Using the APA reference style

This page provides information from the NTNU University Library to help you when you need to use the APA 7th (American Psychological Association) style.

If you are still using APA 6th edition, you can find helpful resources here.

Norsk versjon: Bruke referansestilen APA

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The APA style

The APA style is used in the social sciences, arts and humanities. Check which reference style your department recommends before you begin writing your paper.

Other styles:

  • Chicago style is used in the social sciences, arts and humanities.
  • Harvard style is used in the social sciences, technology and natural sciences.
  • Vancouver style is used in medicine and the natural sciences, and sometimes in technology.

Examples of using the APA style in a reference list

 APA - Examples

The examples show how to write in-text citations and reference lists based on what kind of source you are citing.

Reference list in APA style

When writing a reference list in the APA style (APA 7th):

  • Arrange your list alphabetically by author’s surname.
  • Author list:
    • Use & before the last author if there are two to 20 authors. Example: Goodfellow, I., Bengio, Y., & Courville, A.
    • When there are 21 or more authors, list the first 19 followed by an ellipsis and add the last author. Example: Adam, J., Adamová, D., Aggarwal, M. M., Aglieri Rinella, G., Agnello, M., Agrawal, N., Ahammed, Z., Ahmad, S., Ahn, S. U., Aiola, S., Akindinov, A., Alam, S. N., Albuquerque, D. S. D., Aleksandrov, D., Alessandro, B., Alexandre, D., Alfaro Molina, R., Alici, A., Alkin, A., . . . Garg, K.
  • Add an English translation of the title in square brackets if the source used is not in English.
  • Use italics for:
    • Journal titles and volumes
    • Book titles
  • Indent the paragraph on the second and the following lines in a reference.
  • Start the reference list on a new page. Use “Reference list” or “Literature list” as the heading.

The APA style in-text

When using the APA style (APA 7th) in-text:

  • Publications with multiple authors:
    • Two authors: list both authors each time you quote them. Example: Furseth and Everett (1997) – or – (Furseth & Everett, 1997)
    • Three or more authors: list the first author followed by et al. (Only include more authors if two or more publications would have the same citation. Then add as many authors as needed to distinguish the citations). Example: Cheng et al. (2004) – or – (Cheng et al., 2004)
  • Multiple publications by the same author published the same year are distinguished by a, b, c etc. after the year. Example: Hansen (1988a) and Hansen (1988b)
  • When a publication has no identifiable author, use the title and year of publication. If the title is long, shorten it for the in-text citation. The title of an article or a chapter is written with quotation marks, while the title of a book, a brochure or a report is written in italics. Example: College Bound Seniors (2008)
  • For a publication with no date, use n.d. (no date) in both the reference list entry and the in-text citation. Example in the text: (American Nurses Association, n.d.)
  • Give page numbers:
    • always for direct quotations
    • page numbers are encouraged for indirect quotations, especially when it would help the reader locate the relevant passage in a long text, for instance a book
    • for citing a specific part of a source, especially when it would help the reader locate the relevant passage


In-text citations have two formats.

  • In parenthetical citations, the author name and year appear in parentheses. Example: (Murray, 2020)
  • In narrative citations, the author name is included in the text as part of the sentence followed by the year in parentheses. Example: Murray (2020) argues that …


Direct quotations shorter than 40 words are integrated in the text and placed within quotation marks. Quotations of 40 words or more should be in a separate indented paragraph, without quotation marks.


  • Short quotation: “It is permissible to quote, word for word, from a source, but in most disciplines, this should be done sparingly” (Day, 2013, p. 143).
  • Short quotation (two authors): “The purpose of referencing is related to the ideal of research as a collective project” (Furseth & Everett, 2013, p. 139).
  • Short quotation (the name of the author is integrated in the text): Day (2013) claims that “it is permissible to quote, word for word, from a source, but in most disciplines, this should be done sparingly” (p. 143).

Indirect quotations (paraphrases)

An indirect quotation (paraphrase) is a reformulation of the original text.

Example: Furseth and Everett (1997) maintain that the primary reason behind the use of citations and reference list is the idea of research as a collective endeavour. Research should be verifiable, and those reading your work should be able to find those sources your material is based upon (p. 142).

Personal communications

Personal communications may be telephone conversations, e-mails, and the like. As they do not provide recoverable data, do not include personal communications in the reference list. Cite personal communications in text only. Example: (T. K. Smith, personal communication, April 18, 2016) ... Use a personal communication citation only when a recoverable source is not available.

Secondary sources

When using secondary sources, name the primary source and cite the secondary source in the text. Example: Johnson and Peters’ studies (1990, as cited in Wagner, 2002) … In the reference list, provide an entry for the secondary source that you have read.

More on the APA style

Information on how you write references in-text and in a reference list with the APA style is gathered from the website on APA Style and from the American Psychological Association (2020).

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).


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