How to Format Dates in APA

The APA format dictates specific guidelines for citing dates, encompassing various scenarios such as year, specific dates, seasons, date ranges, and cases where information is unavailable.

  • Date Formats: Year, Year-Month-Day, Year and Month, Year and Season, and Date Ranges.
  • Precision Matters: Choose formats wisely for accuracy in academic writing, ensuring relevance and clarity.
  • Adapt to Citations: Tailor date formatting to specific categories, such as using copyright dates for books and volume years for journals. Acknowledge exceptions for digital resources and works with no date.
  • In-Text Simplicity: Align in-text citations with the reference list, use n.d. for undated works, and use in press for pending publications.

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When citing a source with a publication date, the simplest format is to use the year alone.

Example (2023)
Structure (Year) published or last updated


In cases where a publication provides the complete date, the APA format involves placing the year first, followed by a comma, and then the spelled out month and day.

Example (2023, December 20)
Structure (Year, Month day) published or last updated


If the source includes only the year and month, the format remains consistent. Place the year first, followed by a comma, and then the spelled out month.

Example (2023, October)
Structure (Year, Month) published or last updated


For sources released in a particular season, APA dictates that you place the year first, followed by a comma, and then the season.

Example (2023, Spring)
Structure (Year, Season)


When dealing with a range of dates, such as a week or a month, maintain the year first, a comma, and then the inclusive dates.

Example (2023, December 1-7)
Structure (Year, Month day-range)

Denotes the first week of December in the specified year.


In instances where the publication date is unavailable, use of (n.d.) within parentheses. This applies both in the in-text citation and the reference list.

Structure (n.d.) 


When dealing with works not yet published, (Author, in press) serves as a placeholder in both in-text citations and the reference list.

Structure (in press

Enclosure in Parentheses: Dates must be enclosed within parentheses for both in-text citations and the APA reference list.

Spelling out Months: When dealing with dates that include month values, it is essential to spell out the name of the month.

Books and Copyright Dates: For books, the citation should include the copyright date, ensuring that the information presented accurately reflects the source’s publication details.

Journals and Volume Years: In the case of journals, the citation should specify the year of the volume.

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Adhering to APA in-text citation practices, it is essential to maintain consistency with the reference list entry by featuring only the year in the citation, even if the reference includes a more specific date. For works missing a publication date, use (n.d.) in both the in-text citation and reference list. Additionally, when citing works accepted for publication but not yet released, employ in press in the in-text citation.


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Hannah Berry (Ph.D.)

Hannah Berry has lectured at several colleges and teaches at the WEA. Besides publishing extensively, she has taught citation skills and written multiple style guides.

Learn how to cite in APA