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How to Cite a Survey in APA Style

Surveys provide valuable insights into public opinion, behaviors, and trends. However, citing them correctly in APA Style can be challenging. Whether you’re an experienced researcher or a student, understanding how to cite surveys accurately is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your work. This guide simplifies APA survey citation, offering clear steps, practical examples, and expert tips. From identifying survey formats to handling unpublished surveys, it covers everything you need to ensure your citations are precise and reliable.

Types of Surveys

Surveys can vary widely in their format and purpose. Some common types include:

  • Questionnaires: Structured sets of questions designed to gather specific information from respondents. For example, a customer satisfaction survey.
  • Interviews: One-on-one conversations where detailed information is collected from participants. An example is an oral history interview.
  • Online Surveys: Digital forms distributed via the internet, such as a Google Forms survey on workplace habits.

Each type of survey requires a slightly different approach to citation, reflecting its unique characteristics and the medium through which it was conducted.

Identifying Different Survey Formats

Different survey formats include cross-sectional surveys, longitudinal surveys, and mixed-method surveys. Cross-sectional surveys capture data at a single point in time, while longitudinal surveys collect data over an extended period. Mixed-method surveys combine quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques. Identifying the survey format helps in understanding the context and methodology, which is crucial for accurate citation.

Common Uses of Surveys in Research

Surveys are widely used in various fields of research to collect primary data. In social sciences, they help understand public opinion, behaviors, and attitudes. In business, surveys are employed to gauge customer satisfaction and market trends. Health researchers use surveys to study patient experiences and health outcomes. The versatility and adaptability of surveys make them invaluable research tools, providing broad and deep insights.

General Guidelines for Citing a Survey in APA Style

Author(s) and Date

The author(s) of the survey should be listed first, followed by the publication year in parentheses. For example, if John Doe conducted a survey in 2021, the citation would begin with Doe, J. (2021). If the survey was conducted by an organization, use the organization’s name as the author.

Title of the Survey

The title of the survey should be italicized and written in sentence case. This means that only the title’s first word and proper nouns should be capitalized. For example: Customer satisfaction survey.

Survey Medium

Specify the medium of the survey, such as online, face-to-face, or telephone. Include a URL or DOI if the survey is accessible online. For instance: Retrieved from

Detailing In-Text Citations for Surveys

When to Use Direct Quotes vs. Paraphrasing

Direct quotes should be used when the exact wording of the survey response is essential. Paraphrasing is preferred for summarizing broader ideas. Both methods require proper in-text citation, including the author’s name and year. For example: (Doe, 2021).

Citing Online Surveys

Online surveys require additional information, such as the retrieval date and URL. Ensure that the citation reflects the online nature of the survey and provides enough detail for readers to locate it.

How to Handle Unpublished or Internal Surveys

Unpublished or internal surveys can be tricky to cite. Include as much information as possible, such as the author, date, title, and description of the survey. If it’s an internal survey, mention the organization and the context in which it was conducted.

Guide to Creating a Survey Citation

Gathering Essential Information: A Checklist

Before creating a citation, gather all necessary details: author(s), date, title, survey format, and access information. Having this information handy ensures the citation is complete and accurate.

Formatting the Citation: Practical Tips

Follow APA guidelines meticulously. Use italics for the survey title, include the publication year in parentheses, and provide access details for online surveys. Consistency is key to maintaining the integrity of your citations.

Examples of Properly Cited Surveys

Here are some examples:

Doe, J. (2021). Customer satisfaction survey. Retrieved from

Smith, A. (2020). Employee engagement questionnaire. Internal report, XYZ Corporation.

Special Cases

Surveys with Multiple Authors

List all authors in the order they appear on the survey. Use an ampersand before the last author’s name. For example: Doe, J., & Smith, A. (2021).

Citing Anonymous Surveys

If the survey is anonymous, use “Anonymous” as the author. For example:

Anonymous. (2021). Anonymous health survey.

Handling Translations or Adaptations of Surveys

When citing a translated or adapted survey, include information about the original survey and the adaptation. For instance: Original author, year, translated/adapted by, and the year of adaptation.

Useful Tips

Utilize online tools like WriterBuddy’s APA Survey Citation feature for assistance with formatting and accuracy. These tools can simplify the citation process and ensure compliance with APA guidelines.


What are the key components of an APA citation for a survey?

An APA citation for a survey includes the author(s), publication year, survey title in italics, and the survey medium or access information. For example: Doe, J. (2021). Customer satisfaction survey. Retrieved from

How do I cite an unpublished or internal survey in APA Style?

To cite an unpublished or internal survey, include the author, date, title, and a description of the survey. Mention the organization and the context if it’s an internal survey. For example: Smith, A. (2020). Employee engagement questionnaire. Internal report, XYZ Corporation.

What should I do if a survey has multiple authors?

List all authors in the order they appear on the survey, using an ampersand before the last author’s name. For instance: Doe, J., & Smith, A. (2021).

How do I handle citing an anonymous survey?

Use “Anonymous” as the author if the survey is anonymous. For example: Anonymous. (2021). Anonymous health survey.


APA Survey Citation process involves including survey title, author information, distribution date, and publication status. Following these guidelines helps properly attribute data sources and provides readers with necessary information to understand the origin of the survey.

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