APA Style Electronic Formats

by Dr. Mary Ellen Guffey

Revised 2005


The following formats and examples are offered as models for references that might appear in the text and in the “References” section (bibliography) of a business writer's research paper. The formats are based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition (2001). In the basic formats and examples presented, every effort has been made to maintain consistency with published APA formats. When no model format for a specific kind of electronic source could be found in the Publication Manual, I extrapolated a logical APA format. Below are special considerations for business writers using APA formats to cite electronic sources:

  • Avoid dividing an electronic address at the end of a line. If absolutely necessary, divide it at a slash (/) or before a period. (Although it might seem more logical to divide it after a period, APA style specifically states before a period.)
  • For the titles of books, use italics and "sentence-style" capitalization. This means that for a title only the first word, all proper nouns, and the first word after an internal colon are to be capitalized. (Example: How to make money in French and German stocks: Your personal guide)
  • For titles of magazines and journals, use italics and "headline" style capitalization. This means that the first letter of each important word should be capitalized. (Example: U.S. News & World Report)
  • For the titles of magazine and journal articles, do not use underlining, italics, or quotation marks. Use "sentence-style" capitalization. (Example for an article in a magazine: Jobs in jeopardy. Management Review)
  • APA suggests that writers citing Web items refer to specific Web site documents rather than to home or menu pages. APA also advises writers to strive to provide addresses (URLs) that are typed correctly and that work. Continually check your references to Web documents; if the addresses of any of those documents change, update your references before you submit your paper.
  • If an Internet document is undated, insert "(n.d.)" immediately after the document title.
  • E-mail messages may be cited in the text, but APA warns against listing them in the "References" section because such messages are unrecoverable.

An in-text citation should be placed in parentheses. If a specific page is being referenced, the citation should ideally include the author's name, the date of publication, and the number of the specific page being referenced. Example: (Cheek & Buss, 1981, p. 332). For electronic sources that do not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number, if available, preceded by the abbreviation "para." Example: (Myers, 2004, para. 5). If neither paragraph nor page numbers are provided, direct the reader to the location of the referenced material by indicating the heading that precedes the material and, counting down from that heading, the number of the paragraph containing the material. Example: (Beutler, 2004, "Conclusion" section, para. 1).
If an electronic document does not indicate the name of the author(s), refer to the document by repeating the first few words of its title. Example: (“Study Finds,” 2005). If the information being referred to appears on an untitled Web page, indicate in the text of your paper where the reader is to look if he or she wishes to find a full reference to the Web site that contains that page. Example:

More companies today are using data mining to unlock hidden value in their data. The data mining program “Clementine,” described at the SPSS Web site, helps organizations predict market share and detect possible fraud (SPSS, n.d.).

Readers of the preceding example will know to look for the complete citation under "SPSS" in the "References" section.
The following business-oriented examples are based on formats recommended in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition. APA promises to update its recommended formats at its Web site <http://www.apastyle.org/elecref.html> when future changes in electronic media warrant such revisions. 

[This Web page was specifically designed for viewing with a Web browser. Some students who print a copy of it may find that, if the system they are using is currently configured to print pages with large margins, their printed copy varies in minor ways from what they saw on their computer screens and from what APA has recommended. For example, the lines of the format examples may occasionally break at non-standard places. With this contingency in mind, we have also prepared a Microsoft Word version (apa.doc; 42K) of this page that students are invited to download and print.] 



1. INTERNET ARTICLE BASED ON A MAGAZINE OR JOURNAL PRINT SOURCE

Basic Form

Author(s). (Date–indicate “n.d.” if date is unknown). Title [Electronic version].
Magazine or Journal Title, volume (issue, if given), paging. [Add the date
of retrieval and the URL only if you believe that the print version differs
from the electronic version.]

Example

Honeycutt, E. D., Glassman, M., Zugelder, M. T., & Karande, K. ( 2001, July).
Determinants of ethical behavior: A study of autosalespeople
[Electronic version]. Journal of Business Ethics, 32 (1), 69-79.



2. ARTICLE IN AN INTERNET-ONLY MAGAZINE OR JOURNAL

Basic Form

Author(s). (Date). Title. Magazine or Journal Title, volume (issue), paging
(if given). Retrieved [access date] from [URL]

Example

Whetstone, J.T. (2002). Civility and the cell phone: What would George
Washington say? Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization
Studies,
7(1). Retrieved March 3, 2003, from http://ejbo.jyu.fi/index.cgi?
page=articles/0701_6



3. MAGAZINE OR JOURNAL ARTICLE FROM A DATABASE

Basic Form

Author(s). (Date). Title. Magazine or Journal Title, volume (issue), paging.
Retrieved [date], from [database], Article No. (if given).

