APA Dictionary Citation

Dictionaries are cited in both in-text citation and reference list using the American Psychological Association (APA) system. In this article, we discuss the details of the APA dictionary citation from the guide in citing the authors to the specific guides and examples in writing in-text citations and reference list.


Citing the Author

One Author

In-text citation Reference list
Last name




*Write only the last name without the initials for all in-text citations.

Last name, A. A.


Thompson, R.


Multiple Authors

Two to Seven Authors
In-text citation Reference list
Last Name A & Last name B


Nelson & Turner


*Use ampersand (&) instead of “and.” You can include up to five names, but in the next citations just use the first author’s last name followed by et al.

Last name, A. A., & Last name, B. B.


Nelson, T. M., & Turner, K.


*The names of the author should be listed in the same order as it is written in the source. Use ampersand (&) instead of “and.”


More than Seven Authors
In-text citation Reference list
Last name A et al.


Scott et al.


*Only include the first author’s last name followed by et al.

Last name, A. A., Last name, B. B., Last name, C. C., Last name, D. D., Last name, E. E., Last name, F. F., . . . Last name, G. G.


Scott, M., Perez, R. L., Parker, M. R., Miller, J. L., Evans, C., Hall, N., . . . Smith, W.


*Up to seven authors can be included in the reference list. After the name of the sixth author, write three ellipsis points followed by the last author’s name.


No Author

In-text citation Reference list
Title of the entry


“Diabetes Mellitus”


*Enclose the term or phrase in double quotation marks.

Title of the entry


Diabetes Mellitus

In-text citation

  • The in-text citation is written inside the parentheses usually with the last name of the author and year of publication, separated by a comma.

(Perry, 2012)

  • If the name of the author is included within the text, write only the year inside the parentheses.

Perry (2012)


Reference List

  • Include only the reference information available from the source.
  • Italicize the title of the dictionary.
  • Authors or editors in most dictionaries are not indicated, specifically in online dictionaries. Just write the term or phrase in lieu of the author.
  • U.S. states or territories are abbreviated in the reference list, and the city and country name is included for publications outside of the U.S. There is no need to write Publishers, Company or Inc. with the name of the publisher.
  • List the URL or DOI for dictionaries found on the web. Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric string used by scholarly publishers to provide persistent link to content in the internet.


Dictionary in Print

Basic Format: Author. (Year). Title of Dictionary. Location: Publisher.

Example: VandenBos, G. R. (Ed.). (2007). APA dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC:

American Psychological Association.


Online Dictionary

Basic Format: Term or Phrase. (Year).  In Title of Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.someaddress.com/full/url/ or doi:0000000/000000000000 or http://dx.doi.org/10.0000/0000

Example: Heuristic. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (11th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/heuristic

Note: Write n.d. if there is no date of publication. If the edition number is available, include it in parentheses after the title of the dictionary.