Q. How do I cite software in APA?


Thank you for your question on citing software.

According to the APA Publication Manual, 6th edition, section 7.08:

"Reference entries are not necessary for standard software and programming languages, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Java, Adobe Photoshop, and even SAS and SPSS. In text, give the proper name of the software, along with the version number. Do not provide reference entries for specialized software of computer programs with limited distribution." 

If you do need a citation, it follows this formula:

Rightsholder, A.A. (year). Title of program (Version number, if applicable) [Description of form]. Location: Name of producer OR Retrieved from https://

  • Example without rightsholder: 

Comprehensive Meta-Analysis (Version 2) [Computer software]. (year). Englewood, NJ: Biostat. Available from https://

  • Example with rightsholder: 

Smith, J. (year). Comprehensive Meta-Analysis (Version 2) [Computer software]. Englewood, NJ: Biostat. Available from website address.

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If you have additional questions, visit our APA Help guide or contact the Campus Librarians


  • Last Updated Jun 13, 2019
  • Views 21354
  • Answered By Baker Librarians

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Comments (6)

  1. This answer was helpful for the reference list, but when you dó need a reference, then how exactly should you cite the software in the text? Only year e.g. "We used ARTiiFact 7.05 (2011) or year and rightholders e.g. ARTiiFact 7.05 (Kauffman, Sütterlin, Schulz, & Vögele, 2011). And should the version number explicitly be within parentheses or could one also note it right after the software (as above). I'm hoping for a useful example.
    by Igor on Dec 09, 2015.
  2. APA in-text citations are always either the author and date OR the title and date (when there is no author).

    So using the examples in the answer, the in-text citations would be:

    ("Comprehensive Meta-Analysis", 2014) and (Smith, 2014), respectively.
    by Tessa Betts on Dec 09, 2015.
  3. I know that the computer software has a rightsholder, now how do I determine who it is to cite the software correctly.
    by Pam on Jun 20, 2016.
  4. You can usually find who the copyright holder is by exploring the menus of the software. There is no one set of instructions that will work for all software, but here are some examples to give you an idea where to look.

    In Microsoft Word, if you go to the File menu, select "Account," then click "About Word," you will see that the rights holder is the Microsoft Corporation.

    Or if you are in Google Chrome, go to the "Settings" and then "About" and you will see the rights holder is Google Inc.

    In Firefox, you can open the Help menu (the button looks like a question mark), select "About Firefox." This opens a window that lets me know that the software is open sourced, designed by Mozilla, and the name and logo are trademarked by the Mozilla Foundation.

    It is really a matter of clicking around until you find the information you need, but look for words like "options," "settings," and "help."
    by Caitlin on Jun 21, 2016.
  5. What year should I use? That is, if I'm using a software package that originally came out in 1995, is that the year I should use? Or should I use the year that the current version came out?
    by Erica on Jun 13, 2019.
  6. Cite the most current version year that you are using, as the reader would refer back to that if checking your source and not the original version.
    by Baker College Librarian on Jun 13, 2019.

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