APA: Reference list

The American Psychological Association has established rules and conventions for documenting sources that writers can follow when they are putting together their reference list. The APA-style is one of the most common styles taught at and used by colleges, universities and other organizations, including several institutes of the HAN University of Applied Sciences.

The following overview describes the most important APA guidelines:

Please note
that a reference list is always written in alphabetical order, irrespective of the kind of source or material. 


Author, A. (year of publication). Title of book. Location: Publisher.

  • A second or later edition is added between brackets after the title.
  • If there is no author but there is an editor, the editor is added between brackets in the same language in which the book is written.
  • If there are multiple authors or editors, an ampersand (&) is added before the final name.


  • Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people. New York: Free Press.
  • Baxter, H. T., Berghofer, J. A., MacEwan, L., Nelson, J., Peters, K., & Roberts, P. (2007). The individualized music therapy assessment profile: IMTAP. London: Jessica Kingsley.
  • Brooks, I. (2003). Organisational behaviour: Individuals, groups and organisation (2nd edition). Harlow: Prentice Hall.
  • Malchiodi, C. A. (Ed.). (2003). Handbook of art therapy. New York: Guildford Press.
  • Verschuren, P., & Doorewaard, H. (2010). Designing a research project (2nd edition). The Hague: Eleven International.


Chapter from a book

Author, A. (year of publication). Title of chapter. In A. Editor (Ed.), Title of book (pp. xx-xx). Location: Publisher.

A chapter from a book is mentioned only if the author/editor of the chapter differs from the author/editor of the entire book. If the author of the chapter, has also written the rest of the book, the chapter is not mentioned separately.

The initials of the editors of the entire book are placed before the last name.


  • Vick, R. M. (2003). A brief history of art therapy. In C.A. Malchiodi (Ed.), Handbook of art therapy (pp. 5-15). New York: Guildford Press.


Journal article

Author, A. (year of publication). Title article. Name journal, volume (number), xx-xx.

  • If available, the retrieval date and the link are being replaced by the DOI for online journal articles, a unique code with which the article can always be found, regardless of where the content resides. The DOI is usually prominently displayed on the first page of the article and/or on the publisher's website. A user-friendly link can be created from the DOI by putting https://doi.org/ in front of the code.

Examples print version

  • Rapp, A., Agnihotri, R., & Baker, T. L. (2011). Conceptualizing salesperson competitive intelligence: An individual-level perspective. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 31(2), 141-155.
  • Aral, S., & Walker, D. (2011). Forget viral marketing - make the product itself viral. Harvard Business Review, 89(6), 34-35.

Example online version with DOI

  • Rapp, A., Agnihotri, R., & Baker, T. L. (2011). Conceptualizing salesperson competitive intelligence: An individual-level perspective. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 31(2), 141-155. doi:10.2753/PSS0885-3134310203

Example online version with DOI as URL

  • Rapp, A., Agnihotri, R., & Baker, T. L. (2011). Conceptualizing salesperson competitive intelligence: An individual-level perspective. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 31(2), 141-155. https://doi.org/10.2753/PSS0885-3134310203

Example online version no DOI


Newspaper article

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


  • McKinnon, J. D. (2011, September 19). Millionaire’s tax to be tough sell. Wall Street Journal, p. 4.
  • Bowers, S. (2011, September 5). High street braced for more shop closures as rents fall due. The Guardian: Financial pages, p. 22.
  • Separated spouses: What are the consequences for taxes? (2011, September 6). Enniscorthy Guardian, p. 2.


Internet source

Author, A. (date of publication). Title of document. Retrieved from http://url

The website address should start with http:// and has to be underlined. When referring to publications from databases, the database should be enclosed between square brackets.

Examples websites

Examples databases

Example streaming video

Examples online dictionaries

Other examples


Dissertation, thesis, placement report, etc.

Author, A. (year of publication). Title of publication (format description). Source.

  • Dissertations or reports written by students that has not been published online or in print, count as non-published works, which is why your reference entry should include the name of the course and the name and location of the organization after the format description. Please note that master theses or doctoral dissertations have a different order (the same as books): location: organization. 
  • When in doubt about the details of the source, please check the publication itself for additional information about the author, date, title, and publisher.


