How to Reference a Book in APA Format

Following the American Psychological Association Style in Your Papers

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Do you need to reference a book for your psychology or other social science paper? Then you will need to know how to use APA format, which is the official style of the American Psychological Association and is used in most types of science and social science writing.

Before you create a reference page for your papers, essays, articles, or reports, it is important to learn how to format your references in proper APA style. This style dictates certain rules and guidelines for different types of references, including books.

There are also a number of different situations that affect how you will write your references such as whether the book has more than one author and whether it involves a chapter in an edited book. The following examples and guidelines can help you prepare book references in proper APA format.

How to Cite a Book in APA Format

First, let's start by looking at the standard APA format for writing a book reference. The basic structure of a book reference should list the author's last name, first initials, publication year, book title, and publisher.

For example:

Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person. Houghton Mifflin.

This basic format can be used for many types of book references that have a single author or multiple authors. However, you may need to use one of the following formats for books that are edited, have no author, are translated, or require some specialized formatting.

Edited Book With One or More Authors

How should you reference a book that is an edited edition with a single or several editors? Edited books with one or more authors should follow the basic structure of a book reference and include the initials, last name, and 'Ed.' in parentheses after the book title.

For example:

Adler, A. (1956). The individual psychology of Alfred Adler: A systematic presentation of selections from his writings (H. L. Ansbacher, & R. R. Ansbacher, Eds.). Basic Books.

Edited Book With No Author

Edited books with no author should list the last name and first initials of the editor or editors, followed by 'Ed.' or 'Eds.' in parentheses. The remainder of the reference should follow the basic structure and include the publication year, book title in italics, and publisher.

For example:

Atkinson, J. W., & Rayner, J. O. (Eds.). (1974). Motivation and achievement. V. H. Winston.

Article Featured in an Edited Book

Sometimes books feature a collection of articles written by different authors in an edited book. Articles by individual authors that appear in such works should list the last name and first initial of the author, followed by the publication date and chapter title. Next, the editors should be noted, followed by the title of the book and the page numbers of the chapter. The publisher's name goes last.

For example:

Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A. M. (2005). History of forensic psychology. In I. B. Weiner, & A. K. Hess (Eds.), The Handbook of Forensic Psychology (pp.1-27). Wiley.

Translated Book

Many of psychology's most famous texts were originally written in another language and then translated into English.

Books translated from another language should include the last name and first initial of the author, followed by the year of publication and book title. The first initials and last name of the translator and the notation 'Trans.' should then be included in parentheses. Next, provide the publisher and note of the original year of publication.

For Example:

Freud, S. (1914). The psychopathology of everyday life (A. A. Brill, Trans.). T. Fisher Unwin. (Original work published 1901).

More Tips for Book References in APA Format

  • Double-space. Remember that your reference page needs to be double-spaced.
  • Indent. The first line of each reference should be flush left with the margin of the page. Each subsequent line of your reference should be indented.
  • Use the DOI. If a digital object identifier (DOI) is available, include it at the end of the reference.
  • Include the URL. If a book has been accessed via an online database, follow the basic APA format and include the full URL at the end. 
  • Follow additional guidelines. Be sure you are following the other guidelines for your reference page.
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