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APA Style

Citation guide for the Publication Manual for the American Psychological Association (7th ed).

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Author-date citation system

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 (2015) surveyed this phenomenon.

A famous survey of this phenomenon (Smith, 2015) showed that...

In 2015, Smith demonstrated that...

"White rats are the best subjects for this test," said Smith (2015, pp. 50-51).

Smith went on to explain, "Hamsters make better pets than lab rats" (2015, p.51).

The 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 the "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 of the parentheses, use "and."

According to the study, 25% of people prefer cats over dogs (Smith & Brown, 2015).

Smith and Brown (2015) surveyed this phenomenon. 

Works by three or more authors

To cite sources with more than three authors, the last name of the first author is listed and "et al.," is to be included for each citation. The first use of this citation may include the shortened version as well. 

According to the study, the average person owns five or more dogs in their lifetime (Smith et al., 2015).

In the study conducted by Smith et al., the average feline lifespan is twelve years (2015).

Works with no author

If the author is not identified, the title of the work replaces the author's name position within the citation. An unknown authored book would be cited with the title of the book in italics and an article would be in quotations. 

*Please note, when your citation includes a title instead of an author's name, it is correct to capitalize each word of the title within the in-text citation. Sentence case is used within the reference list. 

Book with no identified author: (Pet Lover's Guide, 2015)

Article with no identified author: ("Human Feline Interaction Study," 2015)

If the author is specifically identified as "Anonymous" this designation will replace the author's name position within the citation. 

(Anonymous, 2015)

As stated by Anonymous (2015), human interactions with pets relieve stress. 

More than one work at a time

When the citation is for works by the same author, they are ordered chronologically by publication date, stating the author's name only once, followed by the subsequent years. 

Rates of stress relief, with pet therapy, were notably significant (Smith, 2010, 2015, 2020). 

When the citations are to works by different authors, order them alphabetically by last name, separated by semicolons. 

Several surveys (Brown, 2010; Radcliff, 2011; Smith, 2015) noted lower blood pressure measurements following pet interaction. 

If multiple authors are cited within a narrative citation, their order of placement within the narrative is not specified. 

Multiple works by the same author in the same year

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. 

In-text examples:

According to the findings (Jensen, 2015a) which stated...while a follow up article (Jensen, 2015b) provided insight for future research. 

Reference list examples: 

Jensen, D. (2015a). A work to be admired. New York, NY: ABC Publishing.

Jensen, D. (2015b). More works to be admired. New York, NY: ABC Publishing.

Group organization author

When citing a group or organization, the full name is spelled out in the first citation, with the abbreviation in brackets. All subsequent citations may use only the abbreviation. Abbreviating the organization name is optional. 

First citation: (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [ASPCA], 2019).

Subsequent citations: (ASPCA, 2019).

Personal communication

Personal communication is defined as reference to or quotation of another's person's communication which cannot be retrieved by readers. These may include in-person communication, interviews, electronic communications, telephone conversations, written communications, online group discussion boards, speeches and lectures. This form of citation is only utilized when the audience would not be able to access the information. 

Narrative citation:  In earlier discussion with F. Simmons, (personal communication, October 18, 2019) it was determined...

Parenthetical citation: (F. Simmons, personal communication, October 18, 2019).

**This type of source is not listed in the reference list as it cannot be obtained by the reader. **

Citing a quotation as cited by another author

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, and cite the secondary source as an in-text citation and in the reference list. 

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

Works with no publication date

To cite works that do not have a publication date or indication of update, for example a website, substitute (n.d.) for the date. 

Brown's study (n.d.) showed improved concentration abilities following pet interaction. 

(Brown, n.d.).

Works without page numbers

To cite material (written or electronic) that does not provide page numbers, the location of the referenced material may be indicated by heading or section name, paragraph number or a combination of the two.

(Smith, 2015, para. 5).

(Brown, 2017, About Us, para. 2).

For audiovisual works, a timestamp is documented in substitution of a page number. 

Smith emphasized his findings of "decreased heart rate and blood pressure measurements," with pet interactions (2015, 4:08).