How to Cite MS Excel in Literature

When you write a paper using the American Psychological Association (APA, 6th editon) Style, ideas not your own need to be cited or referenced within the text and again at the end of your paper in a bibliography. Electronic media like software cause some confusion as a reference source. Generally, for graphs, spreadsheets or scatter plots, you cite the information rather than the software. If you need to reference common software like Excel, you use an in-text citation for your reference and it is not included as a reference in your bibliography. If you are using uncommon software, then you would use a citation reference.

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Creating an APA in-text citation for Excel

Step 1

Open your word processing software to write your paper. Write out the thought that needs to have a citation referring to Excel.

Step 2

Type "Microsoft Excel" and, in parentheses, "Excel version" as your in-text citation. It should look something like "In using Microsoft Excel (2007), I found it easy to…"

Step 3

Do not add an entry for this in-text citation later in your paper in the list of references or bibliography section.

Creating an APA software citation

Step 1

Open your word processing software to write your paper. Write out the paraphrased thought that needs to have a citation referring to an uncommon piece of software.

Step 2

Type in your citation in your text. It should be the author's last name and the month of creation for the software. Example: Jack Smith's software CaffeineDog (2010) allows you to feed the dog and start your coffee pot at the same time. Next you need to provide the reference in your list of references in the back of your paper.

Step 3

Type out the name of the author, last name, first name. In parentheses, type in the year the software was published and a period.

Step 4

Type in the name of the software and, in parentheses, type the version, if applicable. Do not italicize the title. In brackets, write out Computer Software. Add a period. Follow this with the name of the institution where the software was created followed by a period. Example: Smith, Jack (2010). CaffeineDog (Version 3.0) [Computer Software]. CaffeineDog Software, Omaha, NE.


According to the APA Style Manual, electronic resources should follow the same guidelines as standard resources. You need to include enough information in your citations and list of references so if readers want to check your resources, they can easily find the information. ?