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How to Cite a Journal Article in APA Style

Journal articles are essential sources in academic research. Citing journal articles in APA style requires specific elements: author names, publication year, article title, journal name, volume, issue number, page range, and DOI (if available). These details apply to both in-text citations and reference list entries. Proper citation ensures credit to authors and allows readers to locate the source.

Core Elements of a Journal Article Citation in APA Style


Single Author vs. Multiple Authors 

When citing an article with a single author, list the last name first, followed by the initials. For multiple authors, separate the names with commas and use an ampersand before the final author’s name. For example: 

  • Single Author: Smith, J. A.
  • Multiple Authors: Smith, J. A., & Doe, J. B.

Handling Author Names with Initials 

Include the initials of the first and middle names (if available). This helps distinguish between authors with similar names. For instance, “Smith, J. A., & Doe, J. B.” ensures clarity and precision. 

Publication Year 

Where to Find the Publication Year 

The publication year is typically found on the title page of the journal article. It is usually located near the article title or in the citation information provided by the journal. 

Formatting the Year Correctly 

The year should be in parentheses, followed by a period. For example: (2023). 

Article Title 

Capitalization Rules 

In APA style, only the first word of the title, the first word after a colon or dash, and proper nouns are capitalized. The title should not be in italics or quotation marks. For example: The impact of social media on adolescent mental health. 

Using Italics vs. Plain Text 

Italicize the title of the journal, but keep the article title in plain text. For example:

Journal of Social Psychology.

Journal Name 

How to Format the Journal Name 

The journal name should be italicized and in title case, meaning each major word is capitalized. For example: Journal of Social Psychology.

Capitalization and Italics 

Ensure every significant word is capitalized and the entire journal name is in italics to highlight the source properly. 

Volume and Issue Number 

Identifying Volume and Issue Numbers 

Volume and issue numbers are typically listed near the article title or in the journal’s citation details. The volume number often follows the journal name, and the issue number is in parentheses. 

Proper Formatting 

Format the volume number in italics, followed by the issue number in parentheses, without italics. For example: Journal of Social Psychology, 15(2).

Page Range 

Including the Full Page Range 

Provide the complete range of pages for the article, using an en dash between the first and last pages. For example: 123–145. 

Handling Discontinuous Pages 

If the article spans non-sequential pages, include all relevant page numbers separated by commas. For example: 123, 126–130, 134. 


What is a DOI? 

A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned to a digital document. It provides a permanent link to the content. 

When to Use a URL Instead 

Use a URL when a DOI is not available, particularly for online journals. Ensure the URL is accessible and leads directly to the article. 

In-Text Citations for Journal Articles in APA Style 

Paraphrasing vs. Direct Quotes 

How to Cite Paraphrased Information 

When paraphrasing, include the author’s last name and the publication year in parentheses. For example: (Smith, 2023). 

Formatting Direct Quotes Correctly 

For direct quotes, include the author, year, and page number in parentheses. For example: (Smith, 2023, p. 45). 

Parenthetical vs. Narrative Citations 

Examples of Each Type 

  • Parenthetical: (Smith, 2023)
  • Narrative: According to Smith (2023), …

Choosing the Appropriate Format 

Use parenthetical citations to provide supporting information without interrupting the flow of your text. Opt for narrative citations when the author’s name is part of the sentence. 

Special Cases in Citing Journal Articles 

Citing Articles with No Author 

How to Handle Anonymous Articles 

For articles with no author, use the title in place of the author’s name in the in-text citation. For example:

(“Impact of Social Media,” 2023).

 Using the Article Title in Citations 

When citing the title, use quotation marks for in-text citations and italics in the reference list. For example:

(“Impact of Social Media,” 2023). 

Citing Articles from Online Journals 

Including Database Information 

Include the database name if the article was retrieved from a database, but this is often not required in APA 7th edition. Focus on providing the DOI or URL. 

Handling Articles with No DOI 

If there is no DOI, provide the URL of the journal’s homepage or the article. Ensure the link is not a subscription-based or inaccessible URL. 

Citing Multiple Works by the Same Author 

Differentiating Between Articles 

List the articles in chronological order by publication year. For the same year, add lowercase letters (a, b, c) after the year. For example: (Smith, 2023a) and (Smith, 2023b). 

Chronological Order and Suffixes 

Use the letters consistently in both in-text citations and the reference list to differentiate between the sources. 

Examples of Journal Article Citations

Providing examples can clarify the correct format for citing journal articles.

Single Author Journal Article Example

Smith, J. A. (2020). The impact of social media on adolescent mental health. Journal of Adolescent Health, 15(3), 45-67.

Multiple Authors Journal Article Example

Smith, J. A., & Doe, J. B. (2020). The role of parental influence on teen driving behaviors. Journal of Safety Research, 22(4), 123-135.

Journal Article with a DOI Example

Brown, L. C. (2019). Climate change and its impact on coastal communities. Environmental Research Letters, 14(6), 234-250.

Journal Article without a DOI Example

Green, M. A. (2018). Renewable energy sources and their potential. Energy Policy, 36(7), 987-993. Retrieved from

Tips and Tricks for Accurate APA Citations 

Writerbuddy Citation generators can save time and ensure accuracy. They automate the citation process, reducing human error.


What should I do if there is no author for the journal article I’m citing in APA style?

If a journal article has no author, you should use the title of the article in place of the author’s name in your in-text citation. For instance, instead of using the author’s name, you would write (“Impact of Social Media,” 2023). In the reference list, you should also begin the citation with the article title.

How do I cite an online journal article with no DOI in APA style?

When citing an online journal article without a DOI, provide the URL of the journal’s homepage or the article’s direct URL. Ensure the link is accessible and not behind a paywall or subscription. For example: Retrieved from

Can I use a citation generator to create APA citations, and if so, which one is recommended?

Yes, you can use a citation generator to create APA citations. These tools can save time and improve accuracy. A highly recommended tool is WriterBuddy, which automates the citation process while ensuring adherence to APA style guidelines.

What are the key differences between parenthetical and narrative citations in APA style?

Parenthetical citations include the author and year of publication in parentheses at the end of the sentence, like this: (Smith, 2023). Narrative citations, on the other hand, incorporate the author’s name into the sentence itself, followed by the year in parentheses, such as: According to Smith (2023), the data suggests… 


APA citations for journal articles include author names, publication year, article title, journal name, volume, issue, page range, and DOI (if available). Use the authors’ last names and year for in-text citations. Create a full entry in your reference list. For online articles without DOIs, include the URL.



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