APA 7th Edition – Guidelines & Citation

Time to read: 5 Minutes
APA-seventh-edition-Definition

The APA 7th edition provides one of the most widely used writing styles adopted by students, academics, and researchers. It is used to aid reading comprehension and clarity in writing, and to create more effective arguments.

In this guide, we’ll look at the most important features of the APA style and how to use it properly in your written work.

APA 7th Edition – In a Nutshell

  • APA is short for American Psychological Association. The APA style itself is outlined in the APA Publication Manual, of which the APA seventh edition is the latest publication.
  • According to the APA 7th edition style guide, you may choose one of two methods of in-text citation: Parenthetical or narrative. Your use of either will depend on whether you are naming the author within your text. Include the author’s name, publication date, and page numbers, if necessary, here.
  • Detailed bibliographic information on your citation is included in the final “references” section, which must follow APA 7th edition formatting rules.

Definition: APA 7th edition

APA 7th edition is a writing style used in academic papers, journal articles, and books. While it’s generally associated with social sciences, psychology, and other behavioral sciences, it’s not limited to these disciplines. APA is an abbreviation for the American Psychological Association, the creators and exponents of this style first launched in 1952¹, and the latest set of guidelines was published in 2019 as the “APA 7th edition”. This new edition came with updates to reduce bias in written language and to promote clear communication through formalized citation and formatting.

APA 7th edition – In-text citations

The APA 7th edition is fairly unique in its advocation of in-text citations.2

Here’s how this works:

The basics

An APA in-text citation is a shortened version of a reference that’s used within the text of your paper. It directs users to the full reference page at the end of your writing. You include this citation every time you quote or paraphrase a reference.

Within the APA 7th edition guidelines, an in-text citation includes:

  • The author’s last name
  • Year of publication
  • Locator (normally a page number or paragraph)

Example:

(Popper, 1972, p. 104).

Parenthetical vs. narrative citation

In-text citations in the APA 7th edition guidelines can be used in one of two formats: Parenthetical or narrative.

They work as follows:

Parenthetical citation:

  • The author’s name and publication date appear in parentheses, conventionally at the end of a sentence. It’s designed to give credit to a source you are using.

Example:

“No scientific hypothesis can be confirmed, only proven false (Popper, 1972)”.

Narrative citation:

  • The publication date appears in parentheses, as the author is already named within the text itself.

Example:

“Popper argued that no scientific hypothesis can be confirmed (1972)”.

Multiple authors and corporate authors

According to the APA 7th edition guidelines, if you’re referencing a source with multiple authors like an edited volume or corporate publication, the in-text citation should include an ampersand symbol (&) with codified punctuation, as follows:

Author type Parenthetical citation Narrative citation
One author (Popper, 1972) Popper (1972)
Two authors (Morgenstern & Zimmer, 2002) Morgenstern and Zimmer (2002)
Three or more authors (Jarvie et al., 2007) Jarvie et al. (2007)
Organization (British Library, 1986) British Library (1986)

Missing information

If your source is missing a piece of information, like author, date, or page number, implement the following:

Missing element What to do Parenthetical citation
Author Use the source title as it appears in your references ("Writings of Popper", 2002).
Date Use “n.d.” (no date) in place of the date (Popper, n.d.).
Page number Use an alternative locator or omit the page number (Popper, 1965, para. 5) or (Popper, 1965).

APA 7th edition – References

Within the APA 7th edition, the APA reference page is where you provide detailed information on your sources. Your use of in-text citations must correspond with these more detailed entries to signpost how you’ve used sources.

Here’s how to reference in the APA style with the latest APA 7th edition guidelines:

The basics

APA 7th edition references require details on the author(s), publication date, title, and publisher/source, in that order. While traditional textual references follow this guideline easily, other sources, like websites, require additional information.

Example:

Journals require volume and edition information, and websites may require the date of access if relevant.

Reference examples

Here are some examples of reference types. Pay attention to how Capitalization, italics, and punctuation as they appear in each example:

Book Popper, K. R. (2014). The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Martino Fine Books.
Journal article Walker, C. (2019). Karl Jaspers and Karl Popper: the shared legacy. History of Psychiatry, 30(2), 172–188.
Website Karl Popper: Biography, Books, Theory, & Facts. (2022, July 24). Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Karl-Popper

Missing information

If you come across a source with missing information, there’s a simple solution. Follow these adjustments to reference in the APA style.

For clarity, the same source has been used in each example:

Missing element What to do Parenthetical citation
Author Use the source title as it appears in your references ("Writings of Popper", 2002).
Date Use “n.d.” (no date) in place of the date (Popper, n.d.).
Page number Use an alternative locator or omit the page number (Popper, 1965, para. 5) or (Popper, 1965).

APA 7th edition – The reference page

Just as the APA 7th edition guides citation, it also has strict formatting requirements for clarity.3

Here’s how to format your APA reference page:

The basics

The APA reference page appears after your paper’s main body, before any appendices. It is formatted with a centered and bold “References” as a title.

Next, each line continues in alphabetical order as a list of Works Cited. The APA 7th edition states the document should be formatted as follows:

  • Use a conventional font. Sans serif fonts like 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode are recommended.
  • Double-spacing throughout.
  • Number each page in the top-right header.
  • A 0.5-inch hanging indent for each reference.

Which sources have to be included?

The APA reference page includes all sources you used throughout your paper. It is not a general bibliography page, so only include sources that you have cited in the main body. You should also only reference sources that your reader can access. As such, do not reference personal emails or other correspondences that are private and unavailable in the public forum.

FAQs

With a website or e-book, use a paragraph number formatted as “para. x”, with “x” being the number. For printed/physical textual works, you may follow the paragraph guidelines or identify a prominent section, such as the “Methodology section”.

Where no listed author is given but an organization, agency or other identifying name is, use that instead. If there is no listed association at all, cite your source without the author and begin instead with the title.

The APA 7th edition doesn’t stipulate the need to provide an access date. However, if the online content is designed to change over time, state “Retrieved” followed by the date at the end of your reference.

The APA 7th edition calls for a list of references used within your work to be provided alphabetically at the end of your paper. Title this “References”, rather than “bibliography”.

Sources

1 American Psychological Association. “APA History.” 2008. https://www.apa.org/about/apa/archives/apa-history.

2 American Psychological Association. “In-Text Citations.” APA Style. Accessed November 03, 2022. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/citations.

3 Purdue Online Writing Lab. “General Format.” Purdue University. Accessed November 03, 2022. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html.