An in-text citation is a brief reference in your essay that leads your reader to a corresponding entry on your references page. Think of an in-text citation like a flag you plant for your reader. The flag sends the reader to your references page to find full details about the source you are referencing.
In-text citations are how we give credit to the original ideas that influenced, inspired, or guided our own work.
Include an in-text citation (or flag for your reader) when you:
Remember, you cannot borrow anyone's words, phrases, ideas, arguments, images, or other knowledge product without giving them credit for their work.
Need some help with phrasing your narrative citations? Try these signal phrase explainers and word banks!
|Author type||Parenthetical citation||Narrative citation|
|1 author||(Clymer, 2015).||Clymer (2015) argues…|
|2 authors||(Rattler & Rewis, 2020).||Rattler and Rewis (2020) suggest…|
|3 or more authors||(Dobbs et al., 2023).||Dobbs and others (2023) illustrate…
Dobbs and colleagues (2023) illustrate…
APA uses the author-date system for in-text citations. Parenthetical references briefly document sources of information. Page numbers are only required for a direct quotation; paraphrasing is preferred. Each item cited in text must have a corresponding entry on the reference page, which includes the full publication information for the sources.
Parenthetical citation means planting the flag for the reader at the end of the sentence by placing the relevant information inside parenthesis. In APA style in-text citations must include the author's last name and year. If no author or date is given, use the title in your signal phrase or the first word or two of the title in the parentheses and use the abbreviation "n.d." (for "no date"). The sentence's period comes after it. It looks like this:
A narrative citation means the flag is contained within the body of the sentence. It is usually accomplished by using a signal phrase or lead-in phrase, to alert the reader. The signal phrase might come at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.
Examples of signal phrases include the verbs:
It looks like this.
What to Include in All In-Text Citations
*If the work does not have an author listed use the title in place of the Author's name.
List the author's last name.
List the last name of both authors. Separate them with "&".
Note: The abbreviation et al. is short for the Latin phrase et alia, which means and others. When we use it, we are telling our reader this source was written by the lead author and others, or by the lead author et al.
If using a direct quote, include the specific page number. Paraphrasing is preferred when citing in APA style.