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PSY 2190 - Social Psychology: APA

This Research Guide was developed for use with the PSY 2190 class taught by Dr. Lewis. It provides information on: psychology databases: how to access, search and manage articles, plagiarism, APA and books and e-books on psychology.

APA Style

The American Psychological Association publishes the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association as its style manual for the social sciences disciplines. It is also used by other disciplines as a handbook for authorship of papers.

The most recent edition, the seventh edition, was published in 2020. This edition can be found in the Ready Reference section of the Library at the Reference Desk on the first floor. The call number is Ready Reference BF 76.7 P83 2020. Listed below are examples of sample citations. 

APA Formating Rules

Here are some general rules on how to format your paper: 

  • Margins: page margins should be set 1 inch on top, bottom, left and right
  • Font: Times New Roman, 12 font size
  • Double Space: throughout your paper, on standard white paper
  • Cover page: 
    • first page should include: full title, your name, course name and number, instructor's name, and the date
    • center and double-space all information
    • a running header with consecutive page numbering should appear flush right in the upper right-hand corner of each page, including the title page. This running header will appear one-half inch from the top of the page, and should contain a short version of the title, followed by the page number.



In APA citations, only the first initial or initials of each author are used.  For example, if your paper was written by Pierre John Upenieks, your citation should read: 

Upenieks, P. J.

For more than one author, separate their names with commas and use an ampersand (&) between the last and second to last name.  For example:

Upenieks, P. J., & Wright, K. 

Include up to twenty authors in this format: 

Upenieks, P. J., Alleyne, R. L., Wright, K., Bulatao, E., Winford, C. A., Cabading, J. R., & Boockvar, K. S. 

If there are twenty-one or more authors (some scientific papers have had dozens of authors!), include the first twenty authors, add three ellipsis points (...), then add the name of the last author.  Example: 

Wiskunde, B., Arslan, M., Fischer, P., Nowak, L., Van den Berg, O., Coetzee, L., Juárez, U., Riyaziyyat, E., Wang, C., Zhang, I., Li, P., Yang, R., Kumar, B., Xu, A., Martinez, R., McIntosh, V., Ibáñez, L. M., Mäkinen, G., Virtanen, E., . . . Kovács, A.

Do not include titles, ranks, or degrees, such as PhD, Reverend, General, President, etc. 

Date Published

For a book or journal article, include the year of publication in parentheses.  For other types of periodicals (magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc.) also include the rest of the publication date such as month and/or day.  If no date is provided, include (n.d.) for "no date".

Books and journals: 

  • (2006)

Other periodicals: 

  • (2008, May/June)
  • (2015, April 14)
  • (n.d.)

Title of Article

Capitalize only the first letter of the title of the article, the rest of the words should be lowercase, except for proper nouns like names and places, and the first word if the title is more than one sentence, separated with appropriate punctuation like colons, question marks, and periods.  In APA style, racial and ethnic groups like African-Americans should be treated as proper nouns and capitalized. 

Don't capitalize any other words and do not use italics.


  • Occupational health psychologists convene to share their research on work, stress, and health.
  • Capital punishment in the United States.
  • Science vs. ideology: Psychologists fight back about the misuse of research.
  • Computer addiction? A study of computer dependency. 

Title of Journal

Include the title of the journal in italics and capitalize each letter in the title, except for words like "and" and "of".


  • Journal of Abnormal Psychology
  • Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management
  • Monitor on Psychology

Volume, Issue, and Page Numbers

Most academic journals, even ones that are never printed, are separated into volumes and issues just like print magazines.  It's not enough to just include the title of the journal and the page numbers, you should include the volume number and the issue number as well.  Most journals start again with page 1 for each issue or volume.  Sometimes there is no issue number, so just include the volume number.  Italicize the volume number just like the title of the journal, and put the issue number in parenthesis, but don't italicize it.  After this, add a comma and then the page numbers of the article.  If the article is only a single page, just include that single number.  If there are no page numbers, just end with a period. 


  • Journal of Applied Psychology, 2(2), 38-48.
  • Health Psychology, 24, 225-229.
  • Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 10(4). 

Advance online publications

Sometimes there are no volume or issue numbers to be found.  This might be the case of what is called an advance online publication.  This is a peer-reviewed publication that has been accepted by an academic journal, and the journal has posted it online before it is officially published in the journal.  It's okay to use these as sources since they are peer-reviewed, but you should use the final published version if it is available. 

Do not assume you are looking at an advance online publication simply because you can't find volume or issue numbers.  But if you see the phrase "advance online publication" you can cite it as such, just use that phrase in place of the volume, issue, and page numbers, like so: 

  • Psychological Services.  Advance online publication.



