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How to Cite a Database in APA Style

Databases are crucial resources for accessing scholarly articles and documents in academic research. Citing databases in APA style requires specific elements: author’s name, article title, journal name, publication date, database name, and DOI or URL. These components apply to both in-text citations and reference list entries.

Citing Different Types of Databases

Scholarly Databases vs. Commercial Databases

Scholarly databases, such as PubMed and JSTOR, contain peer-reviewed articles and academic papers. Commercial databases, like ProQuest and EBSCOhost, offer a mix of scholarly and non-scholarly content, including magazines and trade publications. Understanding the type of database you’re citing is crucial, as it influences the citation format.

Citing Online Databases

For online databases, always include the URL or DOI. For example, a citation from an online scholarly database might look like this:

Smith, J. A. (2020). The impact of social media on adolescent psychology. Journal of Adolescent Research, 35(2), 123-145.

Citing Offline Databases

Offline databases, such as CD-ROM or institutional archives, require a different approach. Include the medium in the citation. For example:

Doe, J. (2018). Environmental policy changes in the 21st century [CD-ROM]. Environmental Data Archive.

Essential Components of a Database Citation

Author Information

Always start with the author’s last name, followed by their initials. If there are multiple authors, list them in the order they appear in the source. Use an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name.

Publication Date

Include the publication year in parentheses right after the author’s name. If no date is available, use “n.d.” for “no date.”

Title of the Database

Italicize the title of the work. For articles, capitalize only the first word of the title and subtitle. For periodicals, capitalize all major words.

Database URL or DOI

A DOI is preferred over a URL because it provides a permanent link to the content. If no DOI is available, use the URL. Place this information at the end of the citation.

Guide to Crafting a Database Citation

Gathering Necessary Information

Ensure you have all the required details: author(s), publication date, title, and source (URL or DOI).

Formatting the Author’s Name

Start with the last name, followed by initials. For multiple authors, use commas to separate names and an ampersand before the final author’s name.

Adding the Publication Date

Place the year of publication in parentheses right after the author’s name.

Writing the Title in Italics

Italicize the title and use sentence case for articles and lowercase for the first word of the subtitle.

Including the URL or DOI

End the citation with the DOI or URL. Ensure the link is complete and functional.

Special Cases in Database Citations

Multiple Authors

For works with up to 20 authors, list all names. For more than 20, list the first 19, followed by an ellipsis (…), and then the final author’s name.

No Author

If no author is listed, start with the title of the work. For example:

The state of climate science. (2021). Environmental Studies Journal.

No Publication Date

If the publication date is not available, use “n.d.” For example:

Brown, T. (n.d.). Historical perspectives on renewable energy. Energy Research, 10(4), 45-67.

Database Without a DOI

If no DOI is provided, include the URL of the database. Ensure it directs to the exact page of the source.

Examples of APA Database Citations

Scholarly Database Citation Example

Green, P. L., & White, H. B. (2019). Advances in cognitive behavioral therapy. Psychology Today, 28(3), 112-130.

Commercial Database Citation Example

Johnson, R. K. (2020). Market trends in consumer electronics. Tech Industry Review. Retrieved from

Citation Example for an Online Database

Martin, L. J. (2018). Urban development and planning. Urban Studies Quarterly, 45(2), 98-115.

Citation Example for an Offline Database

Davis, M. T. (2017). Agricultural practices in the Midwest [CD-ROM]. Agricultural Data Center.

Tools and Resources for APA Citations

Use  WriterBuddy APA Database Citation generator to simplify and automate the citation process. However, always review generated citations for accuracy.


1. Why are accurate database citations important in academic writing?

Accurate database citations are essential because they ensure the credibility and traceability of your research, prevent plagiarism, and honor the original authors’ contributions. Proper citations allow readers to verify your sources and build upon your work, maintaining the integrity of academic discourse.

2. How do I cite a database without a DOI in APA style?

If a database does not provide a DOI, include the URL of the database instead. Make sure the URL directs to the exact page of the source. For example: Johnson, R. K. (2020). Market trends in consumer electronics. Tech Industry Review. Retrieved from

3. What should I do if there is no author listed for a database entry?

If no author is listed, start the citation with the title of the work. For example: The state of climate science. (2021). Environmental Studies Journal.

4. Can online citation generators like WriterBuddy be trusted for APA citations?

Online citation generators like WriterBuddy can be very helpful for creating APA citations quickly. However, it’s important to always review the generated citations for accuracy and adherence to APA guidelines, as automated tools can sometimes make errors.


APA Database Citation process involves including author information, article details, journal information, and database specifics. Following these guidelines helps properly attribute ideas and provides readers with necessary information to locate the original content.

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