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Guide to the Research Process: 5b. APA Citation Style

This guide provides an introduction to the skills needed to conduct research, with particular reference to the field of education.

APA Manual

The 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association provides "guidance on all aspects of the writing process, from the ethics of authorship to the word choice that best reduces bias in language... also offers guidance on choosing the headings, tables, figures, and tone that will result in strong, simple, and elegant scientific communication."

Useful Tutorials

The following tutorials should be useful in helping you to master APA style.

Guides to References in APA Style

Other Useful Resources

What is APA Style?

  • Rules for the preparation of manuscripts for writers and students in psychology
  • Rules cover areas such as the content and structure of a manuscript, writing style, displaying results, and crediting sources
  • Used in many disciplines, including education

In-Text Citations

In-text citations in the body of your paper point the reader to specific sources listed in your list of references. APA style uses the author-date method, that is, the author's last name and the year of publication in text and a complete reference in the reference list. For more information on in-text citations, see pages 174-179 of the APA Manual.


In text: (Campbell, 1977)

Campbell, C. (1997). Endless education: Main currents in the education system of modern Trinidad and Tobago, 1939-1986. Mona, Jamaica: The Press, UWI.

When to Use?

  • Whenever you use other people's words or ideas in your writing, you should cite the source of information
  • When you use another person's words directly, they must be enclosed in quotation marks, with the source cited


APA style requires you to provide a list of references at the end of your paper:

  • Provide all the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve every source you cite in the body of the paper
  • Each source you cite in the paper must appear in the reference list and vice versa
  • Provide information about:
    • the author(s) of each work or the institution or group that created the work
    • the date that the work was published
    • the title of the work
    • an indication of whether the work is part of a larger work (e.g., an article in a journal or newspaper, or a chapter in a collection of essays)
    • where the work was published
    • who published the work
    • informatin that would help someone to retrieve the work, e.g., a web page address

The APA Manual provides guidelines on how to format this information

Citation Generators

This ranking of bibliography and citation applications was taken directly from the Instructify website.

5. Word 2007: Number five on our list really isn’t an application at all, as it’s part of Microsoft Word 2007. While not everybody has a copy of Word 2007, the folks that do don’t even have to leave their word processor to generate a professional-looking bibliography. If you don’t use Word, check out the next four apps.

4. OttoBib: OttoBib is like Saran Wrap — its best feature is its worst. If you know a book’s ISBN number, that’s all you need for OttoBib to build a citation for you in the format you need. If you don’t, or if you’re citing something that’s not a book, you’ll need to find another application. However, OttoBib’s simplicity is useful enough for you and your students to bookmark come term-paper time.

3. EasyBib: EasyBib goes far beyond the usual assortment of sources. It lets you easily cite federal testimony, photographs, emails, patents, paintings, executive orders, and literally dozens more types of documents. Unless you’re trying to cite something scrawled on the back of a napkin at Chili’s, Easybib has you covered. It too lets you search by ISBN. EasyBib loses points, however, for only citing MLA format for free — if you’re writing in APA or Chicago style, you’ll have to pay up nine bucks per year, which isn’t a lot, but you can find other apps to cite those formats for free.

2. Citation Machine: Though you can’t search by ISBN, that’s about the only thing Citation Machine doesn’t do. Just enter basic info like the title, author, publisher, type of work, all that stuff, and Citation Machine will give you your citation in whatever format you require. It’s simple, straightforward, free, and as a bonus, its name tells you exactly what it does (something that’s always worth a few points in my book).

1. BibMe: There can be only one number one, and BibMe is it. BibMe is the easiest citation app out there, incorporating many of the best features of its competitors. It lets you search by ISBN, title, or author. You can format your citation for books, journals, newspapers, periodicals, the web, whatever you need. It has an autofill function to save time. BibMe will format your bibliography for MLA, APA, Chicago or Turabian, then export it all to Microsoft Word for easy insertion into a research paper. If there’s a better bibliography application out there, it probably does your taxes or something, too.