The APA Format for a Dictionary Entry

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Adjust your American Psychological Association reference list citation for a dictionary entry based on whether you are using the print or online version.

Reference List

When you cite a dictionary entry on an APA reference list, you will not have an author byline, so the entry's title goes first. Then include the date of the entry in parentheses, or "n.d." if there is no date given. If the dictionary is online, include the Web address. For print editions, include the edition, location and name of the publisher.

Example of an online dictionary entry:

Espresso. (n.d.) In Merriam-Webster's online dictionary (italicized). Retrieved from

Example of a print dictionary entry:

Existentialism. Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary (italicized) (11th ed.). (2005). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.

In-Text Citation

Use the dictionary entry's title in parentheses. The entry should be in quotation marks, since it is not a full work. Other punctuation marks go outside of the parentheses.

Examples include:

("Espresso," n.d.) ("Existentialism," 2005)


About the Author

Veronica Smith-Jennings is a former teacher who started freelance writing in 2003 and has been published in regional parenting magazines as well as on various websites. Her writing interests include home renovation and gardening, politics, education, sports and early childhood development. She has a Master of Arts in English education and a Bachelor of Arts in English.

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