APA Referencing Formatting Style Guide

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American Psychological Association (APA) referencing style is one of the common styles of citing sources in the various papers, articles, journals and so on. The latest APA style formatting guidelines that is being followed while citing sources, are in accordance with the 6th edition format of the second printing.

General Guidelines

While writing papers using APA formatting and referencing style, the font style used should be Times New Roman, of the font size 12 points, written on a standard sized paper (8.5” x 11”) with a margin of 1” on all four sides and with a double line spacing. The alignment of the entire paper should be written with the left alignment.

The page numbers of the paper should be positioned on the right hand top corner of the paper.

The paper should comprise of a header, which should be the shortened title of the paper, that is, it should not exceed 50 characters, including the spacing and punctuations. The header should be inserted along with page numbers in every page. The header should be left aligned and written in UPPERCASE using 12-point font size and Times New Roman font style.

Papers written in the APA formatting style are divided into four major sections, namely, Title Page, Abstract, Main Body and References. In cases where additional information is required to be provided, it is added under the section Appendix, which follows the References section.

Title Page

The first page of the paper, also known as the Title page, comprises of the title of the assignment, name of the author (arranged as first name, initials of middle name followed by last name) and institutional affiliations (the place where the research was conducted). The font used should be Times New Roman, with the size 12. Each word of the title should be capitalised and it must be middle aligned. The title of the paper should not exceed 12 words.

The header of the title page must look as follows:

Running head: TITLE OF PAPER

Abstract provides an overview of the all the important topics that have been discussed in details in the paper. The size of the abstract should not exceed 250 words and must be written as a single paragraph, double spaced, with font style Times New Roman and size 12 points. The heading “Abstract” should be centre aligned, un-bold, font style Times New Roman and size 12 points.

The keywords used in the paper can be listed as a new paragraph named “keywords, which should be Italicised, as per the following format:

Keywords: Keyword1, Keyword2, Keyword3 and so on.

Main Body
The paragraphs of the main body begin with a half-inch first line indentation and written with double-spacing. The paper begins with an overall introduction of the topic and the heading comprises of the topic of the study. The following is the general formatting of the body.

[Heading 1]

It should be middle aligned, bold using 12 pt. Times New Roman font. The first letter of each of the words must be in caps except for articles and conjunctions.

[Heading 2]
It should be left aligned, bold using 12 pt. Times New Roman font. The first letter of each of the words must be in caps except for articles and conjunctions.

           [Heading3]. [Include a full stop at the end of a run-in heading.  Note that you can include consecutive paragraphs with their own headings, where appropriate.]
It must be half-inch first line indented, left aligned, bold using 12 pt. Times New Roman font. The first letter of each of the words must be capitalised except for articles and conjunctions.

           [Heading 4] . [When using headings, don’t skip levels.  If you need a heading 3, 4 or 5 with no text following it before the next heading, just add a full stop at the end of the heading, then start a new paragraph for the subheading and its text.]

           [Heading 5] . This should be Italicised and un-bold.

** Each paragraph must have half-inch first line indentation.

Basics of Referencing
The referencing style in APA formatting must comprise of the following:

  • The references used for developing the paper must be provided on a separate page, at the end of the entire work.
  • APA requires that the References be double-spaced and that entries have a hanging indent.
  • “References” should be Heading 1 but un-bold.
  • All the sources mentioned in the References must be alphabetically arranged, on the basis of their surnames.


In-Text Citations and References
The various sources that have been referred to while preparing the paper can be sourced in the paper in the following manner. The respective format to be provided as references can be demonstrated as follows.



In-Text References

Reference List


One author – in-text reference placement
There are two main ways to use in-text references. Firstly, to focus on the information from the source – ‘information prominent’. Secondly, to focus on the author – ‘author prominent’.

‘Information prominent’ (the author’s name is within parentheses):
The conclusion reached in a recent study (Cochrane, 2007) was
‘Author prominent’ (the author’s name is outside the parentheses):
Cochrane (2007) concluded that…

Cochrane, A. (2007). Understanding urban policy: A critical approach. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Book with two authors
Before “&” between authors, do not forget to put a comma.
When paraphrasing in text, use and, not &.

(Dancey & Reidy, 2004) or
Dancey and Reidy (2004) said…

Dancey, C. P., & Reidy, J. (2004). Statistics without maths for psychology: Using SPSS for Windows (3rd ed.). Harlow, England: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Book with three to five authors
Use & between authors’ names, except when paraphrasing in text. When a work has three, four or five authors, cite all authors the first time, and in subsequent citations include only the first author followed by et al.

(Krause, Bochner, & Duchesne, 2006)
(Krause et al., 2006)

Krause, K.-L., Bochner, S., & Duchesne, S. (2006). Educational psychology for learning and teaching (2nd ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Thomson.

Journal Articles

Journal article (academic/scholarly) with DOI
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a unique code assigned to a scholarly/academic publication. The DOI’s code links to the article online.

(Cavenagh & Ramadurai, 2017)
Cavenagh and Ramadurai (2017) recommend…

Cavenagh, N., & Ramadurai, R. (2017). On the distances between Latin squares and the smallest defining set size. Journal of Combinatorial Designs, 25(4), 147–158. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcd.21529

Journal article with no DOI
Retain original punctuation of titles. A capital letter is used for key words in the journal title. The journal title and volume number are italicised, followed by the issue number in brackets (not italicised).

Germann, Ebbes, and Grewal (2015) claim that “there have
been …” (p. 19).
then subsequently, if 3-5 authors
Germann et al. (2015) argue …

Germann, F., Ebbes, P., & Grewal, R. (2015). The chief marketing officer matters! Journal of Marketing, 79(3), 1-22.

Newspaper article
Use the URL of the newspaper’s homepage, as a direct link to an online article in a newspaper website is not a persistent link.

(Coster, 2017)
Coster (2017) reports ...

Coster, D. (2017, June 12). Driver who caused man's death is placed into dementia care. Stuff. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/

The basic format is: (1) Author (could be organisation). (2) Date (either date of publication or latest update). (3) Title. (4) URL.
(n.d.) = no date.
For direct quote, cite the paragraph number in text

(New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, n.d., para. 1)

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. (n.d.). Export Essentials Guides. Retrieved from https://www.nzte.govt.nz/export-assistance/export-essentials-guides

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