How To Use Apa Reference

How to Use APA Reference

Academic writing requires you to cite your sources to avoid plagiarism and to give credit to the authors whose ideas you are using. The American Psychological Association (APA) style is one of the most commonly used styles in academic writing, and it has specific rules for referencing. In this article, we will guide you through the steps to use APA reference properly.

What is APA reference?

APA reference is a set of guidelines for citing sources in academic papers. It is used predominantly in the social sciences, but can also be applied to other fields. The APA style includes rules for in-text citations, references lists, and formatting.

In-text citation

In-text citation is a brief reference within your text that indicates the source of information. The in-text citation includes the author's surname and year of publication, for example: (Smith, 2010). If the author's name is mentioned in the text, you only need to add the year of publication in parentheses, for example: Smith (2010) argued that…

If you are quoting directly from the source, you also need to include the page number, for example: (Smith, 2010, p. 25). If the source has multiple authors, list all the surnames separated by commas, for example: (Smith, Johnson, & Brown, 2015).

References list

The references list is a separate page at the end of your paper that lists all the sources you have cited in your paper. The APA style has specific rules for formatting the references list.

The references list should be in alphabetical order by the author's surname. If there is no author, list the title of the source first. Each entry should include the author's name, publication year, title, and publication information.

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For example:

Smith, J. (2010). The Art of Writing. New York: Penguin.

Johnson, L., & Brown, P. (2015). The Science of Learning. London: Routledge.


The APA style has specific rules for formatting your paper. Your paper should have 1-inch margins on all sides, be double-spaced, and use 12-point Times New Roman font. The title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and your institution.

The running head should be a shortened version of your paper's title, and it should be in all caps. The running head should be left-justified, and the page number should be right-justified.

Tips for using APA reference

Here are some tips to help you use APA reference properly:

  1. Use a reference manager: A reference manager is a software tool that helps you organize your sources and create references in different citation styles. Some popular reference managers include Mendeley, Zotero, and EndNote.

  2. Check your sources: Make sure that you have accurate information about your sources, such as the author's name, publication year, and title. If you are not sure about the information, check with your instructor or use a reliable source such as the library database.

  3. Use signal phrases: Signal phrases are phrases that introduce a citation, such as "According to…," "As stated by…," or "In the words of…". Signal phrases help to integrate the citation smoothly into your text.

  4. Be consistent: Make sure that you follow the APA style consistently throughout your paper. This includes formatting, in-text citations, and references list.


APA reference is an essential part of academic writing, and it can be challenging to use correctly. However, by following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure that your paper meets the standards of the APA style. Remember to check your sources, use signal phrases, and be consistent in your formatting.

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  1. Do I need to include the author's first name in the references list?

No, only the author's surname is required.

  1. Do I need to include the publication date in the in-text citation?

Yes, the year of publication should be included in the in-text citation.

  1. Can I use footnotes instead of in-text citation?

The APA style recommends using in-text citation, but footnotes can be used for additional information that is not essential to the main text.

  1. What if the source has no page numbers?

If the source has no page numbers, use paragraph numbers if available, or use the section heading or the chapter number.

  1. Can I use APA style for other types of documents, such as websites or videos?

Yes, the APA style can be used for various types of sources, including websites, videos, and interviews. However, different rules apply to each type of source, so be sure to consult the APA manual for the specific guidelines.