On this page, you’ll learn how to put together a reference list. This page has been compiled by citation experts who have extensive knowledge of APA style; it follows the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual. 

The key points to remember for your reference list are:

  • each entry provides information about author, date, title, and source
  • it is arranged alphabetically
  • all works that you cite in your work should be listed


Your reference page collects all the sources that you cite in your paper. It is found at the end of your work. The following guidelines were developed by the American Psychological Association (APA), and are commonly used across a range of disciplines and institutions.

You may be wondering if there’s a difference between a reference list and a bibliography: there is! The former only includes works that you have cited in or used to provide information that has directly gone into your assignment. Bibliographies may include works that you did not directly cite or refer to, but that you used for background reading.

Each entry within your reference page will comprise the same four elements:

  1. Author(s)
  2. Date
  3. Title
  4. Source

Together, these four elements let you construct anything you may need to include on your APA reference page. Let’s look at the general layout of an entry, and then a real example:

  • Layout: Surname, Initial(s). (Date). Title (Edition, if applicable). Publisher. (DOI or URL if applicable)
  • Example: Friedland, P. (2012). Seeing justice done: The age of spectacular capital punishment in France. Oxford University Press.

Each of these elements—author, date, title, source—is separated by a period. 

It’s important to ensure accuracy and consistency across your references. Pay special attention to punctuation, capitalization, and any special formatting requirements that different types of source demand. 


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The term ‘author’ refers to the person(s) or group responsible for creating the work in question.  

The three golden rules for the author element are:

  1. Names are always inverted (surname, then initial(s))
  2. Multiple authors are always separated by a comma (even when there are only two)
  3. An ampersand (&) always comes before the final author’s surname. 

Here are some examples:

  • Single author: Fforde, J. 
  • Two or more authors: Shryock, A., & Smail, D. L. 

When describing someone’s specialized role, you should put that role in parentheses, after the initials. For example, you may need to identify the editor (Ed.) or editors (Eds.) of a volume of essays, or the director (Director) of a film, as in the following examples:

  • Coss, P. (Ed.).
  • Refn, N. W. (Director).


When it comes to the title of a publication, there are two main categories to keep in mind: (i) complete or standalone works, and (ii) writings that are part of a larger work. How you format the title differs slightly depending on which one you’re dealing with.

Complete works include books, journal titles, films, dissertations, etc., and their titles should be italicized and written in sentence case. Information such as the edition (ed.) should be supplied in parentheses. Here are a few examples:

  • The wasp factory.
  • Valhalla rising [Film].
  • From memory to written record: England, 1066–1307 (3rd ed.).

Works that are part of a series include journal articles, chapters in edited books, or episodes of a TV series. The titles of such works also use sentence case, but are not italicized, nor are they placed within quotation marks. Let’s look at an example:

  • Sovereign subjects, feudal law, and the writing of history.


Formatting the source element naturally varies according to the type of source in question. For a more detailed discussion of specific source types, please refer to the relevant APA pages on this site.

In general terms, however, a work’s source can be divided into two types: (i) the source of a work that is part of something else, or (ii) the source of a complete or standalone work. 

With the former, the source refers to the ‘something else’, and might be the journal or periodical in which an article is published, such as:

  • Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 36(2), 223–261.

With the latter, the source refers to the publisher:

  • Hodder and Stoughton.


Some web content is inherently unstable, meaning that the content can be updated or can change over time. In such cases, it’s important to provide a retrieval date. Take as an example a Twitter profile:

Grumpy Cat [@RealGrumpyCat]. (n.d.). Tweets [Twitter profile]. Twitter. Retrieved October 2, 2020, from https://twitter.com/RealGrumpyCat


A more extensive discussion about DOIs and URLs can be found on the journal articles page; here we shall focus on formatting. 

The DOI or URL will be the last part of your entry. The vital point to remember here is not to include a period at the end of the link. The Grumpy Cat Twitter profile above gives you an example of URL. Below is a correctly formatted DOI:

Hutton, R. (2014). The wild hunt and the witches’ Sabbath. Folklore, 125(2), 161–178. https://doi.org/10.1080/0015587X.2014.896968

Order, Order!


