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How to Write References for a Research Paper: APA Styling Basic Guidelines

Most research papers are required to include a reference page. Typically the preferred style of stating references is the APA style. We have included some basic guidelines for citing sources using this specific academic writing format.

The Basics Of APA Reference Citing

Your reference page should be separate and follow the conclusion of your paper. It should include a title and the paper author’s name.

When listing the references do so in alphabetic order. Use the letter-by-letter system that ignores punctuation and spacing. You only need to cite the initials of the first and middle name is they are known and then the last name. You should organize the list alphabetically by title, ignore the A, An, and the, use the first immediate word following.

You should also include the date that the source was published. When citing dates spell the name of the month when cited in the paper but use an abbreviation in the reference listing. The only exceptions are May, June, and July (ex: 31 Aug 2012 vs. 31 July 2012).

You can choose between writing in the day-month-year style or month-day-year but make sure that you are consistent throughout your reference page.

Text Formatting: Underling, Bolding and Italics

In the past when APA style research papers were composed on a typewriter the titles of publications were underlined because typewriters could not print italics or bold. Now, the correct way to write a title in APA is to italicize unless you are writing by hand.

Bolding should only be used for titles and subtitles within your paper and on the reference page. Always check with your instructor if you are uncertain how to format the text of your paper.

Page Formatting: Indents

Your reference citations should be indented to the left. Follow lines should be indented ½.

Other APA Formatting Points

APA citing specifically states that capitalization should be used appropriately for titles and names. The only expectation to this is when dealing with proper names in a title or periodic titles- these should still be capitalized as well.

If there happens to be more than one author use a “&” before the capitalized names. If the paper has six or more authors use only the first name listed in capitals and then write: et al.

Remember to place the publication date in parenthesis after the name of the original author. You also must place a period at the end of a parenthesis.

Remember not to italicize, underline or put quotations around titles- when listing shorter works or texts.