APA General Style Notes

Before selecting a referencing style check with your tutor, lecturer or supervisor for the style preferred by the School or Department.

Introduction to the style

The APA style is widely used in the social sciences and other fields, such as education, commerce and nursing.

Summary of the changes between APA6 and APA7

APA is an author-date style with two key components:

  1. Citations in the text, including the name of the author and year of publication.
  2. Reference list at end of paper, alphabetically listing of all references used in the text.

The purpose of referencing is to acknowledge the source and to enable the reader to trace the sources. Reference data must be accurate, including specific page numbers or specific URLs (web addresses), when otherwise it might be difficult to retrieve the original text.

Access to the full style manual

This guide is based on the 7th edition of the APA's style rules which are set out in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition.

The full style manual is not available as a library eBook. Print copies are available from the University of Melbourne library. Consult the official manual for more information.

For more information see:

In-text citations

  • If more than one reference is used in a set of parentheses, the references are ordered alphabetically by author name. Separate multiple citations using a semi-colon, e.g., (Coats, 2005; McMinn, 2003; Ng, Leung, Kwok, & Chan, 2007).
  • To avoid ambiguity, when the in-text citations of multiple works with three or more authors shorten to the same form, write out as many names as needed to distinguish the references, and abbreviate the rest of the names to “et al.” in every citation.
  • With three or more authors, cite only the surname of the first author followed by et al. and the year.
  • Always give specific page numbers for quotations in the text and include a complete reference in the reference list, e.g.,
  • …(Miller, 1994, p. 276)…


    Miller (1994) found that, "the 'placebo effect,'… in all participants" (p. 245).

    • No distinction is made between print and electronic sources when citing in text.
    • If quoting the full title of a reference in the text, the first word of titles and subtitles and all other major words are capitalised and italicised e.g., When The Handicap Principle: A Missing Piece of Darwin's Puzzle was published…
    • For classical, major religious and very old works not included in the reference list, give the year of the translation or version that you used, with the word trans. or version, and give section numbers rather than page numbers, e.g., (Aristotle, trans. 1931); 1 Cor. 13:1 (Revised Standard Version). When the date of the original publication is available, include that date, e.g., James (1890/1983).
    • To cite a web site or a Facebook or Twitter feed as a whole or to discuss it in general, you need only to provide the site URL in parentheses in the text; there is no need for a reference list entry.

Exceptions to the Basic In-Text Citation Styles

  • When two works in a paper would both abbreviate to the same “et al.” form (spell out as many surnames as needed to disambiguate)
  • When multiple works in a paper have an identical author (or authors) and publication year (append letters to the years)

Direct quotation of sources

These notes apply to the word-for-word reproduction from another author's work.

The quote is fewer than 40 words

  • If the quote is fewer than 40 words, incorporate it into the text and use double quotation marks.
  • Always provide author, year, and page number or paragraph number for non-paginated material, e.g.

    According to Palladino and Wade (2010), "a flexible mind is a healthy mind" (p. 147). In 2010, Palladino and Wade noted that "a flexible mind is a healthy mind" (p. 147). "A flexible mind is a healthy mind," according to Palladino and Wade's (2010, p. 147) longitudinal study.

  • List the complete reference in the bibliography
  • If the quote is at the end of a sentence, close the quote with quotation marks, cite the source in brackets after the quotation marks, and place a full stop after the bracket, e.g.

    In fact, "a flexible mind is a healthy mind" (Palladino & Wade, 2010, p. 147).

The quote is more than 40 words

  • If the quote is more than 40 words, display in a freestanding block of text and omit the quotation marks.
  • Start the quote on a new line, and indent about half an inch (equal to a tab space or 1.27cm) from the left margin (in the same position as a new paragraph).
  • If there are additional paragraphs in the same quote, indent the first line of each by half an inch (one tab space).
  • Double-space the entire quotation. Cite the quoted source, page or paragraph number in brackets after the final punctuation mark.
  • Use p. for a single page number (Example: p. 15) and pp. for multiple page numbers (Examples: pp. 125-126).
  • If citing an online source without page numbers, cite the paragraph number (Example: para. 4).
  • When citing multiple authors after a quotation use the ampersand symbol '&' instead of the word 'and'.
  • If the quoted source is cited and included in the introductory sentence only the page or paragraph number is required at the end of the quotation.


