Citations are just one of the many APA style rules to master. The purpose of citations is to direct the reader to the source writers have used in the reference list. This reference entry then allows the reader to find the original source a writer has used in each sentence. Believe it or not, the rules are much simpler than you would think. There are just three main elements that are needed for citations, and they will remain the same regardless of the source:

1. Author

2. Publication year

3. Page or paragraph number, which is only required for direct quotations


This information appears either in the sentence (in-text) or parenthetically:

In the sentence: According to Kokkinos (2007), employers cause burnout when employees are stressed by too much work.
Parenthetically: Employers cause burnout when employees are stressed by too much work (Kokkinos, 2007).

For quotations of a source, the page or paragraph numbers also is included parenthetically:

Quote: Kokkinos (2007) described burnout as "a negative affective response occurring as result of chronic work stress" (p. 2).

As you can see, the information APA requires for citations helps direct the reader to that particular source in the reference list. Note, then, that is probably a good idea to construct your reference list as you write, allowing you to know what information will appear in all of your citations.

Start with these elements for each citation and you will be headed in the right direction. Check out the other information listed on this site, and if you still are stumped, contact us at

Common Citation Errors

Did you know we should avoid citing "I" statements? How about knowing to avoid authors' first initials? Do you know how to refer to the speaker of a DVD? If any of these questions stump you, download this explanation.


In addition to the information provided here, refer to page 186 in the APA Manual (Sixth Edition) for how to cite and reference nonroutine information and titles. 

CDC website

Citing Yourself

Course Materials

Discussion Post

Dissertation or Thesis

DVD/Online Video

ERIC Document

eReader (Kindle, Nook, etc.)

Legal Material


Parts of a Book

Personal Communication

PowerPoint Presentation

Secondary Source

Sources with the Same Author and Same Year

Walden Course Catalog

You may also find our table on citation variations useful to download and print!