Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

APA: mini-workshops, exercises, examples, and more!

Shhh don't tell!

Ahhh, the Reference list!

Do you ever get bogged down just trying to find the right place for yet another comma, or should it be a period?  If you find yourself wanting to pull your hair out over such details, rest assured that the library is here for you!  Fortunately, many of our online article collections have a citation app that pulls the relevant citation pieces together into an entry for your reference list.

As an example, break open Business Source Complete, search for the article, Crafting the American Culture, and hit the Cite link on the far right hand side. Presto!  Your citation awaits!

DEL BUONO, A. (2015). CRAFTING THE AMERICAN CULTURE. (cover story). Beverage Industry, 106(11), 30-38.


Myth: These citation apps always craft accurate citations.

While the citation apps are a useful feature, they sometimes get it wrong, a lot, and for good measure.  Isn't it better that students learn some things about APA, rather than simply engaging in the motions of clicking, copying and pasting?  To that end, the citations are constructed using the, "as is" citation parts found in the article record fields of the database, and using the rules of APA.

In this example the Title and Author article record fields look like this:




Let's try to fix it up!

p.s. Even the database providers know their citation apps are not flawless.  Many students do not see such warnings provided by the database vendors.

Here is the warning supplied by the Business Source Complete vendor:

"NOTE: Review the instructions at EBSCO Connect and make any necessary corrections before using. Pay special attention to personal names, capitalization, and dates.  Always consult your library resources for the exact formatting and punctuation guidelines."

This is my favorite part: "Always consult your library resources..."

Getting it Right!

In order to get it right, you will need to acquire a familiarity with a few basic forms.  If you do not have your own personal copy of the seventh edition, the library has several copies for loan!  There is also a separate, and much shorter APA guide to get you on track!

Here is the basic form for a magazine article, in an online collection (database):

Author Surname, Initials. (Year, Month Day). Title of article: Subtitle here. Title of Journal, Volume number(Issue number), page range.


Using this basic form, we can improve our entry for the reference list like this:

Del Buono, A. (2015, November). Crafting the American Culture. Beverage Industry, 106(11), 30-38.

In past editions, retrieval statements, including the name of the article database, and/or urls were important and included after the page range.  However, in keeping current with the pace of online access, the seventh edition has decided to drop retrieval statements in most cases.  Section 9.30 reads, in part, "Database and archive information is seldom needed in reference list entries.  The purpose of a reference list entry is to provide readers with the details they will need to perform a search themselves if necessary, not to replicate the path the author of the work personally used." (Publication Manual, 2020, p. 296)


Changes from the sixth to the seventh edition will be gradually reflected, over time,  in the variety of citation tools and resources.  When in doubt, ask a librarian.  You can also contact me:

One Final Check!

After one final check, you are good to go! 

ProTip: For this part, access to the precise article pages is key. (as displayed in a pdf, for example)


It can be helpful to carefully examine the article itself for citation accuracy.  Occasionally, the sub-title is not reflected in the article record, and perhaps the pages are incorrectly defined in the article record as well.  By looking at the whole article, you will discover that the article begins on page 30 and ends on page 38, just as it appears in the article record fields. However, text and graphics of the article only appear on the following pages 30, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, and 38.

According to APA, this information should be represented in the reference list entry as follows: 30, 32-34, 36-38.

Section 9.25 has the following to say about page ranges in periodical sources: "Write the page range... after a comma and the issue number, without italics.  Separate page numbers in a range by an en dash*, followed by a period. Separate discontinuous page numbers by commas. 39-47, 50." (American Psychological Association, 2020, p. 294)


At last, the complete reference list entry:

Del Buono, A. (2015, November). Crafting the American Culture. Beverage Industry106(11), 30, 32-34, 36-38.

*Knowing when to draw the line

*If you are so inclined, I would be happy to discuss, at length, the differences between an en dash, em dash, hyphen, and a minus sign.  However, it will take a few pints before this particular discussion gets started.

Class Exercise

This exercise has the following aims:

1. Become familiar with a few commonly used basic forms for reference list entries.

2. Knowledge of the appropriate use of database citation applications.

3. Builds critical thinking awareness in the process of collecting references and formatting reference list entries.

Follow these steps:

1. Use the library's article databases to find a handful of articles (4 or 5) that you would like to consider using for an assignment.

2. Use the citation app in the database(s) to construct a reference list entry for each article. Put these into a word processing document.

3. Below each citation app generated entry, make any necessary corrections. (Use the Warm Up tab in this guide as a point of reference)

4. Scan through each whole article to see if more changes are necessary.  If there are more changes needed, make them below the second entry you just created.

5. Finally, format a proper reference list. (Use the examples that appear below.)

6. Bonus points if you find incorrect information in the article record, separate from errors in the citation app outcome. (for example, the article entry says issue 3, but in fact it is issue 4)


Exercise Examples

1. Entry generated by the citation app

McHARGUE, M. (2020). Make a Resolution to Avoid COMMON LEADERSHIP MISTAKES. AMA Quarterly, 5(4), 33-36.

Corrected entry

McHargue, M. (2020). Make a resolution to avoid common leadership mistakes. AMA Quarterly, 5(4), 33-36.

After reviewing the complete article, there are no more corrections to be made.


2. Entry generated by the citation app*

Herbers, A. (2016). 8 Leadership Mistakes That Hurt Your Firm. Investment Advisor, 36(10), 47-48.

Corrected entry

Herbers, A. (2016, October) 8 leadership mistakes that hurt your firm. Investment Advisor, 36(10), 47-48.

After reviewing the complete article, there are no more corrections to be made.




Herbers, A. (2016, October) 8 leadership mistakes that hurt your firm. Investment Advisor36(10), 47-48.

McHargue, M. (2020). Make a resolution to avoid common leadership mistakes. AMA Quarterly5(4), 33-36.

*Citation App Disaster!

The library gathers together magazine, journal, and newspaper subscriptions that are housed in different vendor aggregated databases.  Therefore, it is possible that a subscription to a particular magazine or journal lives in more than one database.  For example, a subscription to Investment Advisor lives in Business Source Complete, Business Insights Global and Research Library.  Below is the citation app's reference list entry for the Herbers article! (as found in Research Library)

Herbers, A. (2016). 8 leadership mistakes that hurt your firm. Investment Advisor, Retrieved from

This manufactured citation is a jumbled mess, that removes clarity from your good work!

chat loading...