In-Text Citations: The Basics
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 02:50:04
Reference citations in text are covered on pages 169-179 of the Publication Manual. What follows are some general guidelines for referring to the works of others in your essay.
Note: APA style requires authors to use the past tense or present perfect tense when using signal phrases to describe earlier research, for example, Jones (1998) found or Jones (1998) has found...
APA citation basics
When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, for example, (Jones, 1998), and a complete reference should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.
If you are referring to an idea from another work but NOT directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your in-text reference. All sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.
In-text citation capitalization, quotes, and italics/underlining
- Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names and initials: D. Jones.
- If you refer to the title of a source within your paper, capitalize all words that are four letters long or greater within the title of a source: Permanence and Change. Exceptions apply to short words that are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs: Writing New Media, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
(Note: in your References list, only the first word of a title will be capitalized: Writing new media.)
- When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word: Natural-Born Cyborgs.
- Capitalize the first word after a dash or colon: "Defining Film Rhetoric: The Case of Hitchcock's Vertigo."
- Italicize the titles of longer works such as books, edited collections, movies, television series, documentaries, or albums: The Closing of the American Mind; The Wizard of Oz; Friends.
- Put quotation marks around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles, articles from edited collections, television series episodes, and song titles: "Multimedia Narration: Constructing Possible Worlds;" "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry."
If you are directly quoting from a work, you will need to include the author, year of publication, and page number for the reference (preceded by "p."). Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.
According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (p. 199).
Jones (1998) found "students often had difficulty using APA style" (p. 199); what implications does this have for teachers?
If the author is not named in a signal phrase, place the author's last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.
She stated, "Students often had difficulty using APA style" (Jones, 1998, p. 199), but she did not offer an explanation as to why.
Place direct quotations that are 40 words or longer in a free-standing block of typewritten lines and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same place you would begin a new paragraph. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.
Jones's (1998) study found the following:
Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time citingsources. This difficulty could be attributed to thefact that many students failed to purchase astyle manual or to ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)
Summary or paraphrase
If you are paraphrasing an idea from another work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference, but APA guidelines encourage you to also provide the page number (although it is not required.)
According to Jones (1998), APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners.
APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (Jones, 1998, p. 199).
APA Format Citation Guide
This is a complete guide to APA (American Psychological Association) in-text and reference list citations. This easy-to-use, comprehensive guide makes citing any source easy. Check out our other citation guides on MLA 8 and Harvard referencing.
Core Components of an APA Reference:
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1. APA Referencing Basics: Reference List
A reference list is a complete list of references used in a piece of writing including the author name, date of publication, title and more. An APA reference list must:
Be on a new page at the end of the document
Be alphabetically by name of first author (or title if the author isn’t known, in this case a, an and the should be ignored)
If there are multiple works by the same author these are ordered by date, if the works are in the same year they are ordered alphabetically by the title and are allocated a letter (a,b,c etc) after the date
Contain full references for all in-text references used
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2. APA Referencing Basics: In-Text Citation
In-text references must be included following the use of a quote or paraphrase taken from another piece of work.
In-text citations are citations within the main body of the text and refer to a direct quote or paraphrase. They correspond to a reference in the main reference list. These citations include the surname of the author and date of publication only. Using an example author James Mitchell, this takes the form:
Mitchell (2017) states… Or …(Mitchell, 2017).
The structure of this changes depending on whether a direct quote or parenthetical used:
Direct Quote: The citation must follow the quote directly and contain a page number after the date, for example (Mitchell, 2017, p.104). This rule holds for all of the variations listed.
Parenthetical: The page number is not needed.
The surname of both authors is stated with either ‘and’ or an ampersand between. For example:
Mitchell and Smith (2017) state… Or …(Mitchell & Smith, 2017).
Three, Four or Five Authors:
For the first cite, all names should be listed:
Mitchell, Smith, and Thomson (2017) state… Or …(Mitchell, Smith, & Thomson, 2017).
Further cites can be shorted to the first author’s name followed by et al:
Mitchell et al (2017) state… Or …(Mitchell et al, 2017).
Six or More Authors:
Only the first author’s surname should be stated followed by et al, see the above example.
If the author is unknown, the first few words of the reference should be used. This is usually the title of the source.
If this is the title of a book, periodical, brochure or report, is should be italicised. For example:
(A guide to citation, 2017).
If this is the title of an article, chapter or web page, it should be in quotation marks. For example:
(“APA Citation”, 2017).
Citing Authors With Multiple Works From One Year:
Works should be cited with a, b, c etc following the date. These letters are assigned within the reference list, which is sorted alphabetically by the surname of the first author. For example:
(Mitchell, 2017a) Or (Mitchell, 2017b).
Citing Multiple Works in One Parentheses:
If these works are by the same author, the surname is stated once followed by the dates in order chronologically. For instance:
Mitchell (2007, 2013, 2017) Or (Mitchell, 2007, 2013, 2017)
If these works are by multiple authors then the references are ordered alphabetically by the first author separated by a semicolon as follows:
(Mitchell & Smith 2017; Thomson, Coyne, & Davis, 2015).
Citing a Group or Organisation:
For the first cite, the full name of the group must be used. Subsequently this can be shortened. For example:
First cite: (International Citation Association, 2015)
Further Cites: (Citation Association, 2015)
Citing a Secondary Source:
In this situation the original author and date should be stated first followed by ‘as cited in’ followed by the author and date of the secondary source. For example:
Lorde (1980) as cited in Mitchell (2017) Or (Lorde, 1980, as cited in Mitchell, 2017)
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3. How to Cite Different Source Types
In-text citation doesn’t vary depending on source type, unless the author is unknown.
