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APA Style 7th Edition: Citing Your Sources

Provide guidance on APA format style based on the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual.

APA Publications in the Library

APA 7th Edition

This guide pertains to the 7th edition of the APA Manual.

This guide is designed to support the citation and reference needs of USC students, staff, and faculty.  The 7th edition of the manual does make distinctions between formatting certain components for academic use over publication.  This guide will distinguish student/academic formatting where applicable. 

This guide is designed as a "quick" reference to common APA citation, reference and formatting criteria.  When in doubt, we encourage users to consult with the APA publication manual or APA website for further clarification as the authority on formatting.

Attribution for guide: Adapted from American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed).


What is the purpose?

What is the purpose of citations?

Citations help readers locate your sources. They help to continue the scholarly conversation. To learn more about how citations can help you avoid plagiarism, view this interactive tutorial: 

USC Library Lessons: Avoiding Plagiarism through Citations

When considering citations and references for your papers, you can ask yourself, "could someone find this information in the future?"

A client's personal file would not need a citation because your reader cannot go find that information again.  Census statistics would require a citation because your reader could go locate that information again.

APA requires FOUR ELEMENTS of every citation:

  • Who- Author of content
  • When- Date content was published
  • What- Title of content
  • Where- Publication information. This can be the website you got it from or the journal or book's publication information.

If any of the elements listed above are unavailable, check out "Missing Reference Information" from APA for more information.

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