How to Cite a Handbook in APA Format

Handbooks serve various purposes: Some help employees become acquainted with company standards, while others help consumers understand the fine points of using products. A handbook can also provide a portable collection of information for a hobbyist, such as a birder. American Psychological Association, or APA, style uses a basic book citation format to reference handbooks; additional rules apply if handbooks are published by a company or bundled with a product.

Basic Book Citations

In APA style, a reference list citation for a book gives the author of the work, year published, italicized title and publisher's information. This is no different when you are citing a handbook. Lay out this information as follows:

Author's last name, First Initial(s). (Year of Publication). Book title: Include subtitle too. Publisher location: Publisher name.

Use this citation style for a handbook unless it is authored by a company or is packaged with a product. For instance:

Spellenberg, R. (1998). National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers: Western Region. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Citing an Employee Handbook

Handbooks issued by employers are cited instead with the name of the employing organization as the book author. Unless the handbook is published externally, the publisher information for the handbook should be the location of the company. Substitute "Author" for the publisher name, since the company is already listed as the author:

First National Bank. (1992). Employee practices and standards. Omaha, NE: Author.

APA citations use a different format if you retrieved the handbook from a Web source. Whenever you include a Web source on your APA reference list, the URL is included in place of the publisher's information:

State of New York Executive Department. (2011). Equal employment opportunity in New York State. Retrieved from

Citing a Product Handbook or Manual

Software, automobiles and complex machinery may also come bundled with a handbook. Citing these handbooks requires the company information and the name of the product with which the handbook was bundled:

Company name. (Year). Product title: Handbook title. Publisher location: Publisher.

Product handbooks also substitute "Author" for publisher if the publishing company is listed as the author of the source:

Nissan. (2004). Altima: Owner's guide. Franklin, TN: Author.

As with employee handbooks, include the URL of the handbook if you retrieved it online:

Sony. (2015). PlayStation®3 system software: User's guide. Retrieved from

In-Text Citations

Not all APA citations are found on a reference list. While the reference list includes all your sources, you will also need to cite your sources in the text of your paper when you quote or paraphrase them. To do this, insert a set of parentheses after the reference to the source. Place within the parentheses the source's author, publication year and the page number of the information being cited -- if the source has page numbers. Use the company name if the author is a company.

For example:

(Spellenberg, 1998, p. 427) (First National Bank, 1992) (Nissan, 2004, pp. 81-83)

Need help with a citation? Try our citation generator.

Cite this Article