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APA Reference Page Examples and Format Guide

When it comes to creating your APA reference page, this is on a separate page after the body of your paper. The formatting of your APA 7 references page includes 1-inch margins, double spacing, references sorted alphabetically, and a hanging indent. To make sure you have everything on your APA reference page perfect, use this step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.


What Is an APA Reference Page?

An APA reference page is where you find all the references for the in-text citations included in your research. It provides the who, when, what, and where information for each different resource you used.

Like the paper itself, the reference list includes similar elements to what is found in the body of the paper like an optional running header, title, double spacing, page number, and 1-inch margins. However, it also has some special formatting requirements like being sorted alphabetically and a hanging indent.

APA Reference Page Example

To get clarity about formatting, it’s best to see an APA reference page example in action.

APA reference page tips
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References vs. APA In-Text Citation

With a reference page clarified in your mind, it’s essential to explore the difference between a reference citation and an in-text citation. A reference is listed only on the APA reference list; however, an in-text citation is created throughout the body of the text. Every in-text citation, beyond those specified by APA, has a corresponding reference list on the References page.

Formatting the APA Reference Page

The formatting for an APA reference page is precise. Why? Because it follows the specific format called for by APA requirements. The essential APA reference page arrangement list includes:

  • “References” is centered 1-inch down. It’s not capitalized, bold, or italicized.
  • The reference citations are double spaced with no additional lines between them.
  • References that go past the first line have a hanging indent.
  • All references are in alphabetical order.

APA reference page sample

What Information Goes on the APA Reference Page?

In most cases, the information you find in the references includes the author, date, title, and source elements for each different in-text citation you used for websites, periodicals, and books. However, there are individual cases where you do not include a reference citation for some sources. These include personal communications, entire websites, and common knowledge. For these particular cases, you add an in-text citation, but APA doesn’t make you create a reference citation.

Alphabetizing References

APA requires you to alphabetize your reference list by the author’s last name or title. Putting everything in alphabetical order can seem easy, but it gets a little confusing when it comes to duplicate names and numbers. Thankfully, APA has all the rules laid out for you when it comes to trying to alphabetize Dougla and Douglas. Just remember to follow the alphabet A to Z, and numbers are alphabetized how they sound.

Alphabetical Order Example in APA

Dougla, B.
Douglas, C.
Douglas, D.
D’ouglas, J.
Douglas, J. & Connor, R.

Punctuation in APA

Punctuation for your APA reference page can get confusing fast with all those commas and periods. However, in their 7th edition of the APA Manual, this style guide tried to make it simple with a few overarching rules.

  • Include periods to separate every element (authors, titles, etc.), but not after a URL.
  • Journal issue numbers are in parenthesis rather than having a comma between the issue and volume.
  • The titles of books and journals are in sentence case.
  • Use commas between parts of the same reference, like separating the author’s last name and first initial.

Handling Authors in APA

In APA formatting, another area with extensive variations is the listing of the author’s on the reference page. If you only have one author, it’s pretty straightforward, but most of the time, there are multiple authors. Before you check out how to format multiple and no authors, there are a few overarching rules.

  • Use the spelling exactly as it appears in the work, including lowercase letters, hyphenated, and two-part surnames.
  • Put one space between the initials.
  • Spell out the full names of groups.

General Author Example

Santa-Karlene, S.
da Vinci, L.

format book citations multiple authors APA
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Now that the general rules are out of the way, it’s time to look at how to format multiple authors. When you have two or more authors, you list them out with an & between them. However, when you have more than 20 authors, you list the first 19, then use ellipsis then the last name.

Two Author Example

Smith, J. A., & Johnson, B. C.

Twenty or More Authors Example

Fran, A. A., Moore, B. B., Garrett, C. C., Done, D. D., Witting, E. E., Dunkle, F. F., Smith, G. G., Johnson, H. H., Bath, I. I., Williams, J. J., Brown, K. K., Jones, L. L., Miller, M. M., Davis, N. N., Bates, O. O., Lopez, P. P., Thomas, Q. Q., Taylor, R. R., Jackson, S. S., . . . Martin, Z. Z.

