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How to Format a Bibliography in APA Style

When doing research, such as for a paper or a book, one of the most important things you would have to keep in mind is your bibliography. Since this is where you list all the sources you used for your work, it is vital that you make yours properly. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from using aids like simple annotated bibliography templates to make the work easier.

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However, even if sample annotated bibliography templates and other templates can make the work easier, you still have to consider that there are different formats such as APA format examples. After all, each kind of citation style is distinct, so it pays to know how to format your bibliography so that it conforms to basic standards. This is an important thing to keep in mind if you want your work to make a good impression on your readers.

Steps for Formatting an APA Bibliography

There are several steps you need to keep in mind so that you can make a bibliography according to the standard APA style, even if you used a blank annotated bibliography template to guide you through the process. You would want to make sure that your bibliography is not confused for an MLA annotated bibliography, which has completely different standards. In any case, some of the steps to keep in mind include:

First, construct a basic list as a framework.

Before you start with the more specific directions, you should start with a basic list where you can place all the items you used for your work. There are sample templates like sample teaching annotated bibliography templates that you can use to give yourself a basic framework around which you can make your bibliography. This is a piece of advice that you might want to apply to practically any kind of bibliography since this is true of any kind of style.

Begin with the author’s last name.

When actually adding the specific details for a given source in an APA annotated bibliography template, you need to start with the author’s name. In the case of APA format, you need to begin with the author’s last name. After the last name, you use a comma to separate it from the rest of the name. The rest of the author’s name needs to be included as initials followed by a period. In case you are dealing with multiple authors at a time, you need to separate each author’s name with a comma, and then you need to place an ampersand before the last author’s name. The rules are also somewhat different if there are more than seven authors. In that case, you need to place an ellipsis after the sixth author to represent the other authors, after which you simply add the last author’s name.

List the publication date.

You also need to take the date of the source’s publication into account. You have to place the date after the author’s name, specifically by spelling out the date and placing it within parentheses, followed by a period. In the case of periodicals, you need to add a comma followed by the specific date the periodical was released. In the event your source does not have a date listed, then you simply add “n.d.” within the parentheses to indicate no date.

Enter the particular source’s title.

As you might have seen in some bibliography templates you may have used as examples, you do have to include a given source’s title next. Only the first letter of the title needs to be capitalized, even in the case of books. Speaking of books, book titles need to be italicized. However, the titles of periodical titles or articles can be written as normal text so you need not worry about any special requirements on their part.

Next, include the name and location of the publisher.

Aside from crediting the author and the specific source, you do always need to include the publisher to make it easier to verify your claims in your work. As such, the publisher of a book and their location need to be added to any simple annotated bibliography. First, you need to include the publisher’s location. In the case of American publications, you start with the city and state. For foreign publications, you need to list the city, state or province, then the name of the country. After this, you can list the publisher’s name followed by a period.

Include the publication title.

In the case of articles, you need to include the full name of the periodical in which the article was published. You need to spell out the full name of the periodical in your Word annotated bibliography, using the same capitalization and punctuation as the periodical itself. All major words in the periodical’s name need to be capitalized, and the title needs to be italicized. Periodicals also need to have the volume, issues, and page numbers listed in your sample blank annotated bibliography templates to make the details more specific. After the publication title, you should include the volume number, then the issue number in parentheses, finally followed by the relevant page numbers and a period.

For online publications, be sure to include the URL.

This is a requirement best suited for any articles you found on websites. In those cases, your free annotated bibliography should include the website’s URL. This is done by adding the words “Retrieved from,” followed by the URL proper. In this case, you need not include the date you accessed the website.


Hopefully, this advice should better prepare you for applying the APA format to your bibliography. This is important when you consider that different fields usually require different styles, so it pays to know what the standards are for the one most relevant to yours. In this case, you would need to know how to make such a bibliography properly so that those who might want to check your sources can have an easier time of it. This also helps make sure that you conform to the standards so that your work reflects a proper sense of professionalism.

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