114 Creating a Reference Page

The brief citations included in the body of your paper correspond to the more detailed entries provided at the end of the paper in the reference section (APA, 2020). In-text citations provide basic information—the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number if necessary—while the reference section provides more extensive information, which allows your reader to follow up on the sources you cited and do additional reading about the topic if desired.

The information included depends on the type of reference, but as per APA (2020), the elements of a reference entry contains:

  1. The name(s) of the author(s) or institution/organization that wrote the source.
  2. The date (most references only require the year of publication).
  3. The full title.
  4. The source information, which varies based on the source, but may include:
  • For books, the book title, the city of publication, and name of publisher.
  • For journal articles, the journal title, the volume number, issue number, and pages where the article appears.
  • The journal article DOI (digital object identifier) when it is available, as opposed to the URL (uniform resource locator). A DOI is an identification code provided for some online documents, typically articles in scholarly journals. Like a URL, its purpose is to help readers locate an article. However, a DOI is more stable than a URL, so it makes sense to include it in your reference entry when possible. If not available, include a link to the journal’s homepage. To do this, you are expected to do an internet search and find the journal’s homepage. Here is an example of a homepage: Retrieved from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/13652648 Do NOT put a period after a DOI or a URL and begin with http:// or https://
  • For sources on the web (such as a government website or the CNO website), the URL where the source is located should be included.

Student Tip

URL Links

Do not include the URL link in which you accessed a journal article through your library’s database. This information is not helpful because if a person reading your reference page clicked on the link, they would only be able to access it if they had institutional access to your specific library and were logged in. Thus, you would never include the following link:


Tips for formatting your reference page according to APA (2020) include:

  • Begin on a new page and title it, “References” – the first letter is capitalized, and the word is bolded and centred.
  • Doubled spaced.
  • Use a handing indent of 0.5 inch meaning that a reference’s first line is flush left and subsequent lines of the reference are indented.
  • Include all works cited in your paper and only works cited in your paper.
  • Format the list in alphabetical order (based on the first author’s last name of a citation).
    • Note, the authors’ names should be listed in the same order that they are presented in the original article.
  • Capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns.
  • The first line of each entry in your reference list should be left justified and remaining lines indented one-half inch from the left margin, which is called hanging indentation.
  • Always include a DOI if it is available.

Attribution statement

The introductory paragraphs were adapted, with editorial changes, from:

Writing for Success 1st Canadian Edition by Tara Horkoff, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted. Download for free at: https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/

The tips on APA reference style were integrated with our own original content, and adapted from:

Write Here, Right Now by Dr. Paul Chafe, Aaron Tucker with chapters from Dr. Kari Maaren, Dr. Martha Adante, Val Lem, Trina Grover and Kelly Dermody, under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Download this book for free at: https://pressbooks.library.ryerson.ca/writehere/


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The Scholarship of Writing in Nursing Education: 1st Canadian Edition Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Lapum; Oona St-Amant; Michelle Hughes; Andy Tan; Arina Bogdan; Frances Dimaranan; Rachel Frantzke; and Nada Savicevic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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