How to Cite a Book in APA Format

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APA format is the official style of the American Psychological Association and is used in both academic and professional 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.

Not all book citations are the same in APA style. The format may vary depending on a number of factors including the type of book and number of authors.

APA Book Citation: Basic Structure

The basic structure of a book reference should list the author's last name, the first initial of their first name, the first initial of their middle name (if applicable), publication year, book title, edition (if it isn't the first), and publisher. This is the same format for both books and ebooks. If the source has a DOI link, that should also be included at the end of the reference.

The following example shows one citation with a DOI hyperlink and the second without. Note the punctuation and style. The year of publication is in parentheses. The book title is italicized and in sentence case, and the edition information is in parentheses.

Book Citations in APA

Jackson, L. M. (2019). The psychology of prejudice: From attitudes to social action (2nd ed.). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000168-000

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

This basic format can be used for many types of books 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

Edited books with one or more authors will include the names of the editors in the citation. It should follow the basic structure of a book reference but also include the first name initial, last name, and "Ed." for one editor or "Eds." for multiple editors in parentheses after the book title. Use an ampersand to separate multiple authors and multiple editors.

Citing Authors and Editors

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.

Marson, G., Keenan-Miller, D., & Costin, C. (2020). The binge eating prevention workbook. (M. Solis, Ed.). New Harbinger Publications.

Edited Book With No Author

Edited books with no author should list the editors first. List the last name and first initial of the editor, 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.

If the book is anything other than the first edition, it should also be noted in parentheses after the title of the book, with no italics. Remember, you don't need to include the publisher's location.

Citing Editors

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

Article Featured in an Edited Book

Sometimes edited books feature a collection of articles written by different authors. To cite an article in such a collection, you should list the last name and first initial of the individual author(s), followed by the publication date and chapter title.

Next, the editors should be listed, followed by the title of the book and the page numbers of the chapter. The publisher's name goes last.

Citing an Article in a Book

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 famous psychology 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 the original year of publication.

Citing a Translator

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

If you're referencing a republished book, the in-text citation should include both the original and republished date. For example, if you were to reference the publication above in text, you would write "(Freud 1901/1914)."

Multivolume Work

The APA style guide also explains how to cite a multivolume work. You list the last name and first initial of the author(s) or editor(s), followed by the year of publication in parentheses. Then, you put the name of the publication in italics in sentence case.

You list the specific volumes in parentheses, using a hyphen between digits. You then list the name of the publisher.

Citing a Multivolume Work

Harris, K. R., Graham, S., & Urdan T. (Eds.). (2012). APA educational psychology handbook (Vols. 1–3). American Psychological Association.

Ebook or Audiobook

If the ebook or audiobook is also in print and the content is the same, you can cite it the same way you would a print book. However, with audiobooks, you might wish to call out specific information such as the narrator's name.

If you are crediting the narrator of an audiobook, the format is the last name and the initial of the author's first name, then the year of publication in parentheses. After listing the name of the book in italics, you put the first initial and the last name of the narrator, followed by "Narr." in parentheses.

Then you add "Audiobook" in brackets, followed by the publisher's name and URL. The seventh edition of the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association" gives the following example:

Citing an Audiobook

Rowling, J. K. (2015). Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone (J. Dale, Narr.) [Audiobook]. Pottermore Publishing. http://bit.ly/2TcHchx (Original work published 1997)

More Tips to Follow

It may seem like there's a lot of information to keep in mind as you cite books in APA style. But remember, the more you practice, the easier it gets!

As you use citations throughout your paper, you'll want to make sure you keep track of them separately so you can add them to your reference page at the end.

Traditionally the term “citation” is used to refer to an in-text source while “reference” is the correct term for a source listed on the reference page of an APA format paper.

The following are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you write an APA-style reference paper:

  • 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.

A Word From Verywell

APA citations are an integral part of writing in APA style. It's best to consult the latest edition of the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association" to stay up to date on all guidelines and helpful tips.

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