How to Reference the Bible in APA Format

The American Psychological Association established guidelines for citing and formatting papers and publications within the social sciences in order to create consistency and easy-to-read style. In-text citations typically include the author’s last name and publication year, and the other bibliographical information appears on the reference page. Biblical passages, however, differ in format.


In-text citations help your reader find the source. Since bible page numbers differ according to the version used, the citation should indicate the version with the first reference, such as King James Version. Subsequent references do not need to include this detail. Rather than author and date, biblical citations should give the book, chapter and verse, placing a colon between chapter and verse numbers. The first such citation looks like this example: (Genesis 3:7-9, King James Version).


According to the sixth edition of the “Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association,” well-known classical and religious works such as the Christian Bible do not appear on the References list at the end of the paper. The in-text citation provides enough detail to your reader to find the information because the books, chapters and verses remain consistent among all biblical versions. The language may vary slightly, which is why you must indicate the specific version accessed.

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