How to Cite Scripture in APA Format

The American Psychological Association, or APA, emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the sources of words and ideas you use in a research paper. As explained in the sixth edition of the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association," the usual citation format typically includes the author's last name and the publication year, but religious texts follow different guidelines to help readers determine which version and portion you referenced.


Because classical religious texts are widely known, no entry appears on the References page for such citations. Instead, the in-text citation gives the details a reader needs to find the passage or ideas you refer to. Your reader needs to know what version of the religious text you refer to, so your first mention should include that indication when appropriate. For instance, a broad mention looks like this example:

The group studied the Bible (New Living Translation) to determine commonalities.


References to specific portions of scripture need to include the chapter, verse and line to point the reader to the original source.

For example, referencing the Christian Bible's book of Luke 2:11 looks like this example: (Luke 2:11 New Living Translation). Subsequent references may leave out the version.

Similarly, if you cite the Quran, referring to chapter 3, verse 7, it looks like this example: (Quran 3:7).