Documenting Sources in APA

 Documenting Sources in APA (pdf)

Although MLA style is the standard at Emily Carr University, a different style of citation called APA (American Psychological Association) is used professionally in most Design publications. Therefore, some instructors may require you to use APA-style citations for writing assignments in Design courses.


Used widely in the social sciences, APA is often referred to as the “author-date” system of citation because in-text citations require the author’s last name and date instead of the author and page number as in MLA. In strict APA, page numbers are only required if you are including a direct quotation in your text. If you’re simply referencing a work or paraphrasing information, no page number is required, though individual instructors may recommend that you use page numbers for all citations. It’s always safest to include page numbers unless instructed otherwise.

[expand title=”Formatting In-Text Citations”]

If you reference an author by name within a sentence, the date of the work you are referencing must appear immediately after the author’s name.

Craig (2006) stated that “we tend to forget that the alphabet is composed of symbols, each representing sounds made in speech” (p. 8).

If you do not use the author’s name within your sentence, the name, date and page number (if applicable) must appear in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

Some researchers argue that we often forget the way alphabetic symbols actually correspond to sounds we make in speech (Craig, 2006, p.8).

If the author and date of a source are unknown, use the first word or two of the title of the piece and n.d. (for “no date”).

The Bauhaus curriculum combined crafts with fine art (“Bauhaus”, n.d.).

If you use a quotation that is 40 words or longer, you must block-quote it. Do not use quotation marks, and indent each line of the quote. Place a parenthetical citation after the last punctuation mark.

In Designing With Type, Craig (2006) wrote that

Garamond is a classic Old Style typeface. Claude Garamond, who died in 1561, was originally credited with the design of this elegant French typeface; however, it has recently been discovered that this typeface was designed by Jean Jannon in 1615. Many of the present-day versions of this typeface may be either Garamond or Jannon designs, although they are all called Garamond. (p. 31)


[expand title=”Sources with Multiple Authors”]

Two Authors

Name both authors (by last name only) every time you reference a work. Use the word “and” between the authors’ names in the text, and an ampersand (&) in the parenthetical citation.

According to Pratchett and Gaiman (2006), ….

… (Pratchett & Gaiman, 2006).

Three to Five Authors

The first time you reference the work (whether in a sentence or in parentheses), list the last names of all of the authors. After that, use only the first author’s name followed by “et al”.

As Lee, Carroll, Wallace and Haddon (1997) discovered, ….

… (Lee, Carroll, Wallace & Haddon, 1997).

Six or more authors

Use only the first author’s Last name followed by “et al”.

Research by Maguire et al. (2004) indicates ….

… (Maguire et al., 2004).



In APA, the list of sources that appears at the end of your paper is titled “References” rather than “Works Cited.”

As in MLA, entries in the References list are sorted alphabetically by the last name of the first author of each source. First names of authors are not used: simply use initials for first (and any middle) names.

Capitalize all major words in journal titles. However, for books, articles, websites, etc., capitalize only the first word, proper nouns, and the first word after a colon or dash.

Yoon, J., Desmet, P. & van der Helm, A. (2012). Design for interest: exploratory study on a distinct positive emotion in human-product interaction. International Journal of Design. 6(2) 67-80.

Emails and interviews do not need to be cited in your References list; just include the information in parentheses within your text.

Many students at Emily Carr still struggle to understand how to cite sources in APA (L. St. Pierre, Personal Communication, February 26, 2013).

Websites only need to be cited in your text when you are referring to the whole site (place the URL in parentheses at the end of the sentence).

Wikipedia has fundamentally changed our understanding of authorship and authority (

If, however, you are citing a particular page from a website, you can include it in your reference list (see below).

[expand title=”Examples”]


Winger, J. L., & Dunn, P. (2004). Designing advertisements for the 21st century. New York, New York: Hunter Press.

An Edited Book with No Author:

Shaoqiang, W. (Ed.). (2001). Type player: Type as experiment, type as image. Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press.

An Article from a Journal:

Agrawala, M., Li, W., & Berthouzoz, F. (2011). Design principles for visual communication. Communications of the ACM. 54(4). 60-69.

An Article from a Newspaper:

Perkel, C. (2013, March 11) Doomed Elliot Lake mall design left architect ‘uncomfortable.’ Globe and Mail. Retrieved from

An Article from an Electronic Database:

Yoon, J., Desmet, P. & van der Helm, A. (2012). Design for interest: exploratory study on a distinct positive emotion in human-product interaction. International Journal of Design. 6(2) 67-80. Retrieved from

A Page or Article on a Website:

Halvorson, H.G. (2013, March 13). Creativity is about self-confidence. Design Sojourn. Retrieved from

A Blog:

Moll, C. (2012, December 6). Presenting is the art of directing attention [Blog post]. Retrieved from

A Film, DVD or Video:

Hustwit, G. (Producer & Director). (2007). Helvetica [Motion Picture]. United States: Plexifilm.

An Online Lecture or Video:

Dubberly, H. (2012, October 12). A system perspective on design practice. How do you design the future lecture series. CMU School of Design. Retrieved from

An Online Audio Podcast:

Rotolo, A. (2010, June 4). Design guy [episode 40]. The design guy show [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

An Advertisement with Title:

Hostess. (1988, March 9). Eat twinkies [Advertisement]. Newsweek, 12.

An Advertisement without Title:

Hostess. (1988, March 9). [Advertisement for twinkies]. Newsweek, 12.



The APA Style website has a helpful FAQs section that can answer many questions:

For online sources, APA also has a useful Social Media blog which includes a handy PDF chart for citing online sources:

For a more extensive and detailed explanation of APA formatting, visit Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab:

SFU has also published a useful guide for APA citation:

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