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Academic Integrity

Introduction to APA Style

The American Psychological Association's (APA) Style is the official formatting and citation style of the VCSU Graduate Program (as indicated on page 9 of the VCSU Graduate Student and Faculty Handbook).  As such, it is the expected editorial style for the graduate Action Research Paper and most other course-related assignments.

It is important that graduate students understand their professors' expectations as they go about their graduate-level work, particularly with regard to citations and formatting papers.  Library staff are available for formatting assistance and citation questions, but course instructors are the ultimate authority on what is acceptable work in their courses.

Use the guidelines below to learn the basics of the APA Style.  Refer to the bottom of the page for additional resources which may prove valuable as you cite and format your papers using APA.

In-Text Citations

There are two areas in your papers that need to be present in order to correctly document a source. The following provides an overview of the areas and examples of how the citations would be referenced. 

1) In-Text Citations

Whenever you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or otherwise refer to the work of another, you are required to cite its source by either using a) parenthetical citations, or b) block quotes.  (See Purdue Owl's APA Basics for more examples.)

A) Parenthetical documentation (bibliographic information within parentheses), are included directly in the line of text containing your quote or paraphrase.  Parenthetical citations follow a simple formula listed below:

Formula: Text of quote or paraphrase (author, year of publication, page number[s]).

Example: Kenneth Burke describes human beings as "symbol-using animals" (Hauser, 2002, p. 204). 

Please note that it is common to incorporate the name of the author into the quotation or paraphrase.  When this is the case, the date follows in paranthases after the author's name, while the page number or numbers are listed at the end of the sentence.  Thus, the same example sentence above may be written this way:

Example: Gerard Hauser (2002) writes that Kenneth Burke conceived of human beings as "symbol-using animals" (p. 204). 

B) Block Quotes are used for quotations that are 40 or more words long:

Eat This, Not That (2009) authors David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding explain the following fact about FDA's additive policy:

In an effort to produce cheaper, tastier, long-lasting foods, marketers are adding new types of preservatives, fats, sugars, and other foodlike substances to our daily meals.  There are more than 3,000 substances on the FDA’s list of “safe” food additives, and any one (or 20) could be in your next meal.  (p. xi)

General rules for APA block quotes:

  • Use a block quote if a quotation is 40 or more words long.
  • In most cases, use a colon to introduce the quotation.
  • Indent the quotation a half inch from the left margin.
  • The first line of each additional paragraph is indented an additional half inch.
  • Double-space the quotation.
  • Do not use quotation marks to set off the quote.
  • Place the parenthetical citation (author and page number) after the period (or other mark of punctuation) that closes the block quotation.


2) References (Works Cited = "References" in APA)

Most style manuals require you to assemble a list of the works that you have cited in your paper. This list, included at the end of your paper, is typically called "References" in the APA style.  Your References page allows you to give credit to all of the sources and scholars you consulted to write your paper.  This is an opportunity to build the credibility of your paper, as well as to avoid any issues related to un-credited sources.

Print book formula: Author's Last Name, Author's First Initial., Author's Second Initial. (Year). Title of work. Location: Publisher.

Example:  Hauser, G. A. (2002). Introduction to rhetorical theory. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

Example:  Zinczenko, D., & Goulding, M. (2009) Eat this not that: The best [& worst] foods in america. New York: Rodale.

Some basic rules for APA References lists are:

  • All citations should be double spaced
  • Indent after the first line of each entry
  • Entries are not numbered
  • If an element is not present, omit it
  • Alphabetize by the first word of the entry
  • If no author is listed, begin with title
  • Enter author's last name followed by first and middle initials
  • List up to seven (7) authors.
  • With 8 or more authors, list the first six, then include an ellipse "...".
  • Italics must be used for book and periodical titles
  • Capitalize ONLY the first word of a title, the first word of a subtitle, and proper nouns in titles of books and articles, no matter how they appear in a database or catalog
  • List the city and state or country (spell out name) of publication. Example: Lexington, KY (because there are cities names Lexington in many states).
  • Use the abbreviations p. or pp. only for multi-page newspaper articles, encyclopedia entries, and chapters or articles in edited books
  • Do not use the abbreviation p. or pp. (or any other abbreviation) for magazine and journal articles
  • Use p. for one page articles, pp. for multiple page articles
  • Dates, where applicable, are in Year, Month Day format (e.g. 1999, December 20)
  • Publication year is in parenthesis after the author's name (or title if no author is listed)
  • Use (n.d.) if no date is given

To cite articles from the Library's databases, use the following formula:

Database article formula: Author's Last Name, Author's First Initial. Author's Second Initial. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, Volume Number(Issue Number), pp-pp. doi:xx.xxxxxxxx.

Example: Guixé, E., Richards, M. P., & Subirà, M. (2006). Palaeodiets of humans and fauna at the Spanish mesolithic site of El Collado. Current Anthropology47(3), 549.  Retrieved from

For items found in full text online, access information in APA requires one of the following (in order of preference):

1. Use DOI if available (no period at end of citation) 
2. If no DOI, and from database, use print format. No database information is needed.
3. If no DOI and from an authoritative web site use complete URL (no period at end of citation) 
4. If no DOI and from a personal web site or Wiki, use access date and complete URL (no period at end of citation)

Creating a Works Cited Page

There are essential pieces of information that a writer must provide about the articles, texts and other sources they have drawn on. Some or all of them are necessary to uniquely identify and locate the original source, or to find similar materials.

  • Author, editor, Group/Association (name and initials)
  • Title of the work (where applicable)
  • Title of the book or journal where the work came from
  • Volume number (of a journal or series of books)
  • Publisher
  • Place of publication
  • Date of publication
  • Web page address (URL) or DOI

Tools & Help with Citations

Guides: The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition (R 808 P96 2020 in our Library) is the official APA style guide.  This is the definitive text for APA formatting and citation.  Additionally, Purdue University offers a free Web-based guide, the Purdue Owl.  Faculty overwhelmingly refer their students to Purdue Owl as a catch-all citation and formatting aide.

Time and Planning: First and foremost, give yourself time for your assignment. Keep careful track of what you read, and if there are ideas or quotes you think you will use, find a system to label them with the information you will need to reference them later.

Citation Help:  For citation assistance, you can always contact the Allen Memorial Library.  Professional librarians are available to assist you with citation help, research assistance, and training on library databases.  Librarians are available in person, over the phone, via email, and through livechat.