Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

APA Citation Generator (Free) & Complete APA Format Guide

When it comes to writing styles, the format for APA citations can be a formidable foe. However, if you break down the APA format into the basics, it doesn’t look so scary. Use this easy-to-follow APA format paper guide to break down your research writing into easy steps. Get a free APA citation generator to help in your reference page creation and examples for tricky APA citations.


APA Citation Generator and Guidelines

You can make the writing of your paper easier by using a free APA citation generator. The American Psychological Association (APA) writing format has a whole book of guidelines for creating a paper from start to finish. However, the most important aspect of the APA writing style is the APA in-text and reference list citations. While you can create these citations by hand, the Bibliography.com citation generator creates accurate and free citations to use in-text and in your reference list.

How to Create APA In-Text Citations

Parenthetical or in-text citations sometimes get confused with reference citations, but these two are different.

  • In-text citations are found in the body of your paper.
  • Reference citations are at the end of the paper in the “references” section.

That’s an easy way to keep track of the two. Additionally, for every in-text citation, you should have a corresponding reference list citation.

How to Make an APA In-Text Citation

Chapter 8 of the APA manual gives you a clear run down for creating in-text citations. APA in-text citations use the author-date format. In addition to having a specific format, different types of text are going to be quoted differently. Explore how to make citations for quotes.

  • Short quotes use quotation marks around the quoted text and have the author’s name (or multiple authors’ names), date, and the page number.
  • Long quotes are in block quote format.
  • Summarizing or paraphrasing should include the name and date. The page number can be included but isn’t required.

example in-text citations APA format

Working With Authors

Whether the cited source has one author, six authors, or no author, you have to account for everything. Just a few ways the authors might be cited in the text include:

  • Unknown Author: Title of Source
  • One Author: Author’s Last Name
  • Two Authors: Last Name Author 1 & Last Name Author 2
  • Three or More Authors: Author Name 1 et al.

Footnotes in APA Format Paper

Footnotes can cause a lot of writers anxiety; thankfully, they aren’t commonly used in APA format. When used, footnotes are used for copyrighted material or to provide extra information in the text. Rather than use the author-date format, you create footnotes in APA style using superscript numbers in the text and a reference at the bottom of the page.

APA Format Citation: Reference List

Just like everything else in your paper, your references list needs to follow specific rules for formatting and creating your citations set forth by chapters 9 and 10 of the APA manual. Besides being double spaced and including a page number, you need to put your references in alphabetical order.

APA reference page sample

Listing Authors in APA Format Paper

When listing authors in APA article citations, follow the same basic format for one or two authors as you did for your in-text citations. But, when it comes to two to twenty authors, you need to write them out in full. For a resource with twenty-one or more authors, write out the first nineteen authors, then add three ellipsis points, followed by the final author.

Note: Found in section 9.8 of the Publication Manual in chapter 10.



2-20 Authors:

Alberts B., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Raff, M., Roberts, K.,  & Walter, P.

21 or More:

Jaramillo, C., Gilbert, A.N., Bulixi, T.P., Farland, N., Smith, L.J., Leland, K., Thomas, P., Luna, K., Leer, K., List, K., Like, K., Ryan, O., Leland, R., Terry, D., Deel, S., Turner, T., San, E., Tyr, K., Land, A., …Wintle, N.


APA Format Citations for Periodicals

When it comes to APA citations, periodicals are published at specific intervals. They include journals, magazines, newspapers, and reviews. Basically, the citation for a periodical includes the author, year, title, pages, and DOI.

Periodical Example

Author, A. B. (Year). Article title. Title of periodical, volume number (issue number), pages. https://doi.org/xx.xxx/yyyy

APA Book Citations

In a book citation, including reference books and anthologies, you write out the author’s last name and include both the first and middle initial. You italicize the title and only capitalize the first word of the title. You also need a hanging indent.

Book Example

Author, A. B. (Publication year). Work title: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.

Additional Print Source Citations

While books and periodicals are the main print sources you encounter, you can come across print sources like an encyclopedia or dictionary. Be wary of some of these sources simply because they are considered secondary sources. However, if you choose to use them, the corresponding citation includes the publication, edition, and year.

Dictionary Example

Author. (Publication year). Entry title. In Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (edition., p. 00)

APA Website Citation

Now, it’s time to explore a website citation. A website citation includes the title, publication date, and URL.

