How to Cite an Abstract Source in APA Style

Abstracts are short summaries of longer articles. Although the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) states that it is preferable to use full-text sources as references, it does provide style guidelines for the citation of abstracts as sources. The exact format of your citation will depend on whether you are citing an abstract that appears in print or one that you accessed online.

List the name of the author by placing the last name first followed by a comma. Include the initial of the author's first name followed by a period. For example: Smith, J.

List the date of publication in parentheses followed by a period. For example: (2010).

List the title of the article. According to APA guidelines, only the first letter of the title should be capitalized. The first letter of proper nouns should also be capitalized. For example: Nursing students in China and available scholarship support.

Note that the source you are citing is an abstract of a longer article. This information should appear in brackets. For example: [Abstract].

List the title of the journal, volume number and pages the article appears in. The title and volume number should be italicized. For example: American Journal of Nursing, 47, 317-347. If you accessed the abstract in print, then your citation is finished. If you accessed the abstract online, continue to Step 6.

List the URL of the website from which you accessed the abstract. Include the text "Abstract retrieved from" followed by the URL. For example: Abstract retrieved from

About the Author

This article was written by the Pen & the Pad team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about Pen & the Pad, contact us