How to Cite Case Studies in APA Format

Written by amy adkins
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How to Cite Case Studies in APA Format
Reference materials like case studies lend credibility to articles, reports and research papers. (The book image by Dzmitry Halavach from

The editorial guidelines established by the American Psychological Association (APA) help authors of research papers format and develop their work. The APA style relies on the use of in-text citations and a complete reference list to explain and support the research being presented. These citations and references can come from scholarly journals, Web resources, newspapers, interviews and case studies. When referencing a case study or other source, specific pieces of information need to be included when using the APA style.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Enclose the author's last name and publication date in parentheses when indirectly referencing, or paraphrasing, the material. Insert a comma between the last name and the date. For example, if the case study was written by Robert L. Smith and was published in 2001, the citation would be formatted in this way: Recent research shows that the previous findings were incorrect (Smith, 2001). Or if mentioning the author within the text, place only the publication date in parentheses. For example: According to Smith (2001), the results of the previous research were incorrect.

  2. 2

    Use an ampersand (&) to join the last names of two authors, such as Smith & Taylor. If there are three to five authors of the case study, include each of their last names at the first mention. Include a comma after each name. For example, Smith, Taylor, & Jones. For each subsequent mention, reference only the first author's last name, followed by "et al." (Smith et al.). For more than five authors, always use the first author's last name, followed by et al.

  3. 3

    Include the page number or paragraph number when directly quoting the case study. If the citation is a direct citation, meaning it has been taken word for word from the case study, a page or paragraph number must be included. Use page numbers and the abbreviation "p." for case studies found in journals, books or other printed mediums. Use paragraph numbers and the abbreviation "para" or the paragraph symbol when the case study was accessed online. For example: Smith (2001) states that the "results of the research were flawed" (p. 21). Here is another example: She stated that the "results of the research were flawed" (Smith, 2001, para. 12).

  1. 1

    Begin the reference list on a new page at the end of the paper. Type and centre "Reference List" on the first line and follow it with the first entry of the list. Align the first line of an entry with the left margin. Indent the second line and any additional lines one-half of an inch from the left. Use double spacing throughout.

  2. 2

    Alphabetise all references used by the authors' last names. Use the last name and initials for each author. When a work has two or more authors, separate their names with a comma and use an ampersand before the last author. For example: Smith, R.L., Wilson, J.B, & Jones, L.B. This style is used for up to six authors. When a case study has seven or more authors, list the first six and then insert an ellipses followed by the very last author's name. For example: Smith, R.L., Wilson, J.B., Jones, L.B., Bennet, N.J., Morgan, A.H., Davis, P.G., . . . Adams, R.F.

  3. 3

    Follow the author's name with the publication date of the case study. Enclose the date in parentheses. After the publication date, include the title of the case study. Capitalise only the first word of the title or subtitle as well as any proper names. Insert and italicise the name of the journal, book or other publication from which the case study was taken. If applicable, also include the volume number in italics, followed by the issue number in parentheses. For example: Smith, R.L. (2001). Qualitative research theories and methodology. New Journal of Research, 100(1).

  4. 4

    End the entry with the pages of the case study referenced or the Web address if accessed online. For print works, insert a comma after the publication title or issue number and include only the page or page range used. A complete entry in the reference list would be formatted this way: Smith, R.L. (2001). Qualitative research theories and methodology. New Journal of Research, 100(1), 80-91.

    Include the words "Retrieved from," followed by the web address, when writing an entry for a case study that was accessed online. For example: Smith, R.L. (2001). Qualitative research theories and methodology. New Journal of Research, 100(1). Retrieved from>

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