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The Purpose of Encyclopedia APA Citation

Since most research papers require strong argumentation and a list of reliable sources, citing an encyclopedia becomes crucial. Even if it is an insignificant fact or belief that is mentioned in your paper, it has to be cited accordingly. In some cases, such kind of data becomes a confirmation of methodology or statistical information that follows. Turning to the latest updates of the American Psychological Association, several types of such quoting can be met, depending on whether it is a dictionary entry or a database with multiple authors. Have no worries! Our APA citation guide lets you learn with helpful examples.

How APA 6th Differs From APA 7th for Encyclopedia Citations

The most common question about citing an encyclopedia APA style is whether there are any significant differences between two style versions. It should be noted that many colleges and universities in the United States still use both referencing styles. When unsure, always check twice with your college professor or the grading rubric. 

Speaking of changes, the visible update to APA 7 is the elimination of the city or place of publishing. If we take the APA 6th edition, we still have to add City or State where our source has been printed. See our example:

  • Print resource citing for APA 6:
Author I.I. (year). Dictionary/Resource entry. In V. Editor & R. Editor (Eds.), Name
          of dictionary/encyclopedia (edition, if not the first). City, US State or Country:
          Publisher. 
  • In print citing for APA 7:  
Author I. I. (Year). Dictionary/Resource entry. In V. Editor & R. Editor (Eds.), Name
            of dictionary/encyclopedia (if it is a second edition or any that came later).
            Publisher.

Another change between the two APA editions is the elimination of “Retrieved from” in APA 7 for online sources. Just type the URL after the publisher. However, when you cite an encyclopedia APA 6th, it still follows: 

Author A.B. (year). Dictionary/Resource entry. In C. Editor & D. Editor (Eds.), Name
          of dictionary/encyclopedia (edition, unless it is the first one). Retrieved from URL.

Basic Information You Need to Cite an Encyclopedia in APA

Let’s start with Bibliography reference: 

Lee, M. N., & Bregovic, G. E. (2019). Social psychology of pre-school children. In L.
        Green (Ed.), Encyclopedia of early education (Vol. 4, pp. 34-36). Oxford Press.

Here is what it includes:

  • Article’s author. Start with the author’s Last name. If you know initials, they are included with the first and middle name. 
  • Publication year. It is included in parentheses as in our example. 
  • Title & subtitle of an article or relevant entry. The title is separated by a colon. Only the first title word is capitalized. 
  • Editor information. It starts with the prefix “In” and is followed by first and middle name initials, then include the editor’s full last name. This part ends with (Ed.) and a comma. Like this “In L. Green (Ed.),”.  
  • Title & subtitle of a relevant source (dictionary). If you have any subtitles, separate it with a colon. Once again, only the first word of a title is capitalized. Both titles and subtitles should be italicized. 
  • Volume & page numbers. It should be included in parentheses, followed by volume number and the page numbers. If it is a single page, use p., change to pp. if you cite several pages. 

Publisher. Now, if you use APA 6, mention the place of publication before the publisher.

Types of Encyclopedia for Citing in APA Style

APA format for encyclopedia includes different kinds of citing, which is included in our guide with examples. There will be templates if necessary, in-text citations, and Reference page examples.

Encyclopedia in Print

Author Z. Y. (Date). Dictionary/Resource entry. In A. Editor & B. Editor (Eds.), Name
        of dictionary/encyclopedia (if not the first edition). Publisher.

In-text citation: 

(Jones, 2007)
 
The Quantum Mechanics Encyclopedia defines temporary energy flow as “chain blocks of light” by… (Jones, 2007)

Bibliography:

Jones A.W. (2007). Temporary energy flow. In J. Holmes (Ed.), The Quantum
        mechanics encyclopedia. Penguin Books.

Online Encyclopedia

Bibliography: 

Medical Encyclopedia Online. (2020). Covid-19. MedLine: Medical Encyclopedia:
        MedLine Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19922.htm.

In-text: 

(Medical Encyclopedia Online, 2019)

Encyclopedia or Dictionary on a Database

Bibliography page: 

Collins English Dictionary. (n.d.). Revolt. In Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins
        Publishers. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/rebellion.

In-text citing:

(“Revolt,” n.d.)

Encyclopedia Entry

Bibliography: 

Roysmann, L. (2019). Second-level Molecular Particles. In V. C. Taylor (Ed.),
        Encyclopedia of Biochemistry (Vol. 3, pp. 77-112). SAGE Reference.

In-text citation: 

(Roysmann, 2019)

In some cases, APA encyclopedia reference may not have an author or DOI number, which makes citing a little bit confusing. See our examples below to for each case:

Known Single Author

Bibliography reference: 

Taylor, D. (2018). Migraine Headache. In Wedro, B.C., & Stoppler M. (Eds.), MedTerms
        Dictionary. MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/migraine/article.htm

In-text:

(Taylor, 2018)

With DOI

Bibliography page:

Cranes, R. (n.d.). Sonar Echo. In SoundScience Mcgraw-Hill encyclopedia of sound
        engineering (12th ed.). doi: xx/xxxx. 

In-text: 

(Cranes, n.d)

Multiple Authors

Bibliography:

Lane, L.R., & Norlander, E.T. (2002). Astronomy Currents. In A. Lucassen (Ed.),
         Encyclopedia of NASA Engineering (Vol. 4, pp.221-226). NASA Press. 

When you use in-text quotation:

(Lane & Norlander, 2002)

Unknown Author

If the author is unknown, place the title of an entry as it is done below:

Artificial Intelligence. (2018). In N. Zalta (Ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy  (4th ed.). https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/artificial-intelligence/.

For your in-text citing:

(“Artificial Intelligence,” 2018)

No DOI

Use this template:

Title. (Year). In Editor’s First Initial. Second Initial if available. Last Name (Ed.), Name of

         some resource or dictionary (edition). URL / Publisher.

In-text citing:

(“Abrasion,” 2013) 

Bibliography:

Abrasion. (2013). In Atkins, T. & Escudier M. (Eds.), A Dictionary of Mechanical
          Engineering, Oxford University Press.
https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199587438.001.0001/acref-9780199587438-e-3?rskey=wPxtdM&result=4.

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FAQ

How to write URL prefix and date for APA 6 format when citing an encyclopedia?

It goes with Retrieved May 14, 2019, from URL.

If there is only one editor and no author in my source, what APA encyclopedia citation format should I use?

Follow this example: 

Greenberg, N. W. (Ed.). (2018). Stress relief. Encyclopedia of scouting. BSA Publishing.

In-text: 

(Greenberg, 2018)

How should a title of a dictionary entry be in a text reference?

It should be used this way by adding quotation marks with a year:

(“Air Balloon,” 2015)