How to cite sources in APA style

If you use texts and ideas from others in your own document you must refer to the sources. Otherwise you make yourself guilty of plagiarism.

Who uses literature and sources in a thesis or publication should refer in a proper manner. Readers can thus determine on what your work has been based, if you have used enough sources. And whether those sources are reliable and used properly.

How does APA work?

General information

The reference in your text can be done in two ways: as a citation (quote) or a paraphrase. Citing is using a part of the text literally. Paraphrasing is rendering it in your own words.

Always mention the year of publication and page number when citing. Only mention the year of publication when paraphrasing.

There are several ways to indicate sources in the list of references. The most common citation style at universities is APA.

  • Make the reference list at the end of your text always in alphabetical order. Surnames are ranked at infixes.
  • Insert lowercase letters (a, b, c, etc.) after the year of publication when referring to several publications by the same author(s) in the same year. This is done both in the text and in the reference list:
    •  (Watts & Freeman, 1986a)
    •  (Watts & Freeman, 1986b)
    Which letters are added to which publications will be determined in the reference list, since these references are mutually arranged alphabetically by title.
  • Every second line of a reference is indented from the margin.
  • Include only references which the reader can consult. Interviews, emails, lessons and workshops are not mentioned. You can refer to them in the text though.


Mention in text (citation) In reference list
(Verhoeven,  2011, p. ..) Verhoeven, N., & Reed, B. (2011). Doing research: The hows and whys of applied research. The Hague: Eleven International.

Reference list rules for a book:

Author, A. (year of publication). Title of the book. Place: Publisher.
  • A second or subsequent print is listed in parentheses after the title, but is not required.
  • Infixes come for the initial(s) and must be written in full. For example: Van den Berg, G.H.
  • If there is no author but an editor insert this name in brackets in the language of the book.
  • In the case of multiple authors or editors an ampersand (&) precedes the last name.
  • All authors are mentioned. In the case of eight or more authors (or editors), the first six names are mentioned, then (...) to symbolise the omission, followed by the last author, without ampersand (&).
  • Eliminate words such as 'publisher', 'Co.' and 'Inc.' from the publishers name. Use only the surname for publishers.
  • If more location names are mentioned, only use the first one.

Chapter from a book

Mention in text (paraphrase) In reference list
(Vick, 2003) Vick, R.M. (2003). A brief history of art therapy. In C.A. Malchiodi (Ed.), Handbook of art therapy (pp. 5-15). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Reference list rules for a chapter from a book:

Author, A. (year of publication). Title of chapter. In A. Editor (Eds.), Title of the book (pp. xx-xx). Place: Publisher.
  • A chapter of a book is only mentioned separately as the author and/or editor differs from the author and/or editor of the entire book.
  • The initials of the authors or editors of the entire book precede the surname

Journal article

Mention in text (citation) In reference list
(Nind & Vinha, 2014, p. 102) Nind, M., & Vinha, H. (2014). Doing research inclusively: Bridges to multiple possibilities in inclusive Link research. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42(4), 102-109. doi: 10.1111/bld.12013

Reference list rules for a journal article:

Author, A. (year of publication). Title of article. Journal name, volume(issue), xx-xx.

Newspaper article

Mention in text (citation) In reference list
(From fact to friction, 2015, p. 10) From fact to friction. (February 14, 2015). Financial Times (London, England), p. 10.

Reference list rules for a newspaper article:

Author, A. (date). Title of article. Name of newspaper, p. xx-xx.


In case of a published interview, use the guidelines for the material in which the interview is included (see Book, Internet resource, etc.)

A self-contained interview (or survey) is not included in the bibliography, because the reader/teacher has no ability to read or hear such an interview. You may include a list of names and data of the interviews in an annex.

Mention in text In reference list

(J. Jansen, personal announcement, December 16 2014)

According to Jan Jansen (personal announcement, December 16 2014) …


Unpublished source (report, brochure, reader, etc.)

Author, A. (year of publication). Title of publication. Description. Location and source publication.

If the organization is equal to the editor (see the third example) the publishers name is defined as 'Author'.


