An in-text citation is a brief reference in your essay that leads your reader to a corresponding reference list entry. Think of in-text citation like a flag you plant for your reader. The flag sends your helps your reader find the 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.
Every in-text citation must have a corresponding entry in the reference list, and every entry on the reference list must have at least one corresponding in-text citation. There are some exceptions, such as for personal communications and citing an entire website.
APA requires that you provide two pieces of information for an in-text citation:
A page number is required for direct quotes, and encouraged for paraphrasing.
You will incorporate this information into your text using one of two methods: parenthetically or narratively.
For more guidelines, view sections Chapter 8 in the Publication Manual or consult the APA Style page on In-Text Citations.
Use the last name of the author for your in-text citation.
(Matthews, 2010, p. 14)
You will list up to two authors in an in-text citation, separated with an ampersand (&).
(Smith & Miller, 2009)
For references with three or more authors, you will only include the first author and then the words et al.
(Smith et al., 2009)
Smith et al. (2009) summarized it as...
If the author of a work is an organization, company, or group, list that group's full name in the in-text citation.
(Northwest Arkansas Community College, 2019)
If the organization has a common acronym, you may introduce it in your first in-text citation and then use the abbreviation in all subsequent citations.
(American Medical Association [AMA], 2007)
You should avoid citing works with no author, because you will be unable to verify authority and credibility. Remember that most resources that do not have an individual author listed will have an organization or group responsible for the content.
If there is truly no author for a reference, you use the title, or first few words of the title. Note that you should capitalize the words in the title for the in-text citation. Place in quotation marks if the title is an article or chapter. Italicize if it is a book, webpage, etc.
("How To Find," 2009).
(Oxford English Dictionary, 1989).
You will use the year of the resource in the in-text citation. Even if there is a more detailed date provided, only the year is included in the in-text citation.
If there is no date for a reference, use the abbreviation n.d.:
(Northwest Arkansas Community College, n.d.).
Smith (n.d.) states that...
If you have two or more distinct works by the same author and published in the same year, differentiate them with letters. Letters will be assigned alphabetically by the order in which they are listed in the references list.
Rowling, J. K. (1999a). Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets. Arthur A. Levine.
Rowling, J. K. (1999b). Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban. Arthur A. Levine.
If both items are using n.d. instead of a year, include a hyphen before the differentiating letter.
(Northwest Arkansas Community College, n.d.-a)
Recall that page numbers and more specific location information as detailed below are only required for direct quotes, but may be used for paraphrasing if you wish.
If you are using information from a single page, use the abbreviation p.
(Smith, 2009, p. 12)
If your quote (or paraphrase) spans multiple pages, use the abbreviation pp., and separate the two numbers with an en dash (–).
Smith (2009) discusses how the study was received by the media (pp. 12–13).
If there are no page numbers on your resource, use section headers, paragraph numbers, or other descriptions to direct your reader to the information you are citing.
One of the author's main points is that "people don't rise from nothing" (Gladwell, 2008, Chapter 1, Section 2, para. 5).
If you are citing a direct quotation from a video, you can use the time stamp in place of a page number within the in-text citation.
Pariser (2011) states that "your filter bubble is your own personal, unique universe of information that you live in online. And wha's in your filter bubble depends on who you are, and it depends on what you do" (4:12).
|Author type||Parenthetical citation||Narrative citation|
|1 author||(Clymer, 2022)||Clymer (2022) argued…|
|2 authors||(Rattler & Rewis, 2022)||Rattler and Rewis (2022) suggested…|
|3 or more authors||(Dobbs et al., 2022)||Dobbs et al. (2022) illustrated…|
Group author with abbreviation
After the 1st use:
(American Psychological Association [APA], 2022)
Association (APA, 2022)
|Group author without abbreviation||(Alzheimer's Association, 2023)||Alzheimer's Association (2023) reported…|
Narrative citations are the preferred method of citing quotes. You may also use them for paraphrasing or summarizing. The strength of narrative citations is that it flows better for a reader. A narrative citations weaves in the author's name(s) into the text, and then adds in the year in parentheses. The page number will bookend the quote at the end.
You will often want to use a signal phrase to introduce a narrative citation. For an overview of signal phrases along with some examples, visit George Mason University's page on Signal Phrases.
Last name (Year) ... "quote" or paraphrase (p. X).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011), rates for pregnancy, STDs and abortion are much higher in the US than in other industrialized countries (para. 1).
Pink (2009) explains that "rewards, by their very nature, narrow our focus. That’s helpful when there’s a clear path to a solution" (p. 42).
Jia and Gong (2021) found mutations in the spike protein challenge the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines.
Valenas et al. (2017) explored the impact of attentional bias and rumination on test anxiety in first-year university students.
A parenthetical citation encompasses the components of the in-text citation in parentheses at the end of the sentence, prior to the closing period. This should mostly be used for paraphrasing, and typically not for direct quotes alone.
Recall that a page number is not necessary for paraphrasing, but is encouraged.
(Author, Date, p. X)
Most college students are limited in their research experience to using Google and struggle to learn how to effectively navigate and use the wide variety of resources available to them (Head, 2013).
Researchers have cautioned that flipped instruction needs to be carefully designed, both in overall pedagogical design (Banks & Henderson, 2019) and in the design of instructional videos (Obradovich et al., 2015).
Moreover, Standard II.5.2 explains that school psychologists "do not promote or condone the use of restricted psychological and educational tests…by individuals who are not qualified to use them" (NASP, 2010, p. 9).
To include two or more different resources in one citation, use a semicolon to separate them:
Poor empathy development has been associated with negative outcomes including increased aggression, poorer quality relationships, and psychopathology across development (Batanova & Loukas, 2014; Gambin & Sharp, 2016).
A secondary source is information that was first reported or stated in another source. APA Style recommends avoiding citing secondary sources if possible. If you are able to find the original information or quote you should cite the original work.
If the original work cannot be found you are able to cite secondary sources by including both citations on your References page. The in-text citation should include the original works' author "as cited in" the secondary author's last name.
For example, if you are trying to cite an article written by Johnson where Smith was cited you would write the in-text citation as:
(Smith, 2015 as cited in Johnson, 2021).