48 posts categorized "In-text citations"

May 23, 2013

Citing the Charter of the United Nations





by Melissa


We’re sometimes asked about how to cite international agreements, such as the Charter of the United Nations, in APA Style. You won’t find an example of how to cite that document in the APA Publication Manual.


The Charter of the United Nations is a legal document, so use The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation as your foundation for building APA Style references and citations.

The APA Style reference for the Charter of the United Nations can include these elements:

  1. Name of the agreement
  2. Article number
  3. Paragraph number


The reference format and an example using that format appear below.

U.N. Charter art. xx, para. xx.
U.N. Charter art. 1, para. 3.

If you want to reference an entire article of the charter, you can omit the paragraph element:

U.N. Charter art. xx.
U.N. Charter art. 1.


In-Text Citations
In text, use one of these citation formats:

U.N. Charter art. xx, para. xx 
(U.N. Charter art. xx, para. xx)

In the below example of an in-text citation, the article and paragraph numbers (rather than page numbers) pinpoint the location of quoted text from the U.N. Charter.

The founders of the United Nations encouraged countries to work 
cooperatively on “international problems of an economic, social, 
cultural, or humanitarian character” (U.N. Charter art. 1, para. 3).

Consult the latest edition of The Bluebook to learn more about citing United Nations documents and other international agreements.

April 25, 2013

How to Cite a News Report


by David Becker

Have you ever seen a news report that just happened to relate to the topic of a paper you were writing? Did you really want to cite that report but just didn’t know how? For example, say you were writing a paper on psychological disorders and their treatments throughout history. By sheer coincidence, you saw a report about historical DC scandals that covered the tragic tale of Henry Rathbone, who was sitting next to President Lincoln when he was assassinated. Rathbone was stabbed by John Wilkes Booth as he retreated and suffered psychological damage for the rest of his life because of this traumatic event. “This would be a perfect example for my paper!” you think. Unfortunately, a live news broadcast is not a retrievable source in and of itself. However, if you can track down a retrievable version of that report or another source containing the same information, you can cite it.

Many news organizations, whether they are large 24-hour networks or small local stations, have archives of their live news reports available for viewing on their websites. You would cite such reports as you would cite a YouTube video or any other kind of streaming video. Here’s how to cite the online version of the above-mentioned report:

A historical look back at DC scandals [Video file]. (2013, February 15). Retrieved from http://www.wjla.com/video/2013/02/a-historical-look-back-at-dc-scandals.html

In-text citation: (“A Historical Look,” 2013)

Notice that the title of the video has been moved to the author position. This is because the name of the person who uploaded the video is not specified (see Example 9 on p. 200 of the Publication Manual for more information). Also note that video titles should be italicized.

Hypothetically, let’s say you were not able to find the report you saw on TV. In this situation, it’s best not to worry so much about citing the report itself. You can instead use it as a springboard for further research. There may well be other sources that contain the same information, perhaps even better information, than the report you saw. For example, if you did a little digging for more information about Henry Rathbone, you might find the article cited below that provides much more detail than the TV news report:

Ruane, M. E. (2009, April 5). A tragedy's second act. Washington Post Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032701576.html

In-text citation: (Ruane, 2009)

I hope this article has helped you figure out what to do if you ever see a news report that you would like to incorporate into your research. If you have any questions on this or any other topic, feel free to contact us. Your question may inspire a future blog post!

April 04, 2013

When to Include the Year in Citations Appearing More Than Once in a Paragraph




by Tyler Krupa

You may already know that references in APA Style are cited in text with an author–date system (e.g., Smith, 2012). But do you know when to include the year of publication when one of your citations appears more than once in a paragraph? Getting it right is simple as long as you remember the following two guidelines:

1. All parenthetical citations (i.e., citations in which both the author name and publication date are enclosed within parentheses) should include the year, regardless of how often they appear in a paragraph.

2. When the name of the author is part of the narrative and appears outside of parentheses, after the first citation in each paragraph you need not include the year in subsequent nonparenthetical citations as long as the study cannot be confused with other studies in the article (see p. 174 in the sixth edition of the Publication Manual).

