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APA Style

Elements of references

An APA reference consists of four elements:

  • the author,
  • the publication date,
  • the title, and
  • the location of the source.
There are variations in the presentation of these elements depending on the type of source you are citing.

Click on the collapsible panel to see variations.


The author is the person(s) or corporate entity responsible for producing a work. The term is used in a broader sense to include editor, compiler, composer, creator, etc. Include the author in references to give credit to those to whom the work belongs and to help the audience check their credentials.

The table that follows presents author variations. The information applies to all kinds of sources including books, articles, websites, films, videos, etc.

This is the date, on which copies of a creative work like a book, an article, a report, a web source, etc. are officially made available to the public. Include the publication date in references to indicate how recent the information is.

The table that follows presents date variations. The information applies to all kinds of sources including books, articles, websites, films, videos, etc.

A word, phrase, sentence, single character, or sequence of characters that appears on an item, naming the work(s) contained in it. In citations, titles are included for purposes of identification and reference. Titles also indicate how relevant the information is.

The table that follows presents title variations. The information applies to all kinds of sources including books, articles, websites, films, videos, etc.

DOIs and URLs , publisher names, page numbers, and places provide location information for the sources. Include these elements in references to lead the audience to the actual source and check the publisher's credibility.

The table that follows presents location information variations depending on the type of source you want to cite in your references.


  • Provide both DOIs & URLs hyperlinked. This will allow your audience to link directly to the actual source.
  • Format DOIs following the guidelines of the International DOI Foundation as follows:
  • Do not add a period after a DOI or a URL as it may interfere with the link's functionality.
  • If you cite a work with a long DOI or URL , then you might prefer to shorten it. To shorten a DOI, go to the shortDOI Service . To shorten URLs you can visit any independent shortening service or use shortened URLs provided by the website you are using. Just check if the shortened link leads to the correct location.


The organization which is primarily responsible for producing the source is the publisher. Check the table below to clarify details about how to cite publisher information properly.

Citing publishers Skipping publishers
Co-publishers: Cite two or more publishers that equally share the responsibility of a work. Separate publisher names with semicolons (;) (e.g., ACPA College Student Educators International; Stylus). Database vendors: Do not cite as publishers, database vendors like Ebsco that are not involved in producing the works that they make available.
Publisher's division/imprint: Cite the division/imprint (brand name) instead of the parent company. Website publisher: Do not cite the publisher of a website when its name is the same as the name of the website.
Organization as publisher & author: Cite the organization only in the author position. Person as publisher & author: Do not cite the person in the publisher's position in publications that have been published by their author or editor.
Publisher as part of an organizational unit: Cite the names of parent agencies in the publisher position, when the most specific agency’s name appears in the author position. Periodical publisher: Do not cite the publisher for publications such as journals, magazines, newspapers. Provide the periodical's information including the periodical's name, volume, issue, and page numbers.
Standardization of publisher names: Write the name of the publisher as it appears on the work you used, even if it varies over the years and across works. You do not have to standardize the names. Always add a period (.) after publisher names. Business structure designations in publisher names: Omit designations such as “Co.”, “Inc.”, “Ltd.”, “Corp.”, from publisher names (e.g., cite Westburn Publishers Ltd. as Westburn Publishers).

Places & Pages
  • In case of works that are associated with a specific location like a conference presentation, include the place in the location information. Abbreviate names of U.S. states and Canadian provinces and Australian states and territories . When you cite locations outside of the United States, provide the name of the city and country in full (e.g., Washington, DC, but Athens, Greece).
  • Always include the page number, if available, when you cite an article from a periodical or a chapter of an edited work.
Sometimes information sources do not have all the necessary elements. The table below shows how to create a citation in the reference list and in the text when one or more elements are missing.

The table does not include information on italicization of titles and only includes basic punctuation. Consult the author, date, title, and location elements sections above to find such information.