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APA 6th Edition - University of Lincoln

Referencing system for Psychology

Reference list Structure

The APA reference list structure should be as follows:

  • The reference list appears at the end of the assignment or essay.
  • It is headed by the centred title References (in bold).
  • The references are double-spaced.
  • In APA, the first line of the citation falls on the left margin.  Each succeeding line is indented 5-7 spaces.  This format is called a hanging indent.  
  • References cited in text must appear in the reference list and vice versa. The only exceptions to this rule are personal communications and classical works (such as the Bible and Qur’an); they are cited in text only and are not included in the reference list.
  • Because the reference list needs to be in alphabetical order, invert all authors’ names (Merdian, H.) Use an ampersand (&) and not the word and to join together the names of two or more authors.
  • If the reference list includes two or more entries by the same author(s), list them in chronological order with the earliest first.
  • If the author’s or editor’s name is unavailable, use the first few words of the title of the article, book or web source, including the appropriate capitalisation and italics formatting. e.g. (“Addiction links”, 2000).
  • Where the place of publication is required, for American locations, provide the name of the city and state (abbreviated) - e.g. Boston, MA; for all other locations, provide the city and country (apart from UK publications where only the city is required).
  • Include the edition number for all editions apart from the first edition when referencing books. This comes after the book title in bracketed format but is not italicised, e.g. Pinel, J. & Barnes, S. (2017). Biopsychology (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
  • Arrange reference entries in one alphabetical sequence by the surname of the first author or by title or first word if there is no author.  List the authors in the order they are given in the source of information.  Ignore the words “A”, “An”, and “The” when alphabetising by title.
  • In titles and subtitles of articles, chapters, and books, capitalise only the first letter of the first word and any proper nouns. Use a colon followed by a space to separate titles and subtitles and capitalise the first letter of both the title and the subtitle, e.g. Referencing and plagiarism: A complete guide.
  • Italicise book titles, journal titles, and volume numbers. Do NOT italicise issue numbers.
  • When the reference entry includes a URL that must be divided between two lines, break it before a slash or dash or at another logical division point.
  • Remember to set your Word preferences to remove hyperlinks from URLs to prevent them appearing with an underline.

How do I reference this?

This guide contains examples of items in a reference list. Some are straightforward such as books, journal articles, ebooks and dissertations.  Other material that you may use in an assignment might be more difficult to define.  To help solve this issue, you can utilise a simple template.

The template to use, for materials like this, contains only four pieces of information (author, date, title, and source):


Author, A. (date). Title of document [Format description]. Retrieved from http://xxxxxxxxx


The format description in brackets is used only when the format is something out of the ordinary, such as a blog post or lecture notes; otherwise, it's not necessary. Some other example format descriptions are listed on p.186 of the APAPublication Manual.

While the Publication Manual provides many examples of how to cite common types of sources, it does not provide rules on how to cite all types of sources. In this situation, APA suggests that you find the example that is most similar to your source and use that format. For more information, see p.193 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).