Website Example:

Author, A. B. (Publication date). Title of page. Name of site. URL

Photo and Image Citations

Did you know you need to cite images? Well, you do. It is important to give credit to anything you use within your paper, including images. Image citations can take a couple of formats depending on whether or not they have an author.

Photo Example With Author:

Author, A. B. (Year). Title of the artwork [Format]. Location. URL

PowerPoint APA Citations

Lecturers love to share their PowerPoint presentations, so if you use one, you need to know how to cite a PowerPoint correctly. That includes PowerPoint reference lists that your teacher might ask you to create. To correctly cite a PowerPoint presentation, you include the author, publication, title, and URL if one is available.

PowerPoint Example:

Author, A. B. (year of publication). Title of presentation: Subtitle of presentation [PowerPoint slides]. Format. URL

No Reference Needed

Some sources don’t need to be cited in the reference list. For example, classical works don’t need to be listed in your references. This is also true of personal communication, like interviews. However, if your teacher requests it, be sure to add it to the references.

APA Annotated Bibliography

While your paper typically ends with your references, sometimes, you are asked to create an annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography in APA style includes each APA citation and an overview of the source authority, information, and value it adds to your research.

example annotated bibliography APA

Citation Mistakes in APA Format Citations

It’s important to include proper APA formatting and citations throughout your paper to avoid citation mistakes. To ensure your science research paper deserves an A, avoid these common APA citation pitfalls.

  • Include a reference list to match your in-text citation
  • Misquoting your source information
  • Incorrectly citing multiple authors

With a clear understanding of how to create citations and a few common mistakes, it’s time to check out some formatting guidelines.

How to Create an APA Format Paper

The time has come to format your APA paper. And, the style guide has everything broken down for you when it comes to formatting the body of your paper.

Note: All the formatting information discussed in this section can be found in Chapter 2 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition.


APA Paper Requirements

Formatting requirements can be easy to miss. A few APA formatting style highlights include:

  • Double spacing
  • Page number header
  • 1-inch margins
  • Flush-left style
  • Indented paragraphs

Must-Have Sections in APA Format

In addition to formatting, you need to include specific sections within your APA-style research paper. The basic sections include:

  • Title page: This is the first page with your title and name.
  • Abstract: This provides an overview of the paper.
  • Body: The main part of your paper includes your introduction, methods, materials, results, conclusion, and discussion.
  • References: Here, you provide a list of all the sources used in your article.

example abstract APA format

APA Five Levels of Headings

APA format uses unique headings that fall into one of five levels.

Headings are used in order. If you need two headings in your section, then you start with a level 1 heading at the beginning of the section. This heading is bold and centered. Your level 2 subsection heading is left aligned and bold. If you require three levels of headings in your section, then you start with a level 1 heading, then move to a level 2 and level 3 in order. All headings are in title case, meaning you capitalize most words.

Note: Look for more information on heading levels in sections 2.26 and 2.27 of the APA manual.


Tables & Figures in APA

Adding tables and figures to your APA paper is a fabulous way to condense information and add visuals to your writing. When creating a table or figure, make sure it’s attractive and displays the information you want in an accessible way. Per chapter 7 of the APA manual, tables have four main sections:

  • Number – include numbers for each table like (Table 1)
  • Title – appears below table number
  • Headings – like column headings
  • Body – rows and columns showing your information

example table APA format

Figures in APA, like images, also include basic important components. Following sections 7.22 to 7.36 of the APA manual, figures include:

  • Number – each figure included has a number (Figure 1)
  • Title – title double spaced under number
  • Image – the image, drawing, photo, etc.
  • Legend – key for your figure to explain symbols
  • Notes – general, specific, or probability information needed to understand the figure

example figure APA format

APA Style Writing Tips

Since academic writing requires a specific tone, knowing a few APA writing style tips can really make your work shine. Your writing should be clear and concise. Use simple sentences that are straight to the point and unpack your details in a clear, easy-to-follow way. Being vague could lead to misinterpretation, and nobody wants that. Additionally, follow specific punctuation, spelling, capitalization, numbers, and abbreviation rules laid out in chapter 6 of the APA manual.

Tone and Wording in APA Writing

Being clear and easy-to-follow doesn’t mean that you need to use a passive voice in your tone and wording in APA writing. Rather, an active voice is preferred for dissecting experiments.

And don’t forget about verb tense. You must present the facts as they are to avoid any bias. It’s also important to rethink the use of gender pronouns to avoid bias as well. Consider an alternative like specific names, people, or groups, rather than he or she. Additionally, APA 7 supports the use of the singular ‘they’ in their style.

