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APA Citation and Formatting: APA Basics

Attention Students!

This guide is a starting point. For full details on correctly citing resources and creating references, please consult
the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th Ed.) (2020), or Cites & Sources (6th Ed.) (2021).

Please Note! Library staff do not teach APA, and cannot evaluate or correct work. If you need help with APA Style, please contact your instructor.

NEW! Loyalist College Guide to APA and Academic Writing

This open manual is intended to be an accessible, simplified, Canadian guide to the seventh edition of APA Style, suitable for students across a variety of disciplines and experience levels at Loyalist College. This manual contains the elements of APA Style most commonly used at Loyalist College. It is not exhaustive, and the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (the Publication Manual) continues to be the fullest explanation of APA Style. Students and faculty should refer to the Publication Manual with any questions.

APA Basics

APA Style refers to a set of guidelines created by the American Psychological Association. These guidelines help writers, including students, to format written work and citations in a consistent way. APA Style is one of the most common citation and formatting styles, and it is used in many disciplines.

This guide outlines the basics of the seventh edition of APA Style, which is sometimes called, "APA 7". This guide includes formatting and the most common citations that students will use. If you have questions about anything in this guide, or if you would like more information on APA Style, please contact the Library, or contact the Student Success Hub.

It is not possible or necessary to memorize the correct way to cite every kind of source. Looking up how to cite something is expected and encouraged! What is important is remembering to give credit for information and ideas that are not your own. 

Why should I use APA Style?
Using APA Style helps writers, including students, to present their ideas in a clear, consistent way. APA Style also helps the writer to cite all of their sources appropriately and consistently.

What does "citing a source" mean? Why do I need to cite sources?
When an instructor talks about citing a source or creating references, they're talking about giving credit for the information that students use in an assignment. It is expected that all writers, including students, give credit for information that is not their own original idea, or that is not common knowledge. If a student is unsure if information is common knowledge, they should check with their instructor. When in doubt, provide a citation. 

Giving credit for information that was taken from other sources is important, and not citing sources is considered plagiarism. Students at Loyalist College who plagiarize may fail the assignment or the course, and if plagiarism occurs multiple times, students may be removed from their program. More information about Loyalist's policies on academic integrity and student conduct can be found at the links below.   

This guide is based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed. A copy of the Publication Manual is available in the Parrott Centre Library. There are citations, definitions and links throughout this guide to help users to find more information.

Finding More Information
Wherever possible, there is a note indicating where a piece of information is found in the Publication Manual. This is done with the chapter and section number. For example, if you see (1.10), you know that the information can be found in chapter one, section ten of the manual. 

If you see a term in this guide that you are unfamiliar with, check the Definitions tab. 

Links to external resources appear in bold blue font.

If you have additional questions about anything in this guide, please contact the Library. We'll be happy to help.

There are several services available at Loyalist College to help students with citations, and with improving their writing.

There are several changes in the new 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2020)! Below are the changes that are most relevant to students and instructors. To see all of the changes, consult the Publication Manual.

Formatting: Fonts & Spacing

  • Only one space is used at the end of a sentence (6.2).
  • APA Style recommends that writers use a font that is accessible to all readers. In addition to Times New Roman, acceptable fonts now include a sans serif font such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Ariel, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, or a serif font such as 11-point Georgia, or 10-point Computer Modern (2.19).

Running Heads

  • Student papers no longer have a running head, unless specifically required by the instructor or institution (2.2).

Title Pages

  • Paper titles appear in bold font, centered, and placed on the upper half of the title page, three to four lines down from the top margin (2.11).
  • There is a double-spaced line between the title and the name on a title page (2.5).
  • Dates on title pages are written in the month day, year format, e.g.: January 6, 2020 (2.5).
  • Page numbers appear flush right on the title page, and all subsequent pages in the assignment (2.18).

In-Text Citations

  • In-text citations for works with more than three authors list only the first author's name, followed by "et al", and the date (8.17).

Reference Lists

  • When referencing an eBook, the format, platform, or device, e.g.: Kindle, is no longer included. Instead, include the publisher (10.2).
  • When recording a URL, do not include "Retrieved from" before the URL, unless a retrieval date is needed (10.1).
  • DOIs are formatted like URLs. The label "DOI" is not required (9.35).
  • Up to 20 surnames of authors are included in a single reference list entry (9.8). Previously, a maximum of seven surnames could be listed.
  • The location of the publisher is no longer included in the reference list entry (9.29).
  • There is new information on the correct way to create in-text citations and reference list entries for social media, and for other kinds of online resources, e.g.: podcast episodes and YouTube videos. There are also new instructions on citing online resources that use hashtags or emojis (10.15).

Language & Writing Style

  • APA Style endorses the use of the singular "they" (4.18).
  • There is an increased emphasis on inclusive and bias-free language regarding age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, racial and ethnic identity, and socioeconomic status (5.1 - 5.10). This guide includes a section that outlines the basics of bias-free writing.



The following sources were used to create this guide:

Parrott Centre Library, Loyalist College

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Jennifer Dupuis
The Parrott Centre
376 Wallbridge Loyalist Road
Belleville, ON, K8N 5B9
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Please Note!

This guide is based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed. (2020). Library staff have reviewed the information in this guide, and to the best of our knowledge, it is accurate. However, mistakes do occur. Students bear sole responsibility for ensuring that their citations are correct, and that their assignments meet the criteria laid out by their instructor. Students are encouraged to contact Peer Tutoring or the Writing Clinic for assistance.