Skip to Main Content

APA Citation Style Tutorial: Home

APA Citation Manual (7th Edition)

Origins of the APA citation style

Where Did APA Style Come From?

APA Style originated in 1929, when a group of psychologists, anthropologists, and business managers convened and sought to establish a simple set of procedures, or style guidelines, that would codify the many components of scientific writing to increase the ease of reading comprehension. They published their guidelines as a seven-page article in Psychological Bulletin describing a “standard of procedure, to which exceptions would doubtless be necessary, but to which reference might be made in cases of doubt” (Bentley et al., 1929, p. 57).

Since then, the scope and length of the Publication Manual have grown in response to the needs of researchers, students, and educators across the social and behavioral sciences, health care, natural sciences, humanities, and more; however, the spirit of the original authors’ intentions remains.

Bentley, M., Peerenboom, C. A., Hodge, F. W., Passano, E. B., Warren, H. C., & Washburn, M. F. (1929). Instructions in regard to preparation of manuscript. Psychological Bulletin26(2), 57–63.


Source: American Psychological Association (2019). About APA Style.

APA 7th Edition Changes

In short, the changes are:

  1. Don't include publisher location
  2. Shorten in-text citation for 3+ authors
  3. Include up to 20 authors in the reference
  4. Format DOIs as URLs
  5. Don't included "Retrieved from" in front of URL
  6. Don't include the format, platform or device for ebooks
  7. Citing Contributors
  8. New examples for online source types
  9. Use singular "they" as a gender-neutral pronoun
  10. Use descriptive phrases instead of labels
  11. Use exact age ranges
  12. More flexibility in font choices
  13. Simplified running head
  14. Running head is omitted in student papers
  15. Updated heading styles
  16. Use only one space after a period
  17. Use double quotation marks for linguistic examples

Why do we use APA and not MLA?

(1) MLA style, defined by the Modern Language Association, is most common in the humanities. Because humanities research highlights how one piece of writing influences another, MLA style emphasizes the author’s name and the page in the original text you’re using. This information allows scholars to track down easily the exact sentences you’re analyzing. (2) APA style, defined by the American Psychological Association, is most common in the social sciences. Although the author’s name is an important element in APA citations, this style emphasizes the year the source was published, rather than the page number, which allows a reader to see quickly how the research you’re writing about has evolved over time


Source: Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning (n.d.) Why Are there Different Citation Styles?



Footer for USD LibGuide v2.0