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APA Style (7th ed.) references checklist

If you're using the APA Style rules and want to review your references before you submit your document for grading or publication, check for these 10 common problem areas. To see examples of these 10 items, please refer to the "Annotated Student Sample Paper" by the American Psychological Association.:

1.  Placement in document

References typically appear after the main text but before appendices (American Psychological Association [APA], 2020, p. 43). If you’re unsure of the order expected in your work, please check with your instructor or publishing editor.

2.  Start references on a new page titled “References”

References should begin on a new page, and the page should be titled “References” (APA, 2020, p. 303). “References” is a section label, not a section heading, which means the word should be centred and bolded (APA, 2020, p. 49). If the list only has one entry, title the page "Reference". See "How should I format my references in APA style?" for more information.

3.  Double space references

The references should be double spaced without extra spaces between references (APA, 2020, p. 303). See "How should I format my references in APA style?" for more information.

4.  Left-align references with a hanging indent

The first line of a reference should start flush to the left margin, and references should be left-aligned with a ragged right margin (APA, 2020, p. 303). Do not break words or URLs at the end of a line; instead, use your word processor’s automatic line-wrapping function (APA, 2020, p. 300). Second and subsequent lines of every reference should have a hanging indent (APA, 2020, p. 3030). Use your word processor’s  settings to set up an automatic hanging indent. For example:

See "How should I format my references in APA style?" for more information.

5.  Check spacing after punctuation

Provide one space after a comma or a period within references, including after an author’s initials e.g., Author, A. A. (APA, 2020, p. 154).

6.  Check capitalization of resource titles

Use sentence case (i.e., capitalize the first word of a title, the first word of a subtitle, and proper nouns) in the title of a work that is part of a larger work, such as a journal article, book chapter, newspaper article, magazine article, blog post, social media post, or encyclopedia or dictionary entry (APA, 2020, p. 291). Stand-alone resources, such as a report, dissertation, thesis, YouTube or TED Talk video, web page, brochures, press releases, and conference papers should also be presented in title case (APA, 2020, p. 291).

Use title case (i.e., all major words capitalized) in periodical titles (e.g., journal, newspaper, magazine) (APA, 2020, p. 294).

7.  Check italicization of resource titles

Italicize the title of a stand-alone resource (APA, 2020, p. 291), such as a book, journal, report, dissertation or thesis, newspaper, magazine, encyclopedia, dictionary, or web page.

Do not italicize the title of a resource that is part of a greater whole (APA, 2020, p. 291), such as a journal article, book chapter, newspaper article, magazine article, encyclopedia entry, or dictionary entry.

8.  Provide a DOI if the resource has one assigned

If the resource has a DOI, whether you worked with a print or electronic version, provide that information in the https://doi.org/xxxx form (APA, 2020, p. 299). If you're unsure if the resource has a DOI, search for the article in Crossref's "Free DOI Lookup"

9.  Do not provide a URL if the resource doesn't have a DOI

If you worked with an electronic resource that doesn't have a DOI assigned to it, do not provide a URL to the resource in the reference. If you are referencing a journal article, provide the title of the periodical in the reference (APA, 2020, p. 316). If you're referencing a book or reference work, provide the publisher's name (APA, 2020, p. 321) and "use the spelling of the publisher name as shown on the work you used" (APA, 2020, p. 296). These details can usually be found on the reverse side of the resource’s title page. If the publisher is also the author, "the publisher or site name is omitted from the source element" (APA, 2020, p. 294). 

If you retrieved the resource from an academic research database (e.g., eBook Collection in EBSCOhost) and the resource doesn't have a DOI assigned to it, do not provide a URL for the resource. 

For example references, please see "How do I reference a journal article in APA Style (no DOI)?" or "How do I reference a book/ebook in APA style?" in WriteAnswers.

10.  Do not include personal communication in the references

If your resource isn’t recoverable to the intended reader, use the format for personal communication to cite the resource only in text (APA, 2020, p. 260). Personal communication isn’t included in the references because readers can’t access the resource. See "How do I cite or reference personal communication in APA style?" for more information.

Other resources:

For extensive information on references to specific resource types, including examples, please search WriteAnswers by keyword.

If you have any questions about this writing tip, please contact the Writing Centre.

Theresa Bell
Manager, Blended Learning Success

Reference

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org.10.1037/0000165-000