Reference list citations are highly variable depending on the source.
How to Cite a Book (Title, not chapter) in APA Format
Book referencing is the most basic style; it matches the template above, minus the URL section. So the basic format of a book reference is as follows:
Book referencing examples:
Mitchell, J.A., Thomson, M., & Coyne, R.P. (2017). A guide to citation. London, England: My Publisher
Jones, A.F & Wang, L. (2011). Spectacular creatures: The Amazon rainforest (2nd ed.). San Jose, Costa Rica: My Publisher
How to Cite an Edited Book in APA Format
This reference format is very similar to the book format apart from one extra inclusion: (Ed(s)). The basic format is as follows:
Edited book example:
Williams, S.T. (Ed.). (2015). Referencing: A guide to citation rules (3rd ed.). New York, NY: My Publisher
How to Cite a Chapter in an Edited Book in APA Format
Edited books are collations of chapters written by different authors. To reference a single chapter, a different format is needed. The basic structure is as follows:
Edited book chapter example:
In the following example, B.N. Troy is the author of the chapter and S.T. Williams is the editor.
Troy, B.N. (2015). APA citation rules. In S.T, Williams (Ed.). A guide to citation rules (2nd ed., pp. 50-95). New York, NY: Publishers.
How to Cite an E-Book in APA Format
An E-Book reference is the same as a book reference expect the publisher is swapped for a URL. The basic structure is as follows:
Author surname, initial(s) (Ed(s).*). (Year). Title (ed.*). Retrieved from URL
Mitchell, J.A., Thomson, M., & Coyne, R.P. (2017). A guide to citation. Retrieved from https://www.mendeley.com/reference-management/reference-manager
How to Cite an E-Book Chapter in APA Format
This follows the same structure as an edited book chapter reference except the publisher is exchanged for a URL. The structure is as follows:
Last name of the chapter author, initial(s). (Year). Chapter title. In editor initial(s), surname (Ed.). Title (ed., pp.chapter page range). Retrieved from URL
E-Book chapter example:
Troy, B.N. (2015). APA citation rules. In S.T, Williams (Ed.). A guide to citation rules (2nd ed., pp. 50-95). Retrieved from https://www.mendeley.com/reference-management/reference-manager
How to Cite a Journal Article in Print or Online in APA Format
Articles differ from book citations in that the publisher and publisher location are not included. For journal articles, these are replaced with the journal title, volume number, issue number and page number. The basic structure is:
Journal Article Examples:
Mitchell, J.A. (2017). Citation: Why is it so important. Mendeley Journal, 67(2), 81-95
Mitchell, J.A. (2017). Citation: Why is it so important. Mendeley Journal, 67(2), 81-95. Retrieved from https://www.mendeley.com/reference-management/reference-manager
How to Cite a Newspaper Articles in Print or Online in APA Format
The basic structure is as follows:
Author surname, initial(s). (Year, Month Day). Title. Title of Newspaper, column/section, p. or pp. Retrieved from URL*
**Only include if the article is online.
Note: the date includes the year, month and date.
Newspaper Articles Example:
Mitchell, J.A. (2017). Changes to citation formats shake the research world. The Mendeley Telegraph, Research News, pp.9. Retrieved from https://www.mendeley.com/reference-management/reference-manager
How to Cite Magazine Articles in Print or Online in APA Format
The basic structure is as follows:
Author surname, initial(s). (Year, month day). Title. Title of the Magazine, pp.
Magazine Article Example:
Mitchell, J.A. (2017). How citation changed the research world. The Mendeley, pp. 26-28
How to Cite Non-Print Material in APA Format
How to Cite an Image in APA Format
The basic format to cite an image is:
Millais, J.E. (1851-1852). Ophelia [painting]. Retrieved from www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/millais-ophelia-n01506
How to Cite a Film in APA Format
The basic format of a film citation is:
Producer surname, initial (Producer), & Director surname, initial (Director). (Year of Release). Title of film [Motion Picture]. Country of Origin: Studio.
Hitchcock, A. (Producer), & Hitchcock, A. (1954) Rear window. United States of America: Paramount Pictures.
How to Cite a TV Programme in APA Format
The basic format is as follows:
Writer surname, initial(s) (Writer), & Director surname, initial(s) (Director). (Year of Release). Episode title [Television series episode]. In Executive producer surname, initial(s) (Executive Producer), TV series name. City, State of original channel: Network, Studio or Distributor
TV Programme Example:
Catlin, M., and Walley-Beckett, Moire (Writers), & Johnson, R (Director). (2010). Fly [Television series episode]. In Schnauz, T. (Executive Producer). Breaking bad. Culver City, CA: Sony Pictures Television
How to Cite a Song in APA Format
The basic format to cite a song in APA format is as follows:
Beyonce, Diplo, MNEK, Koenig, E., Haynie, E., Tillman, J., and Rhoden, S.M. (2016) Hold up [Recorded by Beyonce]. On Lemonade [visual album]. New York, NY: Parkwood Records (August 16)
How to Cite a Website in APA Format
When citing a website, the basic structure is as follows:
Author surname, initial(s). (Year, month day). Title. Retrieved from URL
Mitchell, J.A. (2017, May 21). How and when to reference. Retrieved from https://www.howandwhentoreference.com.
To learn more about citing a web page and entire websites in APA, MLA or Harvard check out How to Cite a Website post.
For a summary of all the references for each source type along with examples take a look at our Ultimate Citation Cheat Sheet. It also contains examples for MLA 8 and Harvard formats.
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