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APA Citation Guide (7th edition): Welcome

This guide shows you how to cite using APA 7th edition - many thanks to our colleagues at Columbia College BC for providing content!

What is APA?

APA style was created by the American Psychological Association. It is a set of rules for publications, including research papers.

In APA, you must "cite" sources that you have paraphrased, quoted or otherwise used to write your research paper. Cite your sources in two places:

  1. In the body of your paper where you add a brief in-text citation.
  2. In the Reference list at the end of your paper where you give more complete information for the source.

Commonly Used Terms

Citing: The process of acknowledging the sources of your information and ideas.

DOI (doi): Some electronic content, such as online journal articles, is assigned a unique number called a Digital Object Identifier (DOI or doi). Items can be tracked down online using their doi.

In-Text Citation: A brief note at the point where information is used from a source to indicate where the information came from. An in-text citation should always match more detailed information that is available in the Reference List.

Paraphrasing: Taking information that you have read and putting it into your own words.

Plagiarism: Taking, using, and passing off as your own, the ideas or words of another.

Quoting: The copying of words of text originally published elsewhere. Direct quotations generally appear in quotation marks and end with a citation.

Reference: Details about one cited source.

Reference List: Contains details on ALL the sources cited in a text or essay, and supports your research and/or premise.

Retrieval Date: Used for websites where content is likely to change over time (e.g. Wikis), the retrieval date refers to the date you last visited the website.

What's New in the 7th Edition of APA?

Below is a summary of the major changes in the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual.

Essay Format:

  • Font - While you still can use Times New Roman 12, you are free to use other fonts. Calibri 11, Arial 11, Lucida Sans 10, and Georgia 11 are all acceptable.
  • Headers - No running headers are required for student papers.
  • Tables and Figures - There is a standardized format for both tables and figures.

Style, Grammar, Usage:

  • Singular "they" required in two situations: when used by a known person as their personal pronoun or when the gender of a singular person is not known.
  • Use only one space after a sentence-ending period.

Citation Style:

  • Developed the 'Four Elements of a Reference" (Author, Date, Title, Source) to help writers to create references for source types not explicitly examined in the APA Manual.
  • Three or more authors can be abbreviated to First author, et al. on the first citation.
  • Up to 20 authors are spelled out in the References List.
  • Publisher location is not required for books
  • Ebook platform, format, or device is not required for eBooks.  
  • Library database names are generally not required
  • Hyperlinks -
    • No "doi:" prefix, simply include the doi.
    • All hyperlinks retain the https://
    • Links can be "live" in blue with underline or black without underlining

Librarian APA Tips

  • Remember that the purpose of citing is to credit the author and to provide information so that readers can find the sources.
  • Before you start on your assignment, check with your instructor for specific requirements they may have. 
  • There are rules for how to cite the most common sources. If you have a unique one, use the closest example. All sources can be cited using APA style. 
  • Rather than focus on where you retrieved a source, think about what type of reference it is, for example, a journal article or book. 
  • Learn the four basic elements of APA citations and double-check that you've included them.
  • If you're not sure whether you should include an element in your citation, err on the side of more information rather than less.
  • If a reference has missing information, refer to this table for how to adapt the citation.
  • In general, punctuation and grammar rules don't change. Once you know them, citing becomes easier
  • If you use a citation tool, be sure to check the result. They're often incorrect and ultimately, you're responsible. Common errors occur in the use of capitalization and italics in titles. 
  • If you think it's helpful to add information for clarity, for example, the type of resource, put it in square brackets e.g. [video].
  • Consider buying the 7th ed. Publication Manual or Concise Guide to have the guidelines at your fingertips.

Seneca College Libraries

This guide is used/adapted with the permission of Columbia College BC, and Seneca College Libraries. For information please contact

Note: When copying this guide, please include this acknowledgement in your copy.