American Psychological Association (APA) style is a research paper format used for many social sciences, including nursing, psychology, communications, and education. This guide covers the most requested APA formatting and citation information, but it is not a complete list. Visit the Purdue Owl APA Guide for the full list of APA guidelines, and always refer to your syllabus or assignment sheet to make sure you're following the formatting requested by your professor. Contact the library staff if you need assistance.
To get started, download our APA template paper on the right.
Formatting the Paper Itself
APA papers have a number of established formatting features throughout the body. There are more rules for APA than MLA, so be very careful with all formatting. Unless otherwise instructed by your professor, follow these basic guidelines, and use the template paper on the right. Double check your work and find additional help from Purdue Owl's APA Guide and Sample Paper.
Formatting Your In-Text Citations
We're frequently asked questions about citing books, journal articles, and websites, so those are covered in this guide. If the resource you need to cite isn't listed here, visit the APA In-Text Guide from Purdue Owl.
Information, "Direct Quote" (Author(s) Last Name, Publication Year, Page Number).
Orem's theory of self-care deficit states that health-related limitations for mature individuals "render them... unable to know existent and emerging requisites for regulatory care for themselves or their dependents" (Tomey & Alligood, 2002, p. 195).
Information paraphrased (Author's Last Name, Publication Year).
One study found that positive affect during infancy could contribute to success, well-being, and cognitive ability in adulthood (Coffey, 2019).
Information, "Quote" ("Short Title of Article or Website", n.d.)
If a source has three or more authors, the first author's last name can just be followed by et al. in-text ("APA Style Guide", n.d.).
Formatting Your References Page
Your References page should be on a separate page at the end of your paper, just before the appendix if you use one. Instead of a first line indent, the References page uses a hanging indent (every consecutive line is indented, but not the first one). The References page should always be kept in alphabetical order, based on the first letter that appears in the entry. Formatting the References page can be very tricky, so double check your work using the APA Reference List Guides from Purdue, and find the resource you want to cite on the left hand side.
Author Last Name, First Initial(s). (Year of publication). Title with only first letter of first word capitalized: Letter of first word after colon also capitalized. Publisher.
Tomey, A.M. & Alligood, M.R. (2002). Nursing theorists and their work. Mosby.
Author Last Name, First Initial(s). (Year of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number(issue number if available), page range. DOI/Permalink URL
Coffey, J. K. (2019). Cascades of infant happiness: Infant positive affect predicts childhood IQ and adult educational attainment. Emotion. Advance online publication, 1-11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000640
Title of Website. (Year if possible or put n.d.). Title of article. URL
Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). APA formatting and style guide. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html