What is an APA In-Text Citation?

An in-text citation is a citation within your writing that shows where you found your information, facts, quotes, and research. All APA in-text citations require the same basic information:

  • Author’s last name (no first names or initials)
  • Year of publication (or “n.d.” if there is “no date”:(LastName, n.d., p.#))
  • Page number, paragraph number, chapter, section, or time stamp where the information can be located within the source (only required for direct quotes)

To see how to format MLA in-text citations or Chicago Style citations, see these guides:

How do I format an APA In-Text Citation?

There are two main ways to format an in-text citation: Parenthetical citation or Narrative citation.

 

  1. Parenthetical citation: Put all the citation information at the end of the sentence:
    Example: "The systematic development of literacy and schooling meant a new division in society, between the educated and the uneducated” (Cook-Gumperz, 1986, p. 27). Note 1: Place direct quotes within quotation marks. Note 2: Use parentheses to enclose the in-text citation. Note 3: Use commas to separate the last name, year, and page number within the in-text citation. Note 4: Place the period after the citation.
  2. Narrative citation: Include some of the citation information as part of the sentence:
    Example: According to Cook-Gumperz (1986), “The systematic development of literacy and schooling meant a new division in society, between the educated and the uneducated” (p. 27). Note 1: Use a signal phrase that includes the author's last name. Note 2: After the last name, state the publication year within parentheses. Note 3: After the quote, state the page number with paretheses. Note 4: Place the period after the citation.

Each source cited in-text must also be listed in your References list.

However, an exception to this rule includes any personal communications:

  • Personal communications are works that cannot be retrieved by most readers, and include interviews, emails, live speeches or lectures, letters, or non-archived classroom discussions.
  • Personal communications should be cited with in-text citations only.
    • Example of in-text citation: (M.A. Jones, personal communication, October 29, 2018)

If you are quoting from a source, include the author’s last name, year of publication, and the page number (or the location of where the quote can be found within the source if a page number is not present), for example: 

  • page number(s): (p. 3)or(pp. 3-4) 
  • paragraph number(s): (para. 3)or(paras. 3-4)
  • paragraph within a chapter or section: (Chapter 3, para. 3)or (Plant-Based Foods section, para. 3)
  • slide or table number: (Slide 3) or (Table 3)
  • time stamp: (1:03:03)  

Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.

For example:

According to Cook-Gumperz (1986), “The systematic development of literacy and schooling meant a new division in society, between the educated and the uneducated” (p. 27).

As mentioned by Carr (2008), “As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence” (Chapter 3, para. 3).

 

If you are paraphrasing or summarizing information from a source, APA only requires you to cite the author’s last name and year of publication in your in-text citation.  

For example:

Some educational theorists suggest that schooling and a focus on teaching literacy divided society into educated and uneducated classes (Cook-Gumperz, 1986).

Some argue that relying too much on the Internet for information might hinder our mental capacities and our ability to read books and other long pieces (Carr, 2008). 

 

However, APA guidelines encourage you to also provide the page number or location information as well, even though it is not required.

 

When citing a paraphrase or summary from an eBook, the citation should include the author last name and date of publication.

When quoting an eBook without page numbers, your in-text citation needs to include the author’s last name, year, and the most direct location of the quote, such as a chapter or section title and the paragraph number. 

For example:

“Adult development focuses on the scientific study of changes in behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that occur throughout adulthood” (Mossler, 2013, Adult Development section, para. 1).

When paraphrasing or summarizing a web page, the citation should include the author last name and date listed on the web page or at the bottom of the website.

If you are using a quote, you will also need to include the page number. If there are no page numbers, include the most direct location of the quote, such as a section title and/or a paragraph number.

Some web pages include an clear individual as the author. Other web pages do not list a person as the author, and the author is instead a company or organization. When citing a web page, determine if the author is a person or an organization.

Author is an Individual

...(Dunn, 2016, Plant-Based Foods section, para. 10).

If you can’t find an individual author, but you can find an organization or group that is responsible for the content of a web page, then cite that group, organization, corporation, university, government agency, or association as the author.


Author is an Organization/Company/University/Agency

...(United States Coast Guard, 2018, para. 6).

No Author

If your web page does not include any author, include the article title within quotation marks (""). If there is no clear article title, include the web page title within quotation marks (“”). If the title is very long, just use the first few words:

...("Policies and Procedures for Patrol," 2018, p. 3).

No Date

You can often find the publication date of a web page at the top or bottom of the page. If no date is available, use n.d. (for no date).

...(Thompson, n.d., Teaching for Success section, para. 12).
 

When quoting a media source such as a video or audio recording that lacks page numbers but includes time stamps, the citation should include the speaker (or screen name), the year of the recording, and the time that indicates when the quote begins in the recording:

“In 1972 there were 300,000 people in jails and prisons; today, there are 2.3 million”(Stevenson, 2016, 05:52).

If your text does not include an author, include the web page or article title within quotation marks (" ")and using title case capitalization (if the title is long, just use the first few words of it):

A collapse of the main ramp into the San Jose mine leaves 33 miners trapped 2,300 feet underground for two months ("All 33 Chile Miners," 2010).

If you are citing a book or eBook with no author, include the book title in italics and use title case capitalization (if the title is long, shorten it to its first several words) :

Andragogy is the method and practice of teaching adult learners (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 2005).

When a group or an organization creates a work, that organization, corporation, university, government agency, or association can be treated as the author. In this case, include the full name of the group as the author:

(Ashford University, 2017, p. 4)

2 Authors

When your source has 2 authors, use an ampersand (&) for your end-of-sentence (parenthetical)citation, but use "and" when the last names are a part of your sentence (narrative citation):

...(Jones & Fraenza, 2017, p. 3).

Jones and Fraenza (2017) stated that... (p. 3).

3 or More Authors

When you have 3 or more authors, include only the last name of the first author listed, followed by “et al.”:

...(Lekkerkerk et al., 2014, para. 2).

Lekkerkerk et al. (2014) discussed that...

Group Author with Acronym Abbreviation

For citing a group name that is commonly shortened with the use of its acronym, write out the full name of the group or organization the first time you cite it:
 

...(Center for Disease Control, 2020, para. 2).

Center for Disease Control (2020) shared that...

Use the acronym for the organization for each additional citation from its source:

...(CDC, 2020, para. 2).

CDC (2020) shared that...

 

The APA defines a secondary source (aka an indirect source) as a source that cites or quotes another source.

For example, if you read an article by Brown (2020) and that author quotes the earlier work of Smith (2017), Brown is the secondary or indirect source (because it was written later) and Smith is considered the direct or original source (because it was written first).

APA advises that you find, read, and cite the original source whenever possible. When needed, to cite a source you found in another source, cite the original author and year, followed by "as cited in" the secondary author last name and year. For example:

According to Smith (2017, as cited in Brown, 2020) students need faculty and staff support to succeed.

More Examples:

The writer wants to discuss Lee’s 2014 study, who was cited in Brown’s (2019) article:

Coffee helps students stay awake to study (Lee, 2014, as cited in Brown, 2019).

The writer wishes to use a quote from Parker (2016) who was also quoted on page 5 within an article by Miles (2020):

Parker (2016, as cited in Miles, 2020) stated that “drinking coffee black is healthier” (p. 5).

For information on citing legal materials, see our Citing Legal Sources page.

Related Video Tutorials

Gear icon
Use this interactive tutorial to learn how to make correct in-text citations.
Quiz icon
Test your knowledge of APA style in-text citations.