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WRIT 101: College Writing I: APA Citations: 7th Edition

This guide provides links to librarians' favorite databases (for articles) as well as recommended books and websites for students in WRIT 101.

Why Cite?

In order to use and build on outside ideas and information in your research paper, you must cite where information comes from.

Credible Hulk

There are 4 main reasons to cite information:

  1. Prevent plagiarism
  2. Give credit to the author
  3. Provide enough information for your readers to find the source you used
  4. Provide credible support to your writing

What's New in APA 7

Guides & Examples

More Citation Help

Click the images below to access some of our favorite websites for citation help!

Excelsior College Online Writing Lab

Purdue Online Writing Lab

APA Style Blog

The APA Style Blog is maintained by the American Psychological Associate and often explains how to cite unique or tricky sources that you may not find on other basic citation guides. 

Plagiarism Resources

Available at Helena College Library

Organize Your Research

APA Style

Following a specific formatting and citation style makes for clean and professional-looking papers, and it helps readers understand when you are citing outside information and easily locate the sources you used.

There are three components of APA Style. Click the link to learn more about each.

  1. In-text citations: Anytime you include information or a quote from an outside source, you must include a short citation in the body of your paper.
  2. References: Each source that you use in your paper will have a corresponding entry in the list of references at the end of your paper, which will provide all of the information necessary to locate that source.
  3. Paper format: How to set up your title page, choose a font, and configure line spacing, page numbers, and margins.

In-Text Citations

The in-text citation is a very brief note in the body of your paper that indicates when you are using information or ideas that are not your own.

It also connects your reader to the source's full citation in your list of references at the end of your paper. 

Every time you quote, paraphrase, or summarize information from an outside source, you must provide an in-text citation directly after it.

A basic in-text citation for a work with one author includes the author's name and the publication year:

(Bryson, 2019)

You can also use a signal phrase to introduce the outside information:

Bryson (2019) explained...

When directly quoting a source, you should also include a page number. You can also include a page number if you are paraphrasing a small portion of a long document. If your quote spans multiple pages, use "pp."

(Bryson, 2019, p. 29)

Here's how it might look in a signal phrase:

As Bryson (2019) states about bacteria, "We'd be dead in a day without them" (p. 29). 

Check out the tabs above to learn how to create in-text citations for different types of sources.

If your source has two authors, include the last names of both authors. 

If you use a signal phrase, use "and" between the authors' names:

According to Cresci and Bawden (2015), a variety of bacteria species in the digestive tract can be an indicator of a healthy diet. 

If your entire citation is in parenthesis (also called a "parenthetical citation"), use "&" between the authors' names.

A variety of bacteria species in the digestive tract can be an indicator of a healthy diet (Cresci & Bawden, 2015)

For a work with 3 or more authors, include the first author's last name, followed by "et al." This is Latin for "and others."

Glessner et al. (2006) identified young adult novels with positive representations of overweight characters. 
Positive representations of plus-sized characters in literature can be helpful for girls struggling with body image (Glessner et al., 2006).

For a source that is written by an organization with a standard abbreviation, spell out the organization the first time you cite it, including the abbreviation in parenthesis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2019) more than 600,000 Americans die every year due to cardiovascular disease. 
More than 600,000 Americans die every year due to cardiovascular disease (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2019).

If you cite the source again, you can just use the abbreviation. 

Nearly half of Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease (CDC, 2019).

If the organization does not have an abbreviation, spell out the organization name every time you cite it.

If you cannot identify a person or organization as the author of a work, use the title of the work in your in-text citation. Long titles can be shortened. All titles should be in title case, which means all major words are capitalized.

Titles of books should be italicized:

Bones from both dinosaurs and early mammals can be seen at Makoshika State Park in Montana (Guide to the State Parks, 2008, p. 311). 

Put titles of articles, book chapters, web pages, or other short works in quotation marks:

A recent study at Duke University examined the efficacy of using text messaging to help rural smokeless tobacco users quit ("New Addiction Research," 2020).

If you cannot find any publication  date, use "n.d." 

Most fossils are of marine animals, likely because the water and sand or mud would quickly bury their remains (Hendry, n.d.). 

When citing web pages, you should not use the copyright date on a website if you cannot find a publication or update date for the specific page.

