Which date do I use in my APA style citation?
In general, the APA Manual has these guidelines about dates:
- For books, use the copyright date (even if it is different from the release date);
- For journal articles, use the year of the volume (also known as the "publication date");
- For webpages, use the last updated or publication date. The copyright date in a website's footer should not be used, as this date does not indicate when the content on the page was last updated.
If there is no date listed, the APA Manual says to "write "n.d." (which stands for "no date") in parentheses. Put a period after the "n" and after the "d" with no space between the letters" (p. 291).
Articles often have several dates associated with them, and each date serves a different purpose. How do you know which date to use in your APA style citation?
For academic articles, there are usually a series of dates related to the peer-review process. For example, there may be:
- A "submitted" or "received" date (when the article was initially sent to the journal);
- A "revised" date (when the article was sent back to the journal with the revisions recommended by the reviewers);
- An "accepted" date (when the journal's editor accepts the article for publication);
- A “published online” date (when the article was first posted online);
- A "publication" date (the official publication of the article). The publication date usually appears in several different places, along with the rest of the source information, like the volume number.
Some, all, or none of these dates may be listed in an article's metadata.
These dates can be a useful confirmation that an articles has gone through the peer-review process, but they can be confusing when trying to cite. When citing, only the publication date matters.
For APA 7th ed. specifically, the APA Manual says that "for a journal article reference, use the year of the volume, even if it is different than the copyright year" (p. 289). As a result, the publication date is often easy to locate because it will be closely associated with the volume information.