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APA 7th ed. Citation Guide: Reference List & Assignment Formats

Contains the latest changes and updates to APA Style

Formatting Rules & Guides

A Research Paper written in APA style contains the following components and are arranged in the following order:

To view an example, go to the Sample Papers and Checklists tab.

Title Page

Include the following elements:

  • title of the paper
  • author(s)
    • include the full names of all authors of the paper;
    • use the form first name, middle initial,last name (e.g., Betsy R. Klein) if two authors, separate with the word “and” (e.g., Ainsley E. Baum and Lucy K. Reid), if three or more authors, separate each name with a comma and write the word “and” before the last author (e.g., Riley S. Rodrigo, Dev M. Kumar, and Aidan T. Zhang)
  • affiliation
    •  include the name of the program followed by the name of the college/university, separated by a comma (e.g., Practical Nursing, University of Nebraska)
  • course name and number
    • use the format shown on institutional materials for the course to which the paper is being submitted (e.g., PSY 202, NURS101)
  • instructor name
    • use the instructor’s preferred designation (e.g., Dr., Professor) and spelling
  • assignment due date
    • spell out the month (e.g., March 6, 2020)
  • header with the page number

Optional.  Most student research papers do not require an abstract.

An Abstract is a brief, one paragraph, comprehensive summary of the contents of the paper.

Include an abstract ONLY if instructed by your Faculty. 


The body of your assignment which will include in-text citations.  Depending on the instructions provided by your Faculty, this could be in Essay, Memo or Report format.


A separate page located after the text portion of the assignment.

Lists all resources used.  See Reference List tab for detailed instructions on developing this list.


Optional. Most student research papers do not require the inclusion of Footnotes.

A footnote is a brief note that provides additional content to the research paper.   These should only be included if they strengthen the discussion and should only convey one idea. 

Footnotes are located after the Reference page.

Tables & Figures

Tables and Figures are typically embedded within the text after they have been mentioned. 

An alternate option is to create a separate page for each table and figure and included after the Reference page (or Footnotes page if used).  This option is better suited for larger tables and figures.


An Appendix allows the author to include supplemental material that helps the readers understand, evaluate or replicate the study or theoretical argument being made.  This material would be considered distracting or inappropriate to include within the text of the paper, and are relatively brief and easily presented in print format.

  • Begin each Appendix on a separate page after the Reference page, footnotes, tables and figures. 
  • Label each page "Appendix X" starting with "Appendix A". 
    • The material included would be arranged in the order in which it was mentioned in the text of the paper. 
    • If there is only one appendix, label it "Appendix".
    • Include a title for each Appendix which describes the content. 
    • The Appendix label and title should be typed in bold and centered on separate lines at the top of the page.
    • Ensure you incorporate the Appendix label "Appendix C" into the text when it is mentioned.

Your research paper ends with a list of all the sources cited in the text of the paper.

To view an example, go to the Sample Papers and Checklists tab.

10 Quick Rules for Reference List Format
  1. Start a new page for your Reference list at the end of your paper.
  2. Centre the title: References in bold at the top of the page. (Do not use all Capitals).
  3. Double-space the entire list, both within and between entries.
  4. Use Hanging Indents for each entry. The first line of each reference starts at the left margin while subsequent lines are indented 0.5 inches from the left margin. Use the paragraph formatting function of your word processing program (ie MS Word) to apply the hanging indent
  5. Order the list entries alphabetically by author surname.  Where the author is unknown, alphabetize by the first significant word in the title, ignoring the words "a", "an", "the".
  6. For each author, give the surname (last name) followed by a comma and the first (and middle, if listed) initials followed by periods.
  7. Italicize the titles of works: books, audiovisual material, internet documents and newspapers, and the title and volume number of journals and magazines.
  8. Do not italicize titles of parts of works, such as: articles from newspapers, magazines, or journals / essays, poems, short stories or chapter titles from a book / chapters or sections of an Internet document.
  9. In titles of non-periodicals (books, videotapes, websites, reports, poems, essays, chapters, etc), capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, and all proper nouns (names of people, places, organizations, nationalities).
  10. If more than one place of publication is listed give the publisher's home office. If the home office is not given or known then choose the first location listed.
Guidelines for formatting author(s)
  • Invert all individual authors' names, providing the surname first, followed by a comma and the initials: Author, A.A.
  • Use one space between initials.
  • Use a comma to separate an author's initials from additional author names, even when there are only two authors; use an ampersand (&) before the final author's name: Author, A.A., & Author, B.B.
  • Do not use a comma to separate two group authors: American Psychological Association & National Institutes of Health.
  • Provide surnames and initials for up to and including 20 authors.  When there are two to 20 authors, use an ampersand (&) before the final author's name: Author, A.A., Author, B.B., & Author, C.C.
  • When there are 21 or more authors, include the first 19 authors' names, insert an ellipsis (...) but no ampersand, and then add the final author's name. (See the example provided on this page for 21 or more authors)
  • When given names are hyphenated, retain the hyphen and include a period after each initial but no space (e.g., Xu, A-J., for  Ai-Jun Xu).  When the second element of a hyphenated name is lowercase, treat it as a single name (e.g. Raboso, L.,  for Lee-ann Raboso).
  • Use commas to separate initials and suffixes such as Jr. and III: Author, A.A., Jr., & Author B.B.
  • If nonprimary authors are credited using the word "with" (e.g. on a book cover), included them in the reference list entry with parentheses : Meyers, K. (with Long, W.T.)  Note: the in-text citation will only include the primary author: (Meyers, 2019).

* Headings are only required if your instructor indicates they are to be included in your paper.

Heading Levels & Format

APA Style Headings have 5 possible levels:

Level 1 Headings: are used for top level or main sections

Level 2 Headings:  are subsections of of Level 1; and so on.

Each section starts with the highest level of headings and follows the sub-heading top-down progression. 





Centered, Bold, Title Case Heading

Text begins as a new paragraph.


Flush Left, Bold, Title Case Heading

Text beings as a new paragraph


Flush Left, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading

Text begins as a new paragraph.


Indented, Bold, Title Case Heading, Ending with a Period. Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.


Indented, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading, Ending with a Period. Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.

*Some sections may not require Sub-Headings

*The number of heading levels needed for a paper depends on its length and complexity; three is average.  Short student papers may not require any headings.

Visual Examples of APA Style & More
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