  • Linden, T. van der. (2013). Business school Netherlands: placement report (placement report). Small Business & Retail Management, HAN University of Applied Science, Arnhem.
  • Oijen, S. van. (2010). Art therapy and oncology: The effects of art therapy interventions for adult cancer patients: A systematic literature review (bachelor thesis). Creative Therapy, HAN University of Applied Science, Nijmegen. 
  • Hoogen, N. van den. (2009). Sligro Food Group (dissertation). Commercial Economics, HAN University of Applied Science, Arnhem.

Online example (HBO Knowledge Base)


Non-published source

Author, A. (year of publication). Title of publication. Description. Location: Organization / institution.


  • Berends, B. (2010). Placement report: Rexroth Bosch Group: The Drive & Control Company. Placement report International Business, Arnhem: Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen.
  • Klein Woolthuis, R. (1998). Sleeping with the enemy: About trust and dependence in inter-organisational relationships in a technological setting. Research report 98W-007/T&O-005. Enschede: Research Centre of the University of Twente Entrepreneurship Centre.


Audiovisual material (Dvd, Cd-rom, TV-programme, etc.)

Author, A. (Function). (year of publication or date of broadcasting). Title. [Material]. Location: Publisher.

  • When referring to just one part of the programme, e.g. a commentary or episode from a series, only the title of the programme is written in italics with the addition of the word “in”, including the name of the producer of the whole programme if known.


  • Coninx, A. (Presenter). (2003, August 21). McDonald’s vs. Subway. In Terzake [Dvd]. Brussels: Canvas. 
  • Leven, J. D., & Allen, J. M. (Directors). (2013). Customs of the world: Using cultural intelligence to adapt, wherever you are [Dvd]. Chantilly: Teaching Company.
  • Robbins, S., & Judge, T. (2007). Organizational behavior [Cd-rom]. Upper Saddle River: Pearson/Prentice Hall.


Song lyric

When you retrieved the lyrics from an online source or from a book (this includes sheet music), the referral is analogous to the citing of an Internet source or a Book. You may need to add extra information in brackets to identify which score you used.

When referring to a musical recording on CD, cassette or other sound recording medium, your text citation consists of the name of the songwriter(s), date and track number. Your reference list should contain the original source. If the song is written by someone other than the recording artist(s), you may need to include the artists name(s). You may also need to include a second date when you are referring to a later recording.


  • In-text
    "And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make" (Lennon & McCartney, 1969, track 16)
    Reference list
    Lennon, J., & McCartney, P. (1969). The end [Recorded by The Beatles]. On Abbey Road [Cd]. London: EMI.
  • In-text
    "And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make" (Lennon & McCartney, 1969, track 7)
    Reference list
    Lennon, J., & McCartney, P. (1969). The end [Recorded by Phil Collins]. On In my life [Cd]. London: The Echo Label. (1998).
  • Text
    "And while we're playing / The candles they're burning low / One for each night / They share us sweet light" (Baron Cohen, 2010, track 1)
    Reference list
    Baron Cohen, E. (2010). Hanukkah oh Hanukkah (Keep the fire alive). On Songs in the key of Hanukkah [MP3 file]. Burbank: WaterTower Music.



The referral of a picture (like a photograph, chart, schedule) in your thesis or assignment, is analogous to the citing of a quote. The original source is mentioned in the reference list. In the text the picture is referred to as a quote, with its own serial number.

Pictures retrieved from the internet have their own URL. This URL can be found when clicking on the right button of your mouse on the picture, then select the option ‘Properties’. If this is not possible and no URL is available, you could use the URL of the website. The addition of [On-line picture] between square brackets is not obligatory, but does make it more clear to the reader that you are referring to a picture.


  • In-text
    ... as can be seen in Figure 1 (Brooks, 2003) ...
  • Reference list
    Brooks, I. (2003). Organisational behavior: Individuals, groups and organization (2nd edition). Harlow: Pearson Education.
  • In-text
    The Empire State Building (Mollenborg, 2005) is at the centre of…
    Reference list 
    Mollenborg, K. (2005, August 7). Empire State Building [Online picture]. Retrieved December 17, 2011, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mollenborg/31937171/



A published interview is referred to according to the reference format appropriate for the source (see Internet source, Book etc.).

