I'm writing feature articles and trying to adhere to AP style, but I'm not sure how to attribute a source. I'm familiar with academic citation (APA, MLA), but have never done this in journalism.

What's the preferred way to completely acknowledge a source? Quotes I can do, but stuff from sites, other sources, etc baffles me.

5 Answers 5


Remember that although AP Style is used by many different publications and media, it is FOR journalists writing news articles. As such, there really is no such thing as attribution to sources because that doesn't really occur in news writing. Instead, AP Style uses in-text attribution generally in the form of direct or indirect quotations.

"Revenues are up 10,000 percent," said CEO John Smith.

According to SEC filings, company revenues are up 10,000 percent.

The only exceptions within the AP Stylebook are Photo Captions where the format is (Publication/Photographer) -- (AP Photo/Bill Smith).

When attributing to a specific article, video or other piece of content on another site, it is generally recommended to link to the item, unless the content might be objectionable to readers.

  • AP does have a style entry for how to use a net citation. (In short: Always use "http://", shorten to tinyurl format if the URL is longer than half a line.) Commented May 18, 2012 at 4:29

I found this page after searching the web: How to Reference a Book in AP Style. It outlines how to cite sources, but annoyingly enough, doesn't cite the information it gives. I suspect it's from the AP web edition, as my print version doesn't have anything like this. I commented on this article, and I'll update this answer if I get more information.


The AP Stylebook is the ultimate resource when it comes to AP style. You can purchase it in several forms through the AP Stylebook website.

  • The print version for $18.95 plus shipping
  • The online version for $25.00
  • The iOS version for $24.99 (in the App Store).

Libraries and universities with journalism programs may also have group subscriptions that you can use if you are a member or student.

Unfortunately, the AP folks apparently want your money, as they do not offer a free reference. There are a couple sparse summaries online - such as this and this, but they do not specifically address citation rules.

  • 2
    Couldn't find source attribution style in my print copy...
    – Caveatrob
    Commented Jan 15, 2011 at 18:08
  • @Caveatrob - I do not personally own the stylebook. Perhaps someone who does could weigh in? The website does say "AP Stylebook Online has additional content beyond what is included in the AP Stylebook," but it seems like it would be rather odd if the section on citation was online-only.
    – sjohnston
    Commented Jan 15, 2011 at 19:27

It's pretty simple. Use in-line citations.

According to stackechange.com, blah, blah blah


"Text of quote goes here," John Doe wrote in The New York Times.


If I may, I do believe the style to be Subject Verb for a simple attribution. That is:

"Blah, blah," Smith said.

It is a clause, however small. The exception is when it includes a descriptor after the source:

"Blah, blah," said Smith, who owns the company.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.