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APA guidelines (7th) ENG: Elements of Reference List Entries

A detailed explanation of the latest edition of the APA guidelines, with lots of examples. This LibGuide is in English.

What is a reference list?

A reference list, also called a source list or bibliography, contains all resources (excluding personal communications) cited in the text. 


How to make a reference list?

  • place ALL sources in alphabetical order, regardless of the type of source or material;
  • ONLY sources cited in the text are included in the source list;
  • begin a reference list as a new chapter, after the main text and before any appendix(es);
  • descriptions of sources show all the information necessary for the reader to identify the source and refer to it himself;
  • indent source listings that are longer than one line from the second line.

Order of references

  • Arrange references alphabetically by last name of (first) author, followed by initials.
  • Alphabetize character by character. Keep in mind: 'nothing comes before something': Brown, J. R. precedes Browning, A. R..
  • Also, names with fixed prefixes such as M', Mc and Mac are alphabetized by letter: MacArthur precedes McAllister, MacNeil precedes M'Carthy.
  • Alphabetize surnames with prefix (such as: van, de, van de(r), von) by the prefix: 'van der Linden', 'de Vries'.
  • The following rules apply to the ordering of works by the same (first) author:
  • Publications by the same author are ordered by year of publication (the oldest works at the top).
  • For works with the same first author, works with one author precede works with multiple authors. Works with the same first and second author and a different third author are ordered by the name of the third author, and so on.
  • Works by the same authors in the same order are ordered by year (the oldest works at the top).
  • Works by the same author (or by the same two or more authors in the same order) with the same publication date are ordered alphabetically by the first word of the title (excluding participles). Then add lowercase letters - a, b, c, etc. - to the year, both in the text and in reference list.


Luyendijk, J. (2009a). Fit to print: Misrepresenting the Middle East (M. Hutchison, Trans.). Scribe Publications.

Luyendijk, J. (2009b). People like us: Misrepresenting the Middle East (M. Hutchison, Trans.). Soft Skull Press.

Standard elements of source reference

The description of a resource is made up of a number of fixed components that can be found by asking:



            WHO                   WHEN                WHAT                     WHERE

Each of these components ends with a period (.), except for a URL or a DOI.

WHO: Author

  • Last Name

List the last name of the author first, followed by the initial(s). Use comma’s to separate an author’s surname and initials.

Author, A. A.


  • First name with a dash (hyphen)

For a first name with a hyphen, the hyphen replaces the space, Marie-José becomes:

Geenen, M.-J.


  • Prefixes

Write prefixes in surnames exactly as presented by the author in the work you are citing. Retain the author’s preferred capitalization.

Van den Berg, G. H.
van der Waal, P. N.


  • 1 to 20 authors

If the work has up to 20 authors, then all of them are listed in the source reference. Put an ampersand (&) before the last author of a work, preceded by a comma.

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author C. C.


  • 21 or more authors

When there are 21 or more authors, include the first 19 authors’ names, insert an ellipsis (three dots separated by a space) but no ampersand, and then add the final author’s name.

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., Author, C. C., Author, D. D., Author, E. E., Author, F. F., Author, G. G., Author, H. H., Author, I. I., Author, J. J., Author, K. K., Author, L. L., Author, M. M., Author, N. N., Author, O. O., Author, P. P., Author, Q. Q., Author, R. R., Author, S. S., . . . Author, Z. Z.


  • Group or organization as author

Use the full name of groups and organizations, followed by a period. When the group author is part of a larger organization, mention the larger entity first.

World Health Organization.
The White House, Office of the Press Secretary.


  • Unknown author or organization

For a publication whose author is unknown, move the title to the author's position.

When referencing in the text, list the title in italics. A long title may be shortened for the in-text citation. If the title is not italicized in the reference list, use double quotation marks. 

In Generalized anxiety disorder (2019)...
("Culture of the United Kingdom", 2022)


WHEN: Publication date

After the author's name, mention the year of publication in parenthesis.

  • Newspapers & Magazines

For magazines, newspapers and newsletters, specify year/month or year/month/day, depending on the frequency with which the periodical appears.

(2008, May)
(2014, January 15)


  • No date

If the publication date is not known, use (n.d.) = 'no date'

Author, A. A. (n.d.).

WHAT: Title

The format of a title varies by type of source.

