APA Reference List Formatting Tips

Once you paste your list of APA citations into your own document, correct these things if necessary.

Review Citations

  • The reference list should only include sources that someone else can retrieve. That means you will not include personal communication, such as letters, memoranda, email, and text messages. Instead, only cite personal communications in your paper.

  • Double check your spelling. 

  • Double check your capitalization.

    • Use title case when listing periodical titles, website names, and social media site names. For title case, capitalize all major words, including prepositions that are longer than 3 letters.

Periodical ex: Journal of the American Medical Association
Website ex: Curiosity Machine

    • Nearly all other titles are capitalized using sentence case. Only capitalize the first word, the first word after a colon or dash, and proper nouns. 

How to capitalize titles: An introduction in English according to Robert Gray

    • Most posts and comments from social media and other online sources do not have titles. In that case, enter up to the first 20 words of the content as it appears in the source, and italicize it. However, emojis are not italicized. Fix any emojis that did not copy or transfer correctly. 

Let us carry Mother Teresa’s smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey [Tweet].

  • Both digital object identifiers (DOIs) and URLs should be entered in URL format, beginning with http:// or https://. It is acceptable to use either the default display settings for hyperlinks (blue font and underlined) or plain text that is not underlined. Copy and paste the full URL from your source, when possible. Do not add line breaks manually to the hyperlink. It is acceptable if your word-processing program automatically adds a break or moves the hyperlink to its own line. (More from APA)

Ex: https://doi.org/10.1037/rev0000126

Format the Reference List

  • The reference list should begin on a new page after the text or body of the paper and before any footnotes, tables, figures, and appendices.

  • Use 1-inch margins on all sides of the page.

  • Use this as the heading at the top of the page: References -- capitalized, in bold, and centered.

  • Double space the list, both between citations and within them.

  • When a citation has more than one line, use a hanging indent. To do this, indent the second line, and every line thereafter, to the right one half inch.

Medina, P. (2013). The secret (L. A. de Zacklin, Trans.) In L. M. Carlson (Ed.), Cool salsa: Bilingual poems on growing up Latino in the United States (p. 48). Square Fish.

(If the citation format does not display correctly on your device, view the image instead.)

  • Both the paper and reference list should use the same font. Check with your teacher for specific requirements. APA recommends these fonts: 

    • Sans serif: 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucinda Sans Unicode 

    • Serif: 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or 10-point Computer Modern

Alphabetize Citations 

  • Alphabetize the entire list by the first word of each citation. This may be the author's last name or the first word in a title.

  • Arrange works by different authors with the same last name alphabetically by the first initial.

  • If more than one citation is by the same author, arrange them by year of publication with the earliest year first.

    • Citations with only one author come before citations with that same author and additional authors.

    • Citations with the same first author and different second or third authors are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the second author, or if the second author is the same, by the last name of the third author, and so on.

    • Citations with the same author(s) and the same publication date are arranged alphabetically by titles (excluding A, An or The). 

Books for the college bound. (2019). 

Jones, J. A. (2018). The greatest novels of the century.

Jones, J. A. (2020). Best short stories of all time.

Jones, J. A. (2020). An introduction to literature.

Jones, L. 

Jones, L., & Meyer, N. S. 

Jones, L., & Smith, K.


American Psychological Association. (2020). Creating an APA style reference list. APA Style. https://apastyle.apa.org/instructional-aids/creating-reference-list.pdf

American Psychological Association. (2020). Elements of reference list entries. APA Style. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/references/elements-list-entry

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

(If the citation format does not display correctly on your device, view the image instead.)