Data Sets and Software

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If you’re using a data set or a specialized kind of software or measurement tool, you should cite it in your reference list.

Of course you don’t have to cite common types of software such as Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop, nor do you have to account for the use of universal programming languages (e.g., Java).

Data Set

Here is the basic format:

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of data set (Version number) [Data set]. Publisher or Source. DOI or URL.


  • You can leave out the version number.
  • If the information is still being updated, you can provide a retrieval date and URL (e.g., Retrieved May 7, 2017, from URL).
  • You can change the description in square brackets (e.g., Data set, Unpublished raw data, etc.).
  • Italicize the names of data sets.

Here are some examples:

Brazilian Department of Soccer Statistics. (2007). Goal scoring efficiency of forwards in a state of post-carnival inebriation, 1999-2004 [Data set]. Retrieved July 8, 2019, from 

Cramp, I. E. (2008). Catholic prayer benches and arthritis rates [Data set]. Pews Research Society.

Vanspronsen, T. (2001). [Unpublished raw data on impostor syndrome at the administrative level]. University of Zenith.

For links to important data sets and repositories, check out this APA page.


Let’s start with the basic format:

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of work (Version number) [Computer software]. Publisher or app store. URL


  • You can leave out the version number.
  • You can change the description in square brackets (e.g., Computer software, Mobile app, Equipment, etc.).
  • Italicize the title.

Here are two examples:

Alert, A. B. (2015). HyperAware Optimizer (Version 3.2) [Computer software]. Caffeine Logistics.

Innocuous Developers. Fun time-wasting game (Version 1.9) [Mobile app]. App Store.

For more information, please consult pp. 337-41 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).