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APA Citation Style & Formatting: Introduction to APA Style

A guide to citing sources and to creating a list of references.

Basics of APA Tutorial

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More APA Style Guides

What is APA Style?

This guide will help you to cite your sources according to the 6th Edition (2010) style of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

   writer at deskAPA Style

APA style is a set of guidelines developed to help writers express their ideas and research findings clearly and consistently. APA Style was developed by the American Psychological Association and is used in the social sciences, including psychology.

This online guide is designed to help students with several basic areas of APA Style including:

  • Citing print and online sources in a references page at the end of a paper
  • Citing sources in the body of the paper (sometimes called in-text citations)
  • Basic formatting of the paper
  • Avoiding plagiarism

Don't see what you need?

In case you do not see the type of source you need to cite, try one of the other guides listed in the box on the left, called More APA Style Guides, or refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition. It's available in the Ready Reference section on the first floor of the library, near the reference desk.  Or ask a librarian - we're here to help.

Why Do I Need to Cite My Sources?

Citing your sources...

  • helps readers of your paper to identify the sources of the information you used
  • helps you find the information you used, later on
  • helps you avoid plagiarism because it shows which ideas are yours and which ideas belong to another person
  • is expected for college-level and professional-level academic work


"Plagiarism" means submitting work that is someone else's as one's own. For example, copying material from a book or other source without acknowledging that the words or ideas are someone else's, and not one's own, is plagiarism. If a student copies an author's words exactly, he or she should treat the passage as a direct quotation and supply the appropriate citation. If someone else's ideas are used, even if it is paraphrased, appropriate credit should be given. Lastly, a student commits plagiarism when a term paper is purchased and/or submitted which he or she did not write.

(Note: the above definition is adapted from Tools for Teaching, by Barbara Gross Davis, Jossey-Bass, Inc., 1993, pp. 300).

For further information about College of San Mateo's plagiarism policy, see this page.


This guide was originally created by...

Lisa Velarde

Citation Maker Tools

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NoodleTools helps you create citations and reference lists in most major styles step-by-step.

APA Style Manuals in Print @ CSM Library