The most common system of documentation used in the social sciences is the author-date system of the American Psychological Association (APA).


General APA Bibliographic form:

  • For each author, list in order of authorship, author's last name, followed by a comma and initials of first and middle name. Do not use authors' first names.
  • The first author's last name is flush with left margin on first line; indent each subsequent line.
  • Use "&" to join names of two or more authors. Do not write out "and."
  • Place year of publication in parentheses after author(s).
  • Place periods between major divisions and at the end.
  • Italicize the title of the source (e.g., book, journal).
  • If a work is subtitled place a colon between title and subtitle. Capitalize only the first word of title and subtitle (except for proper nouns).
  • For books, include the place of publication and publisher, separated by a colon.
  • For articles in journals, Italicize journal/magazine title. Capitalize all major words, followed by volume number and inclusive pages, all of which are separated by commas. Italicize the volume number.
  • Center the word "References" at the top of your list of references. Include all references you have cited in the text and only these references. 
  • Single-space within entries; double-space between entries.
  • Alphabetize list of references by authors' last names. If a reference has no author, alphabetize by the first word of the article (excluding "a," "an," "the").

Example of citations in APA format


Garrod, A., Smulyan, L., Powers, S., & Kilkenny, R. (2008). Adolescent portraits: Identity, relationships, and challenges (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Chapter in an edited book:

Flavell, J. H. (1976). Metacognitive aspects of problem solving. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), The nature of intelligence (pp. 231-35). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.

Journal article:

Tronick, E. A. (1989). Emotions and emotional communication in infants. American Psychologist, 44, 112-119.

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