Den Boer, E., Van Grinsven, A., & A. Schroten, A. (2016). Koersen naar milieuvriendelijke mobiliteit: Een analyse van maatregelen die een positief effect hebben op klimaat, lucht en leefbaarheid. Publicatienummer 16.4I38.79. Delft: CE Delft.

Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen. (2011). Informatie (v)aardig op weg: Informatievaardigheidsonderwijs niveau 1 (studiejaar 1-2). Reader Studiecentra HAN. Nijmegen: Auteur.

Veilig Verkeer Nederland. (z.d.). Doe meer met Veilig Verkeer. Folder. Amersfoort: Auteur.

Internet Resource

Mention in text In reference list

(Office for National Statistics, 2015)

Office for National Statistics (2015). Statistical Bulletin - Internet users. Retrieved June 8 2015, from http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_404497.pdf
(CBRE, 2015)

CBRE (2015). How Global is the Business of Retail? Retrieved June 9 2015, from http://www.google.nl/url?

(Tax ruling singes Statbucks, 2015)

Tax Ruling Singes Starbucks. (2015, October 22). [LexisNexis]. The New York Times. Retrieved October 28 2015, from http://academic.lexisnexis.eu/??lni=5H6J-YCH1-JBG3-64H8&csi=293847,8411&oc=00240&perma=true

(AKZO Nobel N.V.,  2015)

AKZO Nobel N.V. (2015). Annual report 2014 [Company.info]. Retrieved June 9 2015, from https://company.info.

Reference list rules for an internet resource:

Author, A. (publication date website). Title of the document. Retrieved month day year, from http://url
  • In the absence of an author name: mention the organization. If this also fails, start the description with the title.
  • Organization as author: basically you always use the full name in the reference. If the acronym is well known and the full name long, enter the full name only in the first reference, followed by the abbreviation in brackets: (Central Bureau of Statistics [CBS], 2014)
    In the second and subsequent references you can then use the abbreviation. Note that the reader should be able to find the entrance without difficulty in the reference list. So the abbreviation must be accepted: (CBS, 2015).
  • When the date lacks use 'z.d.' (Undated).
  • ‘Retrieved [date], from [ link website]’ is preferred over 'Downloaded'.
  • The address of a website starts with http(s):// and is completely underlined or linked.
  • For publications from for instance databases the name of the database may be included between square brackets, but this is not mandatory. With the use of square brackets the origin of the information can be clarified.

Homemade table / Graph

Mention in text

In reference list

Your chart, graph or diagram has a title. Usually you’ll find this title below your table or graph.

A title is composed of two parts: the name of the chart, graph or diagram (Table 1, Graph 15a, Figure 37) and the definition of what it shows. Include the description in italics.


DOI / Digital Object Identifier

The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a unique identifier for digital files or digital objects. With a DOI a permanent link is generated to the location of a digital object on the Internet. Access is assured. When an electronic book or magazine article has a DOI, the URL is no longer listed. You can use a clickable link by placing http://dx.doi.org/ in front of the code.

Example of a DOI in an e-journal article:
Ahn, S., & Ashida, S. (2012). Music therapy for dementia. Maturitas, 71(1), 6-7. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.10.013

Example of a DOI in a chapter from an e-book:
Thaut, M. H. (2005). The future of music in therapy and medicine. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1060(1), 303-308. http://dx.doi.org/10.1196/annals.1360.023

Difference between American and Dutch

The APA is an American directive that targets the English-speaking world. For the Dutch language we differ from these guidelines in some cases:

  • Date of retrieval

Date of retrieval
According to the American guidelines a web resource in a reference list are should have a date of retrieval. This does not apply if the content will not be changed. For example: an article in pdf.
Because it is difficult to determine whether a site could change or not it is recommended to always mention the date of retrieval.

More information and tools


APA: Reference list (2015) Retrieved June 5 2015, from http://specials.han.nl/themasites/studiecentra_eng/handle-and-share/citing-sources/apa-citations/


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Last updated on 18 November 2020.