Big Changes to Reference List

Image by ElasticComputeFarm from Pixabay
APA Common Citations and References
If you do not see the podcast player, click here to listen.

APA Style 7th edition introduced some big changes to the references list that you will want to keep straight. Let’s start with the nomenclature. The list of references at the end of an APA formatted paper has long been referred to as the “references page” as a simple Google search will demonstrate, but the omission of this term in the APA manual makes it clear that “reference list” is the preferred term. In addition, APA no longer uses the term reference citations or full citations to refer to the bibliographic information about the sources that appear on the references list. That content is now called reference entries or references or even reference list entries. The term “citations” is now exclusively used to refer only to in-text citations. (For additional information, check out last week’s blogcast titled “New APA Lingo.”)

In terms of the basic formatting on the reference list, the one difference is the word “References” is not only centered at the top of the page, but it is also now bolded. I have to wonder to what extent this change is a result of so many students bolding the word “References” in the 6th edition even though such formatting was not correct until now in the 7th edition.

One welcome change on the reference list is the ability to tame the long and winding URLs via a URL shortener. Yes, gone are the days of unsightly chunks of white space and alphanumeric strings of characters that could take three or more full lines on the page. A URL shortener enables the writer to tame those URLs and present them neatly on the page. 

And for those sources with a long and winding DOI, APA Style 7th edition allows one to shorten the length of those links as well but stipulates that one must use the official ShortDOI service provided by the International DOI Foundation at

In addition, DOIs should now be presented as weblinks and APA encourages writers to standardize the look of DOIs by making sure all begin with “” followed by the alphanumeric character string. 

Students often ask what color font a hypertext link should be on the reference list and whether or not it should be underlined. Well, APA has an answer. First, the hypertext links should be live and function if the paper will be read online. In terms of the color and underlining of the link, APA says that it’s fine for the link to be the default color for hypertext links of the word processing software being used, which is usually blue, and it’s fine for the hypertext link to be underlined. APA also says that it’s fine to use plain text for the hypertext link and if that’s the case, the link should not be underlined. 

Another notable change to the reference list includes the elimination of the phrasing “Retrieved from” before a URL or DOI. APA points out such phrasing is no longer necessary because it’s understood that a link should take one directly to content for retrieval. 

APA Style has also eliminated the need to include the place of publication for a book that appears on the reference list because such information could easily be procured online. In many ways, what APA Style has tried to do in the seventh edition is simplify and make easier the requirements for documenting sources, which is why such changes as eliminating the place of publication for a book and the ability to use a URL shortener for references is now the standard. 

Having said that I will leave you with a doozy of a change: When listing authors on the list of references, APA Style now allows the inclusion of up to twenty authors. That’s right: If you have a source with twenty listed authors, then you will need to include each in the order in which they are listed in the source. What if there are more than twenty sources? List the first nineteen authors, include ellipsis marks followed by the last listed author.

Until next week–

Kurtis Clements

Image by Gerhard G. from Pixabay

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *