Publication: National Association of School Psychologists. Communique
Date published:
Language: English
PMID: 89808
ISSN: 0164775X
Journal code: NASP

In this column, we cover how to reference electronic books and different types of online and audiovisual media.

Some of the changes of interest to potential writers involve the proper citation of digital books as well as books or excerpts/chapters from books that may have been retrieved online. According to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition (American Psychological Association [APA], 2009), when citing an entire online book, use the following reference format at the end of your paper:

Author, A. B. (1992). Title of work. Retrieved from

Additionally, digital object identifiers (DOIs) should be used instead of Web links when they are available. Use one of the following formats, depending on whether you are referencing the whole book or only a chapter:

Author, A. B., 8c Author, B. C. (2005) . Title of work, doi: xxxxx

Author, A., 8c Author, B. (1995). Title of chapter or entry. In B. Editor 8c C. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pp. xxx-xxx). doi: xxxxxxxx

Note that within the body of your paper, you would simply cite the author(s) and publication year as regularly cited according to APA format.

Many authors are curious about how to reference a digital book. This depends upon whether or not the source is an electronic version of a print book or an electronic-only book. When referencing an electronic version of a print book, you wouldinclude abracketednote specifying which version was used, like so:

Author, W. V. (2009). Bereavement: A life course [DX Reader version]. Retrieved from http:// www.ebookstore .com/html/index asp

Author, X. Y. (2011). Depression in children [Adobe Digital Editions version], doi: 10.2037/0071393743

Finally, if you are citing an electroniconly book, the following format would be used, without the bracketed description of the version:

Author, X. Y., Author, Y Z., 8c Author, B. V. (2010). Relationships with fathers. Retrieved from

Other online media should be referenced with similar formats. See section 7.11 of the publication manual for detailed reference examples for blog comments, electronic mailing lists, and more (APA, 2009, pp. 214-215). Screen names can be used if the author's real name is unknown, which is often the case on blog comments and online forums. The general form for referencing online materials is as follows:

Author, A. B. (Year, Month Day). Title of post [Medium or type of post]. Retrieved from http ://www.example .org/index

For a specific example, the following is a reference format for a comment on an online forum:

Screen Name. (2011, December 8). Re: Features of online forums [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://communities

Other questions that are received by editors and professors include how to cite resources such as movies, YouTube videos, podcasts, and songs from music albums. Reference formats for these media can be found in the publication manual under section 7.07 "Audiovisual Media" (APA, 2009, pp. 209-210). According to the manual, "Audiovisual media include motion pictures; audio or television broadcasts (including podcasts); and static objects such as maps, artwork, or photos" (APA, 2009, p. 209). As emphasized, this subsumes a large variety of media, and therefore choosing the APA format which most closely adheres to the proper style is of paramount importance. Here are examples of references for a podcast and a YouTube video:

Author, X. Y Z. (Producer). (2008, December 20). Theories of counseling case study demonstrations [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.counseling

West, J., & Hensley, L. (2008, January 31). Stories from Tulane: Hurricane Katrina [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www ?v=XkStobBNRwk8c feature=plcp8ccontext=C373db8cUDOEgs ToPDskJ9PvuokjMVc-vZXnhar2Wz

Remember that copyright laws are in play when reproducing any medium in your work. It is best to obtain permission to reproduce the item from the source of the video or photo, especially if it was retrieved online. Sites such as YouTube have become very popular, so this creates a bit of ambiguity as to how to best cite that source.

In conclusion, when citing online references, applying the format that most closely approximates the reference style used in the APA manual is best practice for potential writers. Online media are constantly changing, so these reference formats will continue to evolve over time, and may not always match up perfectly with newer online media.


American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Author affiliation:

VICTORIA A. COMERCHERO, PhD, is an assistant professor of school psychology at Touro College, New York, NY. Brieann Kinsey is NASP Manager of Editorial Production.

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