  • works that stand alone (e.g., whole books, reports, gray literature, dissertations and theses, informally published works, data sets, videos, films, TV series, albums, podcasts, social media, and works on websites)

The title of that work appears in the title element of the reference. The entire title and subtitle are in italics. 

Kompella, K. (Ed.). (2019). Marketing wisdom. Springer.


  • works that are part of a greater whole (e.g., periodical articles, edited book chapters, TV and podcast episodes, and songs)

the title of the article or chapter appears in the title element of the reference and the title of the greater whole (the journal or edited book) appears in the source element. Capitalize using sentence case, but do not italicize the title of a part. Only the title and any subtitle of the entire work are in italics.

Book chapter:

Gilbreath B. (2019). How leading brands deliver marketing with meaning. In K. Kompella (Ed.), Marketing wisdom (pp. 47-60). Springer. https://doi-org/10.1007/978-981-10-7724-1_4



MacDermid, J. C. (2018). Self-plagiarism is not easily defined, but should be avoided. Journal of Hand Therapy, 31(4), 427–428.


Other title information:
  • Form

After the title, provide any form-specific information that is important for identifying and retrieving the work. Capitalize only the first word, and use brackets

Carter, L. [OfficialLyndaCarter]. (2020, November 18). I'm Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman actress & singer. Ask me anything! [Online forum post]. Reddit. Retrieved November 22, 2022, from

  • Edition 

List the edition after the title, in parentheses (not italics). Note the number, '2nd edition' instead of 'second printing'.

Verhage, B., & Visser, M. (2018). Marketing fundamentals (3rd edition). Noordhoff Uitgevers. 

WHERE: Source

The source indicates where readers can retrieve the cited work. The type of source, print or digital, determines which publication information must be included.

  • Printed book or report

For paper books, the finding place is the publisher. The name of the publisher is reproduced as stated in the work. Additions about the publisher's legal form, e.g., B.V. or Inc., are not mentioned.

Kotler, P., Armstrong, G., & Opresnik, M. O. (2021). Principles of Marketing (18th global edition). Pearson Education.


  • Ebooks

For digital books, the DOI or date of consultation and URL are also mentioned.

Swinnen, J., & McDermott, J. (Eds.). (2020). COVID-19 & global food security. International Food Policy Research Institute. Retrieved September 10, 2020, from


  • Webpage

For web pages, list the website name after the title, not in italics, followed by date of consultation and URL. Omit the website name if it is the same as the organization's name (author).

Barden, B. (2020, March 14). The actor who was really stabbed on stage. BBC News. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from


  • Journal and newspaper article

For journal, magazine and newspaper articles, the volume, issue number, and pages are listed. If the article is found online also the DOI or URL are listed.

Yeh, S.-S. (2021). Tourism recovery strategy against COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism Recreation Research, 46(2), p.188–194.

Tips on missing data

In a source citation, you include the information that is mentioned in the original publication. Usually you will find all the data on the title page, but sometimes you have to browse or search a little further.

If data are missing in the original publication you can often find them in the context or derive them (for example, the website of the organization or publisher). If you cannot find the missing data there either, you may leave out the element concerned.
Note that this sometimes changes the format of the source citation.

Missing element



Reference list entry

In-text citation


Provide the titel, publication date, and source.

Title. (date). Source.

(Title, year)

Title (year)

Publication date

Provide the author, write (n.d.) for "no date", and then the title and source.

Author. (n.d.) Title. Source.

(Author, n.d.)

Author (n.d.)


Provide the author and date, describe the work in square brackets, and then provide the source.

Author. (date). [Description of work]. Source.

(Author, year)

Author (year)

Author and publication date

Provide the title, write (n.d.) for “no date,” and then provide the source.

Title. (n.d.). Source.

(Title, n.d.)

Title (n.d.)

Author and title

Describe the work in square brackets, and then provide the date and source.

[Description of work]. (Date). Source

([Description of work], year)

[Description of work] (year)

Publication date and title

Provide the author, write (n.d.) for “no date,” describe the work in square brackets, and then provide
the source.

Author. (n.d.) [Description of work]. Source.

(Author, n.d.)

Author (n.d.)

Author, publication date, and title

Describe the work in square brackets, write (n.d.) for “no date,” and then provide the source.

[Description of work]. (n.d.). Source.

([Description of work], n.d.)

[Description of work] (n.d.)


Cite as a personal communication or find another work to cite

No reference list entry

(Communicator, personal communication, month day, year)

Communicator (personal communication, month day, year)

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