by Chelsea Lee
When you use others' ideas in your paper, you should credit them with an in-text citation. Several different systems of citation are in use in various academic communities (such as footnotes and endnotes), but APA Style uses a kind of parenthetical referencing called the author–date system.
Basic In-Text Citation Style
As the name author–date system implies, APA Style in-text citations include the author and date, either both inside parentheses or with the author names in running text and the date in parentheses. Here are two examples:
- After the intervention, children increased in the number of books read per week (Smith & Wexwood, 2010).
- Smith and Wexwood (2010) reported that after the intervention, children increased in the number of books read per week.
The "and" in Smith and Wexwood is written as an ampersand (&) inside parentheses and as the word and outside of parentheses, as shown in the examples above.
Multiple In-Text Citations
When multiple studies support what you have to say, you can include multiple citations inside the same set of parentheses. Within parentheses, alphabetize the studies as they would appear in the reference list and separate them by semicolons. In running text, you can address studies in whatever order you wish. Here are two examples:
- Studies of reading in childhood have produced mixed results (Albright, Wayne, & Fortinbras, 2004; Gibson, 2011; Smith & Wexwood, 2010).
- Smith and Wexwood (2010) reported an increase in the number of books read, whereas Gibson (2011) reported a decrease. Albright, Wayne, and Fortinbras (2004) found no significant results.
Dealing With Missing Information
Sometimes the author and/or date are not immediately obvious, but a bit of citation sleuthing will bring them to light. Here are some tips on determining authorship and on figuring out dates.
However, sometimes one or both of these elements are truly missing. The table below shows what substitutions to make for in-text citations if that happens.
|What information do you have?||Solution||Position A||Position B|
|I have both author and date||n/a||Author surname(s)||year|
|Author is missing||Substitute the title for the author name||Title of Book or "Title of Article"||year|
|Date is missing||Use "n.d." for "no date"||Author surname(s)||n.d.|
|Author and date are both missing||Combine solutions for author and date being missing||Title of Book or "Title of Article"||n.d.|
Note. Titles of books and reports are italicized in in-text citations, and titles of articles and other documents are put in quotation marks. Capitalize the important words (see section 4.15 in the 6th ed. Publication Manual, pp. 101–102) in titles in the text.
Important Tips and Further Reading
Don’t forget that when you cite a direct quotation you should include a page number (here is what to do if there are no page numbers). You may include page numbers for paraphrases if you think it would aid the reader (such as when you use only a portion of a large book), but this is not required.
Note that the only types of citations that do not follow the author–date system are legal references, references to classical works like the Bible and the Qur'an, and personal communications.
For further reading on this topic, see the sixth edition Publication Manual section “Citing References in Text” (pp. 174–179). The table “Basic Citation Styles” (Table 6.1 on p. 177) offers many examples of how to cite various numbers and types of authors.
In-text references should immediately follow the title, word, or phrase to which they are directly relevant, rather than appearing at the end of long clauses or sentences. In-text references should always precede punctuation marks. Below are examples of using in-text citation.
Author's name in parentheses:
One study found that the most important element in comprehending non-native speech is familiarity with the topic (Gass & Varonis, 1984).
Author's name part of narrative:
Gass and Varonis (1984) found that the most important element in comprehending non-native speech is familiarity with the topic.
Group as author:
First citation: (American Psychological Association [APA], 2015)
Subsequent citation: (APA, 2015)
Multiple works: (separate each work with semi-colons)
Research shows that listening to a particular accent improves comprehension of accented speech in general (Gass & Varonis, 1984; Krech Thomas, 2004).
Direct quote: (include page number)
One study found that “the listener's familiarity with the topic of discourse greatly facilitates the interpretation of the entire message” (Gass & Varonis, 1984, p. 85).
Gass and Varonis (1984) found that “the listener’s familiarity with the topic of discourse greatly facilitates the interpretation of the entire message” (p. 85).
Note: For direct quotations of more than 40 words, display the quote as an indented block of text without quotation marks and include the authors’ names, year, and page number in parentheses at the end of the quote. For example:
This suggests that familiarity with nonnative speech in general, although it is clearly not as important a variable as topic familiarity, may indeed have some effect. That is, prior experience with nonnative speech, such as that gained by listening to the reading, facilitates comprehension. (Gass & Varonis, 1984, p. 77)