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Read a Citation

How to read citations in APA, MLA, and other formats.

How to Read an APA Citation


This guide will help you identify elements to distinguish one kind of APA style citation from another. For example, how does a journal citation differ from a book citation?

APA Style (6th edition)

The citations below are in the APA style (6th edition) and show the elements you should look out for including authors, editors, publication information, etc. These elements will be present in some form in most common citation styles.

APA Journal Articles



The animation above shows an article cited in the APA 6 format (view non-animated version). 

To distinguish an article from other kinds of sources, look for:

  • A journal title in addition to an article title
  • Numbers for volume and/or issue, and sometime issue dates or seasons (e.g. Winter 2017).
  • Page numbers
  • No place of publication or publisher name is listed

Citations for articles accessed online often list the article's stable URL at the end of the citation:

APA Books



The animation above shows a book cited in the APA 6 format (view non-animated version). 

To distinguish a book from other kinds of sources, look for:

  • Place of publication (e.g. Boston, MA)
  • Publisher name (e.g. Springer)
  • No dates, other than a year, are usually included

APA Book Chapters



The animation above shows a single chapter from a book cited in the APA 6 format (view non-animated version). 

To distinguish a book chapter from other kinds of sources, look for:

  • Chapter/essay title and book title
  • Author and editor name(s)
  • Page numbers for the chapter
  • Publisher name and place of publication

Other APA Sources


Newspapers

Schultz, S. (2005, December 28). Calls made to strengthen state energy policies. The Country Today, pp. 1A, 2A.

Look for:

  • Date for a specific day
  • Newspaper title in addition to article title
  • Page numbers that reflect newspaper sections (often a number and letter, e.g. 1A)

Government documents

National Institute of Mental Health. (1990). Clinical training in serious mental illness (DHHS Publication No. ADM 90-1679). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Look for:

  • Government agencies listed as authors (e.g. National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Publishers that begin with federal or state names (e.g. U.S..., or California State...)
  • Publication identifiers that don't follow volume/issue format (e.g. ADM 90-1679)

Websites

Engelshcall, R. S. (1997). Module mod_rewrite: URL Rewriting Engine. In Apache HTTP Server version 1.3 documentation (Apache modules). Retrieved from http://httpd.apache.org/docs/1.3/mod/mod_rewrite.html

Look for:

  • Full URL at the end of the citation
  • An article and website title
  • Websites may often lack author names or specific publication dates
  • Tip: Go to the URL listed to confirm the kind of source. URLs may also be listed for journal articles retrieved from online databases, for example.

Create an APA Citation

About this APA Guide

This guide has been adapted for MSMU by Amy Sonnichsen from citation guides at Simmons University Libraries and UC Berkeley Library.



The content in this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.