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This page provides an overview of the format of a reference list and the order of its entries. In addition, this page describes how to format each element of a reference entry. Lastly, this page provides descriptions for formatting various types of entries with examples taken from the APA Manual (7th ed.)​. For more examples of various reference entries, please check out APA's webpage on Reference Examples or Chapter 10 of the APA Manual (7th ed.).

Note ​​that for documents using the Saybrook Handbook of Format and Style (2020), references are single spaced.  

​Reference Elements

The purpose of the reference list is to provide the information needed to retrieve the original sources cited in the document. Each reference entry is comprised of several key components including (a) the author, (b) the date, (c) the title, and (d) the source. While each component may look different depending on the source type, these are the core elements that build all reference entries. 

For a complete description of the guidelines for each element, see Sections 9.7–9.37 of the APA Manual (7th ed.). 

Formatting of the Reference Page

To format the reference page itself follow these guidelines.

  • Begin the reference list on a new page.
  • Place the section label References at the top of the page, centered, and bold.
  • Order entries alphabetically by author.
    • Multiple works by the same first author are arranged by publication with the earliest works presented first. Entries with no date precede those with dates and in-press references are listed at the end.
    • One-author entries precede multiple-author entries beginning with the same first author, even if the multiple-author entries have earlier publication dates​.
    • Multiple-author entries with the same first author and different subsequent authors should be arranged alphabetically by the surname of the second author or, if the second author is the same, the surname of the third author, and so forth.
    • For works with the same author and date, place dates with only the year first. If the dates are identical, arrange the entries by title and ​add a letter to each year to distinguish them as outlined in Section 8.19 of the APA Manual (7th ed.)​.
  • Double space the reference list.
  • Apply a hanging indent of 0.5 to each reference entry.

Elements of Reference Entries

There are various elements presented within one reference entry. This section outlines the requirements for each element presented in most references.

DOIs and URLs

  • DOIs always take precedence over URLs for any source. If no DOI exists for the source, then a stable URL may be used. However, if there is no stable URL, this criterion may be omitted from the entry.
  • DOIs and URLs should be presented as active hyperlinks for accessibility purposes.
  • DOIs should begin with the prefix or
  • Do not include the words “Retrieved from" before URLs unless a retrieval date is also needed. Retrieval dates are only needed when the source is expected to change over time and is not archived. Most academic sources do not require a retrieval date. When needed, the date appears before the URL. For example: Retrieved October 11, 2020, from https://xxxx
  • In the case of long DOIs and URLs: (a) line breaks should not be manually inserted, and (b) breaks applied automatically by a word-processing program (e.g., Microsoft Word) are permissible.


Goldberg, J. F. (2018). Evaluating adverse drug effects [Webinar]. American Psychiatric Association.
McCauley, S. M., & Christiansen, M. H. (2019). Language learning as language use: A cross-linguistic model of child language development.​
​​​Psychological Review, 126(1), 1–51.


Use the following guidelines to format the author element of reference entries. For a complete list see Section 9.8 of the APA Manual (7th ed.).

  • Present individual authors with the surname first, followed by a comma and the initials: Author, A. A.
  • When multiple authors are listed, use a comma to separate the authors' names; use an ampersand (&) before the final author's name: Author, A. A., & Author, B. B.
  • Include up to 20 authors before omitting names with an ellipsis.
  • Place a space between initials.
  • Write the full name of the group author in the refence entry, followed by a period. Do not use abbreviations for group authors in reference entries.
  • When the publisher is used as the author, the publisher element is omitted in the reference list entry to avoid redundancy​.


Miller, T. C., Brown, M. J., Wilson, G. L., Evans, B. B., Kelly, R. S., Turner, S. T., Lewis, F., Less, L. H., Cox, G., Harris, H. L., Martin, P., Gonzalez, W. L.,
​Hughes, W., Carter, D., Campbell, C., Baker, A. B., Flores, T., Gray, W. E., Green, G., … & Nelson, T. P. (2018).
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).


Most sources in academic writing include the year only (such as books and journal articles). However, some sources require further specificity if they are published on a frequent basis (such as websites).

To format the date, enclose the date of publication in parentheses, followed by a period: (2020). For entries with more specific date information, place the year first, and then the month and date or season: (2020, August 26) or (2020, Spring/Summer). Do not abbreviate months or seasons.

