Using the APA reference style

This page provides information from the NTNU University Library to help you when you need to use the APA (American Psychological Association) style.

Norsk versjon: Bruke referansestilen APA

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The APA style #

The APA style is used in the social sciences, arts and humanities. Check which reference style your department recommends before you begin writing your paper.

Other styles:

  • Chicago style is used in the social sciences, arts and humanities.
  • Harvard style is used in the social sciences, technology and natural sciences.
  • Vancouver style is used in medicine and the natural sciences, and sometimes in technology.

Examples of using the APA style in a reference list #

 APA - Examples 

The examples show how to write references in-text and in reference lists based on what kind of source you are citing.

Reference list in APA style #

When writing a reference list in the APA style:

  • Arrange your list alphabetically by author’s surname.
  • Use & before the last author if there are 2 – 7 authors.
  • When there are 8 or more authors, write the first 6 followed by an ellipsis and add the last author. Example: Krishnan, K. J., Reeve, A. K., Samuels, D. C., Chinnery, P. F., Blackwood, J. K., Taylor, R. W., . . . Turnbull, D. M.
  • Add an English translation of the title in square brackets if the source used is not in English.
  • Use italics for:
    • Titles of journals and volumes
    • Book titles
  • Indent the paragraph on the second and the following lines in a reference.
  • Start the reference list on a new page. Use “Reference list” or “Literature list” as the heading.

The APA style in-text #

When using the APA style in-text:

  • Multiple publications by the same author published the same year are distinguished by a, b, c etc. after the year: Hansen (1988a) and Hansen (1988b)
  • When a work has no identifiable author, use the first words of the title and year of publication. Article titles and chapters are written with quotation marks, but book titles, pamphlets or reports are written in italics. Example: College Bound Seniors (2008)
  • Publications with multiple authors to which you refer several times in the text:
    • 2 authors: name both authors each time you quote them. Example: Furseth and Everett (1997) – or – (Furseth & Everett, 1997)
    • 3, 4 or 5 authors: name all authors the first time you quote them. From then on use only the surname of the first author, followed by et al. Example: Ramaekers, Berghausb, Laarc and Drummer (2004), followed by Ramaekers et al. (2004)
    • 6 or more authors: only give the first author's surname, followed by et al. Example: Cheng et al. (2004)
  • When using secondary references, name your source and cite the secondary reference. Example: Johnson and Peters’ studies (as cited in Wagner, 1982)…
  • Give page numbers:
    • always for direct quotations
    • page numbers are encouraged for indirect quotations or for citing a specific part of a source, especially when it would help the reader locate the relevant passage in a long text, for instance a book

References #

Example: Researchers such as Warwick (1992), Taylor and Smith (1994) and King et al. (1997) found that…

Quotations #

Direct quotations shorter than 40 words are integrated in the text and placed within quotation marks. Quotations of 40 words or more should be in a separate indented paragraph, without quotation marks.


  • Short quotation: “It is permissible to quote, word for word, from a source, but in most disciplines, this should be done sparingly” (Day, 2013, p. 143).
  • The name of the author is integrated in the paragraph: Day (2013) claims that “it is permissible to quote, word for word, from a source, but in most disciplines, this should be done sparingly” (p. 143).
  • Source with more than one author: “The purpose of referencing is related to the ideal of research as a collective project” (Furseth & Everett, 2013, p. 139).

Indirect quotations - paraphrases #

An indirect quotation (paraphrase) is a reformulation of the original text.

Example: Furseth and Everett (1997) maintain that the primary reason behind the use of references and bibliography is the idea of research as a collective endeavour. Research should be verifiable, and those reading your work should be able to find those sources your material is based upon (p. 142).

Personal communications #

Personal communications may be telephone conversations, e-mails, and the like. As they do not provide recoverable data, do not include personal communications in the reference list. Cite personal communications in text only, and get permission of the person concerned. Example: (T. K. Smith, personal communication, April 18, 2016)

More on the APA style #

Information on how you write references in-text and in a reference list with the APA style is gathered from the website on APA Style and from the American Psychological Association (2010).

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington DC: Author.

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