Skip to Main Content

Political Science Citations

In-text Citations

You have two options for writing your in-text citations. 

Option 1: Place the author's name and the year of the research publication in parenthesis at the end of the sentence.                                                                    

         One Author: (Aspen Institute 2005)

         Two Authors: (Thistlewaite and Campbell 1960)

         Three Authors: (Imai, King, and Nall 2009)

Four or more authors: (Corbridge et al. 2004) - "et al." is Latin for "and others."

Option 2: Cite the year of the research publication in parenthesis right after you mention the author's name or right after a direct quote. 

But Keller's (1986) study was completed before widespread use of the Internet.

          Marin and Simmons argue that interdependence generates a “dense network of relations” (1998, 751), while Davis similarly asserts  that a “dense network of international institutions” shapes interstate bargaining (2004, 154).

Unusual cases:

  • More than one resource: the citations are put in the same parenthesis in alphabetical order with a semi-colon in between:

     Multiple studies over several decades have proved this is true only in a constitutional democracy (Evans 2009; Kovar 1974;      Neagle and Remick 1997; Okoli 2014).

  • Sentence contains a direct quote: include the page number of the quote in the citation. There are two places you can put the citation. Either put it at the end, like so:

The American Bar Association (ABA), for example, is concerned about potential plebiscitary pressures on judges and cautions that “we need judges who will tell us what the law is and how it applies in individual cases without regard to what the results of the latest opinion poll are" (ABA 2003, 2).

        Or put the citation after the direct quote:

Marin and Simmons argue that interdependence generates a “dense network of relations” (1998, 751), while Davis similarly asserts that a “dense network of international institutions” shapes interstate bargaining (2004, 154).

  • Citing two or more authors with the same last name: add a first initial to distinguish between them

(T. Martinez 1995; E. Martinez 2001)

  • Citing two works by the same author: use a semicolon in between the dates

 (Miller 1977; 1982)

  • Two works by the same author that were published in the same year: add lowercase letters to the dates of publication and repeat them in the reference list

 (Alvarez and Saving 1997a)


Headline Style Capitalization

APSA requires that all titles be rendered in Headline Capitalization, regardless of how they appear on the original item.

In Headline Capitalization, these words should be capitalized:

- nouns

- pronouns

- adjectives

- verbs

- adverbs

- subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that, etc.)

These words should NOT be capitalized:

- articles (a, an, the)

- coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor)

- prepositions

The only exception is if the above three types of words are the first or last word in the title; then they should be capitalized.

For example:

"The Rules for Capitalizing the Words in a Title" is correct.

Formatting a References List

The reference page should be titled References. 

References on the reference page should be ordered by author's last name.

The first line of a reference is never indented; every subsequent line is indented two spaces.


APSA Example


Book citations include these elements in this order:

Author. Date. Book Title. Publisher City: Publisher Name.

For example:

Levi, Margaret. 1988.Of Rule and Revenue. Berkeley: University of California Press.

North, Douglass, John Wallis, and Barry Weingast. 2009. Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Note that the first author is always listed as last name, first name. 

If citing a chapter in an edited book, add the chapter title before the book title, like so:

Szeftel, Marc. 1956. “Aspects of Russian Feudalism.” In Feudalism in History, ed. Rushton Coulborn. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


Journal Article citations include these elements in this order:

Author. Date. "Article Title." Journal Title Volume (Number): Pages.

For example:

McKeown, Ryder. 2009. “Norm Regress: U.S. Revisionism and the Slow Death of the Torture Norm.” International Relations 23 (1): 5-25.

Blondel, Jean, and Nick Manning. 2002. "Do Ministers Do What They Say? Ministerial Unreliability, Collegial and Hierarchical Governments." Political Studies 50: 455-76.

Note that the first author is always listed as last name, first name. Also, in the second example, the (Number) is omitted; this journal does not have issue numbers. 

**Journal Articles found in online databases should be cited as these above examples.**

Newspaper Article citations are similar:

Author. Year. "Article Title." Newspaper Title Month Day. Section (if applicable)

For example:

Cuff, Daniel F. 1985. “Forging a New Shape for Steel.” New York Times May 26.


If the newspaper article is an online article, add a URL and the date last accessed, as below:

Anderson, Philip, Michael Fisher, Jerome Friedman, Kurt Gottfried, David Gross, John Hall, and Jorge Hirsch. 2007. “The U.S. Congress Should Act  against Nukes.” Open Letter. New York Times February 14. (accessed September 5, 2012).

Be sure to punctuate exactly as the examples show.

Online Media


Websites include online government documents, blogs, statistics, reports and similar items.

**Journal articles found in online databases are not considered web resources.**

Website citations include these elements in this order:

Author. Year. "Resource Title." URL (Most Recent Date Accessed).

For example:

Aspen Institute. 2009. “Overcoming Short-termism: A Call for a More Responsible Approach to Investment and Business Management.” (accessed May 9, 2012).

Blom, Rimo, Harri Melin, and Eero Tanskanen. 2009. “Social Inequality IV: Finnish   Data.” (accessed October 25, 2012).


Double-check your URL to make sure it directs to the resource.

The most recent date accessed is important because web materials can be easily altered; noting when you retrieved the material tells your readers that you may have used a previous version of the document than the one available to them.

Be sure to punctuate exactly as the examples show.

Social Media

Author. Social media type. Date. Time. Url

For example (taken from Chicago Manual of Style's FAQ page):

           Garrett Kiely. Twitter post. September 14, 2011. 8:50 a.m.

When was the webpage last updated?

If the publication year is not apparent, the date that the webpage was last updated will work.



in the address bar and a pop up window will appear with the date and time of the last modification to the webpage.


To cite documentaries or other films, use the following elements and order:

Director(s). Release Year. Title. Studio.

For example:

Bird, Brad, and Jan Pinkava. 2007. Ratatouille. Disney-Pixar.


If the documentary or other video clip is freely available online, add a URL after the studio and the most recent date accessed:

Watts, Edward. 2015. Escaping ISIS. Frontline. (accessed November 12, 2015).

Citing Laws, Treaties, and Declarations

To cite a law in APSA, use the following format:

Provide the name of the statute. Date. Source (U.S. Code or Statutes at Large). Volume, section. Page OR url.

For example:

Administrative Procedure Act. 1946. Statutes at Large. Vol. 60, sec. 10, p. 243.

Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act. 2001. U.S. Code.


To cite a treaty or declaration in APSA, use the following format:

Provide organization author. Year. Treaty name. Treaty series (e.g., TIAS). Volume, part or number. OR url.

For example:

U.S. Department of State. 1963. Nuclear Weapons Test Ban, 5 August. TIAS no. 5433. U.S. Treaties and Other International Agreements, vol.     14, pt. 3.

U.S. Department of State. 1963. Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water.