American Psychological Association (APA)

Drawn from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition. For additional guidance with citing archival material using APA style, see the online guidelines "Archival Documents and Collections."

APA style documents sources in two primary ways:

  • An in-text reference in the body of the text you are writing

  • A Reference List at the end of your text listing all sources cited

In-Text References

For in-text references, APA utilizes an author’s last name and date format, and both pieces of information are separated by a comma. This information is placed in parentheses at the end of your sentence, with your sentence punctuation placed outside the closing parenthesis. For example: (Smith, 2002). If you choose to place the author’s last name in your body text, place just the year in the parentheses. When there is no identified author for your source, use the next component of your reference list entry (see below). In most cases, this is the title of the source.

If you wish to cite a specific page number of a source—such as when you are directly quoting from the source—include the page number following the date within the parentheses, separated by a comma. Abbreviate “page” as “p.”

If a source contains no date, use the abbreviation “n.d.” (meaning “no date”).

Reference List

An APA style Reference List allows readers of your text to easily navigate from the in-text reference you provided in parentheses to a fuller, more detailed listing of the source’s information.

The components of an APA style Reference List generally include the following pieces of information. Note the use of punctuation. Some elements are accompanied by notes and information about slight adjustments that are likely needed for citing archival material in particular. The APA style manual stresses that “this general format may be modified for collections requiring more or less specific information […]” (p. 212, section 7/10).

Author and/or editors.

The format should generally be the author's last name, a comma, and their first initials.

(Publication date).

Place the date in parentheses. Use the format "Year, Month Day." With unpublished archival material, give the year the source was produced.

Title of the source.

Capitalize the first word of the title and subtitle, as well as any proper nouns.

[Description of the source].

Place this description in brackets. This is used for information that does not appear on the item but that helps to explain what the item is.

Title of the larger source that contains this source

For archival material, this will likely be the name of the collection.

(Call number, Box number, Folder number).

Name of the library or archive that houses the item,

Location of the library or archive that houses the item.

In the examples provided below, we use "Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas." In addition, the city, state, and country of the library or archive could be provided.

Examples of Citations in APA Style

The following are example citations for various sources and source types located in Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s holdings. Remember that citing sources isn’t an exact science. You may need to tweak the citations shown here depending on factors such as the context of your project or instructions from your instructor. Be sure to use these examples in conjunction with the APA Style Guide.


In-text reference: (Ogren, 1859).

Reference list: Ogren, S. J. (1859, January 31). [Letter to Sarah A. Kimball]. Pillsbury Family Papers (RH MS 802, Box 1, Folder 5). Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.


In-text reference: (North, 1915-1917).

  • Hint: Page numbers are omitted, as this diary’s pages are not explicitly numbered.

Reference list: North, L. (1915, January 1 – 1917, May 14). [Diary of Lillian North]. (MS B173). Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

Photograph (Physical Item)

In-text reference: (D’Ambra, 1932).

Reference list: D’Ambra, D. (1932). [Photograph of James Naismith and Forrest Clare “Phog” Allen]. Athletic Department: Coaches and Staff photographs (RG 66/22 Photographs, Folder “Naismith w/ Phog Allen”). University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

Photograph (Digital Item)

In-text reference: (D’Ambra, 1932).

Reference list: D’Ambra, D. (1932). Dr. James Naismith (left) and Dr. Forrest “Phog” Allen (right) [Photograph]. KU Libraries Digital Collections.

Item in a University Archives Record Group

In-text reference: (Women’s Student Government Association, 1909).

Reference list: Women’s Student Government Association (presumed). (ca. 1909). Constitution and by-laws of the Women’s Student Government Association [pamphlet]. Women’s Student Government Association Records (RG 67/43, Box 1 Records 1909-1947, Folder 1909). University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

  • Hint: This citation involves material which doesn’t explicitly state the author or the date, but there is strong evidence (thus the “presumed” and ca.) that it was a group as author and a 1909 date due to in-text references and surrounding material. If there had been nothing indicating an author, the title would have taken its place in the citation. If there had been nothing indicating a date, “n.d.” would have been used.
  • Hint: Some records in University Archives have subsections that are important to note in a citation. For example, the correspondence of each Chancellor is frequently subdivided into sections such as “General,” “State,” and “Departmental.” These sections also frequently have multiple boxes with the same number that are differentiated by the date range of the records included, e.g. Box 1 for the year 1925 and Box 1 for the year 1930. When citing these records, it’s important to be as specific as possible, including all subsection names, box numbers, box date ranges, and folder names/numbers.