APA stands for the American Psychological Association. The APA publishes a manual that offers a standard for writers in the medical and biological sciences to use when formatting research papers and bibliographies.
The APA Publication Manual describes how to format your paper, how to cite the resources you use within the body of the paper, and how to create the references list - the bibliography of sources you used - at the end of the paper.
There are many online resources to help you with APA. These are some we recommend:
- OWL - The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University.
- NoodleTools, available on the RTC Library Database page. This resource can help you format your APA reference list. Sign up for a free account through the RTC database page and save your citations for up to a year.
- The Citation Machine - Another web resource to help you format APA citation lists. You will need to watch a brief commercial to complete your citation. They also offer to check your paper for possible 'plagiarism errors' (useful for avoiding misunderstandings or unintended failures to cite a quote).
Reference List, also known as the Bibliography
The References list is the bibliography - the list of sources you used for your paper - at the end of your paper. This is a sample of a References list:
Creating Citations for the Reference List
A book citation
These elements go in this order: The Author's last name, Author's First and Middle Initials. (Year of Publication). BookTitle. City of Publication: Publisher Name.
Example 1: Finer, K. (1995). Tuberculosis. New York: Columbia.
A Journal article from an online database
These elements go in this order: The Author's last name, Author's First and Middle Initials. (Year of Publication). Title of the article. Title of the journal, volume (issue), pages. Name of the database from which the article was retrieved.
Griffith, R. (2009, July). Role of the law in controlling the spread of tuberculosis.
Nurse Prescribing, 7(7), 320-324. Retrieved from CINAHL database.
An article from a paper journal
These elements go in this order: The Author's last name, Author's First and Middle Initials. (Year of Publication). Title of the article. Title of the journal, volume (issue), pages.
Henderson, D.A. (2008). Smallpox: Dispelling the myths. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 86(12), 917-19.
These elements go in this order: The Author's last name, Author's First and Middle Initials. (Year published or updated).Title of the page. Date retrieved.
Clay, G. (2009). Menstuff: The national men's resource. Retrieved November 3,
2009, from http://www.menstuff.org/frameindex.html.
Showing Your Sources Within Your Paper - In-Text Citations
When quoting or paraphrasing a book, journal article, website, or other sources in your paper, you need to signal that these words or ideas are not yours. This is usually done by listing the author's last name, page number, and the year after the sentence. This is called an in-text citation, because you are citing the work in your text.
Example 1: “The best known lipids are fats." (Finer, 2008, p. 25).
Example 2: According to Finer (2008) “the best known lipids are fats (p. 25).”
If the work has multiple authors, list all of the authors unless there are six or more.
Example 3: Two authors: “The best known lipids are fats." (Smith & Jones, 2008, p. 29).
Example 4: Three to five authors; “The best known lipids are fats." (Smith, Jones, Baker, Taylor & Miller, 2008, p. 31).
Example 5: Six or more authors – list the first author and then “et al.” for the remaining authors: “The best known lipids are fats." (Smith et al., 2001, p. 52).
Short Quotes and Long Quotes
Short Quotes - For a short quote like "The best known lipids are fats." (Smith et al., 2001, p. 52). just put the quote in the main body of your paper. Include quotation marks and your in-text citation, but you don't have to do anything more.
Long Quotes - Put long quotes of over 40 word in a separate paragraph. Put in one blank line, indent the quote 5 spaces from the left margin, and put in another blank line at the end of the quote. Leave out the quotation marks.
The text of the paper. This is your writing. Then comes the long quote. You include a blank line, indent five spaces and then:.
Scientists believe that malaria originated in Africa around 30 million years ago. Human malaria perhaps evolved into its current state along with our anthropoid and early human ancestors, although no one really knows when. There is no record of its presence in Europe until the first century A.D., when it was first recorded in Rome. (Marcus, 2004, p. 38.)
After a blank space, the text of your paper - your writing - continues.
Paraphrases are when you use your own words to tell the reader what someone said. We often do this to for clarity or to shorten an explanation. For paraphrases, include author and date. The page number is recommended but optional.
Example 1: Others who have studied the coast feel that currents are too strong to make this feasible (McFarlaine, 2008, p. 13).