The APA Documentation System
Source: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 4th Ed.
Prepared by Professor Cynthia Cox, Belmont University
Updated 15 February 1999

What to Cite:

1. Quotations

2. Paraphrases of someone else's original ideas

3. Summaries of someone else's original ideas

4. Statistics 

5. Charts, graphs, diagrams


How to "Signal" Source Material:

Avoid "dropping" quotations, paraphrases and summaries into your text without warning; instead, provide clear signal phrases, usually including the author's name, to prepare your readers for the source material. If your "lead-in" will include a verb, choose one that makes your source's stance clear.


S. Elizabeth Bird (1992) observes, "[The tabloids] have repeatedly used the motif of the dead mythic hero (or villain) being alive and ready to return. Among those notables who have refused to die are John F. Kennedy, Hitler, James Dean, and of course Elvis Presley" (p. 179).

Alan Dundes (1971), known for his psychological interpretations of contemporary folklore, contends that "...American football is analogous to male verbal dueling" (p. 202).


In-Text Citations:

APA citations are made in the text of the paper, with the combination of a signal phrase and a parenthetical reference. 

•  The signal phrase usually names the author of the source material and the publication date of the source; a parenthetical reference follows a quotation, containing the number(s) of the page(s) on which the quoted material appears in the source.

As Alan Dundes (1971) has frequently pointed out, "Contemporary legends reveal our innermost fears about life in the complexity of the modern world" (p. 98).

•  When the author's name does not appear in the signal phrase--or there is no signal phrase--the author's last name and the date must appear in parentheses with the page number.

One popular figure in urban legends is, of course, that of "the 'vanishing hitchhiker' who catches a ride along the highway with a stranger, only to disappear upon reaching his destination" (Brunvand, 1990, p. 113).

For a summary or a paraphrase, include the author's last name and the date either in a signal phrase or in parentheses at the end. (A page number is not required with a summary or paraphrase--but you are encouraged to include one, since this would help an interested reader locate the relevant passage in a long or complex text.)

According to Bird (1992), the three most common subjects reported in the supermarket tabloids--such as the National Enquirer and the Star--are celebrity gossip, supernatural encounters, and extraordinary human accomplishments.


Among the celebrities most popular with tabloid readers are Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson (Bird, 1992, p. 76).

References--APA Format

Double space your references list; arrange its entries alphabetically by the authors’ last names.Type the word “References” at the top of the page.Tab in five spaces at the start of each entry.

Book by a Single Author

        Bird, S. E. (1992). For enquiring minds: A cultural study of supermarket tabloids. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

        Fine, G. A. (1992). Manufacturing tales: Sex and money in American culture. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. 

Book by More Than One Author

        Bennett, T., & Woolacott, J. (1987). Bond and beyond: The political career of a popular hero. New York: Methuen.

        Spradley, J. P., & McCurdy, D. W. (1988). The cultural experience: Ethnography in complex society. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

Edited Collection

        Modleski, T. (Ed.). (1986). Studies in entertainment: Critical approaches to mass culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

        Paredes, A., & Bauman, R. (Eds.). (1971). Toward new perspectives in folklore. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Work in an Anthology or Collection

        Dundes, A. (1971). On the psychology of legend. In W. D. Hand (Ed.), American folk legend (pp. 92-100). Berkeley: University of California Press.

        Press, A. L. (1990). Class, gender, and the female viewer: Women's responses to Dynasty. In M. E. Brown (Ed.), Television and women's culture: The politics of the popular (pp. 158-182). Newbury Park: Sage.

Daily Newspaper Article

            Kidnap rumor may be just that--rumor. (1977, March 2). Minneapolis Tribune, p. C12.

           Pitz, M. (1978, July 17). Boxtop savers discover they're rumor victims. White Plains (NY) Reporter Dispatch, pp. A3, A16. 

        Solomon, J. (1984, November 8). Proctor & Gamble fights new rumors of link to Satanism. Wall Street Journal, p. 3.

Magazine Article

        Stone, K. (1990, October 15). Supermarket tabloids and celebrity rumors. Time, 329, 23-25, 37.

        Brunvand, J. H. (1990, March). Debunking the urban legend. Esquire, 176, 112-120.

        Lippman, C. (1992, May-June). Contemporary legends reflect fears and fantasies. Utne Reader, 34, 132-145.

Article in a Scholarly Journal with Continuous Annual Pagination

        Fine, G. A. (1980). The Kentucky fried rat: Legends and modern society. Journal of the Folklore Institute, 17, 222-43.

        Fine, G.A. (1989). On incredible edibles: Legends of fast food contamination. Journal of American Folklore, 100, 345-367.

Article in a Scholarly Journal That Paginates Each Issue Separately

        Hinkle, G., & Elliott, W. R. (1989). Science coverage in three newspapers and three supermarket tabloids. Journalism Quarterly, 66 (2), 53-58.

        Suczek, B. (1972). The curious case of the 'death' of Paul McCartney. Urban Life and Culture, 1 (4), 61-76.



In APA style, an interview is considered personal correspondence and is not included in References. Cite the interview in the text of your paper with a parenthetical notation that it is a personal communication, as in the example below:

Pat Mullen (personal interview, June 30, 1995) endorses the notion that contemporary legends mirror the country's current fears and anxieties.

Lecture, Speech, Address

        Murphree, S. (1993, December 10). Lecture. "Hunting." Survey of Animal Welfare, Dept. of Biology. Belmont Univ.

Music Recording

General form:

        Writer, A. (Date of copyright). Title of song [Recorded by artist if different than writer]. On Title of album [Medium of recording--compact disk, record, cassette,etc.]. Location: Label. (Recording date if different from copyright date).


        Shocked, M. (1992). Over the waterfall. On Arkansas traveler [CD]. New York:

Polygram Music.

Rerecording by artist other than writer:

        Goodenough, J.B. (1982). Tails and trotters [Recorded by G. Bok, A. Mayo, & E.

Trickett]. On And so we will yet [CD]. Sharon, CT: Folk-Legacy Records (1990).

Note: In-text citations include the writer's name and side or track numbers. For example: 

The artist's message can clearly be heard in the song "Tails and Trotters" (Goodenough, 1982, track 5).

    Referencing Electronic Sources--APA Format

Internet Sources

APA style for Internet sources is not well developed but in general use this format:

        Author, I. (date). Title of article. Name of Periodical [On-line], xx. Available:


The following formats are from Online! A Reference Guide for Using Internet Sources, by Andrew Harnack and Eugene Kleppinger.

The basic entry for most sources you access via the Internet should include the following elements:

Author. Give the author's name, if available.

Date of publication. Include the year of Internet publication or the year of the most recent update, if available.

Title. List the title of the page or document, or the subject line of the message.

Address. Include the URL (full http address) in angle brackets, or other retrieval information.

Date of access. End with the date on which you visited the site, in parentheses, followed by a period.

[See examples below.]

World Wide Web Site

Give the full title of the page or document you’ve cited, followed by a period, then the title of the longer work of which it is a part, underlined.

        Rex, J. (1996). National identity in the democratic multi-cultural state.

SociologicalResearch Online <> (1997,

February 27).

        Shade, L. R. (1993). Gender issues in computer networking.

<> (1996, May 28). 

Material from an Information Service or Database

        Belenky, M. F. (1984). The role of deafness in the moral development of hearing impaired children. In A. Areson & J. De Caro (Eds.), Teaching, learning, and development. Rochester, NY: National Institute for the Deaf. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service NO. ED 248 646)