Any time you use a specific part of a work, such as a direct quotation, you should include the page number or some other reference to the specific part, such as a section heading, paragraph number, or timestamp (for audio or videos). You can also include a page number/specific location if you are paraphrasing a small portion of a long document.

Page number:

Bryson (2019) described our ability to hear as an "underrated miracle" (p. 84).
Our ability to hear is an "underrated miracle," (Bryson, 2019, p. 84). 


If your quote spans multiple pages, use "pp."

You can use the full section heading if it's short:

As of 2018, approximately 8.1 million adults in the United States were using electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes (Villarroel et al., 2020, Key Findings section).

Or, if the section heading is long, you can shorten it. Put the shortened heading in quotation marks:

Honeybee pollination is necessary for more than 90 commercially-produced crops in the United States (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2018, "Bees Fill" section).

You can also use:

  • Paragraph number (count the paragraphs if they are not numbered): para. 3
  • Chapter number: Chapter 7
  • Slide number: Slide 5
  • Timestamp: 3:45 (three minutes and forty-five seconds into the recording)


The list of references is an alphabetized list of all of the resources you used in your research paper or assignment.

If you cited a source in your paper, it should be in the list of references. Every work listed in your reference should be cited in your paper.

The list starts on a new page and is double-spaced with a hanging indent. This means that, for a citation that takes up more than one line, each line after the first is indented 1" from the left margin. 

Tip! To create a hanging indent in Microsoft Word, highlight your list, then press Ctrl+T.

Each part of a reference is carefully formatted to share the most important information about a resource in a compact manner. The four basic parts of a reference are:

  • Author: Who is responsible
  • Date: When it was published
  • Title: What it is called
  • Source: Where the work can be retrieved

Each source in your list of references should correspond to one or more in-text citations in your paper. The author(s) names in your list of references should match the names in your in-text citations If there is no author, the titles of the work should match. 

Check out the tabs above to see how to create accurate references for a variety of sources. 

Tip! Pay careful attention to the formatting of each part of the reference - this includes the periods, commas, and capitalization. 


The first part of every reference should be the author(s). 

If the author is a person, list their last name, followed by their first and middle (if known) initials.

One Author 

List the last name, followed by their first, and, if known, middle initials. 

Johnsgard, P. A. 

Two to Twenty Authors

List all authors, with "&" before the last author.

Painter, L. E., & Ripple, W. J. 
Nimick, D. A., Caldwell, R. R., Skaar, D. R., & Selch, T. M. 

Twenty or More Authors

List the first 19 authors, an elipsis (...) and the last author. 

Potter, H. J., Weasley, G. M., Granger, H. J., Weasley, R. B., Longbottom, N., Lovegood, L., Bones, S., Abbott, H., Bagshot, B., Black, S., Lupin, R, Brown, L., Creevey, C., Creevey, D., Diggory, C., Finnigan, S., Patil, P., Patil, P., Moody, A., … Thomas, D.

Organization as Author

Write the full name of the organization.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
American Psychological Association

No Author

Begin the reference with the title of the work. Shorter works (such as articles and web pages) are written in regular print, sentence-style capitalization. Longer works (such as books) are written in in italics with sentence-style capitalization.

Capturing the moment.
Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary.

The second part of any reference is the publication date, which is always written inside parentheses, followed by a period.

You should follow the date formats in the examples given on each tab, but here are some general guidelines.

In general, provide the year of publication, update, or copyright:

Brown, A. J. (2020).

If a more specific date can be identified, provide it. Spell out the full names of months and seasons.

Jones, A., & Smith, Q. A.. (2017, March).
Hanson, P. E. (2020, Spring).
National Institutes of Health. (2016, December 1).

If you cannot find a date for the source, use "n.d." Do not use the copyright date of a website if that is the only date you can find for a specific page on the site.

Parker, P. (n.d.).

Find the majority of the information you need to cite a book on the cover and on the backside of the title page, also called the verso. You can use the title page, but the information on the verso is more specific and accurate.

Author, A. (Year of publication). Title of book: Subtitle of book. Publisher.
Keane, S. (2010). The disappearing spoon: And other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of the elements. Little, Brown and Company.

Find most of the information about a journal, magazine, or newspaper article on the database record (web page with full text and/or links to download the PDF) or on the article itself.

