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How Is the Reference List Arranged in APA?

Arranging your APA 7 reference list in the proper format is an integral part of completing your research paper. As you prepare and write your paper, you should compile a preliminary reference list or bibliography that contains all the information you need for your citations. Make sure all your citations are accurate and lead your reader directly to the same source you used for your paper.

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APA Reference List Elements

Each source you include in your APA 7 reference list should contain this information, following the proper citation formatting style.

  • Author name
  • Publication date
  • Title
  • Publication information

Basic Formatting of an APA Paper

Format your APA paper according to the following guidelines:

  • Double-space everything, even the citations in your reference paper.
  • Utilize 1-inch margins all around: top, bottom, left, and right.
  • Type in Times New Roman, 12 point font, or a readable font.
  • Do not justify lines; use flush-left style.
  • Indent the first line of paragraphs by five spaces.

Order of Pages

The pages of your APA paper should be numbered, starting with the title page. Professional papers also contain a running header with a shortened version of the full title.

Title PageĀ 
Running page number
Institutional affiliation
Author note (Professional papers)
*author note is a brief author bio or acknowledgments


Abstract (page 2)
Summary and/evaluation of another’s work


Text (page 3 and above)
Literature review
References (new page)


Reference List Format

While formatting your reference list, follow the same format guidelines as the research paper.

Reference List Guidelines
Center “References” in the middle of the page.
Do not bold, underline, or capitalize.
Running header for professional papers.
Continue the page numbering.

Arranging the Order of References

Student Arranging an APA Reference List

To put it simply, arranging your APA reference list is very straightforward. Simply alphabetize the entries letter by letter. More specifically, reference list entries are arranged using the author’s last name first, then their first name initials.

Often you will find the names of the same researchers and writers, as they specialize in specific fields. For example, Paul Jaeger is a well-known expert in the field of library information and has several articles published by himself and with other experts. In this case, you alphabetize by the order of the author’s name as listed in the publication.

APA Abbreviations

APA style has acceptable abbreviations for editions, volumes, and so forth. Use these abbreviations in your reference entries:

Rev. ed.Revised edition
2nd ed.second edition
Ed. (Eds.)Editor (Editors)
n.d.no date
Vol. Volume (ex: Vol. 8)
Vols.Volumes (ex: Vols. 3-8)
Tech. Rep.Technical Report

Source: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition.

Note: To indicate an edition, use lower case ed. To indicate an editor, capitalize it, Ed.


Getting Everything in Order

Arranging your APA format paper and reference list correctly is essential. However, just read your assignment rubric, follow these instructions, and you’ll be sure to do an excellent job on your paper. Your final task is to make sure that every in-text citation corresponds to a reference list citation.

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