Skip to Main Content

APA Citation Guide for the 7th ed: Reference List

Reference List


What is a Reference?

A reference list provides the information necessary for readers to identify and retrieve the works you have cited in your text. Good references help build your credibility as a researcher and writer.

According to the APA Manual, "each work cited in the text must appear in the reference list, and each work in the reference list must be cited in the text. Check your work carefully before submitting your manuscript or course assignment to ensure no works cited in the text are missing from the reference list and vice versa", except for the rare exceptions which are list in the manual.

Even if you only paraphrase, you will still need to cite your source in a way that would help your reader locate the section you paraphrased. More information on direct quotes can be found in the "Using Information" section of this page.

Basic Reference Format:

A reference contains four basic elements:

  • Author: Who is responsible for the work?
  • Date: When was this work published?
  • Title: What is this work called?
  • Source: Where can I retrieve this work?

Once you identify each element, it is fairly simple to create a Reference entry. Each entry begins with an AUTHOR followed by the DATE, TITLE, and SOURCE in the order.  If any of the above element is missing please refer to the APA Manual on "Missing Reference Elements" on how to proceed.


Gleick, J. (1987). Chaos: Making a new science. Penguin.


The following image shows you where to find each reference element for a Journal Article.

Reference Elements of APA


Reference Page Format

You should begin your Reference List on a new page. The word "References",  should be centered, at the top of the page. References should be double-spaced, hanging-indented, and alphabetized by the last name of the author. More information on "Paper Format" can be found on the next tab of this page.

Punctuation, capitalization, spacing, and other details are very important when citing sources. The examples on this LibGuide are intended to provide guidance on formatting citations correctly. Please review the APA Manual for more information.

This sample paper on the APA Style web site includes a large reference page with lots of citations, as well as notes about particular aspects of citations. These notes indicate where in the APA Manual to find more information.


Quick Guide for Creating an APA Reference Entry

The following are the basic formulas for the most commonly used types of sources for students. For more detailed instructions or for a type of source not mentioned here, refer to Owl at Purdue's APA Citation Guide or the APA Style Website .

Citing a book or eBook


Last Name, Initials. (Publication Year). Title of book (edition if exists). Publisher.

Example for book by one author:

Gleick, J. (1987). Chaos: Making a new science. Penguin.

Example for book by two:

Cook, P., & Ludwig, J. (2000). Gun violence: The real costs (Studies in crime and public policy). Oxford University Press.

Example for book up to 20 authors:

Choi, D., Gao, Z., & Jiang, W. (2020). Attention to global warming. Review of Financial Studies, 33(3), 1112 - 1145. https://doi-org/10.1093/rfs/hhz086 

Example for books with 21 or more authors:  

Pegion, K., Kirtman, B. P., Becker, E., Collins, D. C., LaJoie, E., Burgman, R., Bell, R., DelSole, R., Min, D., Zhu, Y., Li, W., Sinsky, E., Guan, H., Gottschalck, J., Metzger, E. J., Barton, N. P., Achuthavarier, D., Marshak, J., Koster, R., . . .  Kim, H. (2019). The subseasonal experiment (SubX): A multimodel subseasonal prediction experiment. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society100(10), 2043-2061.


Citing a database article

This refers to an article in a magazine or scholarly journal. All articles in the library's databases fall into this category. Follow the same rules as the book citations for articles that have more than one author. If an article has no author, just leave that part out of the citation. (Do NOT put "anonymous" or "no author".)


Author(s). (publication date). Title of article in sentence case.Title of Journal, Volume(Issue), pages. DOI (if there is one)


Choi, D., Gao, Z., & Jiang, W. (2020). Attention to global warming. Review of Financial Studies, 33(3), 1112 - 1145. https://doi-org/10.1093/rfs/hhz086 


In APA 7 you may list either a DOI or URL link at the end of your reference, but not both. If there is no DOI or the URL/ "permalink" is not freely accessible to your reader, then you do not need to anything after the page number. Also, it is no longer required to include database information, expect for special cases.


Citing a website

If the content of a website has no author, just leave that part out of the citation. (Do NOT put "anonymous" or "no author".) Remember some websites have a group author. If the website has no date, use n.d. in parentheses 


Author(s) name. (publication date). Title of page in sentence case. Title of website. URL. 


Edgington, T. (2020, January 31). Brexit: What is the transition period? BBC.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018, July). Anxiety disorders. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.