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Citation Guides

Guides on everything related to citing sources: MLA and APA style, citing websites, and avoiding plagiarism.

In-Text Citations for APA Style

What is an in-text citation and how is it different from the Reference List citation?

APA style uses a two-part system, where each source used will have an in-text citation and a reference list citation. The in-text citation appears within the narrative of your work and is a shortened version of the reference list citation, which appears after the end of the narrative. The in-text and reference list citation will both include the author's name and the date published. See APA website for a detailed discussion of in-text citations. 

When should I use an in-text citation in my writing?

Use an in-text citation when you summarize, paraphrase, or directly quote a source. If it isn't your original idea, cite it. In-text citations are generally placed at the end of a sentence.

What information is included in the in-text citation?

In-text citations include the author's last name(s) and the year of publication. It also includes the page number if citing a direct quotation. If the author's name and the year are included in the sentence this is called a "narrative citation" and no in-text citation in parentheses is needed.

In what order do I put the quotation mark, parentheses and period?

In-text citations are generally placed at the end of a sentence. The period at the end of the sentence comes after the closing parenthesis. If there is a direct quotation, the quotation mark goes before the parentheses. For example:

  • (Smith, 1972).
  • " treatment" (Smith, 1972, p. 81).

However, if the in-text citation follows a block quote, the period goes at the end of the sentence instead, before the parentheses of the in-text citation.

How do I cite something that the source quoted? That is, a second-hand or secondary source?

Generally it is good practice to track down the original source, if possible, and quote it directly. If this isn't an option, use the phrase "as cited in". For example:

  • Brown (as cited in Jones, 2010) wrote that...

In-Text Citations Examples for Various Authors and Situations

One author

(Luna, 2020)

According to Luna... (2020).

Two authors

(Salas & D'Agostino, 2020)

According to Salas and D'Agostino... (2020).

Three or more authors
  • Use the last name of the first author, then the phrase "et al." to indicate that there are more authors found in the reference list citation.

(Martin et al., 2020)

According to Martin et al.,... (2020).

Group author
  • The first time you include an in-text citation for a group author, write out the whole name. If the group's name is very long, also include an abbreviation in brackets right after. When you cite it after that, you may just use the abbreviation instead of writing out the whole name.

(Stanford University, 2020)

(National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2020)

According to the National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH]... (2020).

(NIMH, 2020)

No author
  • If the source has no author given in your reference list citation, use a shortened form of the title.

("Super," 2017, para. 5)

No date
  • A source with no date is handled in the same way as in the reference list citation, with "n.d." 

(Trask, n.d.)

Personal communications
  • Sources that are from personal communications or other unpublished communication not available to your audience do not need a reference list citation, but do still need an in-text citation.
  • Give the first initial and last name of the person you communicated with.

"I was stationed at Pearl Harbor" (J. Rivera, personal communication, March 24, 2019).

Direct quotations
  • When including a direct quotation include the author and year as usual. After the year, include a page number (p. 82), a paragraph number (para. 5), or a timestamp for audio or video recording (4:30)

Bede and Xing found that "the most commonly prescribed treatment is often ineffective" (2015, p. 10).

"The crowd laughed loudly and long" (Johnson, 2015, para.23)


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