How to Reference Journal Articles in APA Format

Tips and tricks for getting APA journal articles right

APA format specifies rules for how articles should appear in references.
Journal, magazine, and newspaper articles should all be in APA format.. John Fedele / Blend Images / Getty Images

How do you create references for journal articles in APA format? If you need to write a psychology paper, then you are going to probably need to reference a number of different journal articles. Such articles summarize the results of studies and experiments conducted by researchers on an enormous range of topics.

In most cases, you will probably need to create references for at least five or more journal articles for every APA format paper you are asked to write.

APA format details a set of clear rules for referencing articles that appear in academic journals and other periodicals. Article references will vary somewhat based on where the article appears and who authored the content. While many articles you will use in your references probably appear in academic and professional journals, you might also find articles in magazines, newspapers, and online publications.

The reference section is one of the easiest places to lose points due to incorrect APA format, so always check your references before you hand in your psychology papers. Learning to reference articles in proper APA style can help you throughout your study of psychology. Check out the following rules and guidelines for referencing articles in APA format.

The Basic Structure When Referencing a Journal Article in APA Format:

Start by listing the authors last name and first initials, followed by the date of publication in parentheses.

Provide the title of the article, but only capitalize the first letter of the title. Next, list the journal or periodical and volume number in italics. Finally, provide the page numbers where the article can be found.

For example:

Author, I. N. (Year). Title of the article. Title of the Journal or Periodical, volume number, page numbers.

or

Smith, L. V. (2000). Referencing articles in APA format. APA Format Weekly, 34, 4-10.

Magazine Articles:

The structure for an article appearing in a magazine is similar to that of a journal article. However, the publication date should also include the month and day of publication.

For example:

James, S. A. (2001, June 7). Magazine articles in APA format. Newsweek, 20, 48-52.

Newspaper Articles:

References for newspaper articles follow the basic structure, but use the initials p. or pp. to denote page numbers.

For example:

Tensky, J. A. (2004, January 5). How to cite newspaper articles. The New York Times, pp. 4D, 5D.

APA Format for Journal Articles With Two Authors

If an article has two authors, follow the basic format for a journal reference. Place a comma after the first initial of the first author followed by an ampersand (&). Then include the last name and first initial of the second author.

Example:

Mischel, W., & Baker, N. (1975). Cognitive transformations of reward objects through instructions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 254-261.

APA Format for Journal Articles With Three to Seven Authors

 For journal articles with three to seven authors, follow a similar format as you would with two authors, but separate each author and initials with a comma. The final author should be preceded by an ampersand. Follow this same format for each additional author up to seven authors.

For example:

 

Hart, D., Keller, M., Edelstein, W., & Hofmann, V. (1998). Childhood personality influences on social-cognitive development: A longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1288-1289.

and

Keller, J. L., Smithfield, K. B., Ellis, M., Michelina, R., & Bels, S. (1987). The limitations of anchoring bias. Journal of Market Research, 17, 115-119.

APA Format for Journal Articles with More Than Seven Authors:

The rules for referencing both single and multiple authors apply to all sources whether the material came from books, magazine articles, newspaper articles, journal articles, or online sources.

Include the last name and first initials of each author, with each individual separated by a comma. The last author should be preceded with an ampersand.

If the article includes seven or few authors, list each author separately.

If there are more than seven, include the first six and then include an ellipses (. . . ) in place of the author names before listing the final author.

For example:

Jones, H., Smith, P., Kingly, R., Plathford, R. H., Florin, S., Breckherst, P., . . . Lightlen, P. S. (2012). How to reference an article with more than seven authors. APA Format Today, 17, 35-36.

Articles With No Author

If an article does not cite any authors, then start by giving the title of the article, followed by the publication date, source, and URL if you accessed the article electronically.

For example:

Scientists seek source of creativity. (2012, March, 6). Dayton County News. Retrieved from http://www.daytoncountynews.com/news/39756_39275.html

More Tips

  • If possible, include the DOI (digital object identifier) number at the end of your reference.
  • If a DOI number is not available and you accessed the article online, give the URL of the journal's home page.
  • Be sure to check your references using the official Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
  • Capitalize the first word in the title, subtitle and proper nouns.
  • Italicize the name of the publication and the volume number.
  • References should be double-spaced.
  • The first line of each reference should be flush-left and any remaining lines should be indented.
  • If you accessed the article through a database and it does not have a DOI, include a link to the journal homepage where the article was originally published. If the journal or site no longer exists, include a link to the front page of the database where you accessed the article.

See an example of different types of references and learn more about APA format.

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