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How to Cite a Textbook in APA Format

How to Cite a Textbook in APA Format
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  • 0:04 What is the APA Format?
  • 0:51 Basic Format for a Textbook
  • 2:17 How Editions Work
  • 3:06 The Main Body: In-Text…
  • 5:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brittany Cross

Brittany teaches middle school Language Arts and has a master's degree for designing secondary reading curriculum.

Citing your sources, or giving proper credit to resources you use to find information, can help you to avoid plagiarism. In this lesson, we discover the appropriate style for citing a textbook in APA format.

What is the APA Format?

APA, short for American Psychological Association, is a specific format for papers written in fields such as psychology or education. As you write a paper in APA format, you'll break it into four sections: your title page, the abstract, the main body, and references. When you cite a source, you first need to add the citation to your reference page. This is the last page of your paper where you will compile a list of all the resources you used to help you to write your paper.

Think of a citation as being similar to a formula you might use in math. Once you have all of the information you need to describe your source, such as the date of publication, authors, editors, etc., you simply plug the information into the correct formula for a textbook, and you have the perfect APA citation.

Basic Format for a Textbook

When we look at what to include in our textbook citation, here is the most simple model with only one author:

  • Author's Last Name, F. I. (Year of publication). Title of work: Subtitle goes here. Location: Publisher.

As we fill this in with real information, we can end with a real example that may look like the following:

  • Keating, J. K. (1992). The Seven Wonders: The changing world around us. New York, NY: Red Penguin Publishers.

There are a few important things to observe about APA formatting. The first is that the author's last name always comes first. Rather than following this up with a first name, initials for the first and middle name are used instead. Secondly, the title of the textbook will be italicized, yet it will only use capital letters for the first word of the title and the word directly following the colon if there is a subtitle included. Finally, proper nouns such as 'Seven Wonders' are always capitalized.

Let's now take a look at how it looks when there's two or more authors. Don't worry, though; the change from one author to two, or several, is fairly simple. If you look at the example here, we have added a comma and an ampersand (&), and then followed the same format for last name coming first followed by first and middle initials. If a middle initial is not provided, simply go with the first initial only.

  • Keating, J. K., & Harlington, T. R. (1992). The Seven Wonders: The changing world around us. New York, NY: Red Penguin Publishers.

Here's what it looks like when there's no author, but only editors:

  • Thomson, O. P., & Angus, J. R. (Eds.). (1992). The Seven Wonders: The changing world around us. New York, NY: Red Penguin Publishers.

Finally, here's how the whole thing looks when both the author and the editor is shown:

  • Keating, J. K., & Harlington, T. R. (1992). The Seven Wonders: The changing world around us. Thomson, O. P., & Angus, J. R. (Eds.). New York, NY: Red Penguin Publishers.

How Editions Work

New editions of textbooks are often published, marking changes in the publication over time. If your textbook is not the first edition, you need to be certain to cite the correct edition you are referencing, since information varies from one edition to the next.

To show the textbook edition, follow this format:

  • Keating, J. K. (1992). The Seven Wonders: The changing world around us (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Red Penguin Publishers.

One final consideration for citing a textbook is to follow the format for citing only a piece of the text, or in other words, a chapter. If you only use information from one chapter of the book, go ahead and cite specifically by following this model:

  • Keating, J. K. (1992). Iconic monuments in Australia. The Seven Wonders: The changing world around us. (pp. 93-112). New York, NY: Red Penguin Publishers.

Notice a few subtle differences: the chapter name is included after the date of publication (with the same capitalization rules as the main text title) and the page numbers of the chapter are included towards the end of the citation using the abbreviation 'pp.'

The Main Body: In-Text Citations

Even though you have already listed the textbook citation on your reference page, you're also going to need to use in-text citations for the information you put in your paper. The format for a direct quote includes the author, the year the text was published, and the page number where you found your information:

  • According to Keating (1992), 'What were once considered the seven greatest wonders of the world may be losing relevance in light of recent geological discoveries' (p. 675).

Even if you're summarizing or paraphrasing information, you must still cite it. You just don't need to include quotation marks. For example, you may change the direct quote and put it in your own words by writing the following:

  • According to Keating (1992), many geological discoveries in the last century have made some people reconsider what the Seven Wonders of the World should be.

You could also include the page number in a format like this:

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