Journal Article Reference Examples: How to Cite in APA & Other Styles

Academic citation can be daunting, yet it’s a crucial skill for any scholar. This article explores the process, offering clear, concise examples of how to cite journal articles in APA and other widely used styles.

Whether you’re a seasoned academic or a student embarking on your research journey, these guidelines will equip you with the tools needed to reference sources accurately. 

How To Cite An Journal Article In References

Citing a physical journal article might seem old school in the digital age, but it’s a skill you’ll find indispensable in academic writing. Each citation system has its quirks and requirements, whether you’re using: 

  • APA,
  • MLA,
  • Chicago, or
  • AMA.

APA Style

APA stands for American Psychological Association, and APA style is their citation system. If you’re citing a study from a print journal, your citation in the reference list might look like this: 

Smith, J.A., & Doe, J. (2020). Exploring New Horizons. Journal of Discoveries, 15(4), 123-130.

Notice the authors’ initials, the year in parentheses, the article title in sentence case, the journal name in italics and title case, followed by the volume and issue number, and the page range.

The APA style, particularly its 7th edition, emphasizes clarity and conciseness.

MLA Style

Switching to MLA, the approach changes slightly. MLA stands for Modern Languages Association. Imagine you’re referencing a literary analysis:

Doe, John, and Jane Smith. “Unraveling Metaphors.” Literary Insights, vol. 22, no. 3, 2019, pp. 45-67.

MLA unfolds with full names, the title in quotation marks, and ‘vol.’ and ‘no.’ to denote volume and issue numbers. Take note of the comma, brackets, etc.

Chicago Style

If you’re dabbling in history or humanities and prefer Chicago style, your citation might transform into a footnote:

  1. John Doe and Jane Smith, “Historical Revisions,” Historical Review 30, no. 2 (2018): 100-112.

This style offers flexibility with its two systems: notes and bibliography for more narrative disciplines and author-date for sciences and social sciences.

AMA Style

For those in the medical field, AMA might be your go-to. AMA means American Medical Association, and it operates with citations appearing as superscript numbers in-text and full details in the reference list, such as: 

Doe J, Smith J. The effects of new medical practices. J Med Innovations. 2021;5(1):50-60.

AMA loves its abbreviations and concise presentation, ideal for dense scientific material.

Journal Article Reference Examples

No matter the style, key components remain similar:

  • authors’ names,
  • title of article, 
  • journal name,
  • volume number, 
  • issue number, and
  • page number.

It’s the subtle differences—whether it’s the punctuation, the use of italics, or the placement of the year—that give each style its character and cater to different academic disciplines’ preferences. 

How To Cite An Electronic Journal Article In References

Citing electronic journal articles is about the same as physical journal, with some differences. Whether you’re delving into APA, MLA, Chicago, or AMA, the key lies in understanding the nuances of digital documentation.

APA Style

In APA style, for instance, an electronic journal citation in your reference list might look like this:

Smith, J.A., & Doe, J. (2020). Emerging Trends in Digital Learning. Journal of Online Education, 8(1), Article e12345.

Notice how the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a critical component, providing a permanent link to the article. APA’s 7th edition places a strong emphasis on the DOI, making it the cornerstone of electronic references.

For URL, sometimes some writers like to add retrieved from in front. However, this may not be necessary.

MLA Style

Switch gears to MLA, and you’ll find a format that looks a bit different:

Doe, John, and Jane Smith. “Virtual Reality in the Classroom.” Educational Technology Review, vol. 15, no. 2, 2021, pp. 45-60,

A URL is included at the end, offering a direct route to the article, especially when a DOI isn’t available.

Chicago Style

Chicago style offers flexibility with its two systems. In the author-date format, your citation might read:

Doe, John, and Jane Smith. 2021. “Blockchain in Healthcare.” Journal of Medical Innovation 5, no. 3 (April): 101-115.

This format resembles APA but with the year of publication placed upfront. 

AMA Style

AMA style, preferred in the medical field, streamlines electronic references to:

Doe J, Smith J. Telemedicine’s rise amid COVID-19. J Health Tech. 2020;14(2):112-117.

