I have previously been writing psychology manuscripts according to the standards of the American Psychological Association (APA, version 5) using the excellent apa class, with apacite managing my references.

However, there have been many changes to this standard with the release of the new version of APA's formatting requirements (now in version 6) a year ago. Neither of the packages apa nor apacite have been updated in light of these changes to the APA requirements, and I have not been able to determine if such work is in progress and whether it is possible to contribute to such work (although I have no programming skills myself).

So, does anyone use LaTeX to write papers in APA 6th, and if so, have you got any recommendations or packages that make this work easier?

7 Answers 7


There's now the apa6 package on CTAN. It essentially brings apa up the the 6th edition. You still need a separate package for citations and references.


From the page:

The class provides a full set of facilities in three different output modes (journal-like appearance, double-spaced manuscript, LaTeX-like document), in contrast to the earlier apa6e, which only formats double-spaced manuscripts in APA style. The class formats documents in APA style (6th Edition). It is built on the apa class (which is no longer maintained), and has been updated to comply with 6th-Edition requirements. The class can mask author identity for copies for use in masked peer review.

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    thanks for posting this, I am sure many people will appreciate this information. Also thanks to Brian Beitzel for developing and maintaining this package!
    – Tormod
    Dec 8, 2011 at 7:23

To format your references, now you might use the package biblatex-apa. It is made for the 6th edition of the APA Style Guide. It does require biblatex, though, so it might be a little work to adjust your .bib.

But you'll be better off moving away from bibtex anyway.

  • Thanks, I will look into biblatex, I tried to set it up previously, but failed miserably, will give it another go!
    – Tormod
    Sep 2, 2010 at 19:12
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    A warning: you'll need fairly new versions of biblatex and biblatex-apa to get them to play nicely together. Both are under active development so version mismatches cause problems quite a lot if you're not careful. Also, biblatex-apa requires the babel package and it needs an explicit \DeclareLanguageMapping command after it is loaded. It's all in the documentation, but it's easy to miss...
    – Seamus
    Dec 1, 2010 at 11:30
  • Also, migrating to biblatex isn't necessarily a good idea for articles that you'll have to submit to journals: they haven't caught up with biblatex yet, on the whole. tex.stackexchange.com/questions/12175/…
    – Seamus
    Dec 21, 2011 at 15:14

I don't write to APA style, but I do copy-edit APA a lot (mostly 5th, still).

The style class and bibliography style files for the major scholarly styles don't ensure that you write in accordance with the style. Rather, they give you tools that allow you to write documents that are in accordance with the styles. Typically, they don't provide you with the ability to fully exploit the style: there has been something of a gulf between, say, how Chicago MoS recommends that translations of works be summarised in a reference list, and the opportunities to actually represent this information in a Bibtex file.

APA has done better, due to the relative simplicity of the style and Erik Meijer's excellent work. I can't think of much in the way of changes from 5th to 6th that needs support in the apa class, but you will need to make changes to how you handle bibliographies. The three most important changes are:

  1. Your "howpublished" fields for text retrived from reasonably stable URLs don't need dates, so what would have been howpublished = {Retrieved on Ides of March, 44BC, from {\tt http://et-tu-brutus.tld}} in your .bib file now would be howpublished = {Retrieved from {\tt http://et-tu-brutus.tld}}. But you don't have to do this.
  2. 6th is fussier about qualifying cities with countries or states. So there will be changes such as from address = {Elsevier: Amsterdam} to address = {Elsevier: Amsterdam, Netherlands}. I this is slightly reader unfriendly, so I recommend not doing this if you can avoid it;
  3. 6th wants ellipsis rather than "et al." in reflists with too many authors (from author = {$FIRSTSIXAUTHORS et al.} to . I think there is a case for using a \lastauthors#1 macro to handle this change. I don't like this, but it is probably me being resistant to change, and it's perhaps to obvious to conceal.

