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Albert S. Cook Library

APA Style

Learn to write and cite your sources using American Psychological Association Style

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Introduction to In-text Citations

General Rules

  • Every in-text citation must correspond to an entry in your list of references
  • If available, in-text citations must include the author's (or editor's) last name and year of publication
  • Direct quotes must also include a page number

So how do I put this together?

There are many ways to include this information in your text.  Some examples are below:

  • Smith (2010) surveyed this phenomenon.
  • A famous survey of this phenomenon (Smith, 2010) showed that....
  • In 2010, Smith demonstrated that...
  • "White rats are the best subjects for this test," said Smith (2010, pp. 50-51).
  • Smith went on to explain, “Hamsters make better pets than lab rats” (2010, p. 51).

Notice that parentheses are used to indicate the parts of an in-text citation not included in prose.  Also notice that the parts of the parenthetical citation (author, year, page) are separated with commas.  Lastly, notice that “p.” is used for a citation on one page and “pp.” is used for a citation that spans multiple pages.

Punctuating Citations

The punctuation in your own writing follows the parenthetical citation. This is the case even when the citation is for a block quote (a long, indented quote, not surrounded by quotation marks).

Works by Two Authors

Cite both authors throughout the work.   Citations inside parentheses use the ampersand (&).  Citations outside parentheses, use "and.”

According to the study, 25% of people prefer cats over dogs (Smith & Brown, 2004).

Smith and Brown (2004) surveyed this phenomenon.

Works by Three, Four, or Five Authors

Cite all of them the first time you refer to the work, but in subsequent references follow the last name of the first author by et al. (with a period after "al").

A recent survey (Smith, Brown, & Black, 2005) showed.... [first reference]

Smith et al. (2005) showed [second reference]

Works by Six or More Authors

Consistently cite only the last name of the first author, followed by et al. (with a period after "al").

Personal Communications

Give the communicator's initials and last tmae, and as precise a date as possible.  Personal communications are not included in reference lists.

(R. J. Smith, personal communication, March 3, 2010)

More than One Work at a Time

When the citation is for works by the same author, order them by publication date without repeating the author's name.

Recent surveys (Smith, 2007, 2009)....

When the citations are to works by different authors, order them alphabetically by surname, separating them with semicolons.

Several surveys (Brown, 1990; Griggs, 1998; Pepper, 1999)….

No Author

Instead of a last name use the first few words of the entry for that work in the reference list.  Put quotation marks around the title of an article or chapter, and italicize the title of a book, periodical, brochure, or report.

  • “Survey of Asian Men" (2008)....
  • …a recent study (Hispanic and Female, 2004)....

Multiple Works Written in the Same Year by the Same Author

Use lower-case letters (a, b, c) with the year to order the entries in the reference list. Use the coinciding lower-case letters with the year in the in-text citation.

Reference List Example

Jensen, D. (2009a). A work to be admired. New York, NY: ABC Publishing.

Jensen, D. (2009b). More works to be admired. New York, NY: ABC Publishing.

In-text Examples

According to a Harvard study (Jensen, 2009a),… while a similar study (Jensen, 2009b) suggests…

No Date of Publication

Substitute (n.d.) for the date.

Brown’s study (n.d) showed that kittens are visually pleasing…

Works Without Page Numbers

When providing a quotation from an electronic source that does not provide page numbers, use paragraph number, if available, preceded by para.  If there are no paragraph numbers, use the section heading and the number of the paragraph within that section.

(Smith, 2010, para. 5)

(Brown, 2009, Introduction section, para. 1)

Citing a Quotation as Cited by Someone Else

It is best practice to locate and cite the original source of a quotation.  If this is not possible, name the original source in your signal phrase, but cite the secondary source in the reference list and as an in-text citation. 

Anderson claimed, “Cats are better pets than dogs” (as cited in Johnson, 2008, p. 400). 

Citing Classical Works

For major classical works, such as ancient Greek and Roman works and the Bible, identify the version you used and specify the part you are citing according to the standard way of referring to it—book, chapter, verse, line, or canto.

The poem alludes to 1 Genesis 1:1 (King James Version)…