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APA Style

1. Reference List

A Reference List is a list of all the articles, books, videos, speeches, and other sources that you used in your paper. The entire list and each entry in the list must be organized and formatted in a specific way (at Lynn, most professors prefer APA 7th Edition). 

The purpose of a reference list is to provide sufficient information about each source so any reader is able to find the original content. It also recognizes the contributions of others to your work and shows that you have not plagiarized their work. Therefore, it is vital that the information in a reference list is accurate and complete. You can use the information here and on the left to create your reference list or you can chat with a librarian or email a librarian for help.

2. Reference List Format

  • See the APA paper template for a sample format of an APA reference list
  • Include only the sources you cited in your paper and every source cited in your paper must be in your reference list
  • The reference list starts on a new page after the body of your paper
  • The word “References” is centered at the top of the page and in bold (do not include the quotation marks)
  • Use double spacing (no extra lines between citations)
  • Entries are in alphabetical order by the author’s last name or by the first word of the entry; ignore “A,” “An,” and “The”; if the first word of the entry is a number (example, 10 top websites for 2021), alphabetize by the number spelled out (example, by using the word “ten”)
  • Use a “hanging indent” for each entry. A hanging indent means the second and all the following lines of each entry is indented 0.5” (in Word this is usually done in the Formatting tab under the Paragraph section under "indents and spacing" or see Microsoft Hanging Indents for more info)

Sample reference list with format notes about the heading, hanging indents, and alphabetical order

3. Steps to creating Reference List Entries

Start a reference citation by selecting its category, then identify its parts.

  1. Select the "Category" of each item from the list on the left;
  2. Identify the "Elements" to include and list them in the correct order and format


Items you will include in your reference list fall into various categories like webpages, articles, or books. For most things, whether the item you are writing a reference for is online or in print is not important. What is important is what it is. If you are not sure, ask a librarian.

The categories are linked on the left. 


There are four “elements” or parts to an APA reference list entry plus a URL (if available). Each element/part is separated by a period (but no period is placed after the URL).

Author. (Date). Title. Source. URL

There are rules about how each part is formatted and punctuated. You do not need to memorize the rules; you can use the links on the left to each reference list category to find basic format and examples for each type.

On the APA homepage, we have links to many APA resources or you can ask a librarian for help.

And you can find more about each "element" from the APA website.


American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association: The official guide to APA style (Seventh ed.). American Psychological Association.

Information compiled from sections 2.12, chapter 9, 9.1, 9.4-9.6, 9.43-44.