The APA reference style (named after the American Psychological Association) goes back to the late 1920s, when a group of scholars from the fields of Psychology, Anthropology and Business Management met in order to set up a system for giving references. Today, APA is used within the Social Sciences, as well as within other academic fields. The comprehensive guide to the APA reference style is the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2019).

APA is an author-date reference style, which means that in-text references are given within parentheses. On this page, we give basic information about APA referencing. For more detailed information, see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2019) or the online APA resources listed below. Note that APA provides good online resources, both for beginners and for more advanced APA users.

AWELU information about APA

The AWELU section on APA referencing contains the following items:

In-text citations

In-text references supply information on the source within the text. Full information about the source is then provided in the reference list. In APA, in-text references give the last name of the author of the source cited and the year of publication. There are two ways of doing this; either you give the author's name in the sentence and provide the year of the publication within parentheses, or you place both elements in the parenthetical reference. The first option, where the name of the author cited is given in the sentence, gives more prominence to the cited author:

  • Svensson (2003) proposed that ...
  • Previous studies suggest that .... (Svensson, 2003)

What about page numbers?

When reference is given to specific portions of the text in the form of quotations or paraphrases, page references are also provided in the parenthetical reference. The page number is preceded by 'p.' or, if consecutive pages are referred to, by 'pp.'

Sometimes in APA, only author and date (and not page number) will be provided for paraphrases. Students should always consult their teachers if they have questions regarding this (and course stylesheets will often state whether paraphrases should be followed by page number to the cited passage).

Read more on the APA style website: Paraphrasing

Second-hand use of sources

If a reference is made second-hand, that is, not to the original source, but to a source which is referring to it, this is indicated by "as cited in".

  • For a quotation, add "as cited in" + the author and date of the in the parenthetical reference.

Read more on the APA style website: Secondary sources


In APA, the alphabetical list of references is called 'References'. Hanging indentation (which means that the second and subsequent lines of the entry are indented) is often used.


Entries in the reference list look a little different depending on the type of source. On the APA website, you find information on how to format reference list entries depending on the type of source:


APA-specific formatting

For alist of some general principles regarding inclusing language and how to avoid biased language, see this guide on the APA website:


For general information about gender-neutral and unbiased language, see the following elements in the AWELU section called Style format:

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