To help illustrate these guidelines, let’s look at a few examples that correctly show when to include the year in citations appearing more than once in a paragraph:

Morin (1988) described two separate but linked epidemics. . . . Morin distinguished the HIV (viral) epidemic from the subsequent AIDS (disease) epidemic, foreseeing the ultimate convergence of preventing the spread of the virus and managing the disease it causes. . . . Morin also discussed a third epidemic . . . . This third epidemic is as much a part of the pathology of AIDS as the virus itself (Morin, 1988).

Socioeconomic status (SES) and chronic diseases rather consistently fall on a gradient, where those of relatively lower SES have poorer health and are more often afflicted by multiple diseases than those above them on the SES ladder (Adler & Stewart, 2010). . . . Adler and Stewart (2010) offered a framework to explain the major pathways by which SES can influence health outcomes. . . . The model is developmental, illustrating individual, social, and structural influences on disease over the lifespan (Adler & Stewart, 2010).

We hope these examples clear up this point of possible uncertainty. Still have questions? Leave us a comment.


February 21, 2013

Writing References for Federal Statutes





by Melissa

It’s 2 a.m. You are hunched over a laptop computer, and you have 20 ounces of hastily drunk coffee sloshing around in your stomach, or maybe you have a sheaf of heavily edited, stained papers spread across half your desk, while you gnaw on half an inch of wood or whatever it is that lead pencils are made of these days. Is this stressful scenario what your process for creating challenging references looks like?

Researching and writing may be stressful, but with the right resources, creating references can be relatively easy. Relax, put down the oversized coffee cup (or chewed up pencil), and take a look at this simple template for creating APA Style references for federal statutes:

Name of the Statute, Title number Source § Section number(s) (Year).


Parts of the Reference
There are just five pieces of information that you need when creating an APA Style reference for a basic federal statute: the name of the statute, the title number, the name of the source in which you found the statute, the section number(s) of the statute, and the year of the source in which you found the statute.

This blog post defines each of these elements and shows you how to put them together to create a reference and an in-text citation. A subsequent blog post will provide more information on how to find this information in official and authoritative sources.


1. Name of the Statute. If a statute has a common name, this is the first element of the APA Style reference. The name of the statute is followed by a comma. If a statute doesn’t have a name, omit this element, and start with the title number.

Note that the terms statute and act refer to the same thing; you will see them used interchangeably if you regularly work with legal materials.

The name of one statute is the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.


2. Title Number. The title number is the second element that appears in APA Style references for a named statute. If a statute does not have a name, the title number is the first element. Note that in the Publication Manual, the title number is referred to as the volume number.

 Title numbers identify the subject matter group to which a statute belongs. For instance, in the collection of statutes known as the United States Code, education statutes are grouped in Title 20, public health and welfare statutes are grouped in Title 42, and labor statutes

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is in Title 29 of the United States 


3. Source. The official source for federal statutes is the United States Code. In the reference, use an abbreviated version of this title: U.S.C.

Although statutes can be found in other places, use the official code unless it is not available (e.g., a recently passed statute usually cannot be found in the United States Code; therefore, it would be appropriate to cite another source).


4. Section number(s). A statute is usually divided into several numbered sections and subsections. In a reference for a statute, a section symbol (§) should be listed before the section number. If your reference includes more than one section, provide the first and last section numbers, preceded by a double section symbol (§§), and separate

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 runs from section 2601 to 
section 2654, formatted as §§ 2601–2654.


5. Year. Finish the reference with the edition year of the United States Code (not the year that the statute was enacted). Set the year in parentheses, and end the reference with a period.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 can be found in the last 
printing of the full United States Code, which has an edition year of 2006.


Reference Example
A reference list entry for a federal statute looks like this:

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601–2654 (2006).


In-Text Citation Example
The in-text citation format for a federal statute is similar to that for other APA Style references. Cite the name of the statute and the year:

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (2006)
(Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 2006)


If your work includes statutes that differ from the basic format shown above, requiring you to go beyond the scope of Appendix 7.1, be sure to consult The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.

February 14, 2013

To My One True Love et al.


