How to Format an APA Source List

In Brief...

The APA source list, called the Reference List, always appears on the last page of the document. Every source cited in the document needs to be listed in the Reference List, and every source listed in the Reference List needs to be cited in the document. The one exception is the Personal Interview citation. Personal interviews are not listed in the Reference List because the reader does not have access to the personal interview. Personal interviews are cited in the document only. Keep in mind that there are several different kinds of sources, and each type of source is formatted differently, according to APA standards. Different types of sources include: books, journals, websites, periodicals, and reports. The list below outlines some basic formatting criteria common in most types of sources.


  1. Spacing – The Reference List must be double-spaced with a hanging indent (all lines after the first line must be indented one-half inch).
  2. Author Names – List author names last name first, then first initial, then middle initial if appropriate. The exception would be if there are two authors with the same last name. In that case, list last name first, then full first name, then middle initial.
  3. No Author – If no author is listed with the source, use the full title of the source, capitalizing all major words in the title. Do not italicize titles of articles, but do italicize titles of books.
  4. Order – All entries in the Reference List must be in alphabetical order. If an author is cited more than once for separate articles, the entries should be in chronological order, starting with the oldest and ending with the most recent. If there are multiple citations for the same author and the same article, only list the author once in the Reference List.
  5. Titles and Page Numbers – Article or chapter titles should have only the first word of the title capitalized. Periodical titles should be in title case (every major word capitalized) and italicized. When citing journal articles, include the volume number, in italics, followed by the page number range. Example: Smith, A. (2016) Affective influences on awareness. Journal of Psychology, 154, 258-281.

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Author: Janie Sullivan

Janie Sullivan, MBA, MAEd, has been teaching adult learners for over 20 years. She has taught online over 15 years, specializing in writing, communications, and small business applications. Janie directs the Center for Writing Excellence where she offers writing, editing, and formatting services for writers. She has been published in several newspapers and magazines as well as multiple online sites. She teaches communication, business strategy, leadership, and management courses. Janie has published a book "Develop and Deliver an Online Class." This is the third book she has written about writing and teaching online. She also has published a novel and an anthology of short stories.