These three can all be changed by editing your .bib files. The joy of Bibtex' limitations mean that you will need to keep two sets of .bib files, with all the consistency errors that entails, if you will need to keep writing to both the 5th and 6th. I recommend always running Bibtex once, when you have a reaonably complete set of citations, and cutting and pasting the resulting .bbl file in place of the \bibliography command. This means that you correct and work with the actual form the reflist takes in your document, and you can tweak it without worrying about the limitations of Bibtex. This, IMO, results in appreciably better reflists, and ones that are easier to collaboratively edit with colleagues. You can still run Bibtex on the .aux files produced by Latex, to get new \bibitems to cut and paste into your [thebibliography} environment.

Is there another, particular change with the 6th that you are concerned about?

  • @Charles Stewart: Thanks for the tip, however, as you are probably well aware of, there have been several changes in APA 6th regarding formatting of running head, headings, spacing/punctuation, placement of figure captions/notes and the inclusion of dois/urls in references. Although it is possible to manually tweak all these settings - and I assume that this is what each of us do when we try to adhere to the new standard - the APA package took care of all that, so we didn't have to. That is why I asked the question.
    – Tormod
    Sep 1, 2010 at 9:07
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    @Tormod: It sure would nice if the {apa} package handled formatting properly, but as an author it is Not Your Problem, it is the publisher's. If an APA-using journal accepts submissions in Latex, you have nothing to worry about. DOI is an alternative, preferred contents for the howpublished field, but it is not obligatory. I mentioned URLs already. Sep 1, 2010 at 9:17
  • @Charles Is what you say true? Might not an editor be more inclined to reject your submission because you failed to follow guidelines regarding submission format requirements? Sep 1, 2010 at 9:55
  • @Jeromy: Journals generally provide a class file that you are obliged to use when submitting to the publisher after refereeing. It is wise to use this class file when submitting to the editors for refereeing. Sep 1, 2010 at 12:07
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    @Charles: Good point. But i think that with APA journals (e.g., JAP bit.ly/ajHZGq) the closest thing to latex is allowing submission in PDF and the PDF must conform to APA style 6th edition. Sep 1, 2010 at 13:26

Great question. In case it's useful the following are some good general links. However, I post them more for the benefit of others who may stumble on this page. They don't directly address your question of specific issues related to APA 6th edition.

  • thanks for adding those links (and for your excellent blog btw!). You are right, those are good general references, but are mostly based on the packages mentioned in my question and thus based on APA 5th.
    – Tormod
    Sep 1, 2010 at 8:20
  • (+1) Good to see Revelle's notes there!
    – chl
    Dec 21, 2010 at 10:42

Here are the links I found to packages for LaTeX that aims to implement the formating of APA 6th edition:

  • apa6 claims to be a complete implementation of APA 6th edition.

  • apa6th is a slight modification of apa.cls that for example implements the headings defined by APA 6th

  • apa6e seems to be a new implementation of the APA 6th style. I'm not sure how compatible it is to apa.cls.

  • the author of apa6 says that apa6e gives incomplete coverage of the current apa guidelines. i wouldn't know... Dec 7, 2011 at 8:21

I finally hacked together a series of changes to the apa.cls file to allow for submission under strict APA manuscript guidelines. I also added another document mode that is more 6th-compliant while still more visually pleasing than the man mode. Together with biblatex and biblatex-apa (now supported in MikTeX 2.9b), this provides a complete solution.

It would be great if someone had the patience to properly merge all these hacks into an update to the official apa.cls. Ideally, one could specify man, man6, doc, doc6, or jou modes. In my hacking, I just overwrote the existing man mode, but did add a doc6 mode.

  • @Dan: Exciting! Is it possible to access your hacked apa.cls file from somewhere? It would be great if I (and others) could benefit from your work.
    – Tormod
    Nov 5, 2010 at 7:39
  • well, he could put it on ctan... perhaps call it apa6q, to avoid collisions with apa, apa6 and apa6e ... or, failing that, he could get the permission of the author of the original apa class (i forget who that is) to take over its maintenance. imo, it's a bit sad to have to announce this development less than a week after the release of apa6... Dec 7, 2011 at 8:19

Using Biblatex & Babel for APA reference style:


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