For more information on dates, see S​ections 9.13–9.17 of the APA Manual (7th ed.).


Titles in reference entries may refer to works that stand alone (whole books, dissertations, etc.) or works that are part of a greater whole (periodical articles, edited book chapters, etc.).

Use the following guidelines to format titles.

  • For works that are part of a greater whole (ex., journal article titles, edited book chapters), do not italicize or use quotation marks for the title. Capitalize the first word, proper nouns, and the first word following a colon.
  • For works that stand alone (ex., whole books, webpages), italicize the tit​​​​​le. Capitalize the first word, proper nouns, and the first word following a colon.
  • Enclose additional information in parenthesis after the title. Additional information may include editions and/or volume number. For example: Nursing: A concept-based approach to learning (2nd ed., Vol. 1).
  • Finish the title element with a period unless the title itself ends in a question mark or exclamation point. In such cases, that punctuation mark takes the place of the period.

For more information on titles, see S​​ections 9.18–9.22 of the APA Manual (7th ed.). 

Missing Information

The following table is adapted from the APA Manual (7th ed.) Table 9.1 and presents a description of how to create a reference or in-text citation when pieces of information are missing.

Missing Element​

​Template ​​​
Reference List EntryIn-text Citation
Nothing—all elements are presentProvide the author, date, title, and source of the work.Author. (Date). Title. Source.

(Author, year)

Author (year)

AuthorProvide title, date, and source.Title. (Date). Source.

(Title, year)

Title (year)

DateProvide the author, write “n.d." for “no date," and then provide the title and source.Author (n.d.). Title. Source.

(Author, n.d.)

Author (n.d.)

TitleProvide the author and date, describe the work in square brackets, and then provide the source.Author. (Date). [Description of work]. Source.

(Author, year)

Author (year)

Author and DateProvide the title, write “n.d." for “no date," and then provide the source.Title. (n.d.). Source

(Title, n.d.)

Title (n.d.)

Author and TitleDescribe the work in square brackets, and then provide the date and source.[Description of work]. (Date). Source

([Description of work], year)

[Description of work] (year)

Date and TitleProvide the author, write “n.d." for “no date," describe the work in square brackets, and then provide the source.Author. (n.d.). [Description of work]. Source.

(Author, n.d.)

Author (n.d.)

Author, Date, and TitleDescribe the work in square brackets, write “n.d." for “no date," and then provide the source.[Description of work]. (n.d.). Source.

([Description of work], n.d.)

[Description of work] (n.d.)

SourceCite as a personal communication (see APA Manual, Section 8.9) or find another work to cite (see APA Manual, Section 9.37).No reference list entry

(C. C. Communicator, personal communication, month day, year)

C. C. Communicator (personal communication, month day, year)


Note. This table illustrates how reference category templates change when reference elements such as the author (Section 9.12), date (Section 9.17), title (Section 9.22), and/or source (Section 9.37) are missing. Italic formatting within the title or source varies by category and is not shown here. To create a reference list entry, follow the template for the work's reference category (see Section 9.1) and adjust the information as shown here.

​Types of Reference Entries

This section provides a basic overview of the most common reference entries. For a complete set of examples and requirements, consult the APA Manual (7th ed.). 

Journal Articles

  • Include author(s), date, title of article, title of journal, volume number, issue number, page range, and DOI.
  • If the journal article does not have a DOI and is from an academic research database, end the reference after the page range (for an explanation of why, see the Database Information page). The reference in this case is the same as for a print journal article.
  • Italicize journal title and volume number.
  • If the journal article has an article number instead of a page range, include the word “Article" and then the article number instead of the page range.
For more information on journal article entries,  download the PDF Journal Article Reference Checklist​ (APA Style, n.d.).

The image below (pulled from the APA 7 Reference Quick Guide [APA Style, n.d.]) depicts the elements presented in journal article entries.​​​ In addition, samples of journal article entries are provided below the image. 
Journal Article.PNG


Jerrentrup, A., Mueller, T., Glowalla, U., Herder, M., Henrichs, N., Neubauer, A., & Schaefer, J. R. (2018). Teaching medicine with the help of “Dr.
House." PLoS ONE, 13(3), Article e0193972.
Grady, J. S., Her, M., Moreno, G., Perez, C., & Yelinek, J. (2019). Emotions in storybooks: A comparison of storybooks that represent ethnic and racial
​​​groups in the United States. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 8(3), 207–217.


