APSA Style: 6 Guidelines for Perfect In-Text Citation - Custom Scholars

APSA Style: 6 Guidelines for Perfect In-Text Citation

APSA StyleWhat is APSA style?

The APSA style is favored by political science scholars but may also be used in other disciplines as it is a simple parenthetical style. This style is very similar to APA with a few differences especially in how the bibliographical information for multiple author sources is presented.

American Political Science Association (APSA style) is the official style for students, professors, scholars, editors, and publishers in the field of political science, and the style pays special attention to government documents. The first iterations of the manual were predicated on the writing style used in the association’s first journal, the American Political Science Review.

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According to the APSA Style Manual, this style, for the most part, mirrors guidelines in the 17th Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). The style aims to streamline publications in the field of political science, while allowing for specific journals to vary in their style requirements.formatting in APSA

The APSA Style manual does not give too many instructions on how to format but it does give general guidelines. Double-space between each line of type on the page. Double-space between all lines of the paper.

Only use single-spacing or one-and-a-half spacing for block quotes. Leave uniform margins of at least 1 inch (2.54 cm.) at the top, bottom, left and right of every page. Do not justify lines. Use the flush left style and the right margin uneven.

Title Page

According to the manual, in APSA style class papers will either include a title page or include the title on the first page of the text. The title should be centered and placed a third of way down the page. Your name, class information, and the date should follow several lines later. For subtitles, end the title line with a colon and place the subtitle on the line below the title. Double-space each line of the title page.

Why do citations matter?

Whenever you refer to someone’s words or ideas, whether you are paraphrasing, summarizing, or quoting, you have a responsibility to your readers to cite your source. If you do not cite your source’s words or information, you are plagiarizing. Whether intentional or accidental, plagiarism has consequences.

Understanding your citation style can go a long way toward helping you write responsibly. Political science is especially dependent on previous publications and academic works which must be acknowledged. While APSA was created specifically for political science, the discipline may also use other referencing styles like APA.

In-text citations in APSA

The APSA style uses the author-date citation style as detailed in CMS, also known as a parenthetical citation. This citation format appears at the end of the sentence and is set off by parentheses. The following are in-text citation according to the APSA style manual.

All the information you need for citing in APSA. Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

  1. When citing multiple sources together, include them in the same parentheses but separate the sources by a semicolon. They should be in alphabetical order. Example (Author Year; Author Year; Author Year)
  2. Multiple sources by the same author, which are published in different years, are cited in one parenthetical citation. Example: (author’s last name year; year) or (author’s last name year, page; year, page)
  3. When using the author’s name in the sentence, include the year of publication immediately after the name. Example: “Author (Year) analyzed data surrounding…”
  4. A parenthetical citation in APSA for a statute or a court case should include the name of the case or the statute and the year.
  5. If the same source is being used in a single paragraph multiple times, only page numbers are needed after the first reference.
  6. Abbreviate organizations after the first citation. Example: First use “United Nations (Year, pg.; hereafter UN) …” Second use “. . . (UN Year, pg.).”

The in-text citation may differ for different situations:

Summary or paraphrase
  • Last name of the author(s), editors(s), OR translator(s)
  • Year of publication (n.d. if there is no date, forthcoming if it is not yet published)
  • There is no comma between the last name and the year; the use of the terms ed. or eds. or trans. are not used in the parenthetical citation.
Direct quote
  • The numbers can be cited as inclusive or nonconsecutive
  • There is no comma between the last name and the year, but there is a comma after the year and before the page or chapter number.
Multiple authors
  • With two or three authors, cite all names each time—use and, not an ampersand (&)
  • With four or more authors, use et al. after the first author’s last name—if there are multiple authors with the same last name, use the first and second authors’ last names.
Two authors with the same last name Include the authors’ first initials to distinguish between the two. Example: “B. Other (2012) and F. Other (2013) believed that…”

References Page in APSA Style

The author-date format is used in APSA style is used for both in-text citations and the References page. Block quotes: a quote consisting of more than a hundred words, roughly two or more paragraphs, is in need of general emphasis and should be set apart in a block quote.

Omit the periods in the abbreviations for academic degrees (PhD, MA, and MBA); the spelled-out terms should always be lowercase.  Abbreviate civil and military titles, unless proceeding only the surname. Numbers zero through nine should be written out; use Arabic numerals for the number 10 and above; however, spell out well-rounded numbers. Example: “At age 62, Sherlock Holmes could still spot one hundred minuscule details of a crime scene in two minutes.”

APSA Referencing Rules

General format:

  • The name(s) of the author, editor, or translator should be written as it appears in the text.
  • The first author, editor, or translator’s name is inverted (last name, first name) but every other name is not inverted (first name last name). In addition, use and not the ampersand (&) when listing two or more authors. Example: Doe, John and James Doe…
  • Only use et al. in a Reference citation when there are 10 or more authors—in this case, you would list the first seven authors and then use et al.
  • Organization titles are used if an author is not available, even if the organization is also the publisher.
  • When using an editor or translator, because there is no author listed, the abbreviation ed., eds. or trans. follows the name of the editor(s) or translator(s) and is preceded by a comma.
  • The work title should only be used in place of the author’s name if there is no author, editor, translator, organization, association, or corporation listed.

Dates and pages:

  • Year of publication is the only part of the date needed on the References page; the most recent year should be used; if there is not a year, use n.d.; if the work is not yet published, use forthcoming. p. and pp. should be omitted
  • For eBooks or other scrollable text sources, a chapter number or heading title should be used in place of a page number.
  • Access dates are only necessary if a publication or revision date is unavailable, but it is not incorrect to include the access date.

DOIs and URLs

For all online sources, include a digital object identifier (DOI), if available. If a DOI is unavailable, use the URL. The DOI is formatted as: doi: number here


Book: Author(s). Year. Title of the Work. Publication Location: Publisher.

Journal: Author(s). Year. “Article Title.” Journal Title Volume # (Issue # OR Month):


DOI/URL: Author(s). Year. “Title of Article.” Journal Title Volume # (Issue # OR Month):

Pages. DOI/URL. Accessed date.

One author book Last Name, First Name. Year. Book Title. City: Publisher.
Two author books Last Name, First Name Initial., and First Name Last Name. Year. Book Title. City: Publisher.
Chapter from book Last Name, First Name Initial. Year. “Chapter Title.” In Book Title, ed. First Name Last Name and First Name Last Name. City, State:  Publisher.
Journal Article Last Name, First Name Initial, and First Name Last Name. Year. “Article Title.” Journal Name Vol (Issue): page range.Author. Year. “Article Title.” Journal Name Vol (Issue): 519-535. Database.
Newspaper Article Author. Year. “Article Title.” Newspaper Name, dd mm.Newspaper Name. Year. “Article Title.” dd mm.

Author. Year. “Article Title.” Newspaper Name, dd mm. link (date accessed mm dd, yyyy)

Documentaries Last Name, First Name. Year. Documentary Name. Studio. Link (accessed mm dd, yyyy)


The APSA style has pretty straight forward characteristics. It is fairly simple and mostly uses periods instead of commas in the reference list. If you are keen enough, you can grasp the guidelines. However, if you do have trouble you can hire one of the professionals at Custom Scholars to check you work.

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