If you don’t have an author at all, use the title. APA also clarifies what you can do when other reference elements are missing.

guide for missing information APA citations

Example APA Citations

While it’s good to have a basic understanding of APA citation format, viewing examples of some of the more tricky citations can ensure you have commas and periods right where you should. And if you use a citation generator to make your life a little easier, these examples can ensure nothing was missed.

Online Article Example Citation

When it comes to your APA paper, you might find that you use online articles to keep things recent and relevant to your study or topic. To create a citation of an online article, you need the author, date, title, publisher/publication, and URL.

APA Online Magazine Citation Example

APA online magazine citation

APA Reference Page Website Example

Whether it’s a web news story or a study posted on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you’ll find yourself having to create citations for websites quite often. Learn how to format the author, date, title, and location for your website citation.

APA Website Citation Example

National Center for Education Statistics. (2020, August). Six-year persistence and attainment at first institution. U.S. Department of Education. https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2020/2020237.pdf

APA Meeting Citation Example

APA papers are designed for current and vital research; therefore, it’s common to create meeting and symposium citations. These citations include the speakers, date, title, and location.

APA Meeting Citation Example

Dell, I. H., Boddie, S. J., Daven, D., & McNab, R. J. (2010). Brownstone: a comprehensive system. In Proceedings of the fifth ACM conference on Digital libraries (pp. 113-121). ACM.

YouTube Citation Example

Sometimes a video says it all; therefore, it’s essential to know how to make multimedia and youtube citations in APA. In addition to the creator, you need the date, title, and where the video can be found.

APA YouTube Example

Davenport University. (2020, January 28). Creating a bibliography using APA [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRdiUgws

Legal Case Citation Example

Now, it’s time to look at legal case citation examples. APA is excellent for legal writing, so knowing how to create these citations can be useful. For a legal case citation, you need the name of the case, volume source page, and court date.

Legal Case Example

MacDonald v. Taubner. F.3d 131, 145 (1968).

Citation generator

APA Annotated Bibliography

In addition to your APA reference list, you might also be asked to create an annotated bibliography in APA. An annotated bibliography includes citations for any sources used for the creation of the paper along with an annotation. The annotation provides the reader with further information about your source. See an APA annotated bibliography in action.

example annotated bibliography APA

Reference Page vs. Bibliography vs. Works Cited

Terminology can get confusing, especially when it comes to a reference page vs. bibliography vs. works cited. Keep the wording clear by looking at each in turn.

  • Reference page – APA reference list titled “References” includes sources cited in the body of the APA style essay.
  • Works cited – MLA reference list titled “Works Cited” includes the sources cited in the body of MLA paper.
  • Bibliography – typically used in Chicago style, and it includes all the sources used in the creation of the essay, not just those referenced.

Creating a Perfect APA Reference Page

No one wants to lose points on their APA reference page. Therefore, ensure you have everything perfect by following this quick and easy guide. And if you need more help with your APA paper, you might want to look into APA paper formatting.

FAQ APA Reference Page Examples and Format Guide

How does an APA reference page look?

An APA reference page has a distinct look set forth by the American Psychological Association Manual of Style. The formatting of the page includes an optional running header, page number header, 1-inch margins on all sides, references in alphabetical order, hanging indents, and centered title "References."

How do you write references in APA format?

The way that you create references in APA format depends on the specific citation you are creating. However, in general, each citation includes the author, date, title, and location information. For example, an APA book citation looks like:
Austen, J. (1918). Pride and prejudice. New York Press.

How do you format a reference list?

A reference list in APA is formatted in alphabetical order. Additionally, any citations that go beyond the first line include a hanging indent. Each different citation will have a distinct format depending on if it is a book, website, journal, etc.

How do you put an APA reference in alphabetical order?

To put an APA reference in alphabetical order, you start with A and work your way down to Z. For titles, you will ignore articles like a, an, and the. Numbers are alphabetized the way they sound. For example:
Austen, J. (1918). Pride and prejudice. New York Press.
1989. (n.d.). New York Press.
The way we were. (1929). Gilmore Publishing.

Do you need page numbers in APA reference list?

Yes, in an APA reference list, you will include page numbers. The page numbers will start on your title page, and follow through to the APA reference page. The page number is right-aligned, 1/2 inch down.

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