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APA Citation Guide 7th Edition

The Generic Reference

If you are trying to cite a source that is not listed here, and you cannot find guidelines from APA elsewhere, you can create a generic reference. The Publication Manual lists certain elements that should be included in a generic reference:

  • Who / Author - Who is responsible for this work? This can be a person (author or editor) or an organization. If there is no author or editor, follow the guidelines discussed in No Author.
  • When / Date - When was this work published? A year (Year) is usually acceptable, although you may need to include a month and day (Year, Month Day). If there is no date, use n.d.: (n.d.).
  • What / Title - What is this work called? This is the title of the actual work you are using, not necessarily a larger 'container' like a website. If there is no title, you must create one, and enclose it in square brackets [ ]. You may also wish to clarify the format of the item in square brackets, after the title. Examples could be [Painting], [App], or [Video].
  • Where / Source - Where can I retrieve this work? This can be a book, website (with URL), journal, publication information, or something else.

Make sure to be familiar with what other APA citations look like and with the formatting rules.


Author. (Date). Title [Format]. Source.

Source: Publication Manual, 9.4

Personal Communication

Personal communication can mean letters, memos, emails, interviews, telephone conversations, etc. that your readers will not be able to access. Since these items are not recoverable, it is not necessary to include in a reference list. Use parenthetical citations in the text only.


(D. J. Matthews, personal communication, July 10, 2009)

Source: Publication Manual, 8.9


For information retrieved from a mobile app (such as an iPhone or Android app), cite as follows:


Wiley. (2015). Psychology spotlight (Version 1.8) [Mobile app]. App Store.

(Wiley, 2015)

Source: Publication Manual, 10.10 (example 79)



Artist, A. A. (copyright year). Title of work [Medium: Painting, drawing, sculpture, photograph, etc.]. Museum, Location. http://xxxxx

Example 1: Physical Work of Art

Da Vinci, L. (1506). Mona Lisa [Painting]. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France.

(Da Vinci, 1506)

Example 2: Artwork Viewed Online

Flack, A. (1988). Islandia, goddess of the healing waters [Sculpture]. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL, United States.

(Flack, 1988)

Source: Publication Manual 10.14 (example 97); Artwork References [APA Style]

Online Lecture Notes or PowerPoint Slides

Only include a full reference to lecture notes or class materials that are behind a login screen (such as Canvas) if you are writing for an audience that will be able to retrieve them. Otherwise, cite it as a personal communication.


Author, A. A. (Year). Title of presentation [Lecture notes or PowerPoint slides]. Website. http://xxxxx


Preskill, J. (n.d.). Chapter 4: Quantum entanglement [Lecture notes]. Caltech Particle Theory Group.

(Preskill, n.d.)

Matthews, D. (2019). [Lecture notes on evaluating Internet resources]. Canvas at Santa Fe College.

(Matthews, 2019)

Source: Publication Manual, 10.14 (example 102); Classroom or Intranet ResourcesPowerPoint Slide or Lecture Note References [APA Style]

Poster Sessions


Author, A. A. (Year, Month Days of Conference). Title of poster session [Poster presentation]. Conference Name, location. http://xxxxx


Rusk, F. (2019, April 10–13). Beyond the research paper: Engaging faculty in alternative information literacy activities and assignments [Poster presentation]. Academic Colleges & Research Libraries, Cleveland, OH, United States.

(Rusk, 2019)

Source: Publication Manual, 10.5 (example 62)

Theses & Dissertations


Author, A. A. (Year). Title of doctoral dissertation or master's thesis [Type, Institution]. Database/Archive Name. http://xxxxx

Example 1: Doctoral Dissertation

Chang, S. (2009). Relationship between active leisure and active vacations [Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida]. University of Florida Digital Collections.

(Chang, 2009)

Example 2: Master's Thesis

Njuguna, S. W. (2002). Gender education and development: Women's quest for higher education in Kenya [Master's thesis, Morgan State University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

(Njuguna, 2002)

Example 3: Only Available in Print

Saba, D. R. (1987). Segmenting the sports market: A benefit analysis [Unpublished Master's thesis]. Florida State University.

