Citing Sources from Online Databases Using APA Style

A Note on APA 6th Ed.

The style of citations for online sources has changed substantially with the sixth edition of the Publication manual. The most important change is in how the access information is cited. Articles or other materials found in a database are not cited with the name of the database in which it was found. When possible, a DOI, or Digital Object Identifier, is given. In practice DOIs are mainly available for scholarly journal articles, and not always then. When no DOI is present, the home page of the source publication, not the database, is given.

Another change relates to multiple authors. Up to seven authors are named individually. If there are more than seven, the first six authors and the last author are named, with an ellipsis (...) in between. See the second journal article example, below.

Where To Find the DOI

As mentioned above, the DOI is available mainly for scholarly journals. That means that a database that includes magazines or reference books as well as scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals may have some articles with DOI and some without.

The DOI is sometimes given as part of the text of an article, above or below the abstract. See also under PDF files, below.

Gale Databases (aka Infotrac)

Many, but not all, Gale databases give a DOI where one is available. Click the title of the article to display the abstract/full text page. Click Show details under the journal title. It will be shown in the form

Remove the and substitute doi:



Click on the title of the article to display the full text. The DOI is shown at the top of the Article tab, above the title of the article.

PDF Files (any database)

Some journals print a DOI for each article, usually at the top or bottom of the first page of the article, or near the abstract.

When There's No DOI

If there is a periodical article without a DOI, the APA style requires you to give the home page of the magazine, journal or newspaper. You will have to look this up using a search engine such as Google.

Articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers

APA style calls for references to be typed double-spaced, in hanging indention, as shown in the examples. Periodical titles should be written in italics.


General Format for Articles:

Author [Last name], A. [First initial(s)], Author, B., & Author, C. (Year). 
      Article title. Periodical Name, volume (add issue if necessary), paging 
      if given, or other indicator of length. doi: or Retrieved from URL of periodical 
      home page

Magazine Articles

For magazines, give specific issue month and day. Examples:

Thurston, P. (2009, March 15). Conflict along the Amazon. Spectrum, 35(12), 

      26-27. Retrieved from
Jost, K. (2004, November 5). Sentencing debates. CQ Researcher, 14(39), 

      925-948. Retrieved from

Journal Articles

Example of Journal Article With No DOI

Article was found on a library database, but by rule, the home page of the journal is given in the citation.

McMaster, K. L., Kung, S., Han, I., & Cao, M. (2008). Peer-assisted 

      learning strategies: A "Tier 1" approach to promoting English learners' 

      response to intervention. Exceptional Children 74, 194-214. 

      Retrieved from

Example of an Article With Eight Or More Authors, With DOI

Fredericks, S., Jordan, F., Burke, M., Yancey, T., Jackson, M., Trollope,

       A.,...Kong, K. (2008). Cognitive ergonomics and concept-stage 

       desk design. Journal of Ergonomic Research, 25(3), 64-283.

Newspaper Articles

Example from Article on LexisNexis Academic:

Pollack, A. (2011, July 12). In Midwest, flutters may be far fewer. 

      New York Times D1. Retrieved from      

Aggregated Databases (Combined Periodical and Reference): Literature Resource Center

Articles Reprinted in Gale Reference Books

These reprints appear in the Literature Resource Center and can be identified by the phrase Rpt. in at the beginning of a second line of source information on the results page:

picture of Literature Resource Center result
Palmer, J.W. (2004). From Owl Creek to la Riviere du Hibou: The film 

      adaptation of Bierce's "An occurrence at Owl Creek bridge." 

      In J. Palmisano (Ed.), Short Story Criticism, 72 (pp. 363-371).

      Detroit: Gale. (Reprinted from Southern Humanities Review, 11, 363-71,
      1977) Retrieved from

Articles Taken Directly from Journals

Journal articles show the title of the journal followed by a volume and issue number, with a date in parentheses. There is no "Rpt." statement:

picture of journal citation in Literature Resource Center

Articles which have not been reprinted in a reference book are cited like any other periodical article without a DOI:

Samide, D.E. (2005, May). Anatomy of a classic: Ambrose Bierce cleverly used 

      some key literary tools in crafting his Civil War tale "An occurrence at 
      Owl Creek Bridge." The Writer, 118(5), 42. Retrieved from 

Aggregated Reference Databases

Aggregated Reference Databases: Gale Virtual Reference Library

Roberts, T. M. (2003). Know-Nothing Party. In S. I. Kutler (Ed.), Dictionary

      of American History (3rd ed., Vol. 4, pp. 540-541). New York: Charles 
      Scribner's Sons. Retrieved from

Aggregated Reference Databases: Oxford Reference Online

Crocker, R. (2001). Addams, Jane. In P.S. Boyer (Ed.), The Oxford Companion to 

      United States History. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from

Aggregated Reference Databases: LexisNexis Academic

picture of LexisNexis categories display

Periodical (newspaper and magazine) articles in LexisNexis Academic are cited in the ordinary way. Reference works are somewhat problematic, as it is not always easy to identify whether there was an original printed publication, and complete publication information for the original printed publication is not given. Citations of articles from reference books generally give the specific URL for the article, but LexisNexis does not provide persistent URLs, so we recommend using the URL for the database.

In looking at LexisNexis results, you may find it helpful to filter your results by clicking on the Categories at left of the results screen. They will help you to know whether you are looking at directories (i.e., reference materials), magazine articles, etc.

Jeannette Elizabeth Brown. (2009, September 11). The Complete Marquis 

      Who's Who (R) biographies. Marquis Who's Who. Retrieved from  

Note: LexisNexis Academic also includes laws, regulations, and other legal information. Legal citations follow a complex system. Ask your librarian for assistance.

General Format for Electronic Books:

Author [Last name], A. [Initial(s)] (Year). Title of the book. 
	Place of publication: publisher. Retrieved from [URL (of publisher's home page)]


Evans, C. D., & Tippins, E. (2007). The foundations of emergency care. 

       Maidenhead, Berkshire: McGraw-Hill/Open University Press.  Retrieved 


Example of art images from a database such as ARTstor or CAMIO:

Riemenschneider, T. (Sculptor). [ca. 1490-1500]. Saint Jerome and the  

      Lion. [Photograph of sculpture in alabaster]. Cleveland Museum 
       of Art. Retrieved from

Square brackets around the date indicate that is an approximation. The medium of the art object is given in square brackets after the title.

Example of photograph from a photo database such as Britannica Image Quest:

Child, M. (2007). Kafka statue, Old Town, Prague, Czech Republic, Europe

      [Photograph]. Robert Harding World Imagery. Encyclopædia 
      Britannica Image Quest. Retrieved from

Streaming Video 

Messina, C. (Producer) & Gorrie, J. (Director). (1980). Twelfth Night, or, what you 

     will. W. Shakespeare (Writer).  [Motion picture on streaming video]. London:

     BBC. Retrieved from



Note: APA guidelines for streaming media of performances are scanty. This is our suggestion.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the 
      American Psychological Association (6th ed).  Washington, D.C.: 
      Author.  ·See also

An audiovisual tutorial on APA style, 6th ed., can be found at More examples of citations can be found at

To comment or request help, please e-mail Reference or call 503.399.5231.

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Updated: 6 February 2012