You finally finished writing your essay for a psychology class and are ready to turn it in.

But wait, you get flagged for plagiarism — it turns out you forgot to cite your sources!

A person grabbing their head with both hands while shouting

Referencing your sources in APA style is a simple way to make sure you avoid any plagiarism accusations.

The Basics

The APA reference style can generally be divided into two parts: in-text citations and references. All references must be paired with at least one in-text citation.

Flaticon Icon

In-Text Citation

  • Location: within the text, either at the end of a sentence or in the middle

  • Purpose: to source paraphrased or quoted material within the text

  • Contains: last names of authors, publication date, and/or locator


Example of an in-text citation: name of author and year within brackets at the end of a sentence

Flaticon Icon


  • Location: after the main text, as a part of the reference list

  • Purpose: to cite sources and allow readers to find them

  • Contains: complete information about the source and its location


Example of a reference at the end of a paper: author name, year in brackets, title, and link

In-Text Citations

In-text citations include:

  • last name of the author(s)

  • publication date

  • a locator (such as a page number), if needed


Format of APA-style In-Text Citations: bracket, author name, year, page number, end bracket

Flaticon Icon

They generally follow one of the following formats:

  • parenthetical — the author's name and source's publication date go in brackets at the end of a sentence, before the period

  • narrative — when the author's name is mentioned in a sentence, the publication date goes in brackets after the author's name

Examples of parenthetical and narrative types of APA-style In-Text Citations

This chart explains how to cite sources that have one or more, or unknown, authors:

Format of APA-style In-Text Citations Depending on Author To hear an explanation of the chart above, click the play button below:

Click here to learn what to do when making in-text citations for specific instances.


You see this citation at the end of a sentence: (Smith & Johnson, n.d.). Which of the following information is true about the citation?


APA references generally include:

  • name of the author(s)

  • publication date

  • title

  • source

Each of the references must have a corresponding in-text citation and vice versa.

Flaticon Icon

The following is the format for sourcing a journal article:

Author's surname & initials. Publication date in brackets. Title of journal in italics, page numbers. DOI.

Flaticon Icon

Guidelines may vary slightly depending on the type of work you want to source (e.g. book, newspaper article, etc.) and the amount of information available. 

Click here for detailed guidelines on making references.

Formatting the Reference List

After the main contents of your paper, you will be writing all the references you have used in an alphabetical list titled: References.

Here's an example.

AnAPA-style Reference List in alphabetical order by author's last name, double spaced with hanging indents. Click here for more information on the format of the reference list.


Refer to the example above. Which of the following are rules for APA reference listing? Select all that apply.

Take Action

Dr. Who raising his arms and saying,

Follow these steps to become an expert in APA-style referencing in no time!


Your feedback matters to us.

This Byte helped me better understand the topic.

Get support to take action on this Byte