(Saba, 1987)

Sources: Publication Manual, 10.6 (examples 64-66); Published Dissertation or Thesis ReferencesUnpublished Dissertation or Thesis References [APA Style]

Conference Proceedings

Cite conference proceedings based on the format they are published in. If published in a journal, cite as a journal article, if published as a book, cite as a book, etc.

Source: Conference Proceeding References [APA Style]

Court Decision


Name v. Name, Volume Source Page (Court Date). http://xxxxx


Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).

(Roe v. Wade, 1973)

Source: Publication Manual, 11.4 (examples 1-7)

Executive Orders

From the Code of Federal Regulations


Exec. Order No. xxxxx, 3 C.F.R. Page (Year). http://xxxxx


Exec. Order No. 13588, 3 C.F.R. 281–282 (2011).

(Exec. Order No. 13588, 2011)

Source: Publication Manual, 11.7 (example 21)



Name, A. A. (Year). Name of patent (Patent Identifier No. xxx). Patent Organization. http://xxxxx


Whitehorn, S. J., & Zehr, G. E. (2006). Electronic media reader (U.S. Patent No. D591,741 S). U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

(Whitehorn & Zehr, 2006)

Source: Publication Manual, 11.8 (example 22)



Name of the Statute/Act, Title Number Source § Section number(s) (Year of Code Used). http://xxxx

Example 1: Federal Statute

Mental Health Systems Act, 42 U.S.C. § 9401 (1988).

(Mental Health Systems Act, 1988)

Example 2: State Statute

Florida Patient's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, Fla. Stat. § 381.026 (1991 & rev. 2017).

(Florida Patient's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, 1991/2017)

This statute was originally codified in 1991 and was last updated in 2017, so both dates are included.

Source: Publication Manual, 11.5 (examples 8-13)

U.S. Constitution

If you wish to cite the U.S. Constitution as a whole, you may simply mention it in your paper without including a citation in the references list.

However, if you are citing a part of the Constitution, you should use the article, amendment, section, and/or clause numbers.

  • Article = art. [use Roman numerals: I, II, III]
  • Amendment = amend. [use Roman numerals: I, II, III]
  • Section = § [use Arabic numbers: 1, 2, 3]
      (how to create the section symbol in Word)
  • Clause = cl. [use Arabic numbers: 1, 2, 3]
  • Preamble = pmbl


The founding fathers addressed the process by which new states may join the union (U.S. Const. art. I, § 3).

U.S. Const. art. I, § 3.

During prohibition, the sale of liquor was made illegal (U.S. Const. amend. XVIII, repealed 1933).

U.S. Const. amend. XVIII (repealed 1933).

Source: Publication Manual, 11.9 (examples 23-27)

Charter of the United Nations


U.N. Charter art. xx, para. xx.


U.N. Charter art. 1, para. 3.

(U.N. Charter art. 1, para. 3)

Source: Publication Manual, 11.9 (example 28)

Secondary Sources

A secondary source is a source that is cited in another source. APA strongly suggests that you always track down the original source to use and cite. However, if that is not possible, use the following guidelines.

In your references list, include the source you have in hand. In your in-text citation, use the name/date of the original source, plus the words as cited in and then the source you used.

For example, you are using an article by Akerstedt et al., and they cite information from a study by Wing et al.

Text found in Akerstedt et al: "This issue has not been addressed before, but weekend compensatory sleep seems to counteract obesity in children who have short sleep duration during weekdays (Wing, Li, Li, Zhang, & Kong, 2009)."

Akerstedt, T., Ghilotti, F., Grotta, A., Zhao, H., Adami, H.-O., Trolle-Lagerros, Y., & Bellocco, R. (2019). Sleep duration and mortality – Does weekend sleep matter? Journal of Sleep Research, 28(1), e12712.

(Wing et al, 2009, as cited in Akerstedt et al., 2019)

Source: Publication Manual, 8.6; Secondary Sources [APA Style]