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APA Citation Style & Formatting

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

Citing Sources When Author Unknown

No author listed for your source? No problem!  Just use the first word or two of the title of the source in place of the author's name, as in this example using an article:

Brief in-text citation:

There is currently a strong need in Haiti for nurses who speak French ("French Speakers," 2010).

Full citation in list of references:

"French speakers needed for Haiti." (2010).  Nursing Standard, 24(46), 10. Retrieved from http://nursingstandard.

Citing Sources When Date Unknown

If no date is given for your source, simply use the abbreviation n.d., which stands for no date, in place of the year. Use n.d. in your brief citation in the text of your paper and in your full citation in the list of references at the end of your paper.

Citing Sources in the Body of the Paper

Citation requirements

Citing your sources involves two parts for every information source used:

  1. citing an information source briefly in the body of the paper
  2. citing an information source fully in the references list at the end of the paper

In text citation examples

The brief citation in the body or text of the paper should always correspond to an entry in your references list. 

Example 1: Brief in-text citation, put into the author's own words

According to Bloom (2000), Cervantes was not only a contemporary of Shakespeare's but also his rival in literary achievement.

When citing some information or paraphrasing an idea from a source in the text of your paper, but not using the exact words, include the author's last name and the year somewhere in the sentence but do not use quotation marks. The above is an example of citing an idea from the printed book How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom, published in 2000.


Example 2: Brief in-text citation, using a direct quote:

Bloom writes that the best short stories "demand and reward many rereadings" (2000, p.65).

When using a direct quote, which means copying words exactly as they appear in the source, the in-text citation includes the page number where the quote may be found as well as the author's name and the year, as in the example above.

Reference List citation example

Once you have cited the source briefly in the text according to one of the examples above, your references list should include a full citation for the information source, using the same author name and year used in your brief citation and listed in alphabetical order.  This helps your reader identify the source of your information quickly from among the other citations in the list of references.

The full citation for this print book in the list of references at the end of the paper:

Bloom, H. (2000).  How to read and why.  New York, NY: Scribner.