How to format your references using the American Psychologist citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for American Psychologist. For a complete guide how to prepare your manuscript refer to the journal's instructions to authors.

Using reference management software

Typically you don't format your citations and bibliography by hand. The easiest way is to use a reference manager:

PaperpileThe citation style is built in and you can choose it in Settings > Citation Style or Paperpile > Citation Style in Google Docs.
EndNoteDownload the output style file
Mendeley, Zotero, Papers, and othersThe style is either built in or you can download a CSL file that is supported by most references management programs.
BibTeXBibTeX syles are usually part of a LaTeX template. Check the instructions to authors if the publisher offers a LaTeX template for this journal.

Journal articles

Those examples are references to articles in scholarly journals and how they are supposed to appear in your bibliography.

Not all journals organize their published articles in volumes and issues, so these fields are optional. Some electronic journals do not provide a page range, but instead list an article identifier. In a case like this it's safe to use the article identifier instead of the page range.

A journal article with 1 author
Macilwain, C. (2010). World view: Calling science to account. Nature, 463(7283), 875.
A journal article with 2 authors
Terman, J. R., & Kolodkin, A. L. (2004). Nervy links protein kinase a to plexin-mediated semaphorin repulsion. Science (New York, N.Y.), 303(5661), 1204–1207.
A journal article with 3 authors
Ghodbane, R., Raoult, D., & Drancourt, M. (2014). Dramatic reduction of culture time of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Scientific Reports, 4, 4236.
A journal article with 8 or more authors
Vernazza, P., Binzel, R. P., Thomas, C. A., DeMeo, F. E., Bus, S. J., Rivkin, A. S., & Tokunaga, A. T. (2008). Compositional differences between meteorites and near-Earth asteroids. Nature, 454(7206), 858–860.

Books and book chapters

Here are examples of references for authored and edited books as well as book chapters.

An authored book
Deutsch, R. (2017). Convergence. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
An edited book
Albers, M., Hoffmann, T., & Reinhardt, J. (Eds.). (2014). Human Rights and Human Nature (Vol. 35). Springer Netherlands.
A chapter in an edited book
Chen, J. L., Colgan, T. D., Walton, K. L., Gregorevic, P., & Harrison, C. A. (2016). The TGF-β Signalling Network in Muscle Development, Adaptation and Disease. In J. White & G. Smythe (Eds.), Growth Factors and Cytokines in Skeletal Muscle Development, Growth, Regeneration and Disease (pp. 97–131). Springer International Publishing.

Web sites

Sometimes references to web sites should appear directly in the text rather than in the bibliography. Refer to the Instructions to authors for American Psychologist.

Blog post
O`Callaghan, J. (2015, July 7). Celestial Fireworks due in 2018 When a Pulsar Passes Through the Atmosphere of a Giant Star. IFLScience; IFLScience.


This example shows the general structure used for government reports, technical reports, and scientific reports. If you can't locate the report number then it might be better to cite the report as a book. For reports it is usually not individual people that are credited as authors, but a governmental department or agency like "U. S. Food and Drug Administration" or "National Cancer Institute".

Government report
Government Accountability Office. (1977). NASA Report May Overstate the Economic Benefits of Research and Development Spending (PAD-78-18). U.S. Government Printing Office.

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
Henderson, R. (2010). The effect of Interactive Metronome training on sports confidence and putting performance [Doctoral dissertation]. California State University, Long Beach.

News paper articles

Unlike scholarly journals, news papers do not usually have a volume and issue number. Instead, the full date and page number is required for a correct reference.

New York Times article
Branch, J. (2016, August 14). A Gladiator’s Guidance. New York Times, D1.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by name and year in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (Macilwain, 2010).
This sentence cites two references (Macilwain, 2010; Terman & Kolodkin, 2004).

Here are examples of in-text citations with multiple authors:

  • Two authors: (Terman & Kolodkin, 2004)
  • Three authors: (Ghodbane et al., 2014)
  • 6 or more authors: (Vernazza et al., 2008)

About the journal

Full journal titleAmerican Psychologist
AbbreviationAm. Psychol.
ISSN (print)0003-066X
ISSN (online)1935-990X
ScopeGeneral Medicine
General Psychology

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