APA PDF Citation — Format & Examples

14.02.23 Commonly used citations Time to read: 4min

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APA PDF Citation refers to the citation of PDF sources utilized as research materials in an academic paper. The APA writing style offers specific guidelines on citing PDF sources correctly according to the APA handbook, which prescribes the rules to be followed when formatting research publications. To facilitate a deeper understanding of these rules, APA examples can be consulted, providing real-world illustrations of how PDF sources are properly cited within the context of academic writing.

APA PDF Citation – In a Nutshell

  • PDFs can be used in APA citation to cite books, newspapers, and journal articles.
  • Many sources of print information are found in PDF format.
  • APA PDF citation is used to ensure a standardized format across research disciplines when using PDFs as research materials.

Definition: APA PDF citation

APA PDF Citation refers to the format of citing PDF files in a research document. Since there is no specific way of formatting PDFs in the APA style, the APA PDF Citation format highlights the appropriate way of citing a PDF according to its source to guide readers to the original source for further information or verification.

APA PDF Citation is important in academic writing as it reinforces the ideas presented in an academic publication as being informed by external sources used by the researcher to back their claims.

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APA PDF citation: Books

In some cases, book extracts may be found in PDF form. In the APA PDF Citation of such sources, you should mention the details of the original book and mention the DOI or URL as well in the following format:

Last name, Initials. (Publication Year), Title of Book. Name of Publisher. URL or DOI
Reference List Entry
Bozeman. C. (1998). Odyssey to the stars. Penguin Publishers.
In-text citation
(Bozeman, 1998)

APA PDF citation: Journal articles

Journal articles are one of the most common primary sources of research data. APA PDF citation of journal articles uses an e-locator in place of a range of pages to show their location in the article:

Last name, Initials, (Publication Year). Title of Article. Name of Journal, Issue/Volume No. e-locator or page range. URL/DOI
Reference List Entry
Paul, G. (2005). Propelled Machines: The journey of a thousand miles. Engineering, 112(4), 45-56.
In-text citation
(Paul, 2005)

APA PDF citation: Newspaper & magazine articles

Nowadays, many newspapers and magazine articles are distributed in PDF format. When citing such a source, you can follow the rules of citing print articles since page numbers are usually available. If there are no page numbers, you can include the paragraph number if indicated or count the paragraphs manually where not given. The APA PDF citation of newspapers and magazine articles can be structured as follows:

Last name, initials. (Year/Month /Day). Title of Article. Name of Newspaper, pages.
Reference List Entry
Perry, M. (1998, October 12). Poverty is a vicious cycle. The Chicago Tribune, D1, D4.
In-text Citation
(Perry, 1998)

APA PDF citation: Reports

Generally, most reports clearly show the name of the organization that they belong to and often have a report number. Reports may also be labeled as” report” in the title. For APA PDF citation of reports, follow the format below:

Last name, Initials. (Year). Title of Report. (Report Number.). Name of Publisher. URL.
Reference List Entry
White, E.G. (2015). Modern System Design: Creating a solid backend (Report No. SD-IT 675.7). National Department of Information.
In-text Citation
(White, 2015)

APA PDF citation: Thesis or dissertation

Thesis and dissertations are usually labeled in the title. When citing such sources, ensure you include the following details in the format outlined below:

Last name, Initials. (Year). Title of Dissertation [Dissertation or Thesis type, Name of Institution]. Name of Archive. URL
Reference List Entry
Smith, W. (2019) Private Equity in South Africa: The Role of Public-Private Partnerships in Infrastructural Development [Master's Thesis, University of Pretoria]. JaseBG.
In-text Citation
(Smith, 2019)

APA PDF citation: White papers

White papers are acknowledged as reliable sources of information in research. They offer an in-depth appraisal of an issue or topic and proposed solutions. When citing white papers, the general format is similar to citing reports, except we use the label “White paper” after the title instead of “report no” as they lack report numbers. Use the format below for citing white papers in PDF form:

Name of Organization. (Year). Title of White Paper [White paper]. Name of Publisher. URL
Reference List Entry
Copyright Music Society. (2018). Defining Proceeds from Visual Arts [White paper]. Epic.
In-text Citation
(Copyright Music Society, 2018)

APA PDF Citation: Pamphlets & brochures

Brochures and pamphlets are small and informative texts highlighting the main features of a solution or a service summary. They are cited like reports, although the author may be the same as the publisher, in which case their name should only be mentioned once:

Name of Organization. (Year). Title [Brochure/pamphlet]. Publisher. URL.
Reference List Entry
The Spring Edition. (2005). Exhibition 42: Virgil Abloh [Brochure].
In-text Citation
(The Spring Edition, 2005)
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List the names of the author and the year of publication. Also include the name of the publisher and the associated URL or DOI.

A white paper is a detailed study of a topic of interest or a proposed solution to an issue. White papers can be issued by government bodies or organizations in PDF formats.

To cite a thesis in PDF format, mention the name and date of publishing. Clearly identify the type of thesis, e.g., Master’s or Doctoral, and the university’s name.

Reports and white papers are cited similarly in APA PDF citation. However, we use “Report no” and “White paper no” to differentiate the two sources.