In-text citations are used to give credit to the authors whose ideas or thoughts are used within the text. These internal citations allow the reader to identify and locate the resource you used. APA uses an in-text citation method that includes the author’s last name and the year of publication.
Use the author-date method of citation by inserting the surname of the author and the year of publication at the appropriate point in the text.
When you quote from another source, you must ensure that your writing reads fluently and that the quotation fits in the new context. When you use a direct quote, (a) the quote must be relevant, (b) it should transition smoothly between what comes before and after, (c), it must fit logically and make grammatical sense, and (d) it should be no longer than absolutely necessary.
A short direct quotation (less than 40 words) is inserted directly into the text without separating it from the rest of the paragraph. The exact words of the source need opening and closing quotation marks without separating the quote from the rest of the paragraph. Last but not least, you must include the page number (or other information such as section and paragraph numbers for an electronic source that is not paginated.) Be sure to include the exact spelling and interior punctuation of the borrowed words.
There are several different ways to incorporate the author, date, and page number of the source material, but remember that the year will always stay with the author.
When citing a specific part of a resource, use the page, chapter, figure, or table number at the appropriate point in your text. Note that page is abbreviated p., but other words like chapter are not abbreviated. This applies to tables, data, graphics, and images as well.
Changes to Direct Quotes
You may want to make minor changes to a direct quotation. This possible, as long as you don’t change the meaning, but you must follow certain rules.
If you omit parts of the quotation in the middle, use an ellipsis (…)
If you want to insert your own words, or different words, into a quotation, use square brackets ().
If you want to draw attention to an error in a quotation, for example if there is a spelling mistake or wrong date, do not correct; use [sic].
If you want to emphasize something in a quotation which is particularly relevant to your point, put the emphasized word in italics, and state that the emphasis is your own.
Block quote formatting is used when a direct quotation is over 40 words. Since it is your job to synthesize the information you’ve read and learned, you shouldn’t need to use so many of someone else’s words, so use this format only if necessary.
- Indent the quote half an inch.
- Do not use quotation marks.
- Double space the block quote.
- Do not include additional lines or spaces before or after the quote.
When you paraphrase, you use your own words. This is usually preferable to direct quotes because you synthesize the information and use your own writing style. However, you must be careful not to change the meaning. Even when you use your own words, you need to acknowledge where you got the idea from by including an in-text citation.
Like direct quotes, there are several different ways to incorporate the required author and date information into the in-text citation. And like direct quotes, the year will always stay with the author, no matter where the information is inserted into your text.
For example, if this is the original quotation:
This would be part of the essay:
Citing secondary sources is not recommended. However if it is not possible to cite the primary source, for example if the primary source is in a language you don’t read or is not possible to obtain, you may need to cite the secondary source.
To do this, you would refer to the original source by directly quoting or paraphrasing it in the text of the paper, but the in-text citation would be to the secondary source, since that is what is in front of you. Remember APA’s cardinal rule: Cite what you see.
Note that the text makes it clear that Freud is being cited in Skinner, so that if a reader wants to find the source material, it is clear that he is looking for Skinner in the reference list.
|Type of citation||First citation in text||Subsequent citations in text||Parenthetical format, first citation in text||Parenthetical format, subsequent citations in text|
|One work by one author||Smith (2007)||Smith (2007)||(Smith, 2007)||(Smith, 2007)|
|One work by two authors||Smith and Thomas (2007)||Smith and Thomas (2007)||(Smith & Thomas, 2007)||(Smith & Thomas, 2007)|
|One work by three authors||Smith, Thomas, and Jones (2007)||Smith et al. (2007)||(Smith, Thomas, & Jones, 2007)||(Smith et al., 2007)|
|One work by four authors||Higgins, Chow, Ito, and Kawazaki (2000)||Higgins et al. (2000)||(Higgins, Chow, Ito, & Kawazaki, 2000)||(Higgins et al., 2000)|
|One work by five authors||Schaefer, Ramirez, Lucio, Davidson, and Pastillo (2012)||Schaefer et al. (2012)||(Schaefer, Ramirez, Lucio, Davidson, & Pastillo, 2012)||(Schaefer et al., 2012)|
|One work by six or more authors||Hutchens et al. (2010)||Hutchens et al. (2010)||(Hutchens et al., 2010)||(Hutchens et al., 2010)|
|Group author readily identified by abbreviation||American Psychological Association (APA, 2010)||APA (2010)||(American Psychological Association [APA], 2010)||(APA, 2010)|
|Group author not abbreviated||Boston College (2013)||Boston College (2013)||(Boston College, 2013)||(Boston Collge, 2013)|
When et al. follows one author, there is no comma:
However, if you need to include two or three authors before using et al. (so that the source is not confused with others with similar authors), use a comma after the last surname:
Anonymous or Unidentified Author
Only use Anonymous as the author when that is stated on the document itself. Otherwise, use the title as illustrated in this section.
