How to Cite Short Stories in APA Format

The American Psychological Association sets forth standards for organizing content, writing style and citing references for papers written for academic fields, such as social sciences, psychology, business and nursing. While it might be rare to cite a short story in such a paper, you can follow the rules for citing an article or chapter in a book.

Citing a Short Story Collection

All sources mentioned in your paper should have a reference list citation. Since many short stories appear in anthologies or as a collection of short stories, use the same guidelines that APA dictates for these types of books.

In APA format, the author is listed at the beginning of the citation; write the author’s last name, followed by a comma and a space, and end with the author’s first initial and a period. Next, place the year of publication in parentheses, followed by a period. Write the title of the short story without quotation marks or other formatting, and place a period at the end. Write “In” -- without quotation marks -- followed by the book title, which should be italicized, and a period. All titles in APA style use capitalization only for the first letter of the first word of the title. Include the page range in parentheses by writing “pp.” -- with no quotation marks -- and the page numbers. Finish the citation with the publisher location, a colon, and the publisher’s name.

A reference list citation for a short story in a collection would look like this:

Bender, A. (2013). Tiger mending. In The color master (pp. 27-36). New York: Doubleday.

Citations from Anthologies

If the story came from an anthology, you need to include the editor of the anthology as well as the original publication date of the story. A sample citation would appear:

Cather, W. (2012). Paul’s case. In B. Lawn (Ed.), 40 short stories: A portable anthology (pp. 52-63). New York: Bedford. (Original work published 1905)

Note the editor’s first initial and last name, followed by Ed. placed inside parentheses. There is no period after the “Original work published” date. Also, capitalize the first letter of the first word of any subtitles after a colon, as found in “A portable anthology.”

Citing Web-Based Stories

If you obtain a short story from a website, you can use the same format as a print source, but you must include the URL of the source in place of the publisher’s location and name. The first letter of each word in the online magazine’s title is capitalized. The publication date also includes the month and day, when they're available.

This is one example of how to cite a short story published in an online magazine:

Saunders, G. (2011, October 31). Tenth of december. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Writing In-Text Citations

In addition to a reference list, you must include parenthetical citations in the text of your paper. APA style uses an author-date citation. For example, write (Bender, 2013) at the end of a sentence referencing the short story material. Notice the comma between the author’s last name and date. The period at the end of your sentence will go after the in-text citation.

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