Here, the focus is on brevity, with a concise format that includes a DOI link at the end.

What unites all these styles is the inclusion of digital identifiers like DOIs or URLs, ensuring readers can access the cited work directly.

Journal Article Reference Examples

The electronic nature of the source brings additional details into play, such as the article number or the database name, enhancing the citation’s precision.

Remember, when citing an electronic journal article, the aim is not just to direct readers to the source but to ensure the journey there is as smooth and accurate as possible, regardless of the citation style you choose.

What About Articles From A Special Issue Of A Journal?

Citing articles from a special issue of a journal requires a keen eye for detail, as these issues often focus on a specific theme or topic. 

APA Style

In APA style, you might cite an article like this:

Smith, J.A., & Doe, J. (2020). Exploring Thematic Analysis. Journal of Research Themes, 12(3), [Special issue on Qualitative Research Methods], 45-56.

Notice how the special issue’s theme is inserted right after the issue number, clearly indicating the article’s context within the broader journal.

MLA Style

For MLA, the approach is slightly different:

Doe, John, and Jane Smith. “Narrative Structures in Thematic Studies.” Journal of Narrative Research, vol. 15, no. 4, Spec. issue on Storytelling in Research, 2019, pp. 200-215.

The words “Spec. issue on” before the theme highlight the article’s placement within a specially curated collection.

Chicago Style

Chicago style, known for its flexibility, allows for a footnote that might look like this:

John Doe and Jane Smith, “Ethnographic Insights in Thematic Research,” Journal of Ethnographic Studies 22, no. 1 (Special Issue on Ethnographic Methods) (2021): 134-150.

Here, the special issue information is woven into the citation, offering readers a clear roadmap to the source.


In AMA, citations are more concise, focusing on efficiency:

Doe J, Smith J. The role of themes in qualitative research. J Qual Res. 2020;5(2):Spec Iss on Research Themes: 67-78. 

Even in this streamlined format, the special issue designation is included, ensuring the article’s context is not lost.

Are There Online Tools To Help With Citing An Article?

Navigating the maze of citation formats can be daunting, especially when you’re trying to correctly cite a journal article. Thankfully, several online tools can make this process smoother and ensure your references adhere to the required academic standards.


First up, Zotero stands out as a powerful ally in managing your research and citations. Imagine you’ve found an insightful article in an online journal.

With Zotero, you can simply click to capture all the essential details, such as:

  • authors’ names,
  • article title,
  • journal name,
  • volume and issue number,
  • page range, and
  • the DOI.

Zotero then lets you store and organize this information in your personal library. When it’s time to create your reference list, Zotero seamlessly integrates with word processors, formatting each citation in your chosen style, be it APA, MLA, or Chicago.

Journal Article Reference Examples


Mendeley offers a dual advantage as both a reference manager and an academic social network. When you import a journal article into Mendeley, it extracts the relevant metadata and stores it.

You can highlight and annotate as you read, making it easier to refer back to key points. When citing, Mendeley’s plugin for Word can generate in-text citations and a reference list in countless styles.

This ensuring your work meets academic rigor without the headache of manual formatting.

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Lastly, the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a treasure trove of citation guidelines and examples. While not a citation generator, OWL provides detailed instructions and examples for citing journal articles across various styles.

Its APA guide, for instance, will show you exactly how to format an article citation, from the author’s last name to the DOI, complete with examples.

This resource is invaluable for understanding the why behind each formatting rule, giving you a deeper insight into academic writing conventions.

These tools offer more than just shortcuts; they provide clarity and confidence in your academic writing. By automating the technical aspects of citation, you can focus on the substance of your work, secure in the knowledge that your references are precise and accurate.

Journal Citation Reference Examples

Mastering the art of citing journal articles across various styles like APA enhances your scholarly communication, ensuring accuracy and respect for intellectual property.

By carefully following the provided examples and guidelines, you can seamlessly integrate sources into your work, contributing to the rich tapestry of academic discourse.

Remember, a well-crafted reference list not only underscores your diligence but also guides readers through the academic landscape with clarity and precision.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.