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SW 6595: Research & Policy: APA Citation


Why Cite?

It's important to cite sources in order to:

  • Help others find the information you used
  • Build your own credibility as a well-informed writer
  • Give credit to those who created the information you used
  • Be an Aggie (USU Student Code)

How can you use someone else's ideas in your work? There are three ways, all of which require a citation:

  • Summarizing - Offering a general recap (in your own words) of the author's main ideas
  • Paraphrasing - Rephrasing a specific portion of the authors work into your own words
  • Quoting - Using the author's exact words (in quotes)

What is APA?

The American Psychological Association (APA) citation style requires two elements: in-text citations and a reference list.

In-text citations

  • Present throughout your paper
  • Required when you use another author/source's content
  • Include author(s) and date:
    • In terms of organizational capacity, rural nonprofits in the Southern United States tend to be able to recruit diverse leaders, though they struggle with self-evaluation such as performance evaluation of board members (Walters & Wallis, 2021).
  • Also include page number when quoting directly:
    • As a recent study of rural nonprofits in the region points out, a lack of “empirical data regarding the performance of board members…may impact other areas of organizational capacity” (Walters & Wallis, 2021, p. 407).

Reference list

  • Appears at the end of your work & helps your audience find original source
  • Is usually on a separate page/slide from the content of your work (essay, brochure, presentation)
  • Contains all the sources cited throughout your text via in-text citations 
  • Is alphabetized by the last name of the first listed author

Sample References List with alphabetized citations for three articles. Entries have a hanging indent.

APA Style is the most reliable place online to get information about how to cite in this style, including help with in-text citations and your reference list, including lots of example citations for various types of sources.

Journal Article Example

Citing a journal article, step-by-step:

  • Author's name(s) - last name first followed by first initial(s)
  • Year of publication - in parentheses
  • Title of article - first word, proper nouns, and word after a colon are capitalized
  • Title of publication - all words in italics
  • Volume number - in italics
  • Issue number - no italics
  • Page numbers - without p. or the word "page" in front
  • DOI, when available - see see DOI box on this guide for more details

Be sure to indent lines after the first (called a hanging indent).

An example:

Walters, J. E., & Wallis, D. (2021). Characteristics and organizational capacity of nonprofits in rural, persistently poor Southern counties in the United States. Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs, 7(3), 390-416.


APA style requires that a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) be included in your citation, if available. To see if a journal article has been assigned a DOI, you can look it up on CrossRef or Ask a Librarian.

example of where to find a DOI on a journal article

For more information about the DOI system, see

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