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How to Create a Reference List for Your APA Style Paper
by Peter Gallagher

In your APA Style paper (thesis, dissertation or academic paper), the reference list is an alphabetical list of all the resources that you've used to compose your paper. When constructing your APA Style ( American Psychological Association Style ) Reference List (sometimes referred to as a "bibliography"), you must comply with specific APA formatting rules, based on the kind of source that you've used.

First, let's review some simple rules for the reference list.

AUTHORS. List the author's last name, followed by the initials. If you have a few authors for a source, list each author individually, until you've listed the sixth author, then use "et al." for any succeeding authors. When listing multiple authors, use an ampersand (&) rather than the word "and" prior to the final author in the list.

INDENTION. Following the first line of each source, indent each succeeding line about one-half inch, making a hanging indention for each source.

ORDERING. Alphabetize the whole list by the authors' last names. If you have multiple sources from an author, list the earliest source first.

PUNCTUATION. Capitalize all main words in the titles of the sources that you're citing for journals, but not books. With lengthier pieces of works, such as textbooks and periodicals, italicize the titles. Do not italicize shorter pieces of work, such as documents and essays.

I. Reference List Examples

Following are some examples for listing different sources in APA Style.

BOOKS. Add the year of publication, the book title, the publisher's location and name, plus the author's name(s).

Jackson, T. J., & Henderson, X. Q. (2012). Financial development in Nigeria. Los Angeles: Johnson DeLaney Publishing.

ELECTRONIC SOURCES. List the author's name, if known; date of publication, if known; title of the online article or Web page; volume or issue number, if known; date of retrieval; and Internet address. The first example comes from a web-based periodical.

Jackson, E. R., & Cruz, (2009). Identifying technology's purpose in commercial advancement. Retrieved September 11, 2012, from (website address)

If you're just referencing a typical Web page, use this format.

Monitoring the Market Web site. (2006). Report on technology's development. Retrieved April 16, 2008, from (website address)

For sourcing an online speech, lecture or presentation, follow this example.

Jackson, T. J. (2011). Technology's function in the country [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from (website address)

GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT. Because this type of document usually lacks an author, list the governmental department in the alphabetical list.

Department of the Treasury. (2005). Fiscal growth forecast, 2006-2010 (Publication number 2003-11-0041). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Publishing Agency.

PERIODICALS. If you use a magazine or newspaper as a source, list the author, date of publication, article title, name of the periodical, and the page numbers.

Velupe, Pamela (2011, December 17). Nations pursue applied science. Los Angeles Times, p. C2.

A journal entails a somewhat different arrangement. Make sure you add the issue number in italics in front of the page number(s).

Brown, Doug (2008). Engineering regulates regional financial systems. Journal of Commercial Growth, 8, 611-638.

VIDEO. If citing a movie, film or video as a source, list the producer, director, date of publication, title, country of origin, and studio.

Donald, C., Bly, G., & Jackson, R. A. (Producers), Aiken, M. (Director). (2009). People Like Us [Motion picture]. United States: Lion Gate Classics.

II. Citing a television show uses a identical format.

Williams, B. (Producer). (2010, Oct. 19). The Evening News [Television broadcast]. New York: Public Broadcasting System.

III. Unusual Cases

SAME AUTHOR, SAME YEAR. If you have numerous sources from the same author, a few of which were published in the same year, use an "a" and "b" to identify between the two sources in your alphabetical listing.

Manley, D. (2011a). Technology in economy. Wired Magazine, 109, 11-16.

Manley, D. (2011b). Economic conditions worldwide. Wired Magazine, 117, 35.

SECONDARY SOURCE. If you use a supplementary source in your paper that references another work, you should reference the original work and cite the secondary source in the main text. In the reference list, however, only list the secondary source.

IV. Lastly, for more details on formatting sources in a reference list, check out the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association or go to the APA Web site, where you'll uncover several internet resources created especially for formatting online sources.

© Peter Gallagher, LousyWriter.com