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APA Style and Citation 6th ed: Citation

Find out how to cite your sources and format your paper using APA

This guide refers to the 6th edition APA rules. See the link below for the 7th edition APA guide.

How do I cite?

Central Penn uses APA Style & Citation Format. This style is based on the The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). A copy of the APA Manual is available for use in the library (but cannot be taken out of the library.

[The 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association has recently been released. Central Penn will begin using the 7th edition Summer 2020 term. For more information contact the library.]

When should I cite?

Whenever you:

  • quote a source
  • summarize a source
  • paraphrase a source (even if it's in your own words)
  • borrow an image, graph, statistics, etc.

Where do I cite?

Always cite the source in two places:

1. An abbreviated citation goes in the text of your paper immediately adjacent to the borrowed material

2. The full citation should be listed in the References at the end of your paper

When is it OK to skip the citation?

  • When you're stating your own opinion
  • When the information is considered "common knowledge" (meaning it's a non-controversial fact you could find in multiple sources, such as: George Washington was the first president of the United States)
  • When you're using your own original work - such as a study you conducted for your assignment

(See our Academic Integrity guide for more information)


Citation Rules

       Watch the short videos above to see how to create a citation for periodicals or websites. Below are examples of other commonly cited items.



Author's last name, first initial. (publication date). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume#(issue#), pages.

Fain, M. (2011). Assessing information literacy skills development in first year students: A multi-year study. Journal Of Academic Librarianship37(2), 109-119.



  • If the source has no publication date use: n.d. 
  • DOI - Digital Object Identifier, a unique number associated with that specific article. For online sources, a DOI is stable, where a URL is not. 
  • If the DOI is not available, use the URL for the journal's homepage

Author's last name, first initial. (year). Article title. Journal Title, volume#(issue#), pages. doi

Akbar-Williams, T. (2012, November). In order to lead, you have to know what direction you are going: Cultivating well-rounded leaders is staking a claim on our future. College & Research Libraries News, 73, 606-607Retrieved from

Bishop, D. M. (2006). Public opinion and juvenile justice policy: Myths and misconceptions. Criminology & Public Policy5(4), 653-664. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2006.00408.x


  • If you’re on a large website with multiple web pages, your citation should include the full URL (address) to the page you used, not only the home page.
  • Remove all live hyperlinks (unless told otherwise by professor)

Author's last name, first initial. (date of publication). Title of document. Retrieved from http://Web address

Mayo Clinic. (2018, January 5). Chronic fatigue syndrome. Retrieved from


Only 1 Author

Author's last name, initials. (year of publication). Title of book: With only capitalization of first word of title and subtitle and any proper nouns. Place of Publication: Publisher.

King, M. L., Jr. (2010). Stride toward freedom: The Montgomery story. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.


More than 1 Author

  • Separate the authors' names with commas
  • Use an ampersand (&) before the name of the last author

Swanson, C., Chamelin, N., & Territo, L. (2012). Criminal investigation. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.


Chapter in an edited book

Burke, W. W., & Nourmair, D. A. (2001). The role of personality assessment in organization development. In J. Waclawski & A. H. Church (Eds.), Organization development: A data-driven approach to organizational change (pp. 55-77). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.



Author's last name, initials. (year of publication). Title of book: With only capitalization of first word of title and subtitle and any proper nouns. Place of Publication: Publisher. Retrieved from http://web address

Example: Shelley, M. W. (1869). Frankenstein; or, the modern Prometheus. Retrieved from



Author's last name, initials. (year of publication). Title of book: With only capitalization of first word of title and subtitle and any proper nouns. Place of Publication: Publisher. [Format].

Pollan, M. (2007). The omnivore's dilemma: A natural history of four meals. New York, NY: Penguin Books. [Kindle version].


This can include movies, television shows, images, or other artwork. For more information on using figures, charts, and tables see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association or the library.

