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Reference List

In an APA reference list, only sources referred to in the text of the paper are included, not background reading or suggestions for further reading.

The reference list should include resources you used in the body of the document. However, you should only include sources that are retrievable. As a result, personal communications such as emails or interviews that are not recoverable, street theater, class lectures that were not recorded, etc., would be appropriately cited in the body of the document but not be included in the reference list.


According to APA heading levels, the word References should be centered and in boldface at the top of the page. APA also requires a reference list that is double-spaced with a hanging indent. (Reference list entries with a hanging indent have a first line that is aligned with the margin of the paper and subsequent lines that are indented.) Entries on the page should be alphabetized by the lead author’s last name or by group name. This helps your reader easily find a reference from the text in the reference list. When alphabetizing:

  • Alphabetize letter by letter.
  • Ignore spaces, capitalization, hyphens, apostrophes, periods, and accent marks.
  • When alphabetizing group or corporate names as authors, use the first significant word (disregard a, an, the, etc.)
  • When there are two sources with the same author and same year, use a and b after the years. Order alphabetically by title.
  • If there are two references that may or may not be the same author, for example Smith, B. (2005) and Smith, B. A. (2010), attempt to determine if they are the same author. If the authors are different, arrange the citations alphabetically by surname (Smith) then by initials (B. then B. A.) However, if the authors are the same, the order would be reversed because APA says to list works by the same author chronologically.

Examples by Category

Archival Documents
Audiovisual Media
Data – Collection and Management
Dissertations and Theses
Reports and Gray Literature
Reviews and Commentary
Unpublished Works
Websites, Message Boards, Lists, and Social Media