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APA Referencing Guide

Based on the NWU Referencing Guide.

Reference list

General principles

  • Start the reference list on a new page. Type the word References, centred, at the top of the page.
  • The reference list is double-spaced both between and within entries; entries have a hanging indent.
  • Each reference cited in the text must have an entry in the reference list and each entry in the reference list must be cited in the text. However, references which cannot be recovered (e.g. personal communication) or because the mention in the text is so broad that readers do not need a reference entry to understand the use (e.g. whole websites, common software and apps) do not need to be included in the reference list.
  • Entries in the reference list should appear in alphabetical order by the first author’s surname, or by the first significant word in the title if there is no author. Words such as “The”, “An” or “A” at the beginning of the title should be ignored, but not omitted, when alphabetising the reference list.


Alphabetical order of references in the reference list

  • Alphabetise by the author’s surname.
  • Alphabetise letter by letter, remember the principle “nothing precedes something”. For example, the surname Le Roux precedes Leaky.
  • Alphabetise the prefixes M’, Mc, and Mac literally, not as if they were all spelled Mac. Disregard the apostrophe: MacArthur precedes McAllister, and MacNeil precedes M’Carthy.
  • Arrange works by different authors with the same surname alphabetically according to the first initial.
  • Entries by the same authors are arranged by year of publication, the earliest first.
  • One-author entries precede multiple-author entries beginning with the same surname.
  • References with the same first author and different second or third authors are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the second author or, if the second author is the same, the surname of the third author (compare the entries of Deci in the example reference list in this guide).