Whenever you write a paper, you draw from existing sources of information. It is important to acknowledge those sources when you write your own paper. But how exactly do you write an acknowledgement of a source you incorporated into your paper? What does a source citation look like?
The following guide can help you write citations in the American Psyschological Association (APA) style. (And yes, the APA style is used by many different disciplines, not just psychology).
Citations consist of two elements:
- A quick note in the text of your paper anytime you use an existing source of information. The "in-text citations" tab above shows you how to include a note in the text of your paper when you use a source.
- A complete list of the sources you used at the end of your paper. The tabs above will show you how to present a webpage, article, book, encyclopedia, or DVD in the list of references at the end of your paper. General guidelines on how you present a your list of references include:
- Reference list starts on a new page. Type the word "References" centered at the top of the page.
- Double-space all reference list entries
- The first line of each reference is set at the left margin and subsequent lines are indented ½ inch
- Arrange alphabetically, not by format (book, journal, etc)
Please see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for further info. The library has one copy of the Manual in the Ready Reference section on the second floor of the library, and one held on 24 hour reserve.
by Chelsea Lee
APA Style has special formatting rules for the titles of the sources you use in your paper, such as the titles of books, articles, book chapters, reports, and webpages. The different formats that might be applied are capitalization (see Publication Manual, section 4.15), italics (see section 4.21), and quotation marks (see section 4.07), and they are used in different combinations for different kinds of sources in different contexts.
The formatting of the titles of sources you use in your paper depends on two factors: (a) the independence of the source (stands alone vs. part of a greater whole) and (b) the location of the title (in the text of the paper vs. in the reference list entry). The table below provides formatting directions and examples:
Independence of source
Italic, title case
Gone With the Wind
Italic, sentence case
Gone with the wind
Part of a greater whole
Inside double quotation marks, title case
“Longitudinal Impact of Parental and Adolescent Personality on Parenting”
Not inside any quotation marks, sentence case
Longitudinal impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting
More on Italics Versus Nonitalics
As you can see in the table above, the titles of works that stand alone (such as a book or a report) are italicized in both the text and the reference list. In contrast, the titles of works that are part of a greater whole (such as an article, which is part of a journal, or a book chapter, which is part of a book) are not italicized in either place, and only in the text are they put inside quotation marks. If you are having difficulty determining whether something stands alone (such as a webpage that may or may not be part of a greater website), choose not to italicize.
More on Capitalization: Title Case Versus Sentence Case
APA Style uses two kinds of capitalization to format reference titles, which are also mentioned in the table above: title case and sentence case. APA’s title case refers to a capitalization style in which most words are capitalized, and sentence case refers to a capitalization style in which most words are lowercased. In both cases, proper nouns and certain other types of words are always capitalized. Here are more detailed directions for implementing title case and sentence case.
As shown in the table above, title case is used for the titles of references when they appear in the text of an APA Style paper. Here are some examples of titles written in title case (of an article and a book, respectively), as they might appear in a sentence in the text of a paper:
|The article “Psychological Distress, Acculturation, and Mental Health-Seeking Attitudes Among People of African Descent in the United States: A Preliminary Investigation” (Obasi & Leong, 2009) makes an important contribution to the mental health and acculturation literature.|
|Students read stories of visual agnosia in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales (Sacks, 1985).|
Reference List Entry Examples
In contrast, sentence case is used for titles of references when they appear in reference list entries. See how the book and article titles look when capitalized in sentence case in these example reference list entries:
|Obasi, E. M., & Leong, F. T. L. (2009). Psychological distress, acculturation, and mental health-seeking attitudes among people of African descent in the United States: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56, 227–238. doi:10.1037/a0014865|
|Sacks, O. (1985). The man who mistook his wife for a hat and other clinical tales. New York, NY: Harper & Row.|
We hope this helps you understand how to capitalize and format reference titles in APA Style.
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