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Basic Guidelines on How to Cite a Journal Article APA style

The popular citation format introduced by the American Psychological Association is mostly used for citing references in social sciences like history, archaeology, psychology, economics, geography, linguistics, political science and so on. The most current version is given by the 6th edition of APA manual. Below you will find a short guide explaining how to cite a journal article in APA style and offering a few relevant examples and rules.

General Format and Examples of Journal Article Citations APA

Here is the basic format for an APA journal article citation for a source with multiple authors, which is a very common situation for academic articles. Notice punctuation among other details that is also very important. Here is a basic APA reference template:

Author1 surname, initial(s)., Author2 Surname, initial(s)., … , & AuthorX surname, initial(s). (Year of publication). Article Title. Journal article name, journal volume ( issue), pages. doi: # or Retrieved from URL.
In-text citation: (Author1 surname et al., 2014)

For example:

Valentine, D., Fisher, G., Bagby, S., Nelson, R., Reddy, C., Sylva, S., & Woo, M. (2014). Fallout plume of submerged oil from Deepwater Horizon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(45), 15906-15911. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1414873111
In-text citation: (Valentine et al., 2014)

Journal article names are written in italic font. Citations vary slightly according to journal article type as exemplified below.

Print journal article APA

In this case, obviously, no URL would be present (although a doi – a digital object identifier – could be):

Jacoby, W. G. (1994). Public attitudes toward government spending. American Journal of Political Science, 38(2), 336-361.
In-text citation: (Jacoby, 1994)

Online journal article APA

In this case, a doi or an URL are expected:

Cave, E., & Kajiura, S. (2018). Effect of Deepwater Horizon Crude Oil Water Accommodated Fraction on Olfactory Function in the Atlantic Stingray, Hypanus sabinus. Scientific Reports, 8(1). doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-34140-0
In-text citation: (Cave & Kajiura, 2018)

If doi is absent, an URL can be provided, however, a doi identifier is still preferred – this identifier can be used to access the article’s content directly at the International DOI Foundation website.

Journal article on a database

APA does not require database information to be included (journal articles can normally be cited independently from the database), but if wanted, instead of dois, database URLs could be provided:

Sullivan, J., Mayner, R., Barry, D., & Ennis, F. (1976). Influenza Virus Infection in Nude Mice. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 133(1), 91-94. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.

In-text citation: (Sullivan, Mayner, Barry & Ennis, 1976)

Rules for Citing Journal Articles APA Style

An in-text citation can be made in two ways: either by providing it in brackets at the end of a sentence (like in examples provided above) or by mentioning it in the sentence itself. In this latter case, author initials are dropped and the year is provided in brackets.

  • General example of an APA citation journal article
Research by Cave and Kajiura (2018) demonstrated that…
  • For 2 authors mention both surnames joined by “&”
(Cave & Kajiura, 2018).
  • For 3 to 5 authors in APA list all names citing first time
(Sullivan, Mayner, Barry & Ennis, 1976)
  • For six or more authors in APA, use this latter format for all citations
(Valentine et al., 2014).
  • Source with no authors in APA
(“The inter-temporal differences…,” 2012)

This is quite rare for a journal article, but for in-text citations use the first one or two words from the article’s title only the first letter is capitalized.

Some Additional Citation Tips

1. When mentioning a source’s title directly in a sentence in APA citation, it is important to capitalize words longer or equal to four letters, but also words following dashes or colons

(“Report on Global Famine,” 2000)
(“Measles: A Historic Overview of…,” 1998).

2. One should also use quotation marks when mentioning titles of journals (as shown in examples above) because these are relatively short works. Also, we do not italicize journal article titles in APA (this is done for longer works, like books), however, italic font should be used for species names in Latin

(e.g. “Solanum Tuberosum”, which stands for potato).

3. Whenever quoting fragment from another works, corresponding page numbers has to be provided along with other elements of in-text citations

(Valentine et al., 2014, p. 15907).

4. Short quotes in APA are embedded within text using quotation marks, while longer ones (greater or equal to 40 words) are placed in a normally indented standalone paragraph (or multiple paragraphs) without quotation marks – page numbers are still provided at the end,

e.g. (p.549).

Why Use Our APA Citation Generator

To help you cite journal articles APA, we’ve implemented a citation generator on our website. It comes with a number of important advantages:

  • it is absolutely free
  • no registration is needed (unlike with all other major citation managers)
  • it is very fast (there are no lags whatsoever – this refers to all steps including creating a reference, downloading the created bibliography, editing individual references, etc.)
  • it is easy to use (takes a few seconds to understand how it works)
  • it has both a manual mode and an automatic search mode (by title title).

To generate your bibliography APA and in-text citations follow these steps:

1. Make sure APA format for journal articles is chosen (you can also select a number of other citation styles)

2. Choose a type of source from three available categories (book, article, website), then narrow it down (in our case, pick journal article)

3. In automatic mode, insert or write title, click Generate, and pick the corresponding publication from the search list. In manual mode, click on Manually cite and introduce all required details in corresponding boxes (these vary depending on the source type). In case you are confused by what type of information needs to be introduced in any given box, hover over the little star and an explanation will pop up. Finally, click Generate.

4. New APA citations can be added by clicking Add new citation at the bottom of the list

5. If you’ve noticed an error, just click Edit to the right of any given citation and correct any wrong information in corresponding boxes

6. When all references are introduced click on Download All .Doc to obtain an MS word file with bibliography, or just click on Copy All at the top for clipboard copying.

The APA journal article citation tool we offer is a very intuitive, fast, and straightforward implementation, which unlike other competing options, requires no registration and comes at no cost. We truly hope our clients find it useful for their writing projects. But if you still face any difficulties with APA journal referencing, our Edubirdie team of professional writers is always here for help. We are available 24/7 and ready to handle any task. Do not miss a chance to make your academic life easier!