APA Research Tips and Tricks

Understanding the constraints of your style guide are important for writing an APA Paper. However, it’s just as important to start on the right foot by having a few research tips and tricks up your sleeve.

Select Your Thesis

The first step in the APA paper writing process is choosing your thesis. Behavioral and social sciences are big fields. So, it’s important to narrow down your focus before you begin your paper. Depending on your interests, you might look for topics in:

  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Law
  • Linguistics
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Nursing
  • Criminology

Once you narrow down your topic, you need to research a specific question in that field you want to answer. Use your topic and research question to clearly define your thesis. This is important because it guides your research for your APA paper.

Finding Sources for APA Format Paper

With a clear research focus, you need to find the right sources for your APA paper. It’s important to find authoritative sources for academic writing. Authoritative sources for social sciences topics include scholarly journals and books by experts in the field. Additionally, look at the year the study or research was published. Theories are constantly changing in the field; therefore, it’s important to find the most up-to-date information. If you need a little help finding credible primary and secondary sources, you can use Bibliography.com’s source generator.

good source scholarly information

Creating an APA Format Outline

Depending on the magnitude of your phenomenal research, you can choose to create an outline of your paper before writing it. APA doesn’t have a specific format for making an outline for your essay or research paper. However, there are a few different formats you can use, like a topic or sentence outline. While not required, having an outline can help keep your paper flowing smoothly and on topic.

example outline in APA format

Why Use APA Style?

The reason to choose APA citation style vs. MLA or Chicago is that it’s designed to provide credibility by making your resources accessible and creating a focus for the reader. Since APA was created for behavioral science, social science, education, and psychology research papers, it creates a cohesive format for writing and citing your resources.

APA style description video

Difference Between APA 6 and APA 7 Format

With the why securely in your mind, it’s time to explore APA’s changes in their style guide when they updated from APA 6 to APA 7.  While most of the changes were small, a few major ones include:

  • Inclusive, gender-neutral, bias-free language
  • Shortening of authors for in-text citations
  • Including 20 author names on the reference list
  • Removal of [Kindle] from ebooks
  • More online source examples
  • Font flexibility

Publishing an APA paper

Research papers are published in scholarly journals. After an author submits a paper for review, it undergoes a rigorous double-blind, peer-reviewed process.

Double-blind means that the author or authors’ names are scrubbed from the manuscript. This way, the reviewers do not know who the author is, and the authors do not know who the reviewers are. This process helps maintain the integrity of the review.

Peer-reviewed means that others review each manuscript at a similar level in the research field. For example, papers submitted by those with doctorate degrees will be reviewed by researchers who hold equal authority in the field. Usually, at least two reviewers are assigned to each manuscript. The editor-in-chief of the journal holds the final decision.

Using journal articles in your research paper is a good way to understand previous research. It’s also a good way to keep up with current research. Always check the article’s date and look to see if there are more recent articles with updated conclusions. Using academic databases available through your school or library helps you find the latest research.

Citation generator

Writing Your APA Format Paper

Writing an APA paper can be quite a process. To make sure that every paper has a clean, uniform look, the APA created a nifty style guide. While it might seem like a lot of work your first time around, you can simplify your life by trying a bibliography generator to take the work out of creating proper citations for your research paper. You can also check out MLA format and Chicago citations.


What does APA format look like?

The look of an APA format paper is specific and includes running headers, 1-inch margins, flush-left style, double spacing, and indented paragraphs. Each APA format paper will include a title page, abstract, body, and references page.

How do you set up a paper in APA format?

To set up a paper in APA format, you need 1-inch margins and indented paragraphs. You also include running headers and double spacing throughout the entire paper. In addition to the body of your paper, you'll include a title page, abstract, and references.

What is a running head in APA format example?

In an APA format example, the running header is found at the top of each page of the paper. The APA running header includes the title of the paper in all capital letters like:

How do you do APA referencing?

When it comes to doing an APA referencing list, you include citations for all the references you used in your paper. The title should be centered and 1 inch down. The citations are listed in alphabetical order by the author's last name. Additionally, for book and journal article titles, APA uses sentence case capitalization so only the first letter of the title will be capitalized like:
Exploration of the holocaust

What is a level 1 heading APA?

A level 1 heading in APA style is the first level of header used. Level 1 headings are in title case, bold, and centered on the page. Level 1 headings are the first level of 5 levels of heading that APA dictates in their style guide.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 4.1 / 5. Vote count: 63

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?