An APA format bibliography is an alphabetical listing of all sources that might be used to write a paper, essay, article or research paper. In some cases, your instructor may require you to hand in a bibliography with your final paper.
Even if it is not a required part of your assignment, writing a bibliography can help you keep track of your sources and make it much easier to create your final reference page in proper APA format.
A bibliography is similar in many ways to a reference section, but there are some important differences. While a reference section includes every source that was actually used in your paper, a bibliography may include sources that you considered using but may have dismissed because they were irrelevant or outdated.
Bibliographies can be a great way to keep track of information that you might want to use in your paper and as a way to organize and keep track of the information that you find in different sources.
In order to write an APA format bibliography, you should:
1. Start Your Bibliography on a New Page
Your working bibliography should be kept separate from the rest of your paper. Start it on a new page, with the title “Bibliography” centered at the top.
2. Gather Your Sources
Compile all of the sources that you might possibly use in your paper. While you may end up not using all of these sources in your paper, having a complete list will make it easier later on when you prepare your reference section.
This can be particularly helpful as your outline and write your paper. By quickly glancing through your working bibliography, you will be able to get a better idea of which sources will be the most appropriate to support your thesis and main points.
3. Create an APA Reference for Each Source
Your references should be listed alphabetically by the author’s last name and should be double-spaced.
The first line of each reference should be flush left while each additional line of the reference should be a few spaces to the right of the left margin, which is known as a hanging indent.
4. Create an Annotation for Each Source
Normally a bibliography just contains references information, but in some cases, you might decide to create an annotated bibliography. An annotation is a summary or evaluation of the source.
As you read through each source, prepare a brief annotation of approximately 150 words describing the information it contains, your evaluation of its credibility, and how it pertains to your topic. Not only is this step helpful in determining which sources to ultimately use in your paper, you instructor may require it as part of the assignment so he or she can assess your thought process and understanding of your topic.
Why Should You Write An APA Format Bibliography?
One of the biggest reasons to create an APA format bibliography is simply to make the research and writing process easier. If you do not have a comprehensive list of all your references, you might find yourself scrambling to figure out where you found certain bits of information that you included in your paper.
While writing an annotated bibliography might not be required for your assignment, it can be a very useful step. The process of writing an annotation helps you learn more about your topic, develop a deeper understanding of the subject, and become better at evaluating various sources of information.
A Word From Verywell
If you are taking a psychology class, you may be asked at some point to create a bibliography as part of the research paper writing process. Even if your instructor does not expressly require a bibliography, creating one can be a useful way to help structure your research and make the writing process easier.
For psychology majors, it can be helpful to save any bibliographies you have written over the course of your studies so that you can refer back to them later when studying for exams or writing papers for other psychology courses.
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2010.
APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).
Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2018-02-21 02:26:13
Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.
To see a side-by-side comparison of the three most widely used citation styles, including a chart of all APA citation guidelines, see the Citation Style Chart.
You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel.
General APA Guidelines
Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
Include a page header (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. To create a page header/running head, insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.
Major Paper Sections
Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. Please note that on the title page, your page header/running head should look like this:
Running head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER
Pages after the title page should have a running head that looks like this:
TITLE OF YOUR PAPER
After consulting with publication specialists at the APA, OWL staff learned that the APA 6th edition, first printing sample papers have incorrect examples of running heads on pages after the title page. This link will take you to the APA site where you can find a complete list of all the errors in the APA's 6th edition style guide.
Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. APA recommends that your title be no more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.
Beneath the title, type the author's name: first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).
Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation, which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.
Image Caption: APA Title Page
Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting, italics, underlining, or quotation marks).
Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced. Your abstract should be between 150 and 250 words.
You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.
Image Caption: APA Abstract Page
Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.
How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA
Contributors' names and the last edited date can be found in the orange boxes at the top of every page on the OWL.
Contributors' names (Last edited date). Title of resource. Retrieved from http://Web address for OWL resource
Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/