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Citation Styles Guide: List of references - general formatting

This guide is intended to help students with the different citation styles used at the College.

APA list of references: General formatting

A Reference List is a listing of every source that you referenced in your paper.  Do not include any source in your reference list if you did not cite it at least once in your paper. If you cited a source even once in your paper, you must include it in your reference list.

When assembling your reference list for a paper in APA Citation Style, please use the following guidelines:

  • Start a new page after the last page of your paper.
  • On the first line of the page, centre "References," in bold, not in quotation marks.
  • References list entries should be in alphabetical order by author’s surname or by title when there is no author. When alphabetizing in APA, "nothing precedes something": Loft, V. H. precedes Loftus, E.F., even though "u" comes before "v" in the alphabet.
  • Every line after the first line of an entry should be indented 1.27 cm (0.5") from the left margin. You can do this manually or have Word do it for you. To set the indentation in Word, go to:  Page Layout>Paragraph>Special> Hanging.

APA list of references: Reference categories

APA reference entries are organized by group, then category, then type. To figure out how to cite your source, look at the source and see which group it would fall into, then category, then the type. Once you've determined that, use the rules for that specific type to create your reference entry.

The "Group, Category, Type" structure breaks down like so:

Groups Categories Types (examples)
textual works


books and reference works

edited book chapters and reference work entries

reports and gray literature

conference sessions and presentation

dissertations and theses

reviews of other works

unpublished and informally published works

journal article

edited book chapter

government report


data sets, software, and tests

data sets

computer software, mobile apps, apparatuses, and equipment

tests, scales, and inventories

unpublished raw data

entry in a mobile reference work

test scoring manual

audiovisual media

audiovisual works

audio works

visual works

YouTube video


speech audio recording

podcast episode

PowerPoint slides

online media

social media



Instagram photo


webpage on a news website

Note: The groups of textual works; data sets, computer software, and tests; and audiovisual media take precedence of the group of online media. In other words, even though an ebook is found online through a database or website, it is treated as a textual work. Similarly, a YouTube video is considered to be audiovisual media, even though it comes from a website; and a blog entry, because it acts a lot like a periodical article, it treated like a textual work. Only use the online media group for a reference source if it does not fit into any other groups.

APA list of references: Sections of a reference list entry

No matter what Reference Category your entry falls into, every Reference List entry has four elements:

  • Author: Who is responsible for this work?
  • Date: When was this work published?
  • Title: What is this work called?
  • Source: Where can I retrieve this work?

While the formatting within each section may vary depending on the source, the sections will always appear in the above order in an entry. No matter the formatting, always end each element of the reference entry with a period. The only exceptions to this are after a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) or a URL, as it may interfere with link functionality. However, the specifics of what goes into each section is dictated by the Reference Category that best fits your source.

The following are some specifics for each of the four elements that can be applied to any reference entry.



Always list authors in the following format: Surname, comma, then initials of given name(s). Follow each initial with a period and include a space between initials. Do not list author(s) full given name(s). End the author section with a period, if the last part of the author entry does not already end with a period from an author's initial.

A work with no known author: If an author for a work is not named, put the title of the work in place of the author, with the date after the title.

A work with an "Anonymous" author: If an author for a work is specifically named as "Anonymous," use "Anonymous" in place of an author's name in the reference entry.

Multiple works by the same author: If you have two or more entries by the same author, they should be listed by year of publication, with the oldest coming first. If two or more entries by the same author were published in the same year, list those entries alphabetically by title and place "a," "b," and so on after the year of publication for the works in the order the appear in the list (e.g. 2017a, 2017b, 2017c). The years with they additional lowercase letters should also be used in in-text citations.

Works with two to twenty authors List each author in the surname, initials order. Separate each author's name with a comma. Place an ampersand (&) before the last author's name.

example: Author, A. A., Author, B. B., Author, C. C., Author, D. D., & Author, E. E.

Works with twenty-one or more authors: List the first nineteen authors in surname, initials order. Separate each author's name with a comma. After the nineteenth author's name, place an ellipsis (e.g. ". . ."). Then provide the final author in surname, initials order. Do not place an ampersand (&) before the final author's name.

example: Author, A. A., Author, B. B., Author, C. C., Author, D. D., Author, E. E., Author, F. F., Author, G. G., Author, H. H., Author, I. I., Author, J. J., Author, K. K., Author, L. L., Author, M. M., Author, N. N., Author, O. O., Author, P. P., Author, Q. Q., Author, R. R., Author, S. S., . . . Author, Z. Z. 

