier) for all works that have one (i.e. online journal articles). Do not put a period after the DOI url.

Journal Article (Online): One Author

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number (issue number), page numbers. doi: or URL of the journal’s home page

Matsunaga, M. (2011). Underlying circuits of social support for bullied victims: An appraisalbased perspective on supportive communication and postbullying adjustment. Human Communication Research, 37 (2), 174-206. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2958.2010.01398.x

Journal Article (Online): 2-7 Authors

Author, A. A., Author, A. A., Author, A. A., Author, A. A., & Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number (issue number), page numbers. doi: or URL of the journal’s home page

Williams, S. L., & Mickelson, K. D. (2008). A paradox of support seeking and rejection among the stigmatized. Personal Relationships, 15 (4), 493-509. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6811.2008.00212.x

Book Reference in APA Format

  • Book title (in italics ). Capitalize only the first letter of the first word. End with a period.
  • Edition (in parentheses), if other than first. Position this after the title but before the period.
  • Incude the name of the publisher, followed by a period. Do not include the publisher location.
  • Include a DOI for all workds that have one, regardless of whether you used the online version or print version. Do not put a period after the DOI url.

Book: One Author

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of the work . Publisher.

Fletcher, D. P. (2018). Disrupters: Success strategies for women who break the mold . Entrepreneur Press.

Book: Two Authors, and Edition

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of the work (edition). Publisher.

Moran, A., & Toner, J. (2017). A critical introduction to sport psychology (3rd ed.). Routledge.

  • Chapter in an Edited Book: One Author

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of chapter. In A. Editor & B. Editor (Eds.), Title of the book (pages of chapter). Publisher.

Haybron, M. D. (2008). Philosophy and the science of the subjective well-being. In M. Eid & R. J. Larsen (Eds.), The science of subjective well-being (pp. 17-43). Guilford Press.

Reference for a Chapter in Edited Book in APA Format

  • Title of the book chapter. Capitalize only the first letter of the first word. End with a period.
  • Write the word “In” and the initials and last name (not inverted) of each editor. Use “(Ed.)” for one editor or “(Eds.)” for multiple editors. End with a comma.
  • Write “pp.” and include the chapter page range (in parentheses). End with a period.
  • Include a DOI if available. Do not put a period after the DOI url.

Reference for a Website in APA Format

  • Year, Month Day of publication (in parentheses). Use the most exact date possible. End with a period.
  • Title (in italics ). End with a period.
  • Website name. Capitalize all major words. End with a period.
  • Website URL. Do not put a period after the url.

APA Website Reference Example

McLeod, S. A. (2019, September 29). APA reference page formatting and example . Simply Psychology.

Further Information

  • APA Style 7th Edition Quick Reference Guide
  • APA Style Citations & References

apa reference page formatting


  1. APA Reference Page: How to Format Works Cited

    apa reference page formatting

  2. APA Format Examples, Tips, and Guidelines

    apa reference page formatting

  3. Setting Up the APA Reference Page

    apa reference page formatting

  4. APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.)

    apa reference page formatting

  5. APA Reference Page

    apa reference page formatting

  6. How to format APA page numbers

    apa reference page formatting


  1. APA Formatting & Citing with Laura

  2. APA (7th Edition) References Hanging Indent

  3. APA Reference Page

  4. Formatting In-Text Citations in APA Style

  5. APA Formatting : How to Create a Reference List in APA Style

  6. How to Format Your References When an Element is Missing


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