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APA 6th Edition, printed in 2009

by Nancy Rosenbaum

Latest Edition

APA 6th ed. was first printed in July 2009.  Significant errata were printed shortly thereafter (  The second printing in October 2009 incorporating the errata is considered the current edition.  Examples of many of the styles in the Manual are not printed in the manual but are available online (  Some universities and journals are still following APA 5th ed. (2001).  An addendum to the 5th ed. published in 2007 specifically addresses formatting of electronic references but is no longer available for sale.

Which edition is your review committee using?

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) has undergone numerous revisions in its more than 50-year history.  If you and your review committee or the editors of your target journal are using different editions of the Manual—or if your university or target journal applies its own standards in addition to (or instead of) APA—be prepared for problems.  Ask your review chair, your journal’s editor, or your advisor before you begin writing and formatting, and again before you submit to make certain you’re all on the same page.

APA style is not universal among universities and journals

Many institutions opt for publication standards that differ from the generic standards of APA.  If your university or target journal has its own standards, not following those standards in favor of generic APA standards may keep you from completing your degree or being published.  If it’s important enough for your institution or target journal to take the time to create and publish these specific standards, it’s important enough for you to follow them.  Sometimes, journals post these standards (sometimes called a “style sheet”) and institutions post these standards (sometimes called a “dissertation manual” or “dissertation guidelines”) online and your network editor may be able to locate and retrieve them.  Other times, you may need to provide the style standards to your editor.


Just as the Internet and availability of online journals has evolved, so have the formatting standards that dictate how electronic journal articles should be cited.  The 5th edition of the Manual, published in 2001, lists the rules that applied in 2001.  The AMENDED (as of 2007) rules were available only in the APA Style Guide to Electronic References, which is now out of print.  The standards for electronic citations were incorporated in their entirety.  You must determine whether a journal is paginated by volume/year or by issue to assess whether you need to include the issue number (only those journals page-numbered by issue, supplements, special issues, and continued “parts” require an issue number).

What’s a DOI??

A DOI is a digital object identifier.  Think of it as a journal article’s fingerprint.  Most, but not all, online journals attach a DOI to each article.  If a journal article included in your reference list has a DOI, that number must be included in the reference.  If there is no DOI, you must cite the URL or name of the commercial database from which that article was accessed or downloaded.

When to Use “Retrieved on” Dates

If you retrieved information from an electronic journal, that document probably has a publication date (the month and year of the issue); once published, it is unlikely to change or become unavailable.  If you retrieved information from a web site, however, odds are much greater that the web site will update its pages or disappear in its entirety.  For this reason, retrieved information without a readily identifiable publication date must include a “retrieved on” date.  It’s a good idea, before you submit your final manuscript, to make certain the information is still available (preferably from the same URL cited) and still matches that which you retrieved.  If the site from which you retrieved the information has changed, be sure to update the URL.  If the information is no longer available online, consider removing this reference completely, since it cannot be verified.

Matching Citations

Every item, whether it is a book, journal, e-mail message, or phone conversation, cited in your manuscript must be listed as a reference.  Likewise, every item listed in your reference section must be cited somewhere in your manuscript.  Citations not represented in the references must be added, and extraneous references not cited must be removed.


Book titles are sentence-capped and italicized.  Any edition other than first must be identified in parentheses after the book title (not italicized).  APA 6th ed. requires the city and state of the publisher to be included, unless the publisher is a state university.  Information identifying the publisher should be as concise as possible; do not include words like “Publishing,” “Publisher,” “Company,” and “Sons,” but do include “Press” and “Books.”

(Tip: If you don’t want to lose sleep wondering whether and how these frequent changes impact your project, rely on a qualified APA editor, such as those listed on this network.)