Three quick tips for the titles on your APA references page

When I edit an APA references page for a dissertation or thesis, I begin with a quick initial scan and check the titles first. I’ll proofread more thoroughly on the second check. During this first look, I’m not trying to catch every issue; I’m just looking for any glaring mistakes. Here are the broad tips that I keep in mind as I look at the titles.

(Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are too many other, more thorough lists out there that cover APA style for me to try to make my own. I like to use the Purdue OWL and a physical copy of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.)

Quick Tips for APA Titles:

  1. Every reference page entry needs one italicized title. For books, that’s the title of the book. For journal articles, the name of the journal is italicized. For most webpages, other than online news sources, the title of the page itself (not the site) is italicized.
  2. The titles of journals are weird. They should be capitalized using title case. That means that you should capitalize all of the important words. If the journal uses unusual capitalization in its title, go with the way they write it. For example, you’d keep the all-caps for the title, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment.
  3. Journal titles are the only titles that use title case. For any other type, you only need to capitalize the first word of the title and the subtitle. That means that when you cite a journal article, the article title will be almost entirely lowercase while most words in the journal’s title will be capitalized.
Best of luck on your references page! Hopefully these three quick tips will make checking the titles on your own APA references page much easier.

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