What Does it Mean to Put References in the APA Format?

The American Psychological Association publishes a manual that sets the parameters for professional and academic writing in the social sciences. The sixth edition of the APA style guide has several formatting requirements including how to cite and reference resources used during research. Putting references in APA format adheres to these specifications.


According to APA guidelines, the reference list appears at the end of a research document but before the appendix. As in the body of an APA style paper, the reference page has 1 inch margins, is typed in Times New Roman 12 inch font, and contains a running header and page number. Centered at the top of the page is the word “References” followed by a list of resources aligned left, but with subsequent lines of each individual resource indented one inch to create a hanging indentation.


Resources can come from a variety of sources, including books, periodicals, online sources, private correspondence, firsthand interviews, and scholarly articles. References are listed, alphabetically by author. Using the example of a journal article, the author’s last name would appear, followed by his initial, then the year of publication set in parenthesis. The article title then appears, followed by a period and then the journal title, set in italics. The volume number, issue number in parenthesis and pages numbers end the listing. The names of all authors, up to seven, are included in the reference list. For articles with more than seven authors, use an ellipses after the sixth, followed by the last author’s name. All resources included in an APA reference list must also appear as an in-text citation somewhere within the research document.