APA Style for Referencing Sources


Updated Spring 2019 as a supplement to Professor Smith's textbooks
Strategic Planning for Public Relations and Becoming a Public Relations Writer, (Routledge/Taylor and Francis).


Students and practitioners alike should be familiar with the Publication Stylebook of the American Psychological Association.This is the standard for academic writing in the social sciences, which include communication disciplines such as public relations, marketing communication, journalism, broadcasting, and other aspects of media. Following are some examples that illustrate how the APA style is used both within text and in the list of works cited.


In-Text Citations


Generally, in-text citations include the surname of the author(s) and the publication date. For two authors, the citation should include the last names of both authors. For three or more authors, the citation should include the last names of each author on first reference and the name of the first author followed by "et al" for subseqauent references within the text.



In-Text Citation of Paraphrased Information

Include the citation information either within the text narrative or as parenthetical information. Here are examples of four ways that a work may be cited within the text. Note that the parenthetical addition comes before any sentence punctuation.


  • Smith (2013) notes that all public relations writing is meant to be persuasive.

  • In a professional textbook (Smith, 2013), the concept is presented that all public relations writing is meant to be persuasive.

  • All public relations writing is meant to be persuasive (Smith, 2013).

  • In 2013, Smith presented his concept that all public relations writing is meant to be persuasive.



In-Text Citation of Short Direct Quotations

To cite short direct quotations of 40 words or less, use page references with the parenthetical citation. Place the quotation within the same paragraph as its context, and use quotation marks. Here are two examples.


  • Smith (2013) believes that "all public relations writing is an attempt to influence a group of people in some way" (p.7).

  • "All public relations writing is an attempt to influence a group of people in some way" (Smith, 2013, p 7).



In-Text Citation of Long Direct Quotations

To cite longer direct quotations of more than 40 words, use a free-standing block of text indented five spaces from the left. Do not use a paragraph indent or quotation marks. Here is an example.


  • Smith (2013) notes cultural considerations with websites:

       In evaluating a website dealing with American Indian issues, here

       are some additional questions to ask about the site: Is it authentic?

       Is a specific tribal affiliation noted, and is the tribal name accurate?

       If the site claims to present a tribal view, is it authorized by the 

       tribal government. Does the site feature images that are contemporary

       and respectful? (p. 256)



In-Text Citation of Personal Communication

Citations within the text should point to the subsequent "Works Cites" listing that includes complete bibliographic information so readers can look up the original document being cited. However, sometimes research papers also cite information that readers cannot access themselves, using sources such as personal interviews, email, Twitter and other social media sources. The general rule is that sources that cannot be accessed by other readers are considered "Personal Communication" between the author of the academic paper and his/her sources. Here are two examples of how personal communication can be cited in the text.


  • (Smith, R.D., personal communication via email, June 26, 2014)

  • (Barnays, E., telephone interview, Sept. 15, 1991)




Bibliographic Information in 'Works Cited'


A Works Cited page generally is placed at the end of the academic paper. This section lists all citations indicated within the text; the single exception to this is personal communicaiton, which is not listed in the text but not in Works Cited.


All references are listed alphabetically. Each generally is formatted as a hanging indent, with the first line at the left margin of the page and subsequent lines indent five spaces. Include page numbers only if the in-text reference is a direct quotation, not a paraphrase.


Title for books, chapters, articles and websites are written in a "down" style, using capital letters only for the first word of the title and subtitle and for any proper nouns or adjectives. Do not capitalize the second word of a hypenated compund word. Capitalize all major words in journal titles. Use italics for titles of books and journals, but do not use italics for titles of shorter items such as articles, website postings or chapters. Following the title, use brackets to indicate the type of source other than books or periodicals: website, video file, column, etc.


Include the publication date: year for books, year and month/season for periodicals, full date for newspapers. For undated sources such as brochures or websites, use n.d. for "no date." For electronic media, include the date information was retrieved or downloaded.


Here are examples of various categories of information sources, with both in-text citations and full Works Cited bibliographic information.




In general, cite books by Author. (Year). Title (edition). City: Publisher.


Book with Single Author

  • In Text: (Smith, 2020, p. 7)

  • Works Cited: Smith, R.D. (2013). Becoming a public relations writer (6th ed.). New York: Routledge / Taylor & Francis.


Book with Multiple Authors

  • In Text: (Wilcox, Ault, & Agee, 2004)

  • Works Cited: Wilcox, D.W., Ault, P.H., & Agee W.K. (2004). Public relation: Strategies and tactics (6th ed.). New York: HarperCollins.


Edited Book

  • In Text: (Laczniak & Murphy, 2002, p. 560)

  • Works Cited: Lazniak, G.R., & Murphy, P.E. (Eds.). (2002). Marketing ethics: Guidelines for managers. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.


Chapter in Book

  • In Text: (Fischer, 2003)

  • Workd Cited: Fischer, R. (2003). A theoretical basis for public relations. In D. Lattimore, O. Baskin, S. Heiman, and E. Toth, Public relations: The profession and the practice (4th ed.). Dubuque IA: Brown & Benchmark.


