How to Cite a Textbook in APA Format

If you're writing a paper using APA style -- based on the style guidelines in the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association" -- it's important that you obtain a copy of the latest edition of the book, because you will need to refer to it often. APA style is a common requirement for papers written in the social sciences. When you are using a textbook as a source in your References list, you cite it the same way you would cite any other book.

Type the first author's name. You type her last name first, followed by a comma, followed by her initials. It looks like this: Koslowski, M. J.

Type other authors' names -- if there are other authors -- similarly. You separate each name using a comma, and you use an ampersand instead of the word "and." It looks like this: Koslowski, M. J., & Butterfield, E. L.

Follow the name or names with the year your textbook was published in parentheses, followed by a period: Koslowski, M. J., & Butterfield, E. L. (2013).

Add the title of the textbook next, followed by a period. The title should appear in italics, and surprisingly, in APA style only the first word in the book title is capitalized: Koslowski, M. J., & Butterfield, E. L. (2013). Cognitive psychology in the classroom.

Type the location and the publisher next. You type the city, a comma, and the state, using the two-letter postal abbreviation for the state. You follow that with a colon. Then you type the name of the publisher, followed by a period. The final citation would look like this: Koslowski, M. J., & Butterfield, E. L. (2013). Cognitive psychology in the classroom. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's.

  • When you place references in your References section, you indent every line after the first; this is known as a "hanging indent." If you're unsure how to do it, use the Help feature of your office software.
  • If there's a subtitle to the book, that, too, takes an initial capital letter. Of course you still always capitalize any proper nouns in titles or subtitles as well, like this: Days of debate: The rise of Abraham Lincoln as a presidential candidate.
  • If the book is not a first edition, you add the edition number after the title of the book, and before the period, in parentheses. It looks like this: Koslowski, M. J., & Butterfield, E. L. (2013). Cognitive psychology in the classroom (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's. Note that "edition" is abbreviated as "ed." and does not use a capital letter.
  • Many other possibilities require slight variations on this style -- for example, the textbook might be an edited volume; it might be a multi-volume work; it might be a compilation of chapters by multiple authors. Each of these possibilities requires special handling. It's best to obtain a copy of the APA book and familiarize yourself with it, so you're sure you're citing the book properly.
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