A DOI is a digital object identifier.  It is a unique string of characters, mostly numbers, that distinguishes the article from all other academic articles.  No two articles will have the same DOI, and all of them will begin with 10.  You don't have to remember what DOI stands for, just remember what it is and that most current academic articles will have them. 

Include the doi at the end of your citation with the prefix to turn it into a URL (more on URLs below):

Sometimes you will see a DOI turned into a URL already.  Make sure your DOI is in the standard APA format above and, if necessary, remove any extra elements.  For example:

should appear in your paper like this:‚Äč4.94.4.631  

If you don't see the DOI while looking at your article in a library database, try clicking on "full text" or "download PDF" and looking at the first page of the article.  You can often find it there, such as in this article below, where you can see the DOI in the upper right hand corner. 

Most newer academic journal articles will have DOIs, so be persistent and try to find it.  But what if there really is no DOI?  Not every journal uses them yet.  In that case, if you found the article in a commonly used library database like EBSCO or ProQuest, you don't have to include any other information.  Make sure you look for the DOI first, don't just assume there isn't one!

If you found the article online, in most cases you will have to find the URL of the article and use that instead.  URL stands for uniform resource locator, basically the address of a particular webpage.  A URL should start with http:// or https://  Add the URL and the date you found the webpage to your citation in the format "Retrieved June 21, 2020, from http://xxxx"


Retrieved June 21, 2020, from


For more information about DOIs, please watch the short video below: 

Examples: Print Sources

Examples: Electronic Sources

Reference Page: General Rules

Here are some general rules on how to format your references page: 

  • The reference list appears at the end of your paper
  • Each cited source must be on the reference list and each entry on the reference list must be cited in the text
  • Begin the reference list on a new page
  • Label the page "References"; centered at the top
  • Double-space all the text on the page
  • Indent one-half inch from the left margin all the lines after the first line (hanging indentation)
  • Invert the authors' names; give the last name first, then the initials for the first name
  • Alphabetize the entries by the last name of the author of each work. If there is more than one work by the same author, arrange them in order of publication date, from oldest to most recent.
  • For two or more authors, separate the names by commas and use "&" instead of "and" for the last name mentioned.
  • Write the full title of the journal; maintaining the punctuation and capitalization used in the journal title
  • Capitalize all major words in journal titles
  • When referring to books, chapters, articles, or Web pages, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns. Do not capitalize the first letter of the second word in a hyphenated compound word.

Please note: These are basic guidelines, for more detailed information, consult the APA Manual. You can view a sample APA paper at the OWL at Purdue website. (Refer to page 9 for an example of a reference page).

What’s Changed?

The newest version of the publication manual: the 7th edition was officially released in October 2019. Students: you should always check with your professor whether they’re expecting the 7th edition or the 6th edition.

Punctuation and layout

  • The manual now states to always use a single space after any body-text punctuation, whether it is at the end of a sentence or not. 
  • The term Running head: should no longer be prefixed to the running head on the title page. Now, only the actual title and a page number (typically 1) should be used.
  • Heading fonts sizes for levels 3 through 5 have been changed to make them easier to read.
  • Allowed fonts: Times New Roman size 12pt, Calibri size 11pt, Arial 11pt, Lucida Sans Unicode 10pt, and Georgia 11pt. 

Bias-free language

  • Guidelines are being added to use bias-free language when referring to people or entities. This means using the word “they” or “their” instead of gender pronouns like “he”, “she”, “his” and “her”.
  • Descriptive phrases should be preferred instead of nouns to label people.


Source: Elias, Daniel. “APA Style 7th Edition: What's Changed?MyBib, MyBib, 14 Sept. 2019.

Open Educational Resource References

Open educational resource references follow the same format as webpages, which are covered in Section 10.16 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition.

  • Create a reference to an OER only when the materials are available for download directly (i.e., the materials are on the page and/or can be downloaded as PDFs or other files). If you are directed to another website, create a reference to the specific webpage on that website where the materials can be retrieved. Use this format for material in any OER repository, such as OER Commons, OASIS, or MERLOT.
  • Provide as specific a date as is available on the webpage. This might be a year only; a year and month; or a year, month, and day.
  • Italicize the title of a webpage.
  • When contents of a page are meant to be updated over time but are not archived, include a retrieval date in the reference.

Source: “Open Educational Resource (OER) References.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, Feb. 2020.

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association
Call Number: BF 76.7 .P83 2020
ISBN: 9781433805592
Publication Date: 2020
Item can be found at: 
Ready Reference (Research Information Desk - 1st floor)

The following links provide more information on how to cite using APA

Citation Help

Use these websites to help you create citations.