Group authors: When a work has been written by a group author, include the full name of the group. Do not abbreviate it in the reference entry, even if there is a commonly-know abbreviation for the group. Note that it is possible for a single work to have multiple group authors and/or a mix of group authors and individual authors. In these cases, the same rules as a work that has multiple individual authors apply. List all authors in the same order as are found on the original work.

Specialized roles: People other than an author who contributed substantially to the creation of a source are recognized in many difference specific reference types. In these cases, the role is placed in parentheses after the contributor's name, which is listed in surname, initials order. If there are multiple contributors in a given role, then only place the role after the last contributor. Editors are abbreviated as "Ed." for one editor and "Eds." for multiple editors. Other roles, like "director," "writer," or "producer," are not abbreviated. If one person had multiple roles for a given work, list all of the roles together in one set of parentheses.


Lee, S. (Ed.)

Lee, S., & Loeb, J. (Eds.)

Watiti, T. D. (Writer & Director)



The date of publication always appears in parentheses in a reference list entry, followed by a period. It is placed after the the author, or after the title for works that do not have a named author.

Depending on the type of work, you may need to include:

The year of publication (most works fall into this category).

example: (2016)

The year, month and day (the exact date of publication. This is used mostly for online works. Always write out the entire name of the month).

example: (2019, February 18)

The year and season.

example: (2018, Spring)

Unpublished, informally published, or in-progress works: provide the year the work was produced.

A work was accepted for publication but not yet published: use "in press" instead of the year. Do not proving a date in the reference.

example: (in press)

A work with an advance publication date and a final publication date: use the final date.

When the date provided is approximate: add "ca." (for "circa") at the beginning of the date.

example: (ca. 1997)

No date listed on the source: use "n.d." for "no date."

example: (n.d.)

Online works with no known date or which are continuously updated: include a "Retrieved from" date at the end of the entry, along with a link to the source where you retrieved the information. Place "n.d." in the year of publication section of the entry.

example: Retrieved December 18, 2019, from



In terms of an APA citation, title refers to the title being cited, and can be divided into two broad categories: works that stand alone, and works that are part of a greater whole. No matter what category the work falls into, include a period at the end of the title.

Works that stand alone

Place the title in italics and capitalize it using Sentence case (Capitalize the first letter of the first word of the title; the first letter of the first word of the subtitle; the first letter of the first word after a colon, em dash, or end punctuation; and the first letter of any proper nouns).

Works that are part of a greater whole

Do not italicize the title or put it in quotation marks. Capitalize it using Sentence case (Capitalize the first letter of the first word of the title; the first letter of the first word of the subtitle; the first letter of the first word after a colon, em dash, or end punctuation; and the first letter of any proper nouns).

Book and report references: enclose any additional information such as edition, report number, or volume number, in parentheses after the title. The period goes after the additional information.

A numbered volume with its own title: the volume number and title are included as part of the main title, instead of being placed in parentheses.

Works that are not peer-reviewed academic literature: add a description of the work in square brackets after the title and before the period. There are standard descriptions associate with specific types of the works (e.g. Film, TV episode). Use these standardized descriptions whenever possible.

example: Rogue one: A star wars story [Film].

A work with no title: include a description of the work in square brackets instead. When possible, specify the medium of the work being described.

example: [Map of Canada as of the year 1873].



The source section indicates where readers can retrieve the referenced work. As with title, there are two broad categories: works that stand alone and works that are part of a greater whole.

Works that stand alone

The source is the publisher of the work, database or archive, social media site, or website, plus any applicable DOI (digital object identifier) or URL.

Works that are part of a greater whole

The source is the work that is the greater whole (e.g. journal title for a journal article, title of an edited book when referencing a specific chapter), plus any applicable DOI (digital object identifier) or URL.

Journal Titles: While the titles of greater whole are normally places in Sentence case in the reference (see the title section for details), the title of a journal is always placed in Title Case (the first letter of the firs word and of every major word is capitalized).

Works that are associated with a specific location (e.g. a lecture or a conference presentation) also include location information in the source. They may also include a DOI (digital object identifier) or URL, if appropriate.

The details of the source depend heavily on the type of source being referenced. See specific examples on the List of References - Examples page of this guide.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed.

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association: The official guide to APA style, 7th edition, published by the American Psychological Association, is the authoritative guide to APA style. It is designed to be used by anyone that uses APA style in their work, from students to researchers. However, there are specific sections in the guide that detail the streamlined formatting that should be used for student work. Copies of the Publication Manual are available at the Reserve Desk in the Library.

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