Jones's (1998) study found the following:
Students often had difficulty using APA style especially when it was their first time citing source. This difficulty could be attributed to the fact that many students failed to purchase a style manual or ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)

Block quote with author at beginning

Lyoob, Rossetti and Chen (2013) noted:
Many software providers take advantage of these developing technologies to provide new cloud computing services or transform their existing products to the cloud. Since the term cloud could refer to any infrastructure, platform or software that serves for cloud computing, every component in the cloud may be provided as a service. (p. 34)

Block quote with author at the end

Cyber threats are not the only challenge to cloud computing:
While security has been a major topic of interest, reliability is a much bigger concern. Cloud computing is based on Internet access, so a fast and constant Internet connection is critical to cloud computing solutions. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure the enterprise's connectivity to the Internet is well-established and that there are backup connections in case of connectivity failure. (Lyoob, Rosetti, & Chen, 2013 pp. 35-36)

Explore resources to enable you to effectively integrate and cite sources into your writing and assessment tasks, visit Academic Skills.

Direct quotations of online material without pagination

  • List author year and page number in brackets
  • If paragraph numbers are available, use these when page numbers are absent
  • Use the abbreviation para, e.g.

    Basu and Jones (2007) went so far as to suggest the need for a new "intellectual framework in which to consider the nature and form of regulation in cyberspace " (para. 4).

  • If a subheading is available but no paragraph or page numbers, cite the heading and the numbers of the paragraph following it, e.g.

    In their study, Verbunt, Pernot, and Smeets (2008) found that "the level of perceived disability in patients with fibromyalgia seemed best explained by their mental health condition and less by their physical condition " (Discussion section, para. 1).

  • If the subheading is too long and unwieldy to use (and there is no paragraph or page numbers) a short title enclosed in quotation marks will suffice, e.g.

    "Empirical studies have found mixed results on the efficacy of labels in education consumers and changing consumption behaviour " (Golan, Kuchler, & Kirssof, 2007, "Mandatory Labelling Has Targeted, " para. 4).

Citations within quotations

  • Do no omit citations already present in the material you are quoting. The work cited should not be listed in the bibliography either unless cited as a primary source in another part of the assignment.

Reference list

  • References cited in the text must be listed in the reference list, and all references listed in the reference list must be cited in the text.

    Exceptions: do not include in the reference list sources such as:

    • Personal communications, such as letters, informal email, or private social media posts
    • Classical works or major religious texts
    • Web sites or Facebook orTwitter feeds when discussed as a whole.

    Cite all these sources only in the text.

  • Order the reference list alphabetically by author surnames:
    • Where an item has no author it is cited by its title, and ordered in the reference list alphabetically by the first significant word of the title (not A or The) .
    • References by the same single or multiple authors are arranged by year of publication, the earliest first, e.g.,
      • Hong, B.H. & Yeung, K.L. (2001)
      • Hong, B.H. & Yeung, K.L. (2009)
    • References with the same first author and different second or third author are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the second author, or if the same, third, and so on, e.g.,
      • Brown, J., Gold, F., & Black, L. (2007)
      • Brown, J., Gold, F., & Greene, H. (2006)
    • References by the same author (or by the same two or more authors in the same order) with the same publication date are arranged alphabetically by the title (excluding A or The) that follows the date. Lower case letters – a, b, c – are placed immediately after the year in parentheses.
      • Smith, J.R. (2008a)
      • Smith, J.R. (2008b)

    References with multiple authors

    • For a work with up to 20 authors, include all of the names in the reference. When the work has 21 or more authors, include only the first 19 names, an ellipsis, and the final name. (see section 9.8, p.286 of the APA Manual).

    Formatting the reference list

    • APA requires that the reference list be double-spaced
    • Entries in the reference list should have a hanging indent (the second and subsequent lines of the reference must be indented five spaces.) e.g.

    American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington D.C: Author.

    • Book titles are italicised, e.g., Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. Chapter or section titles within a larger work are not italicised.
    • Translated works: if you used the non-English version of a work, cite using the original title and immediately following that title, give the English translation in brackets. If you used the English translation, just cite the English translation.
    • Give the publication date (the year the work was copyrighted) in parentheses, e.g., (2009). Note: APA uses parentheses (…) for standard parts of a reference, e.g., the year of publication, and brackets […] for information that you have inserted, e.g., format information such as [Audio podcast].
    • Journal titles in the reference list must be italicised and be given in title case; do not abbreviate titles (e.g., Journal of Immunology, not J Immunol). Article titles are not italicised.
    • Inclusive page numbers for all articles and chapters in books should be included in the reference list.
    • List page numbers in full (e.g., 132-135, not 132-5).
    • Electronic sources: in general, include the same elements, in the same order, as you would for a reference to a fixed-media source and add as much electronic retrieval information as needed for others to locate the source.

    Acceptable abbreviations in the reference list for parts of books and other publications include:

    ed. edition
    Rev.ed. revised edition
    2nd ed. second edition
    Ed. ( Eds.) Editor (Editors)
    Trans. Translator(s)
    n.d. no date
    p. (pp) page (pages)
    Vol. Volume (as in Vol. 4)
    Vols. Volume (as in Vols. 1-4)
    No. Number
    Pt. Part
    Suppl. Supplement
    Tech. Rep. Technical report