  • Provide the author, date, ​title, and publisher of the book.
    • Italicize the title.
    • Include volume or edition information after the title in parentheses without italicization.
  • Include only the name of the publisher. Do not include location information of the publisher.
  • Use the same format for books and ebooks. Do not include the format, platform, or device for ebooks.
  • Include a DOI or URL when appropriate.
  • For whole edited books, u​se the abbreviation “(Ed.)" for one editor and the abbreviation “(Eds.)" for multiple editors after the editor names, followed by a period. In the case of multiple editors, include the role once, after all of the editor names.
The image below (pulled from the APA 7 Reference Quick Guide [​​APA Style, n.d.]) depicts the elements presented in book entries​.​​​ In addition, samples of book entries are provided below the image. 



​Brown, L. S. (2018). Feminist therapy (2nd ed.). American Psychological Association.
Hygum, E., & Pedersen, P. M. (Eds.). (2010). Early childhood education: Values and practices in Denmark. Hans Reitzels Forlag.
Svendsen, S., & Løber, L. (2020). The big picture/Academic writing: The one-hour guide (3rd digital ed.). Hans Reitzel Forlag.

​Chapters of Edited Books

  • Provide author(s) of the chapter, date, title of the chapter, editors of the book, title of the book, page location of the chapter, publisher, and DOI/URL.
  • Include any edition information in the same parentheses as the page range of the chapter, separated by a comma.
  • For ebook chapters without pagination, omit the page range from the reference.

The image below (pulled from the APA 7 Reference Quick Guide [APA Style, n.d.]) depicts the elements presented in book entries​.​​​ In addition, samples of book entries are provided below the image. ​

chapter edited book.png


Aron, L., Botella, M., & Lubart, T. (2019). Culinary arts: Talent and their development. In R. F. Subotnik, P. Olszewski-Kubilius, & F. C. Worrell (Eds.),

​The psychology of high performance: Developing human potential into domain-specific talent (pp. 345–359). American Psychological Association.

Balsam, K. F., Martell, C. R., Jones, K. P., & Safren, S. A. (2010). Affirmative cognitive behavior therapy with sexual and gender minority people. In G.
​​Y. Iwamasa & P. A. Hays (Eds.), Culturally responsive cognitive behavior therapy: Practice and supervision (2nd ed., pp. 287–314). American Psychological Association.

Webpage on a Website

  • Include author, date (year, month, and day), title, website, and URL.
  • Be as specific as possible for the author. Some websites will provide an individual author while others will have a group author.
  • When possible, include the month and day of publication.


Bologna, C. (2019, October 31). Why some people with anxiety love watching horror movies. HuffPost.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2018, July). Anxiety disorders. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.
Schaeffer, K. (2021, October 1). What we know about online learning and the homework gap amid the pandemic. Pew Research Center.
World Health Organization. (2018, May 24). The top 10 causes of death

Dissertation/Thesis from a Database

  • Include author, year, title, publication number, document type, institution, database, and URL.
  • Include publication numbers when available after the tile in parentheses.
  • Include the description of the document “Doctoral dissertation" or “Master's thesis" followed by a comma and the name of the institution in square brackets following the publication number.
  • At the end, provide the database name followed by a period. Then, instert ​a URL if available.
  • For unpublished dissertations, include the description “Unpublished doctoral dissertation" or “Unpublished master's thesis" in square brackets after the title followed by a period and the name of the institution. Since the document is unpublished, no publication number, database, or URL will need to be provided.


Harris, L. (2014). Instructional leadership perceptions and practices of elementary school leaders [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of
Kabir, J. M. (2016). Factors influencing customer satisfaction at a fast food hamburger chain: The relationship between customer satisfaction and
​​customer loyalty (Publication No. 10169573) [Doctoral dissertation, Wilmington University]. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.

​Additional Resources

​​For more information covering the basics of reference entry formatting, you may also consult Chapters ​9 and 10 of the APA Manual (2020), the APA Style website, or Purdue OWL's webpage on Basic Rules of Reference Lists. The following links will send you to instructions for generating specific types of items in a resource list.

For a comprehensive source of examples, click on this link to access APA Style's webpage "Reference Examples" and explore the site for the specific type of reference you may need. In addition, feel free to browse other resources related to references by clicking here to visit APA's main page for References. ​