Creator's last name, initials. (Creator's contribution). (year). Title of work [Medium]. Place of Publication: Publisher.  or Retrieved from http://web address

Whedon, J. (Director). (2015). Avengers: Age of Ultron [DVD]. United States: Walt Disney Home Entertainment.

LadyofHats. (2008). Respiratory system complete [Drawing]. Retrieved from

Eisenstaedt, A. (Photographer). (1945). V-J Day in Times Square [Photograph]. Retrieved from



Author's last name, first initial. (date of publication). Title of document: Subtitle if any [file format for ex: PowerPoint presentation]. Retrieved from Blackboard. or the URL (no period at the end of URLs)

Notes you take during class are personal communication. You do not need a reference for them but you will need an in-text citation


Contact the library for more assistance.

        Watch the short video above to see how to create a proper in-text citation using signal phrases and parenthetical citations. Below, you will find additional information about how to cite your sources within your text.


General rules (all source types):

  • Include the author's last name, year of publication, and page/paragraph number
  • Quotes: use quotation marks around the quoted material
  • Paraphrases and summaries: do not include quotation marks
  • Before the period


Page versus Paragraph

When citing a book, journal article, or other paged source, use the page number of the borrowed material.

  • For one page, use p. 
  • For more than one page, use pp. 

When citing a source without page numbers (such as websites), use the paragraph number.

  • Regardless of how many paragraphs you are citing, use para.


Quotations or Paraphrases

Spencer (2006) notes that it is acceptable "to state the author's name at the beginning of the sentence, rather than always putting it in the parenthetical citation" (pp. 5-6)


Many students still refuse to "separate the author from the citation at the end of the quoted material" (Spencer, 2006, pp. 5-6).


Organization as the Author

Name the organization in text or include the whole name in parentheses at the end.

  • Example: According to the WHO (2016), 5-10% of all cancer-related deaths in Bangladesh stem from arsenic poisoning that pollutes the region (para. 9-10).
  • Example: "In Bangladesh, 5–10% of all cancer deaths in an arsenic-contaminated region were attributable to arsenic exposure" (World Health Organization, 2016, para. 9-10).


Unknown Author

  • Mention the work's title in the text or give the first word or two of the title in the in-text citation
  • Titles of articles are put in "quotation marks"
  • Titles of books are italicized
  • If Anonymous is ever used, treat it as a real name

Example: Acquiring effective study habits is the most important indicator of first-year college student success ("Students," 2002, para. 3).


Personal Communication

This can include private letters, some email, interviews you conduct, etc. They are not recoverable (no one else will be able to find this information) so do not need to be listed on the Reference page but will need to be cited in your text. Follow the same order for other in-text citations - immediately following the quote or paraphrase. 

First initials and last name of the communicator (personal communication, date of communication).

Example: "The quality of work has increased year to year" (D. Porterfield, personal communication, June 10, 2019).

Type of Author First Parenthetical citation Subsequent parenthetical citation
One author (Silas, 1989) (Silas, 1989)
Two authors (Silas & Breacher, 1990) (Silas & Breacher, 1990)
3-5 authors (Silas, Breacher, & Jones, 1990) (Silas et al., 1990)
6 or more (Silas et al., 1990) (Silas et al., 1990)
2 authors with the same last name

(B. Silas, 1991)

(J. Silas, 1992)

(B. Silas, 1991)

(J. Silas, 1992)

2 works by the same author

(Silas, 1991)

(Silas, 1992)

(Silas, 1991)

(Silas, 1992)
2 works by the same author in the same year

(Silas, 1992a)

(Silas, 1992b)

(Silas, 1992a)

(Silas, 1992b)


Citing Without a Model

What if I can't find the right model?

“In general, a reference should contain the author name, date of publication, title of the work, and publication data” (p. 183).

“Choose the example that is most like your source and follow that format. . .When in doubt, provide more information rather than less” (p. 193).

Chat with a Librarian

Contact the Library

The Library will be open 10am to 2pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the term.

Remember the Learning Hub is also open with lots of great faculty and staff willing to help with tutoring, advising, and general questions.


Phone or Text: 717-728-2500