When you have conducted an interview or survey by personal communication, e-mail, chat, phone, etc., you do not have to include the interview in your reference list because there are no recoverable data available for the reader. In addition to the reference list you may want to add a list of names and data from the interviews you conducted. When referring to a conversation or interview in the main text, you will need to add the term “personal communication” and the date on which the interview took place. Especially when you are quoting an interviewee (see third example), it is advisable to ask the person you are quoting for permission in advance. With second or later referrals you will need to write the name, personal communication and date again. 


  • …according to John Smith (personal communication, November 30, 2014) this is not the case…
  • …but this is not the case (J. Smith, personal communication, November 30, 2014) and will…
  • …John Smith (personal communication, November 30, 2014) e-mailed us that “this is not the case” and…



An appendix is a section at the end of a paper that includes information that is too detailed for the text of the paper itself. Each appendix has to be referred to in the main text.

The appendices section comes after your reference list. When the content of an appendix contains information retrieved from an outside source, cite the source within the text of the appendix and include the reference in your reference list.

If you want to include more than one appendix you will need to label them with the following letters: Appendix A, Appendix B, Appendix C, etc.



Inventor, A. (Year the patent was issued). Patent Identifier Number. Location: Source Name.

  • With in-text citations you cite the patent identifier and the year the patent was issued, for example: U.S. Patent No. 178,323 (1998), or: (U.S. Patent No. 178,323, 1998). 


  • Borwin, G. F. (1998). U.S. Patent No. 178,323. Washington: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Online example


Computer program/app

Name of the program (version number) [Descriptor for the item]. Location: Publisher.

  • You do not have to cite standard programs such as Word, Excel, Photoshop and SPSS.
  • Names of software, computer programs and program languages are never italicized.
  • With in-text citations, only cite the name and version number.

Examples computer programs

  • In-text
    We used the Obscure Reference Generator (Version 2.1; Esolang, 2014) and Version 1.0 of Customized Synergy (2014) to complete our work.
    Reference list
    Customized Synergy [Computer software]. (2014). Retrieved from http://customizedsynergy.com
    Esolang, A. N. (2014). Obscure Reference Generator [Computer software]. Washington, DC: E & K Press.

Examples app

  • In-text
    ... there have been periods of heavy rain (International Travel Weather Calculator, 2015) ...
    Reference list
    International Travel Weather Calculator. (2015). Weather+(Version 3.21) [Mobile application software]. Retrieved on March 28, 2016, from http://itunes.apple.com


Data set

Owner of the data set. (Year). Title of the data set [Data set]. Location: Publisher.

  • A data set is a collection of research data (“raw data”). These data span a wide variety of topics and can be used to create a table or chart, for example.
  • When the data set is retrieved from an online source, the URL should be included in the reference, like this: “Retrieved on [day month year], from http://url”. If the data set has a DOI, the reference should include that DOI.


  • In-text
    ... when you look at Table 2 you will find the results (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013) and...
  • Reference list
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. (2013). Treatment episode data set -- discharges (TEDS-D) -- concatenated, 2006 to 2009 [Data set]. doi:10.3886/ICPSR30122.v2


Board game

Author, A. (year of publication). Title of game. Location: Publisher.

  • To specify that you are citing a board game, you may want to include this information between brackets, but this is not obligatory. 
  • If mentioned separately, you can put the specific job description of the author/developer between brackets. 
  • For computer games, check out Computer program/app.


  • Darrow, C. D. (2006). Monopoly: The property trading board game. Eastwood: Hasbro/Parker.
  • Gerrickens, P., Verstege, M., & Van Dun, Z. (2003). The Values game (G. Horvath, Transl.). 's-Hertogenbosch: Gerrickens Training & Advise.



A table gives a well-organised overview of information and is particularly suited for statistics. A table consists of three or four parts:

1. Number and description: number of the table, making it possible to refer to the table in the text, and a description.
2. Column and row headings
3. Cells with data
4. Explanation (additional)

  • A table only has horizontal lines, above and below the column headings and below the last row.
  • Use only decimal points (no commas), make sure the points are spaced the same distance in every column.
  • With means, standard deviations or test statistics, a single number after the decimal point is enough. Only with probability values and correlation coefficients this is not the case.
  • When using a table from a book, journal, internet etc., this is considered a quote. The table will get a number in order to be able to refer to it (See: In-text quotations).


Last update: September 20, 2019