Skip to main content

APA Style - Citing Sources: Reference List

Reference List Rules

Your paper ends with a list of all the sources cited in the text of the paper. Follow these rules for the reference list.

  • Start a new page for your reference list. Place the label References at the top center of the page.  Do not capitalize, bold, or italicize it.
  • Double-space the list. Do not add any extra spaces between references.
  • Start the first line of each reference at the left margin; indent each subsequent line five spaces (a hanging indent).  TIP: Use MS Word function under the Paragraph tab to create this.  
  • Put your list in alphabetical order. Alphabetize the list by the first word in the reference, which will typically be the author’s last name. When the author is unknown, alphabetize by the first word in the title, ignoring the words a, an, the.
  • For each author, provide the last name followed by a comma and the first (and middle, if listed) initials followed by periods.
  • Italicize the titles of individual works: books, films, reports, newspapers, and the title and volume number of journals and magazines.
  • Do not italicize titles of articles from newspapers, magazines, or journals, chapter titles from a book, or chapters or sections of an Internet document.
  • For article, book, report,  and chapter titles: Capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, and all proper nouns (names of people, places, organizations).
  • Every in-text citation should have a corresponding entry in the reference list (except for personal communication).
  • Do not include personal communication (such as interviews, emails) in the reference list.  Simply include an in-text citation.
  • Journal articles should include DOIs.  If there is no DOI, preface the home page URL of the journal with the phrase Retrieved from
  • Do not place a period after a DOI or a URL.
  • Include the header on your references page.
  • See the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.), starting on p. 180, for more information.

Using EBSCO Cite Tool

Use the Cite Tools in databases such as EBSCO’s CINAHL with caution!

While the citations created can be a good “starting point,” they often have errors.  Make sure you proofread and correct!  Pay particular attention to capitalization, punctuation, and italicization. Look for missing information, such as the DOI.  EBSCO posts this at the top of each set of citations created by the tool:

...Make any necessary corrections before using. Pay special attention to personal names, capitalization, and dates. Always consult your library resources for the exact formatting and punctuation guidelines.

See the document below for an example and more information. 

How to Create a Hanging Indent

APA style requires you to use a hanging indent for your sources. These are instructions for creating a hanging indent in Word documents.

  1. Place your cursor at the beginning of your second line, before any text.
  2. Right click your mouse.
  3. Select Paragraph from the resulting pop up menu.
  4. Under Indentation, use the Special pull-down menu to select Hanging.

Right click your mouse to open the Paragraph tab, or choose it from the ribbon bar.

Under "Special," select "Hanging."