our everyday life

How to Cite in an Outline Using APA Format

by Kris Fields, studioD

An outline is created near the beginning of the writing process and indicates the direction your writing will take. While it is rare an author will cite another writer’s outline in their their work, it does occur. Any time you use words or ideas that originated elsewhere you need to make sure you give credit for the original source. If that source is an outline, you can cite it properly using the American Psychological Association's format rules.

Add to References

Start by adding the outline to your bibliography or references page. Include any and all sources you took from the outline itself. This should follow standard APA reference formatting. Start with the last name and first initial of the outline author, the year the outline was created, any title that is used for the outline, or a description of the outline, and finally where the outline was created, such as a university or institute.

Published or Unpublished Work

Be aware of where your outline was presented because this will determine how it is discussed in your paper. If the outline is from an unpublished source, make note of that within the reference itself. For example: Author, A. (1996). Title of paper or manuscript. Unpublished manuscript. If the outline is from a published work such as a book, follow standard APA format for citing a book: Author, A. A. (1996). Title of paper or manuscript. New York: U.S. Printing Company.


When citing information from the outline in the paper itself, use the author date method with in-text parenthetical citations. This can be done either through attribution: “According to Author's Name (1996)” or at the end of the sentence in which you quoted or utilized the outline. For example, a citation at the end of this sentence would like this (Author's Name, 1996).

Outline with Multiple Pages

If the outline is long, as in several pages or more, or has been published and you are using specific portions as from a book, create an in-text citation for the outline using page numbers and include the page number in the citation itself. For example: (Author's Name, 5). Not only does this help the reader find the citation on the reference page, but it also makes note of not using all portions of a specific source.

About the Author

Hailing from sunny Florida, Kris Fields has been writing professionally since 2000 when she started out working in the Business and Community News sections for "The Florida Times Union." Fields holds both a bachelor's and a master's degree in English from the University of North Florida and teaches English and business writing for college.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images