Work Not Available in Original version

  • In Text: Kilpatrick's advice (as cited in Smith, 2013)

  • Works Cited: Kilpatrick J.J. (n.d.) Mangles and bangles and dangles [Writer's Art newspaper column]. In R.D. Smith (2013) Becoming a public relations writer (4th ed.). (p. 18). New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis.




In general, cite periodicals by Author. (Year, date). Article title, Journal Title, Volume (number), pages.



  • In Text: (Klein, 2002), pp. 66-67)

  • Works Cited: Klein, A.R. (2002). Organizational barriers to creativity ... and how to knock them down. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 7, 66-72.



  • In Text: (Fry, 2001, p. 12)

  • Works Cited: Fry, S.L. (2001, Spring) Reaching Hispanic publics with special events. Public Relations Strategist, pp. 12-14.


Newsapaper Article with Author Byline

  • In Text: (Kalish, 203, p. 1)

  • Works Cited: Kalish, D.E. (2003, November 8). Sincerity meets flackery at the public relations convention. The Buffalo News, p. B1.


Newspaper Article with No Author Byline

  • In Text: ("Sincerity meets flackery," 2002)

  • Works Cited: Sincerity meets flakery at the public relations convention. (2002, November 8). The Buffalo News, p. B1.


Editorial, Column, etc. with Author Byline

  • In Text: Kinsley, 2004, p. 82)

  • Works Cited: Kinsley, M. (2004, May 13). Please don't quote me. [Column]. Time, p. 82.


Editorial, column, etc. with No Author Byline

  • In Text: "(Playing Fair," 2004)

  • Works Cited: Playing fair (2004, January 25). [Editorial]. Buffalo State College Record, p. 4.


Miscellaneous Print Sources


Organization as Author for Brochure, Report, Flier, Pamphlet, etc.

  • In Text: (Smith Communication Counsel, 2014)

  • Works Cited: Smith Communication Counsel. (2004). Smith's tips on managing communication. Buffalo NY: Author.


Encyclopedia Entry

  • In Text: Smith, 2011)

  • Smith, R.D. (2011). Campaign Design. In W. Eady (Ed.), Sage Encyclopedia of Communication (Vol 3, p xxx). City: Sage.


Unpublished Material (Report, Dissertation, etc.)

  • In Text: (Smith, 2010)

  • Works Cited: Smith, R.D. (2010). The news about sovereignty: A study of New York State media coverage on the sovereighty of the Haudensaunee. Buffalo, N.Y.: American Indian Policy and Media Institute. Retrieved February 12, 2015 from http://ron-smith.com.


Online Sources


In general, cite by Author/Organization. (Year). Title. [Type of Source]. Available from... (if purchased download) or Retrieved from... (if free download). As with periodicals, citations of online sources use the author's name if known, or the organizational sponsor if the author is not identified.



  • In Text: (Smith, 2015)

  • Works Cited: Smith, R.D. (2015). APA Style for Referencing Sources [Website]. Retrieved February 2, 2015 from smith-ron.com.


Social Media Site (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)

  • In Text: 

  • Works Cited: 


Blog Post with Author Byline

  • In Text: Sledzick, 2008)

  • Works Cited: Sledzick, W. (2008). What defines the ethical organization. [Tough Sledding Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.toughsledding.wordpress.com.


Video Sharing Site (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) with Author Known

  • In Text: (Smith, 2010)

  • Works Cited: Smith, R.D. (2010). Taima-dera temple [Video File]. Retrieved January 15, 2015 from Vimeo.com/11804112.


Video Sharing Site without Author Known

In Text: (Taima-dera temple, 2010)

Works Cited: Taima-dera temple. (2010). [Video File]. Retrieved January 15, 2015 from Vimeo.com/11804112. 


Electronic Book


Lecture Notes



  • In Text: (Smith, 2015)

  • Works Cited: Smith, R.D. (2015). Nine Steps of Strategic Planning [PowerPoint]. Retried from http://ron-smith.com


Electronic Media Sources

Television Broadcast

  • In Text: (Crystal, 2003)

  • Works Cited: Crystal, L. (Executive Producer). (2003, October 11). The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. New York & Washington DC: Public Broadcasting System.


Segment in Television Series

  • In Text: (Restak, 2004)

  • Works Cited: Restak, R.M. (2004). Depression and mood (D. Saye, Director). In J. Sameth (Producer), The mind [Television Series]. New York: WNET.


Music Recording

  • In Text: (Sumisu, 2008)

  • Works Cited: Sumisu, J. (2008). Kyoto Air [Recorded by artist]. On Shakuhachi suite [CD]. Nara, Japan: Sumisu Music.


Motion Picture

  • In text: (Fuqua & Wenk, 2014)

  • Works Cited: Fuqua, A. (Director) & Wenk, R. (Screenwriter). (2014). The equalizer [Motion Picture]. Culver City, CA: SONY Pictures.





  • In Text: (Smith, 2014)

  • Works Cited: Smith, R.D. (2014). Al Jazeera interview on Chevron, pizza, and crisis communication [Video File]. Retrieved February 12, 2015 from http://ron-smith.com.



  • In Text: (Smith, 2015)

  • Works Cited: Smith, R.D. (Producer). (2015). Taiko: Eitetsu Hiyashi in concert at Bufalo State [DVD]. Buffalo, N.Y.: Japan Culture Center of Western New York.