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January 27, 2011

Writing In-Text Citations in APA Style

Chelsea blog 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 authordate 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. 101102) in titles in the text.

Pencils 3 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 authordate 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. 174179). The table “Basic Citation Styles” (Table 6.1 on p. 177) offers many examples of how to cite various numbers and types of authors. 

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