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APA Style Guide (7th Edition)

Quotations: The basics

A quotation is when you use another person’s word-for-word narrative in your own writing. Citation rules for quotations are similar to the rules for paraphrased or summarized content from another source, but there are some extra things you need to do to give proper credit to the original author; how you treat the quote depends on whether you are including 40 or more  words from the resource.

With a direct quote, proper citation includes the Author and Date, and MUST include a Page or Part designation that will help your reader locate the information within the original source. The standard parenthetical format is (Author, Date, Page/Part) though portions of the citation can still be placed in the narrative rather than the parentheses.

Page numbers are preceded by "p." for a single page and “pp.” for a span of multiple pages as shown in examples below; see the Identifying the Part section below for citing resources without page numbers and for citing non-text items that you are duplicating directly from another resource.

Short quotations: less than 40 words

SHORT QUOTATIONS (less than 40 words)

Short quotations are placed into the standard sentence structure of your narrative and set apart from your words by quotation marks. In-text citations for direct quotations require the Author, Date (year) of publication, and Page number for the reference. If you introduce the Author’s name in the narrative, place the Date immediately after the Author. The Page number/s go immediately before the closing punctuation of the sentence.

  • According to Smythe (2021), "students often found librarian assistance and library tutorials helpful when learning about citation styles" (p. 48).
  • Smythe (2021) discovered that "students often found librarian assistance and library tutorials helpful when learning about citation styles " (pp. 48-49); what does this mean for course instructors?

If you do not include the Author’s name in the narrative, place the Author, Date (year), and the Page number/s in parentheses after the quotation itself.

  • She stated, "Students often found librarian assistance and library tutorials helpful" (Smythe, 2021, para. 3).
  • She said that "Students often found librarian assistance and library tutorials helpful" (Smythe, 2021, p. 48), but she did not offer an explanation as to why.

Long quotations: 40+ words

Long quotations are set apart from the narrative into what is called a block quote. A block quote is a double-spaced section of text that begins a new on a new line, is indented ½” from your narrative text at the left margin, and is cited by a parenthetical reference AFTER the closing punctuation mark; you do not use quotation marks for a block quote, nor do you add an extra blank line before or after the block quote. Here is an example of a block quote from Purdue’s OWL website (n.d., “Formatting example for block quotations in APA 7 style”):

Identifying the Part: Quotations without Page numbers

Direct quotation or duplication of information from a source that does not contain original pages should not reference a Page number; the purpose of the Page number is to help your reader find the quote within the larger resource, so the source of the Page/Part identifier should be universal to the Referenced format or access method for that resource.

Instead, you may need to use another logical, universal identifying element: a heading, section number or name, paragraph number, a chapter number or name, a table number or name, etc. Religious texts can also incorporate special location identifiers like verse numbers; similarly, you can use verses or act/scene/line designations for literary works that are often reprinted such as plays or poetry.

In short: pick a substitute for Page numbers that makes sense for your source and that is universally the same for anyone else who may access that resource.

Parts of electronic resources

Many of the electronic resources that you will access through the library databases DO have Page numbers; you should use Page numbers when they are available! When you access the full text of a journal article online, the PDF format has the same Page numbers as the print version of the journal!

When there are absolutely no reasonable page numbers available in a resource from which you directly duplicate information, how do you cite:  

  • Website graphics?
    • Use the name of the item, e.g. (Figure 3) or (Slide 7) or (Table 2).
    • In the case of the image of the block quote used above, the title of the graphic on the original page was used as the Part identifier after the Date in the citation; the Author appears in the narrative.
  • Unpaginated text?
    • Use the section, heading, or chapter name, line or paragraph number, etc.
    • When citing a source with no page numbers, use the most precise identifier possible. 
      • (Smythe, 2021, para.14).
      • (Jonas, lines 18-20)
      • (International Organization of Smythe Families, 2021, About Us section)
  • Music, audio and video recordings?
    • Use a time stamp from the original resource recording that corresponds with the beginning of your quote.
    • He asks us "Is it possible to have institutions in our country, universities, where people from all backgrounds can come and learn, and learn to work together and learn to become leaders and to support each other in that experience?” (Hrabowski, 2013, 4:45).

Citing class materials

Class materials?!

Yes! You can use quotations from a lecture video that your professor provided or from a course discussion board, not to mention the course textbook, handouts, and your class notes! These are often excellent resources to use to tie your work into the assignment objectives, as the material was explicitly designed to directly support those objectives.

So how do you cite class materials?!

Your References are supposed to help others to find and access your sources. Readers who aren’t in your classes won’t have access to the course material that you have access to, and those who are within your class will need only minimal information to find which lecture or discussion you are citing. In these circumstances, best practice is to format the citation after one used for the category of Personal Communication.

Personal Communications, works that cannot be recovered by general readers, include unpublished interviews, emails, texts, some social media posts, live speeches, letters, etc.). Since readers cannot retrieve the information they contain, they are cited in-text but are NOT added to the References list.  Personal communications are to be used sparingly and only when necessary; for example, if you quote your textbook, you should cite the book in your References list and if a lecture referred to an outside resource, it’s better to find and use that resource than to cite the lecture. 

A personal communication citation should minimally include Author, "personal communication", and Date (Author, personal communication, Month day, year); elements of the citation can be used in the narrative rather than parenthetically, as with other citations. You may also include the format of the communication in the citation (Author, personal communication [ENG 101 lecture], Month day, year).


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

Hrabowski, F. (2013, February). Four pillars of college success in science. TED.

Purdue OWL. (n.d.). In-text citations: The basics. Purdue Writing Lab.