  • The article title is in sentence-style capitalization. The periodical title (name of the journal, magazine, or newspaper) is in title-style capitalization and italicized.
  • Some periodicals do not have volume or issue numbers; just leave them out. 
  • If the article does not have a DOI and you found it in a library database, the last part of your reference will be the page numbers. If there are no page numbers, it may end with the volume and issue number.
  • If there is no DOI and you found the article on the open internet (not a library database), put the URL (web address) for the article at the end of your reference.

Article with DOI

Author, A. A. (Publication date). Article title. Periodical Title, Volume(Issue), Pages. DOI
Ripple, W. J. (2015). Trophic cascades from wolves to alders in Yellowstone. Forest Ecology & Management, 354, 254-260.

Article without DOI, from Library Database

Author, A. A. (Publication date). Article title. Periodical Title, Volume(Issue), Pages.
Dzubak, J. (2016, May/June). History of nursing. Ohio Nurses Review, 91(3), 16.

Article without DOI, from Internet

Author, A. (Publication date). Article title. Periodical Title. Article URL.
Harmon, A. & Pollack, A. (2012, May 24). Battle brewing over labeling of genetically modified food. The New York Times.

Find the information you need to create a reference for a web page at the top or bottom of the page. 

  • You are usually citing one specific webpage, which is part of a larger website
  • If there is no author named, use the organization as the author. This is usually, but not always, the same as the name of the website, so you would skip over the name of the website in the reference. This is shown in the example below.
  • If you cannot find a date for the web page, you should not use the website copyright date. Instead, use (n.d.).
Author, A. (Publication date). Title of webpage. Name of website. Webpage URL
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (2014, September 4). Bull trout: Conserving the nature of America.

Paper Format

The following applies to all parts of your paper:Pages of a research paper, staggered on top of each other: Title, body, references.

  • Every page has a page number in the top right corner of the header
    • Your word processing program should allow you to insert automatically-generated page numbers.
  • The entire document is double-spaced with no extra spaces after a paragraph. 
    • Set this up in the line and paragraph spacing options.
  • The document has 1" margins on all sides.
    • Change this in your page layout settings.
  • Use a legible font at 10 to 12 pt, such as:
    • Calibri 11 pt.
    • Arial 11 pt.
    • Times New Roman 12 pt.
  • Indent each paragraph 1/2" (usual one Tab key).
  • Use one space after a period, question mark, or exclamation mark.

HeaderTitle page in APA style

The page number goes in the top right corner of the page

  • Microsoft Word: Go to Insert > Page numbers
  • Google Docs: Go to Insert > Page numbers
  • Pages: Move your mouse to the top right corner of the page to show the sections of the header, then click and select Insert Page Numbers.


The title is centered and in the upper half of the page, about three or four lines from the top. 

Type the following, each on a separate, double-spaced line:

  • Title (bold, extra double-spaced blank line after)
  • Author Name
  • Helena College University of Montana
  • Course name and number (WRIT 101-O)
  • Instructor name
  • Due Date


First page of the body of research paper

The body of your paper begins on a new page after the title page and the optional abstract page.

  • Put the title at the top of the first page, centered, in bold.
  • Begin your paper on the next line. 
  • Indent paragraphs 1/2" (usually one Tab key). 
  • Use one space after each sentence. 
  • No extra spaces after a paragraph.

Sample reference pageThe References begin on a new page after the end of the paper. 

  • The word References is centered and bold at the top of the list. 
  • References are in alphabetical order by author's last name, organization name, or, if there is no author, document title. 
  • The list is double-spaced, with no extra spaces. 
  • Each reference has a hanging indent, which means that the first line aligns with the left margin, but any line after is indented 1/2"
    • In Microsoft Word, click the arrow in the bottom right corner of the Paragraph settings menu, then choose Special > Hanging and set it to 1/2".
    • In Google Docs and Pages, use the ruler above the top of the document (In Pages, you may need to go to View > Show ruler). Click and drag the bottom tab to the 1/2" mark and leave the top tab at the 0" mark.  

Hanging Indent in Word:

Open the full Paragraph menu, then choose Special Hanging indent.

Hanging Indent in Google Docs (similar to Pages):

Use the tabs in the ruler to set the hanging indent.