How To Reference a PDF APA

how to reference a pdf apa

Writers from various discipline use APA style around the world for concise, powerful, and persuasive scholarly communication. APA stands for the American Psychological Association. It’s a consistent way for writers to document sources and avoid plagiarism. But How to reference a PDF APA, you may wonder?

APA style does not provide a specific citation format. You will need to identify the source of the PDF (e.g. a book or a journal article) before you can cite it using the appropriate format.

You can find clues in PDFs if you aren’t sure which type of source you are dealing with. You might be able to find the name and publication of the PDF, which you can use to look up the source. You can always ask your instructor to clarify how to cite the PDF if you have received it from them.

Below are the formats for how to reference a pdf apa that you will encounter for various source types in PDF format.

Citing a book

Online, you may find books or excerpts from books in PDF format. A book will usually include a copyright page that details the publication. This online book can be cited by listing the information required for a book and then adding a URL or DOI to the end.


Last name, Initials. (Year). Book title. Publisher. DoI or URL

Citing a journal paper

Journal articles will often indicate the volume, the issue, and the name of the journal in which they were published.

An e-locator is a letter followed by a number, such as e1034762. This is used to identify PDFs of journal articles. To identify the location of an article within a journal, use e1034762 instead of a page number. Use the e-locator instead if the article is not within a page range.


Last name, Initials. (Year). Article title. Journal TitleVolume (Issue), Article range. or e-locator. URL or DOI

Citing a Report

Reports can be accessed online in PDF format. Reports will usually clearly identify the publication and list a report number. You may also see “report” in their title.

Include title, author, date and publisher. If possible, include the report number.


Author last name, Initials. (Year). Report title: Subtitle (Report No. number). Name of the Publisher. URL

Citing a whitepaper

White papers are reports that present the ideas, policies, or propositions of an organization (e.g., a government, or business) on a specific topic.

Citing one is the same as citing a report. However, white papers don’t usually have report numbers. Instead, the label “White Paper” in square brackets appears following the title.

Organization Name Format Organization (Year). White Paper title: Subtitle [White Paper]. Name of the Publisher. URL

Citing a brochure

Brochures and pamphlets can be used to promote a product or service or introduce an exhibition.

In PDF format, brochures are cited in the same way as reports. You should only list the author if the publisher is the same organization as the author (as shown in the example below).


Name of the Organization. (Year). Title [Brochure]. or [Pamphlet]. Publisher. URL

Citing an article in a magazine or newspaper

You can cite a newspaper article or magazine in the format of a printed article if you find it in PDF format.


Last name, Initials (Year, Month, Day). Title of the article. Newspaper Name, pages.

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