Example

Blackburn-Brockman, E. & Belanger, K. (2001, January). One page or two?
A national study of CPA recruiters' preferences for resume length. The
Journal of Business Communication, 38
(1), 29. Retrieved February 28,
2003, from InfoTrac College Edition database, Article No. A71327300.


4. NEWSPAPER ARTICLE (ELECTRONIC VERSION AVAILABLE BY SEARCH)

Basic Form

Author(s). (Date). Title. Name of Newspaper. Retrieved [date] from [URL]

Example

Hilts, P. J. (1999, February 16). In forecasting their emotions, most people
flunk out. New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2000, from
http://www.nytimes.com



5. INTERNET GOVERNMENT REPORT

Basic Form

Sponsoring agency. (Date). Title. (Publication data). Retrieved [date] from
[name of organization and URL]

Example

U.S. General Accounting Office. (1997, February). Telemedicine: Federal
strategy is needed to guide investments
. (Publication No. GAO/NSAID/
HEHS-97-67). Retrieved September 15, 2000, from General Accounting
Office Reports Online via GPA Access: http://www.access.gpo.gov/
su_docs/aces/aces160.shtml?/gao/index.html



6. STAND-ALONE INTERNET DOCUMENT (NO AUTHOR, NO DATE)

Basic Form

Document title or name of Web page. (n.d.) Retrieved [date] from [URL]

Example

GVU's 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2000, from
http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/user_surveys/survey-1997-10/



7. DOCUMENT FROM COMPLEX WEB SITE (AUTHOR[S] IDENTIFIED)

Basic Form

Author(s). (Date). Title. Retrieved [date] from [Host business, agency
or program]: [URL]

Example

Gordon, C. H., Simmons, P., & Wynn, G. (2001). Plagiarism: What it is,
and how to avoid it
. Retrieved July 24, 2001, from Biology Program Guide
2001/2002 at the University of British Columbia Web site: http://www.
zoology.ubc.ca/bpg/plagiarism.htm



8. NONPERIODICAL MULTIPAGE WEB DOCUMENT (NO AUTHOR, NO DATE)

Basic Form

Name of sponsoring organization or title of site. (Date). Document name.
Retrieved [date] from [URL]

Example

Greater New Milford (Ct) Area Healthy Community 2000, Task Force on Teen
and Adolescent Issues. (n.d.). Who has time for a family meal? You do!
Retrieved October 5, 2000, from http://www.familymealtime.org


9. INTERNET ADOBE ACROBAT DOCUMENT (PDF)

Basic Form

Author or sponsoring organization. (Date). Document title or name of Web page.
Retrieved [date] from [pdf page] at [URL]

Example

Harris Interactive Inc. (2002). Web@work survey 2002: Cyber-addiction in the
workplace. Retrieved March 3, 2003, from page 3 at http://www.websense.
com/company/news/research/webatwork2002.pdf



10. MESSAGE POSTED TO AN ONLINE FORUM OR DISCUSSION GROUP

Basic Form

Author(s). (Date of posting). Message subject line [Message ID]. Message
posted to [group address]

Example

Weylman, C. R. (2002, September 4). Make news to achieve positive press
[Msg. 98]. Message posted to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sales-
marketing-tips/message/98



11. MESSAGE POSTED TO A NEWSGROUP

Basic Form

Author(s). (Date of posting). Message subject line [Message ID]. Message
posted to [newsgroup address]

Example

Yudkin, M. (2001, July 4). The marketing minute: Truth is always in season
[Msg. ID: ruf6kt0aiu5eui6523qsrofhu70h21evoj@4ax.com]. Message
posted to news://biz.ecommerce


*Dr. Mary Ellen Guffey is the author of Business Communication: Process and Product, 5e (South-Western/Thomson, 2006); Essentials of Business Communication, 6e (South-Western/Thomson, 2004); Business English, 8e (South-Western/Thomson, 2005); and Professional English, 1e (South-Western/Thomson, 2005). She and Carolyn M. Seefer are co-authors of Essentials of College English, 3e (South-Western/Thomson, 2005)..