If an article, book chapter, webpage, or special issue of a journal has no author, use the title or first few words of the title if it is long.
In parenthetical citations, use double quotes around the title, ensuring the comma before the year goes inside of the quotation marks. Use title case in-text, however you’ll use sentence case when you cite the source in the reference list.
If the source is a periodical, book, report, or brochure, you can use a similar format to articles or book chapters.
In this case, you will not use quotation marks around the title, but will italicize it. Use title case in-text, however you’ll use sentence case for the title in the reference list.
Group Authors and Acronyms
Groups including corporations, associations, and government agencies can serve as authors. The name should be spelled out every time it is cited in the text of the document. However, for names of groups that can be easily identified by an abbreviation such as APA for the American Psychological Association, NSU for Nova Southeastern University, or FBI for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, then it is acceptable to spell out the group name the first time and use an abbreviation thereafter. The abbreviation would be used in the second and all subsequent abbreviations. In other words, you cannot switch back and forth between the full name and the abbreviation. If the name is short or if the abbreviated name would not be easily understood, then write out the name each time it occurs.
Now that the acronyms have been introduced, you must use them in subsequent citations:
Citing Two Authors with the Same Last Name and First Initial
Citing the Same Source Multiple Times in the Same Paragraph
There are several ways to refer to the same source several times in the same paragraph and will depend on your writing style.
When the author’s name is in the narrative, include the date in parentheses the first time a reference appears in the paragraph. You do not need to include the year in subsequent nonparenthetical references as long as the cannot confuse the source with another also being cited:
When the author’s name is included with the publication date in a parenthetical citation, include both the name and the date every time you cite the source in the paragraph:
When both the year and author are provided in the narrative, you do not need to repeat the information in parentheses:
Citing One Important and Several Additional Citations
When one source is particularly important, you can emphasize that source using the following format, rather than just listing all of the sources alphabetically:
Personal communications including conversations, phone calls, email messages, class lectures, interviews, and online chats should be paraphrased. Cite personal communications only in the text, give the initials as well as the surname of the communicator, and provide the exact date if possible.
Notice that “personal communication” is not capitalized.
Other types of resources that could be considered personal communications are performance art, social media limited to friends or approved followers, and research interviews. Note that when citing personal communication, an individual’s name is included, but in the case of research interviews where the participant’s identity needs to be protected, use other identifiers, nicknames, or roles.
This is a very small selection of examples of legal citations in APA format. For more information, see the APA manual (6th ed.), Appendix 7.1: References to Legal Materials, APA Style Blog entries tagged legal, or the Bluebook (18th ed.), on which APA bases legal citation. The APA Style Blog also has an introduction to legal references.
Abbreviations you may use in legal citations include:
|House of Representatives||H.R.|
|Federal Reporter, Second Series||F.2d|
|Federal Reporter, Third Series||F.3d|
|Federal Supplement||F. Supp.|
|United States Code||U.S.C.|
|Congressional Record||Cong. Reg.|
|Federal Register||Fed. Reg.|
In-text, cite the name of the case in italics and the year of the decision. If more than one is given, cite all years.
You’ll also need the source reporting the decision and the court making the decision for your reference list entry.
Use the order number and year in your in-text citation:
Executive orders are reported in Title 3 (The President) of the Code of Federal Regulations, so you’ll need to include that, as well as the page in your reference list citation:
In this example, the order number is 11,609 which appears in Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations on page 586. The parallel citation is to the United States Code (U.S.C.).
In the body of the paper, use the popular or official name of an act. However, in the reference list, provide the source and section number of the statute. The date used should be the publication date of the statutory compilation, even if if it is different from a year in the name of the act.
You’ll also need the title number, source, and section number for your reference list entry.
See the APA manual or blog for information about other forms of legislation such as enacted bills and joint, simple, or concurrent resolutions.
Testimony and Hearings
The reference list format for testimony, hearings, bills, resolutions and reports is:
So your in-text citation would look like this:
Treaties and International Agreements
Use the name of the treaty or agreement in your in-text citation.
For bilateral (between two parties) treaties and agreements, include the names of the parties involved, separated by a hyphen (-). You can abbreviate the names of countries as specified in the Bluebook. If the United States is one of the parties, it is listed first; other countries are listed alphabetically.
Remember to include the parties, date of signing, and source in your reference list citation.
If you are simply referring to the U.S. Constitution in the text of your paper, you can mention it in the text without a reference list entry.
However, if you are using or paraphrasing any part of the U.S. Constitution, you need to cite it.
Abbreviations used when citing constitutions, federal and state, include:
Article and amendment numbers should use Roman numerals, however section and clause number use Arabic numerals. If the part of the Constitution you are citing is currently in force, you do not need to include a date. If the part has been repealed or amended, include that date in parentheses.