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APA Documentation

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When you use the words or original ideas of another person in your writing, you need to document, or give credit to, the sources of those words or ideas. If you use exact words from the original, quotation marks are necessary. If you paraphrase or restate the idea in your own words, don't use quotation marks, but document the source.

In the APA (American Psychological Association) format, one of several documentation formats, you briefly identify your sources in the text of your paper, then give the full information in the Reference List at the end of the paper. The APA provided details about this format in its Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 7th edition, in 2020.

Identify Sources in the Text

Cite the author's last name in the text of your paper. (This is called a signal phrase.) Then, in parentheses, include the publication date and any other information required. If you don't name an author in your text, give the author's name and date in parentheses at the end of the sentence, along with other required information. See the examples below.

If you refer to the entire contents of a reference and mention the author:

According to Larson (2009), there is a trend toward waiting to marry and toward postponing the birth of the first child.

If you do not mention the author in the text, include it at the end of the sentence, separated from the publication date by a comma:

Child support payments can be withheld from wages in more and more states (Schorr, 2001).

If you want to refer to a web address:

The Texas Attorney General's Office web site has Texas child support information (

If you refer to a specific portion of a reference, include the page or chapter number at the end:

Fredersen (1997) notes that "natural fathers aren't the only ones raising children on their own. As more families split up, social workers note that stepfathers increasingly are being called on to bring up other people's kids" (p.62).

At the turn of the century many men worked long hours, which entailed their absence from the family for most of the day: That was not a rejection of fatherhood but a necessary element of it (MacNeil & O'Brien, 2002, chap. 5).

If you refer to publications with no author given, include the first 1-3 key words from the title instead of a name. If no date is supplied, then type n.d. instead. Some digital full-text sources do not have page numbers. In these cases, page numbers may be omitted from the in-text citation, but a paragraph number may be used instead:

Homes with absent fathers cost taxpayers $99.8 billion per year ("National Fatherhood," n.d., para. 2).

If you refer to a source that is cited in another (secondary) source, name the original source in your signal phrase. Include the secondary source in your list of references and refer to it in parenthesis in your text:

In My Life in Art, Stanislavski explains how puppetry influenced his acting (as cited in McBain, 2005, p. 132).
Note: If possible, find the original source and cite directly from it instead.

The Reference List

A reference list has all the sources mentioned in your paper, arranged in alphabetical order by the authors' last names or, if a source doesn't list an author, by the first word of the title (ignore a, an, and the). If you have a type of source not covered in the examples below, ask the faculty librarian to show you the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) [See an example of an alphabetized Reference List below.]

Reference List Examples By Format

Print Sources:
Book with a corporate author

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Author.

Specialized, multi-volume encyclopedia

Cappenberg, R. P. (2004).  Family crises. In R. J. Corsini, (Ed.), Encyclopedia of psychology (2nd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 8-9).  Wiley.

Magazine article with an author

Fredersen, J. H. (1997, April 13). When fathers raise children alone. U.S. News and World Report, 112(14), 61-62.

Magazine article with no author

Gone rehabbing: Fathers in rehab. (2006, June 5). Parental Rehabilitation Magazine, 13(6), 5-9.

Scholarly journal article

Larson, G. (2009). Cross-cultural studies of fatherhood. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47(3),18-24.

Book with editors

MacNeil, L., & O’Brien, M. B. (Eds.). (2002). The father figure (3rd ed.). Tavistock.


McBain, R. W. (2005). The father as actor and hero. Harvard University Press.

Newspaper article with author given

Schorr, B. (2001, April 12). States cracking down on fathers dodging child-support payments. New York Times, A1, A14.

Government document with the same author and publisher

U.S. Department of Justice. (1999). Child-support payment laws (ACLW Publication 16).  Author.

A work or chapter within a larger work

Valsiner, J. (1989). The father’s role in the social network of the Soviet child. In M.E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (pp. 187-201).  Wiley.


Weiderman, S. G. (1995). Becoming a father.  Chicago, IL:  National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse.


Audiovisual Sources:
Streaming video from library source such as Films on Demand

Films Media Group. (2009). Fathering: What it means to be a dad  [Video].

Web video such as from YouTube

TED. (2013, January 23). Colin Powell: Kids need structure [Video]. YouTube.

Audiovisual work on a disc

Wilson, P. (Producer). (1994). When fathers desert families [DVD]. Maxwell.


Online Sources From Library Databases:
Article from an online database with no DOI

Evans, G. (1998, May 15). A father’s place is in the home.  New Statesman  & Society, 11(4385), 22-23.

Scholarly journal article from an online database with a DOI

Forste, R. L., Bartkowski, J., & Jackson, M. A. (2009). "Just be there for them": Perceptions of fathering among single, low-income men. Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, & Practice about Men as Fathers7(1), 49-69. https://doi:10.3149/fth.0701.49

Electronic book from an ACC library

Goldberg, W. A. (2014). Father time: The social clock and the timing of fatherhood Palgrave Macmillan.

Online encyclopedia article

Kohama, S. (2002). Genetics: Parental influence. In D. J. Ekerdt (Ed.), Encyclopedia of aging (Vol. 2, pp. 553-555). Macmillan Reference USA.


Online Sources From the Web:
Magazine article directly from the web

Wilcox, W. B. (2013, June 14). The distinct, positive impact of a good dad: How fathers contribute to their kids' lives. The Atlantic,

Web newspaper article with author

Hauser, C. (2015, August 15). Beckham defends daughter’s pacifier, stirring parenting debate. The New York Times.

Web page whose content may change over time

National fatherhood initiative research. (n.d.).

Radio or television transcript from a web page

Gross, T. (Host.) (1998, January 13).  Geoffrey Canada: The destructive myths of masculinity [Radio broadcast transcript]. WHYY.


Example - References

Note:  Always integrate all source types (print, online, etc.) into a single alphabetical list. 
Double-space the list and indent any line of an entry subsequent to its first line (use a "hanging indent" style).



Ames, M. (2014). Where have all the good men gone?: A psychoanalytic reading of the absent fathers and damaged dads on ABC's LostJournal of Popular Culture47(3), 430-450.

Cappenberg, R. P. (2004).  Family crises. In R. J. Corsini, (Ed.), Encyclopedia of psychology (2nd ed.,  Vol. 2, pp. 8-9).  Wiley.

Doucet, A. (2013). A 'choreography of becoming': Fathering, embodied care, and new materialisms. Canadian Review of Sociology50(3), 284-305.

Gone rehabbing: Fathers in rehab. (2006, June 5). Parental Rehabilitation Magazine, 13(6), 5-9.

Larson, G. (2009). Cross-cultural studies of fatherhood. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47(3), 18-24.

McBain, R. W. (2005). The father as actor and hero. Harvard University Press.

National fatherhood initiative research. (n.d.).

TED. (2013, January 23). Colin Powell: Kids need structure [Video].

Weiderman, S. G. (1995). Becoming a father. National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse.

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