The American Psychological Association style of referencing, simply known as the APA style is the most popular referencing style in scholarly and research writing. It is used by institutions all across the world and can be found as the referencing style for most popular journals and textbooks by subject matter researchers. As a scholar, there is a high likelihood that you will be required to submit an assignment, or a journal article or a dissertation to a journal or an examination body at some point that will require the APA referencing style.

To be able to write academic work correctly in the APA style, it is important to note that there are two kinds of referencing. First is the Internal referencing, i.e., the citation of primary and secondary sources within the work’s body. Second is the external referencing, or the list of primary and secondary sources that the work consulted, which comes at the end of the work. In APA referencing, the list of sources cited in the body of your work is referred to collectively as “References”. It is also important to know that the APA referencing style is continually being updated, and as a result, there are often changes to how it is used.

This article only covers a few basic things you should know about the APA referencing style. They are based on the APA 7th edition, which is the most current.

Structuring your Internal References in APA style

In APA style referencing, in-text references must be included for every direct quote or paraphrasing from another source in the body of your work. And they must correspond to an entry in the list of references at the end of the list. Each citation should only include the author’s name and the year of publication. For example, quoting an article by Will Greg in 2019 will read as either “According to Greg (2019)” or (Greg, 2019), if the quote is a paraphrase. If, on the other hand, the quote is a direct quote from the source, the page number that the quote was gotten from must be written with the author surname and year of publication. Thus, a direct quote from an article Will Greg published in 2019, for example, will look like this in APA referencing

“….” (Greg, 2019, p. 104)

Also, if the source is a co-authored work by two authors, both authors must be cited in the format “Greg and Samuels (2019) or (Greg & Samuel, 2019). If more than two people author it but less than six, then all the authors must be cited in the first citation, but subsequently, only the first author followed by the phrase “et al.” can be used. If the authors are more than six, only the first author, followed by the phrase “et al.” can be used.

Structuring Your External References in APA style

Here are some general rules to follow when structuring your references in APA Style.

  1. All sources must be in alphabetical order
  2. The format for external citation in APA is “Surname of author(s), Author’s Initial (s), year of work, Title: Subtitle, (edition), Publisher.” For books. For journal articles, the format is the same except that the following “Title of the journal, volume number (issue number), page numbers” replaces the Publisher’s name.

However, Here are a Few Changes You Need to Note in APA Referencing

You no longer need to include the place of publication in your references.

You no longer need to include the words “retrieved from” when referencing a URL page.

For electronic works that do not have a DOI or a linking URL, you can now label them as you would a printed version of the work.

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