The American Psychological Association notes that APA format allows writers and researchers to organize their work in such a way that readers can easily find key information when reviewing it. APA format provides uniformity to the presentation of statistics, tables, figures, headings, subheadings, punctuation and abbreviations, according to the APA style website. APA format is best known for guiding the in-text and reference list documentation of sources.
Follow APA style's author-date system for citing sources in the text of your document. By listing the author's last name and date of publication next to--or close to--the information you have borrowed from someone else, you not only credit that source, but you direct your reader to the corresponding full-length citation in your reference list.
Enclose the complete citation information in parentheses when it appears at the end of a sentence. Follow this example, adapted from Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL):
A majority of infections occurred due to unsanitary conditions (Jones, 1999).
Place the date in parentheses when including the author's name as part of your sentence, as shown below.
Jones (1999) points out that most infections occur due to unsanitary conditions.
Use the word "and" to separate the names of two authors within the text of your document. Purdue's OWL advises using an ampersand when enclosing their names in parentheses. For example:
(Jones & McCoy, 1999)
List all authors the first time you cite a source with three to five authors. Use the phrase "et al." for all subsequent citations, according to Purdue's OWL:
(Jones et al., 1999)
Use "et al." for all citations where there are six or more authors for a source.
Reference List Citations
Alphabetize your reference list by the author's last name followed by the first name. The second line of each entry should be indented one-half inch. Double-space the text in your reference list.
List the last name followed by initials for works with three to seven authors. If a work has more than seven authors, list the first six followed by an ellipses after the sixth author. After the ellipses, insert the final author of the source:
Jones, R., Johnson, T., McCoy, S., Sandy, T.; Montgomery, C., Bellings, A... & Jones, D. S. (1999).
Start with the earliest publication date when you have multiple articles written by the exact same author or set of authors.