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APA Style Guide (7th Edition)

In-text citations: The basics

Anytime you use information, ideas, facts, or phrases from a source you must include an in-text citation directing the reader to the full citation on the References page. There should be a reference for each in-text citation and a citation for each resource on the References page. You must have first created the full citation for the resource to create the in-text citation. Follow these guidelines when creating in-text citations:

  • APA uses an (author, date) style format for the basis of its in-text citations. This information can be cited:
    • In the narrative or body of the text or speech.
      • Example: "Smythe mentioned in her 2021 article that these facts exist…"
    • As a parenthetical citation
      •  Example: "These facts exist (Smythe, 2021)…"
      • The parenthetical portion of the in-text citation may appear anywhere in the sentence, though if you put it at the end of the sentence put the period AFTER the closing parentheses.
    • Or in a combination of the two styles.
      • Example: "According to Smythe (2021) these facts exist…"
      • In this circumstance, the parenthetical Date must appear immediately after the Author’s name.
  • When your use of a paraphrased or summarized resource extends beyond a single sentence, cite the resource in the first sentence in which it is relevant and do not repeat it while the source of the information remains clear.
  • The Author
    • The Author for the in-text citation is the first phrase of the Reference citation.
    • For the in-text citation, use only the author’s last name unless you cite multiple authors with the same last name, then simply add the initial of the first name, etc. until you’ve distinguished between the authors.
    • See the examples below for assistance determining the Author for a variety of situations.
  • The Date
    • The Date used for the in-text citation will only include the year, even when the Reference page citation includes more extensive date information.
    • For works with no date, use “n.d.” in place of the date for both in-text and reference citations.
  • The Page or Part
    • While APA doesn’t require that page numbers be added to a citation for paraphrased or summarized content, it is encouraged, as a page range will help your reader find the information in a longer work.
    • Example: (Smythe, 2021, pp. 28-35) or "According to Smythe (2021, p. 18)..." or "Smythe said in her 2021 article...(p. 10)."  Note that the page number goes in parentheses at the end of the sentence followed by a period when the rest of the citation appears in the narrative.
    • See the ‘Quotations’ portion of this page for information on Pages and Parts requirements for direct quotations.


Examples of in-text citations

The pattern for in-text citations is straightforward in APA:

  Narrative citation Parenthetical citation
One author As Smythe (2021) mentions... (Smythe, 2021)
Two authors Smythe and Jonas (2021) (Smythe & Jonas, 2021)1
Three+ authors According to Smythe et al. (2021) (Smythe et al., 2021)
An organization Federal Bureau of Investigation (2021) (FBI, 2021)2
  1. Note the use of the ampersand (“&” symbol) which happens within parenthesis in APA style citations.
  2. Write out the organization’s name in the first citation and use standard abbreviations for subsequent citations, regardless of whether you are using a narrative or parenthetical citation. If there is no abbreviated form, continue to use the full name of the organization.

Except when it isn’t!

  • If there’s no author listed (be sure to check for an organization, too!), cite the source by its full title; if there’s no official title, use a signal phrase from the source as a title. Remember that titles of books and reports are italicized, while titles of articles, chapters, and web pages are in quotation marks:
    • ("APA Style Guide", 2021)
  • If you are referring to multiple works in the same parenthesis, use a semicolon (“;” symbol) to separate different authors and commas to separate differently dated works by the same author:
    • (Jonas, 2002; Smythe, 1983)     
    • (Smythe, n.d., 1995, 2002)
  • If there are two authors with the same last name, to prevent confusion, use first initials with the last names:
    • (E. Jones, 2001; L. Jones, 1998)
  • If there are multiple works by the same author in the same year, designate them with a, b, c, etc.:
    • Research by Smythe (1981a) revealed strong correlations. However, a parallel study (Smythe, 1981b) resulted in inconclusive findings.
  • If you are citing an electronic resource, whenever possible cite it as you would any resource with author and date. If there’s no author follow the "no author" rule as shown above; if there's no date, use “n.d.” for “no date”.
    • Another study of students and research decisions discovered that students succeeded with library instruction ("Teaching student research", n.d.). 
  • Sometimes you can’t avoid using indirect resources, though writers should endeavor to read primary sources (original sources) and cite those rather than secondary resources (works that report on original sources). If you must use a source that was cited in another resource, name the original source in your citation. List the secondary resource in your reference list and include the secondary resource in the parentheses. If you know the year of the original source, include it in the citation.
    • Jonas argued that...  (as cited in Smythe, 2003, p. 102).
    • (Jonas, 1985, as cited in Smythe, 2003, p. 102).

Formatting Titles within in-text citations

When you use the Title of a work in the body of your text, you'll follow one of these rules. Look at the Title in the Reference entry:

  • If the Title in the Reference entry is italicized, then italicize the Title in the text and use title case rather than sentence case (i.d. capitalize any word in the title longer than 4 letters in addition to capitalizing the first word, the first word after a colon or dash, and proper nouns).
  • If the Title in the work is not italicized in the Reference entry, use quotation marks and title case capitalization.

References

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association: The official guide to APA style (7th edition). 

Purdue OWL. (n.d.). In-text citations: Author/authors. Purdue Writing Lab. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_style_introduction.html.