When formatting the reference page as a whole, there are four cardinal points to bear in mind:

  1. It should begin on a new page.
  2. The label References or Reference List should be bolded and centered at the top of the page.
  3. The list should be double-spaced.
  4. Each entry should have a ‘hanging indent’ of 0.5 in. This means that the first line of the entry is flush to the left margin; subsequent lines are indented. 


The first principle in ordering your reference list is that it is arranged alphabetically. Sounds simple, right? But there will be plenty of authors whose names may leave you flummoxed. 

Fortunately, the APA has a handy couple of guidelines:

  1. In the APA’s own words, “nothing precedes something” (2020, p. 303). 
    1. This means that Love, N. S. comes before Lovecraft, H. P. 
  2. When dealing with two-worded or hyphenated surnames, ignore the space or the hyphen. 
    1. So, Declercq, G., comes before de Laplanche, J., who precedes Depreux, P. 

Multiple works by the same author should be arranged chronologically, oldest publication first:

  • Smail, D. L. (2003).
  • Smail, D. L. (2012).

Single-authored texts precede multiple-authored texts with the same first author:

  • Shryock, A. (2020).
  • Shryock, A., & Smail, D. L. (2011).

For multi-authored texts with the same first author, but different subsequent authors, alphabetize entries based on the surname of the second author. If the first two authors are the same, then alphabetize based on the third author’s surname, and so on.

  • Pratchett, T., & Baxter, S. (2012).
  • Pratchett, T., & Gaiman, N. (1990).

Multiple works by the same author and same date—this creates problems for in-text citations—are distinguished by a date/letter combination. Here’s an example:

  • Pratchett, T. (1988a).
  • Pratchett, T. (1988b).

If you have multiple works where separate first authors have the same surname, arrange them alphabetically based on their respective first initial(s), as follows:

  • Thompson, B. (1993).
  • Thompson, E. P. (1971). 

If you have a work with no author, then it is arranged alphabetically according to the first main word of the title (ignore ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘the’). If the text is explicitly identified as the work of ‘Anonymous’, then treat ‘Anonymous’ as the name and arrange the entry accordingly.


American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

Banks, I. (1984). The wasp factory. Macmillan.

Clanchy, M. T. (2013). From memory to written record: England, 1066–1307 (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Coss, P. (Ed.). (2000). The moral world of the law. Cambridge University Press.

Davis, K. (2006). Sovereign subjects, feudal law, and the writing of history. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 36(2), 223–261. 

Fforde, J. (2001). The Eyre affair. Hodder and Stoughton.

Friedland, P. (2012). Seeing justice done: The age of spectacular capital punishment in France. Oxford University Press.

Grumpy Cat [@RealGrumpyCat]. (n.d.). Tweets [Twitter profile]. Twitter. Retrieved October 2, 2020, from https://twitter.com/RealGrumpyCat

Hutton, R. (2014). The wild hunt and the witches’ Sabbath. Folklore, 125(2), 161–178. https://doi.org/10.1080/0015587X.2014.896968

Pratchett, T. (1988a). Sourcery. Victor Gollancz. 

Pratchett, T. (1988b). Wyrd sisters. Victor Gollancz.

Pratchett, T., & Baxter, S. (2012). The long earth. Doubleday.

Pratchett, T., & Gaiman, N. (1990). Good omens: The nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch. Victor Gollancz.

Refn, N. W. (Director). (2009). Valhalla rising [Film]. Nimbus Film Productions.

Shryock, A. (2020). Rites of return: Back to the Mediterranean, again. History and Anthropology, 31(1), 147–156. https://doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2019.1684273 

Shryock, A., & Smail, D. L. (2011). Deep history: The architecture of past and present. University of California Press.  

Smail, D. L. (2003). The consumption of justice: Emotions, publicity, and legal culture in Marseille, 1264–1423. Cornell University Press.

Smail, D. L. (2016). Legal plunder: Households and debt collection in late medieval Europe. Harvard University Press.

Thompson, B. (1993). Free alms tenure in the twelfth century. Anglo-Norman Studies, 16, 221–243.

Thompson, E. P. (1971). The moral economy of the English crowd in the eighteenth century. Past & Present, 50(1), 76–136. https://doi.org/10.1093/past/50.1.76

Matthew McHaffie (Ph.D.)

Matthew McHaffie is a Visiting Scholar at the University of St. Andrews. He has published on medieval law and has taught citation skills to undergraduates.