A Quick Guide to the APA Publication Manual 7th Edition

The American Psychological Association recently updated its publication manual for its 7th edition. There are some new and updated content regarding paper elements and format, bias-free language guidelines, in-text citations (including guidelines to avoid over-citation), and more than 100 examples of APA Style references including templates for every reference category. Here’s a quick overview of the changes in the 7th edition. Always check with your instructor about which edition of the manual you will be using in the class. Download the PDF Handout.

ELEMENTS AND FORMAT (Sections 2.3-2.25)

Recommended Fonts: (Use the same font throughout the text of the paper) 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode; 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or normal 10-point Computer Modern (default font for LaTeX).

Header: For student papers, include the short title of the paper in all caps. No “Running head” required.

Student Title Page: Include the title, author names, author affiliation, course number and name, instructor name, assignment due date, and page number.

See sample Student Paper and Professional Paper formats.


Level Format
1 Centered, Bold, Title Case Heading

Text begins as a new paragraph.

2 Flush Left, Bold, Title Case Heading

       Text begins as a new paragraph.

3 Flush Left, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading

       Text begins as a new paragraph.

4        Indented, Bold, Title Case Heading, Ending With a Period. Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.
5        Indented, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading, Ending With a Period. Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.

WRITING STYLE & GRAMMAR (Pronouns) (Sections 4.16-4.21)

  • The singular “they” is endorsed, consistent with inclusive usage.
  • Always use a person’s self-identified pronoun, including when a person uses the singular “they” as their pronoun.
  • Also use “they” as a generic third-person singular pronoun to refer to a person whose gender is unknown or irrelevant to the context of the usage.
  • Do not use “he” or “she” alone as generic third-person singular pronouns. Use combination forms such as “he or she” and “she or he” only if you know that these pronouns match the people being described.
  • Do not use combination forms such as “(s)he” and “s/he.”
  • If you do not know the pronouns of the person being described, reword the sentence to avoid a pronoun or use the pronoun “they.”

IN-TEXT CITATIONS (Sections 8.10-8.22)

  • For a work with one or two authors, include the author name(s) in every citation.
  • For a work with three or more authors, include the name of only the first author plus “et al.” in every citation (even the first citation).


According to the APA: “Avoid both undercitation and overcitation. Undercitation can lead to plagiarism and/or self-plagiarism. Overcitation can be distracting and is unnecessary. For example, it is considered overcitation to repeat the same citation in every sentence when the source and topic have not changed. Instead, when paraphrasing a key point in more than one sentence within a paragraph, cite the source in the first sentence in which it is relevant and do not repeat the citation in subsequent sentences as long as the source remains clear and unchanged.”

Example of an Appropriate Level of Citation (Figure 8.1 from the Manual)

Humor plays an important role in everyday life, from interacting with strangers to attracting mates (Bressler & Balshine, 2006; Earleywine, 2010; Tornquist & Chiappe, 2015). Some people, however, come up with funny and witty ideas much more easily than do others. In this study, we examined the role of cognitive abilities in humor production, a topic with a long past (e.g., Feingold & Mazzella, 1991; Galloway, 1994) that has recently attracted more attention (Greengross & Miller, 2011; Kellner & Benedek, 2016). Humor production ability is measured with open-ended tasks (Earleywine, 2010), the most common of which involves asking participants to write captions for single-panel cartoons (for review, see Nusbaum & Silvia, 2017).

REFERENCES (Sections 9.1-9.2; 9.16; 9.23-9.37)

  • DOIs and URLs should be hyperlinks. The label “DOI:” is no longer used.
  • The words “Retrieved from” are only used when a retrieval date is also needed.
  • For online sources, include the URL at the end of the reference. Do not use “Retrieved from”
  • Resources obtained from most academic research databases (EBSCO, CINAHL, Films on Demand): Do not include a database name and do not include a url. Do include a DOI if there is one.
    • Include database information for works of limited circulation, such as dissertations and theses published in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, works in a university archive, works posted in an institutional or government repository, monographs published in ERIC or primary sources published in JSTOR (see Chapter 10, example 74).
  • Individual Author Names: Provide last names and initials for up to and including 20 authors. When there are two to 20 authors, use an ampersand before the final author’s name.
  • Group Author Names: When numerous layers of government agencies are listed as the author of a work, use the most specific agency as the author in the reference. The names of parent agencies appear after the title as the publisher.

Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. (2019, January 8). Heart failure fact sheet. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control.   https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_heart_failure.htm

  • Publisher location is no longer included in book citations.

See common reference examples here.

To see samples and templates, visit APA Style: https://apastyle.apa.org/

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