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Social Work: APA Formatting & Citing Sources

APA Formatting Tutorials

APA Citation Basics for Journal Articles & Books

The primary point of a citation is to enable your reader to easily find your source. Every source referred to in the text of your paper should appear in the reference list. 

Journal Article

Author, A. & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of article: The subtitle. Title of Journal, volume number(issue number), pages x-y.

Journal Article with DOI*

Author, A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. (Year). Title of article: The subtitle. Title of Journal, volume number(issue number), pages. http://dx.doi.org/xx.xxx/yyyyy 

Book Chapter

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. In A. Editor & B. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pages of chapter). Location: Publisher.

*A DOI is a unique number assigned to an individual electronic item, such as an online journal article. 

Government Reports & Websites

Government Webpage

List as much of the following information as possible--you might need to look closely at the website:

Government Agency. (Date of publication). Title of webpage. Retrieved from http://Web address

Example: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). School-associated violent death study. Retreived from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/savd.html


Government Report

Citing a government report is similar to citing a book. Often the author will be the government agency. If there is a specific report number available reference, include it in parantheses after the title. 

Example: 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.

News Articles

From Purdue OWL

Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of article. Title of Newspaper. Retrieved from http://www.someaddress.com/full/url/

Example: Parker-Pope, T. (2008, May 6). Psychiatry handbook linked to drug industry. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com

Citing Laws & Bills

Federal Statute

APA citation style for statutes is constructed with the following elements:

  • Name of Statute
  • Title Number
  • Source (e.g. United States Code or U.S.C. for short)
  • Section Number(s)
  • Year

Example: Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601–2654 (2006).

For more information, please review Writing References for Federal Statutes from the APA blog. 


State Statute

Example of a state law citation from the Purdue OWL websiteMental Care and Treatment Act, 4 Kan. Stat. Ann.§§ 59-2901-2941 (1983 & Supp. 1992).

Explanation: This Kansas act can be found in codified version between sections 2901 and 2941 in Chapter 59 of volume 4 of the 1983 edition of Kansas Statutes Annotated. Two amendments to the act and additional references are provided in the 1992 supplement for the Kansas Statutes Annotated.


Federal or State Bills

For unenacted bills, gather the following information:

  • Name of Bill
  • Senate or House bill number. Use S. for Senate, H. for House
  • Congressional session number
  • Year
  • URL of page you found the bill

Example from Cook Library, Towson University: Oil Pollution Prevention and Response Act of 2009, S. 684, 111th Cong. (2009). Retrieved from http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.684

Online help with APA Citations

Citation Generators in PsycINFO & Google Schoalr

Tools like PsycINFO and Google Scholar also provide you with APA formatted references. In PsycINFO, select the items you want citations for, then click "Cite" in the upper toolbar. In Google Scholar, click "Cite" for the individual article in the results list: 

APA Publication Manual

Complete instructions on citing and useful information on writing style and content can be found in the latest edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Society. We have multiple copies in the Library in reference and on reserve; it's also worth considering buying your own if you are in the social sciences.

Plagiarism Video

Published on Jan 22, 2013, staff and students at York St John University talk about what constitutes plagiarism, how to avoid it and what is expected in regards to good academic writing. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ptHIA5bMnio

Citation Management Tools

The following tools allow you to collect book and article citations from the library catalog and databases and (using a plugin for MS Word) insert those citations into your paper in the appropriate format. Some of the tools make it easier to import citations from the catalog and databases than others.

The library has created a detailed guide on how to choose and how to use each of these tools.