APA Formatting Guide

Learning how to format an assignment in American Psychological Association style is important if you are completing a piece of academic work that requires APA style. APA formatting requires in-text citations and an alphabetized references list at the end of the essay. Understanding how this information should be presented is vital to formatting your essay in APA style.

Step 1

Write the author’s last name and the date of publication in parentheses for an in-text citation. You can either write both the author’s name and the date within the parentheses, or include the author’s name in the main body of the text and put the date in parentheses.

Separate the author’s name and the date with a comma.

For example, you could write either “Researchers have found that… (Jones, 1999)” or “Jones (1999) studied the effects of…” for your in-text citation. All ideas that are not your own must be properly acknowledged.

Step 2

Use an ampersand if the work has two or more authors. Citing multiple authors in text is essentially the same as doing one, but the names must be separated by an “&” sign, and commas if three or more authors contributed to the work.

Use commas and an ampersand in the same way as you would in a list.

For example, write “Jones, Smith & Jacobs (1994)” to cite a work by three authors in-text. If the work has three or more authors, list the first author’s name followed by “et. al.” in all subsequent citations (“et. al.” is Latin for “and others”).

Step 3

List your references in alphabetical order. Alphabetize the list according to the authors’ last names. For each reference, write the author’s surname followed by his initials. Use commas and ampersands in the same way as you did with citations, but don’t use “et. al.” as part of the reference list.

After the names of the authors, write the year of the study in parentheses.

For example, your first reference may start with “Adams, P., Davis, G. & Smith, J. (2005).”

Step 4

Write the title of the paper after the year of publication. If it is a paper within a journal, write the paper’s title with the first letter capitalized, along with any proper nouns.

Write the book or journal title in italics after the name of the paper. If you are referencing an entire book, put the title after the year of publication, in italics, and in title case.

Step 5

Indent the second line of any reference by five to seven spaces. The first line of each reference should be kept in line with the left margin. After the name of the journal, write any issue and volume numbers, followed by the first and last page number of the article you are referencing. Preface the page numbers with “p.” or “pp.” to show that they are page numbers.