General Characteristics of the APA Citation Format

General Characteristics of the APA Citation Format

Today, APA citation format is most often used to cite borrowed fragments in scientific papers. Initially, it was created by the Psychological Association in America for application in psychology and was later adopted by other disciplines. In the fall of 2019, the seventh updated publication of the APA standard was published, which details all the nuances of the design of works. It came into force and became widely accepted in international editions in the spring of 2020.

Quotations, in accordance with the APA citation format, are carried out in two ways:

  • Quote in the text;
  • Out-of-text version (directly in the bibliographic list).

How to Draw up Quotes in The APA Citation Format?

The APA citation format provides a number of requirements for each case. In our review, we will divide each case into a paragraph and consider it in detail.

In-Text Citation

The APA citation format involves the usage of links in the text of work whenever a source is cited. The reference should contain the data about the author (editor/compiler, if the author is absent), general title of the original source, date of edition, and page interval. It is allowed not to indicate the page interval if you do not cite, but only express an idea or comment on the work in general.


The APA citation format provides information that a paraphrase is not taken in quotation marks. The surname of the scholar may appear in the paper in the following ways:

  • It is indicated in the sentence, and then the date of release is represented in parentheses;
  • The surname of the scientist is provided after the paraphrase, together with the date of release. 

Here are some examples:

There are several stages of editing in the editorial and publishing process (James, 2004).

James (2004) noted that several stages of editing in the editorial and publishing process might be distinguished.

In both cases, links indicate that the data included in the sentence was taken from James` work, published in 2004. More detailed information about the mentioned source should be provided in the bibliographic list.

Quote Inside the Line

As it is stated in the APA standard, the quote inside the line is usually taken in quotation marks. The name of a scholar can be represented:

  • Just in the sentence, then the year of edition and page interval is indicated in parentheses;
  • After the citation, together with the date of edition and page spacing.


Williams (2006) stated that “romantic poetry is always full of tenderness and beauty; it is characterized by the use of vivid epithets and fantastic metaphors” (p. 249).

Romantic poetry is characterized by “the use of vivid epithets and fantastic metaphors” (Williams, 2006, p. 249).

Both references illustrate that the information was borrowed from page 249 of Williams` book, published in 2006. A full bibliographic description of the source can be found in the list of references.


According to the APA citation format, such a quote includes more than three lines of text. It should be submitted from a new line following the paragraph indent for the whole quote. The blockquote does not need to be enclosed in quotation marks. It is important to follow a double line spacing. The source is indicated in parentheses at the end of the citation after the comma.

Consider the following example:

The profession of an editor has expanded its range so much in recent years that it has become almost the key and most popular not only in the media, publishing industry but also in the entire system of social communications. In the scientific literature, authors are increasingly discussing the editorial profession in general and the problems of training young editors in particular. These issues do not give peace of mind either to employers or scientists who train professionals for the publishing industry. Apparently, none of the professions has as many theoretical definitions as the profession of an editor and the term ‘editing’ itself (Honyu, 2007, p. 91).

It should be noted that if you decide to include the source title into a reference, then provide all the words in capital letters. Highlight the titles of major books using italics, for example: (English Language, 2011, p. 9). The titles of small works (articles, reports, paragraphs of the book) should be enclosed in quotation marks, for example: (“Spelling of words of foreign origin,” 2009, p. 98).

Links to The Work of Several Authors (Editors / Compilers)

As it is indicated in a standard of the APA citation format when drawing up references to the work of several scientists, you should take into account their quantity:

  • If the number of scholars is from 2 to 5, then it is important to list the surnames of all authors through a comma. The surname of the last scientist is preceded by a sign ‘&’ if the names of scientists are listed in parentheses, or the conjunction ‘and’ if the surnames of authors are represented in the sentence, and the date of release and page spacing is taken in parentheses. For example: (Smith, Williams, Johnson, Jones, & Walker, 1993);
  • If there are six or more authors, then the in-text link includes the name of the first author and the phrase ‘et al’. For example: (Scott et al., 1999, p. 8).

The Reference to Entitled Work

The APA citation format also represents data on the reference to entitled work. Thus, if only the general title of the source is known and the scholar’s name cannot be established, then the in-text link that follows the paraphrase or citation should include two first words of the title in italics.

Consider the below example:

The world status of English is determined by external factors related to the importance and influence of the people who speak it (English Language, 2009).

Simultaneous Reference to Several Works of Different Scholars

If the paraphrase is related to several works written by different authors, then immediately after it the author’s name and year of release of the first book are indicated, then the sign ‘;’ is put, the name of an author and the date of edition of a second book is provided.

For example:

The strategy of human capital development is most often associated with professional training (Jacob, 1997; Robert, 2004).

Reference to Works of Different Authors with the Same Surnames

There are cases when scholars have the same surnames. Then, their initials should also be indicated.

Here also is an example:

The peculiarities of education in different countries have developed historically: under the influence of the church and the state, culture, forms of language, linguistic diversity, industrialization and democratization, the development of the legal framework and so on (R. Miller, 1991; A. Miller, 1997).

Arrangement of the List of Used Sources

As it is indicated in the APA citation format, the list of references allows to quickly assess whether the author is familiar with modern literature, uses adequate methods, and can compare the data with analogs, as well as certifies priority and prevents plagiarism. That is why, if the list of references includes publications of only one group of authors, too old works or references to hard-to-reach sources (for example, abstracts of conferences that do not have a doi index and, accordingly, their long-term placement on the Internet are not guaranteed; works or abstracts or articles from journals that are not presented on the Internet), the reviewer may reject such work because it has evidence of insufficient competence of the author or is unable to verify it. Sometimes a reviewer may ask to replace a link to an article that is not available on the Internet with a more accessible similar source so that the non-site journals may lose citations. 

The list of sources is usually located at the end of the paper on a separate page. The general requirements for the design of the bibliographic list are represented below:

  • The bibliographical list has the title “List of References.” This title is placed in the center, without quotation marks;
  • Line spacing throughout the list is double;
  • The cited material is given in alphabetical order by the name of an author (editor/compiler, if the name of an author is unknown). If the material does not have an author, it must be distributed by the first letter of its title;
  • If the bibliographic description indicates several works by the same scientist, then the records are arranged in chronological order by year of publication in ascending order;
  • Each bibliographic description of the source begins with a new line with width alignment without indents;
  • If a description occupies several lines, then the first line is aligned in width without indents, and the following lines – with an indentation of 1.25 cm;
  • The names of Cyrillic sources are transliterated, then the translation is placed in square brackets. The titles of magazines and publishing houses are transliterated, not translated and written in italics;

In conclusion, it seems appropriate to mention that the APA citation format is considered one of the most famous throughout the world, the association is constantly updating and modernizing it to meet all current trends in the field of design of scientific papers and examination of information sources. We hope that you will find enough examples in this review and be able to successfully arrange your paper in accordance with the basic requirement. If not, and you have difficulties, please contact our specialists, they will provide you with reliable assistance.

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