In-Text Citations: Author/Authors
APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).
Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2018-02-21 02:51:57
APA style has a series of important rules on using author names as part of the author-date system. There are additional rules for citing indirect sources, electronic sources, and sources without page numbers.
Citing an Author or Authors
A Work by Two Authors: Name both authors in the signal phrase or in parentheses each time you cite the work. Use the word "and" between the authors' names within the text and use the ampersand in parentheses.
Research by Wegener and Petty (1994) supports...
(Wegener & Petty, 1994)
A Work by Three to Five Authors: List all the authors in the signal phrase or in parentheses the first time you cite the source. Use the word "and" between the authors' names within the text and use the ampersand in parentheses.
(Kernis, Cornell, Sun, Berry, & Harlow, 1993)
In subsequent citations, only use the first author's last name followed by "et al." in the signal phrase or in parentheses.
(Kernis et al., 1993)
In et al., et should not be followed by a period.
Six or More Authors: Use the first author's name followed by et al. in the signal phrase or in parentheses.
Harris et al. (2001) argued...
(Harris et al., 2001)
Unknown Author: If the work does not have an author, cite the source by its title in the signal phrase or use the first word or two in the parentheses. Titles of books and reports are italicized; titles of articles, chapters, and web pages are in quotation marks.
A similar study was done of students learning to format research papers ("Using APA," 2001).
Note: In the rare case the "Anonymous" is used for the author, treat it as the author's name (Anonymous, 2001). In the reference list, use the name Anonymous as the author.
Organization as an Author: If the author is an organization or a government agency, mention the organization in the signal phrase or in the parenthetical citation the first time you cite the source.
According to the American Psychological Association (2000),...
If the organization has a well-known abbreviation, include the abbreviation in brackets the first time the source is cited and then use only the abbreviation in later citations.
First citation: (Mothers Against Drunk Driving [MADD], 2000)
Second citation: (MADD, 2000)
Two or More Works in the Same Parentheses: When your parenthetical citation includes two or more works, order them the same way they appear in the reference list (viz., alphabetically), separated by a semi-colon.
(Berndt, 2002; Harlow, 1983)
Authors With the Same Last Name: To prevent confusion, use first initials with the last names.
(E. Johnson, 2001; L. Johnson, 1998)
Two or More Works by the Same Author in the Same Year: If you have two sources 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 lower-case letters with the year in the in-text citation.
Research by Berndt (1981a) illustrated that...
Introductions, Prefaces, Forewords, and Afterwords: When citing an Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword in-text, cite the appropriate author and year as usual.
Personal Communication: For interviews, letters, e-mails, and other person-to-person communication, cite the communicator's name, the fact that it was personal communication, and the date of the communication. Do not include personal communication in the reference list.
(E. Robbins, personal communication, January 4, 2001).
A. P. Smith also claimed that many of her students had difficulties with APA style (personal communication, November 3, 2002).
Citing Indirect Sources
If you use a source that was cited in another source, name the original source in your signal phrase. List the secondary source in your reference list and include the secondary source in the parentheses.
Johnson argued that...(as cited in Smith, 2003, p. 102).
Note: When citing material in parentheses, set off the citation with a comma, as above. Also, try to locate the original material and cite the original source.
If possible, cite an electronic document the same as any other document by using the author-date style.
Kenneth (2000) explained...
Unknown Author and Unknown Date: 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").
Another study of students and research decisions discovered that students succeeded with tutoring ("Tutoring and APA," n.d.).
Sources Without Page Numbers
When an electronic source lacks page numbers, you should try to include information that will help readers find the passage being cited. When an electronic document has numbered paragraphs, use the abbreviation "para." followed by the paragraph number (Hall, 2001, para. 5). If the paragraphs are not numbered and the document includes headings, provide the appropriate heading and specify the paragraph under that heading. Note that in some electronic sources, like webpages, people can use the "find" function in their browser to locate any passages you cite.
According to Smith (1997), ... (Mind over Matter section, para. 6).
Note: Never use the page numbers of webpages you print out; different computers print webpages with different pagination.
