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January 13, 2015

by Timothy McAdoo

Can you cite computer software in APA Style? Yes! Here’s everything you need to know.

Q: Do I have to cite the computer software I mention in my paper? A: The Publication Manual specifies that a reference is not necessary for “standard software.” What is “standard”? Examples are Microsoft Word, Java, and Adobe Photoshop. Even less ubiquitous software, like SPSS or SAS, does not need to be referenced.

Q: Do I have to cite the computer software I mention in my paper?

Note: We don’t keep a comprehensive list of what programs are “standard.” You make the call.

In your text, if you mention a program, do include the version number of the software. For example, “We asked participants to type their responses in a Microsoft Word (Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010, Version 14.0.7128.5000) file.”

However, you should provide a reference for specialized software. For example, let's say you used an open source software package to display items to the participants in your study. You should cite it. The reference format follows our usual --- where format.

Example References

Example Text Citations

Q: Is the name of the program italicized? A: No: not in the text and not in the reference.

Q: Is the name of the program italicized?

Q: Is the name of the program capitalized? A: Yes, the name of the software is a proper noun and Vespera Calvin Klein DDGX30
, both in the text and in the reference list.

Q: Is the name of the program capitalized?

Q: What about programming languages? A: You don’t need to include references for programming languages. But, feel free to discuss them in the text of your paper, if relevant.

Q: What about programming languages?

Q: What about mobile apps? A: Yes, you can cite those, too. If you need to cite an app, this blog post has everything you need to know.

Q: What about mobile apps?

Q: What about video games? A: Yes, video games are software. Follow the templates above for the reference and in-text citation.

Q: What about video games?

Q: What if I used an online application to have my participants complete a survey? A: Like Survey Monkey? If you mention the use of a site, simply provide the URL in your text (e.g., “Participants were given a link to an online survey, which the authors created using Survey Monkey ( http://www.surveymonkey.com ).” However, if you’re citing a particular page from the cite (e.g., a help document or the “About” page), you should reference that page just as you would any other. See this eggcellent post for more details about citing websites.

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