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How to Read a Citation: APA Sources

This guide will help you identify elements to distinguish one kind of citation from another (a book from a journal article, for example). The citations below are in the APA style (6th edition), and the elements you should look out for (authors, editors, publication information...) will be present in some form in most common citation styles.

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:

 

With thanks to UC Berkeley Library

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

 

With thanks to UC Berkeley Library

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

 

With thanks to UC Berkeley Library

Other 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.

 

With thanks to UC Berkeley