Why we include parenthetical / in-text citations:
Researchers include brief parenthetical citations in their writing to acknowledge references to other people’s work. Generally, APA parenthetical citations include the last name of the author and year of publication. Page numbers are also included when citing a direct quote.
If some of this information is included in the body of the sentence, exclude it from the parenthetical citation. In-text citations typically appear at the end of the sentence, between the last word and the period.
Parenthetical citation without author’s name in the text:
Harlem had many artists and musicians in the late 1920s (Belafonte, 2008).
Parenthetical citation when author is mentioned in the text:
According to Belafonte, Harlem was full of artists and musicians in the late 1920s (2008).
Parenthetical citations with multiple authors:
Works with two authors
Include both names, separated by an ampersand (&).
Rallying to restore sanity was a revolutionary undertaking (Stewart & Colbert, 2010).
Works with three to five authors
- Include all names in the first in-text parenthetical citation, separated by commas and then an ampersand (&).
- For all subsequent in-text parenthetical citations, include only the first author, followed by “et al.” and publication year if it is the first citation in a paragraph.
First in-text parenthetical citation:
Rallying to restore sanity was a revolutionary undertaking (Stewart, Colbert, & Oliver, 2010).
All subsequent in-text parenthetical citations:
The event resulted in thousands of participants flocking to the National Mall in support of the cause (Stewart et al., 2010).
Works with six or more authors
Include only the last name of the first author, followed by “et al.” and publication year in all parenthetical citations.
The study did not come to any definitive conclusions (Rothschild et al., 2013).
Citing sources without an author:
If a work has no author, include the first few words of the bibliography entry (in many cases, the title) and the year.
- Use double quotations around the titles of articles, chapters and/or websites.
Statistics confirm that the trend is rising (“New Data,” 2013).
*Note: Unlike in your reference list, parenthetical citations of articles, chapters and/or website should have all major words capitalized.
- Italicize the titles of periodicals, books, brochures or reports
The report includes some bleak results (Information Illiteracy in Academia, 2009).
Citing part of a work:
When citing a specific part of a work, provide the relevant page number or section identifier, such as chapters, tables or equations. Direct quotes should always have page numbers.
One of the most memorable quotes is when he says, “You are going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!” to Augustus (Green, 2012, p. 272).
If the source does not include page numbers (such as online sources), you can reference specific parts of the work by referencing the:
Paragraph number (if given) with the abbreviation “para. xx”
He quickly learned that pandas were not considered good pets (Chan, 2011, para. 3).
- Section or heading and the number of the paragraph in which the information is found. For lengthy headings, use the first few words of the title in the parenthetical citation
The sample population included both red and giant pandas (Chan, 2011, Methodology section, para. 1).
Citing groups or corporate authors:
Corporations, government agencies and associations can be considered the author of a source when no specific author is given.
Write out the full name of the group in all parenthetical citations:
The May 2011 study focused on percentages of tax money that goes to imprisonment over education funding (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 2011).
However, you may abbreviate the group name if the group’s name is lengthy and it is a commonly recognized abbreviation in all subsequent parenthetical citations.
The report found that over a half billion of taxpayer dollars went to imprison residents “from 24 of New York City’s approximately 200 neighborhoods” (NAACP, 2011, pp. 2).
Citing classical works
For classical sources, such as ancient Greek works, cite the year of the translation or version used. Precede this information with “trans.” or “version,” respectively.
(Homer, trans. 1998).
When citing specific content from these sources, include the paragraph/line numbers that are used in classical works. This information is consistent across versions/editions, and is the easiest way to locate direct quotes from classical works.
The Bible extols the virtues of love; “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Cor. 13:4 New International Version).
Note: Remember, you do not need to create formal citations in your reference list for classical works.
Citing and formatting block quotes:
When directly quoting information from sources in your writing, you may need to format it differently depending on how many words are used.
If a quote runs on for more than 40 words:
- Start the direct quotation on a new line
- Indent the text roughly half an inch from the left margin
- If there are multiple paragraphs in the quotation, indent them an extra half inch
- Remove any quotation marks
- Double-space the text
- Add the parenthetical citation after the final sentence
…here is some text from the book that clearly defines early on in the novel:
He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.