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APA Citation Style: Basic Rules

This guide provides information on the 6th edition of the APA citation style as used at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. This guide will be updated to the 7th edition in Fall 2020.

An APA citation has two parts:

In text (immediately after a paraphrase, summary, or a direct quote) - to let the person who's reading your work know that this isn't your idea and to give them a quick way to know who's idea it is and where to find it in your reference list

Reference list (at the end of your assignment) - to allow the reader to find where the idea came from. This will give them enough information that they can locate the article or book themselves and find the information that you included in your assignment.

Anytime you use someone else's words, ideas, or opinions, you need to show where you first retrieved or read that information. You need to provide both the in-text citation whenever you use that source in your paper, and a single reference list entry at the end of your paper for each source that you use. This guide provides examples of APA citations for various resources.

Need help? Connect with the Library. 

Author or Editor Information

  • Individual authors are listed by last name followed by a comma and initials.  Example: Khanna, L.  
  • Corporate or organizational authors are listed in regular order. Example: Government of Canada.
  • For multiple authors in your reference list entry, list the names in the order presented in the source.  List all names in reverse order and use a comma and an ampersand (&) before the last author. Example: Khanna, L., Strasburg, J., & Mehta, N. 
  • For multiple authors in your in-text citation, only use last names, and only use the ampersand in place of and when the names are in brackets. Example: (Khanna, Strasburg, & Mehta, 2011) OR ...the work by Khanna, Strasburg, and Mehta (2011). 
  • List up to seven authors.  For more than seven, list the first six authors' names followed by an ellipses (three dots) in place of additional author names. Then list the last author's name.
  • A source may have an individual author, multiple authors, or be authored by a government, association, company, or organization. 
  • If you can't identify any type of  author (neither a person nor an organization), begin the entry with the title of the work including the appropriate capitalization and italics formatting.

Date Information

  • Give the date that the work was published, in parentheses, followed by a period. If a day or month is provided, list the date as (Year, Month Day).
  • If a publication or creation date cannot be found on a website, use "n.d."
  • If no date is available, write n.d. in parentheses, followed by a period.
  • When citing multiple sources with the same author and same date, use letters to distinguish them in your in-text citation and reference list citation like so:

    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (2020a)…

    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (2020b)…

    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation(2020c)…


    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (n.d.-a)…

    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (n.d.-b)…

    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (n.d.-c)…

Title of Work

  • Capitalize only the first word of the title (and subtitle if given) and any proper nouns.
  • Italicize the title of a book or periodical. Do not italicize the title of a chapter within a book or an article within a periodical.
  • Italicize the title of the website or webpage if the work on the page stands alone. Do not italicize the title of a webpage if it is part of a greater whole.
  • Give edition information directly after the title in parentheses. Do not italicize the edition.

Publication Information

  • For books, give the location of the publisher, followed by a colon(:) and the name of the publisher. See the APA Manual for a list of acceptable abbreviations.
  • For periodicals, give the volume number, issue number, and page range after the periodical title. Italicize the volume number, and place the issue number within parentheses.

For specific examples of formatting publisher information for different types of works, go to the Reference List section of the guide. 

Additional Help

Check the additional help page for more tips on citing and formatting your work. 

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