Give Ear to Professionals: How to Write References for a Research Paper in APA Style

Research papers, more than any other type, are dependent on finding and citing good sources. Instructors nearly always determine in advance which of the formal citation and referencing styles they want their students to utilize while writing their research papers. APA style is one of the most popular. Here’s how to write references for a research paper in APA style.

  1. Get the style manual.

    If at all possible, the student should obtain their own copy of the latest edition (or the edition the instructor wishes them to use) of the APA style manual. Yes, most of the information is available online, but it is much easier to use the manual as a reference. Also, the manual is much more helpful when it comes to citing unusual source types in one’s paper, as websites often have only basic or outdated information. If this isn’t possible, however, the student can use the following basic information to help them, and search for information online.

  2. When using online sources, check the university website or the university’s library website for specific information.

    There are many sites out there that can help with APA style referencing, but those most likely to be accurate are associated with universities, libraries, and educational institutions of other types.

  3. When in doubt, find a sample citation of the same type.

    While all references in APA follow a certain pattern, it can be difficult to ascertain how to follow this pattern if the source the student is referencing is unusual in any way. If it is, and they aren’t sure about how to reference that material, it can be helpful to find a citation of the same type of source in APA style and use it as a template.

  4. Follow this basic pattern.

    If the above tips don’t pan out, students can usually write a good APA reference just by following this formula:

    Lastname, F. I. (YEAR). Title of work. Publication information, pages. Website

    1. It should be noted that journal article titles should be included prior to the title of the journal; article titles should not be italicized, only the name of the journal or magazine in which the article appeared. For journal publication information, the volume and issue number should be included; for books, the city and publisher. The volume number of the journal should be italicized and followed by a comma; the issue number should be in parentheses and not italicized, if included, and also followed by a comma.

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