By David Becker

This Valentine’s Day, I would like to give you a simple piece of advice: Never, ever use et al. when addressing the one you love! It’s fine when you’re citing sources for an academic paper, but it doesn’t work as well with a card and a bouquet of flowers.

We have discussed the proper use of et al. in a previous blog post, and you can also find this information in section 6.12 of the Publication Manual (pp. 175–176). Basically, when citing a work by three to five authors in-text, you should list all of their surnames in the first citation. In subsequent citations, you should include only the first author’s surname followed by et al. If you are a citing a work by six or more authors in-text, you should list the first author’s surname followed by et al. in all citations. So unless you want to have an awkward conversation with your significant other about the rest of the significant others in your life, I would avoid using et al. in your Valentine’s Day card.

Speaking of which, if you’re having trouble finding a good Valentine’s Day card this year, or if you’re desperately searching for a last-minute gift, I would recommend sending APA Style's very own Valentine’s Day card to the one you love. You can also send it to your friends, your family, the anxious psychology student in your life, your favorite professor, your least favorite professor, or whoever else you think would appreciate it.

APA Style Valentine's Day Card

Happy Valentine's Day from all of us at APA Style!

February 07, 2013

Introduction to APA Style Legal References



by Melissa

Writers sometimes try to squeeze a reference for a statute or a court decision into the same format as a journal article, essentially trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. It won’t fit, it won’t look quite right, and it won’t be as useful to your readers as it could be.

There’s a better way. Instead of contorting legal references like pretzels, consult one or more of the following style resources: Appendix 7.1 in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, this blog, and the specialized style resources discussed below.


1. Appendix 7.1 in the Publication Manual

When creating APA Style legal references, your first and best resource is the Publication Manual’s Appendix 7.1: References to Legal Materials (pp. 216–224). There, you’ll find sample references for the legal documents that are most commonly used in psychology research, including court decisions, statutes, administrative regulations, and executive orders.

The reference examples in Appendix 7.1 are drawn from The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, which is an authoritative source for legal citations and the primary style guide used by legal scholars and other professionals in that field. The reference and citation formats that you’ll find in Appendix 7.1 are a hybrid of APA Style and Bluebook style, adapted to both fit well in an APA Style article and provide the unique information that will allow your readers to find the referenced legal document.


2. The APA Style Blog

The APA Style Blog already provides some resources for legal references. Citation of the U.S. Constitution is discussed in How to Cite the U.S. Constitution in APA Style. Capitalization of the names of legal documents is discussed in Do I Capitalize This Word?

New blog posts to help you find, reference, and cite other legal materials in APA Style are on the way. These posts will cover the following topics:

As each topic is added to the blog, we’ll include a link to the relevant post in the above list.


3. Additional Resources

The Bluebook. If you’re working with more complex legal references that require you to go beyond the scope of Appendix 7.1, be sure to consult The Bluebook, which provides citation formats for constitutions, international treaties, domestic and foreign statutes, legislative bills and resolutions, administrative regulations and proceedings, executive orders, legal briefs and other court filings, reported and unreported court decisions, and many other legal documents.

Because Bluebook citation style relies heavily on footnotes and doesn’t include the reference list and name–date citations that are the hallmarks of APA Style, when you use a legal reference format from The Bluebook, consult Appendix 7.1 in the Publication Manual and, using the create-a-reference skills that you learned from our Frankenreference blog post, adapt the reference to closely follow the examples in Appendix 7.1.

Law Librarian. The law mutates. New laws that alter or overrule existing laws are passed all the time. You may wish to consult a law librarian to ensure that your references are complete and correct and that the law you are citing has not been superseded or overturned.

Additional Information Online. Finally, one other resource that I find helpful in my own research is the online guide Introduction to Basic Legal Citation by Peter W. Martin (an emeritus law professor at Cornell University). This is not an official source, so if you consult it, be sure to seek additional verification in The Bluebook.

February 01, 2013

Quotation Mark Uses Other Than Quotes

Daisiesby Stefanie

Most people know how to use quotation marks to identify material directly quoted from a source (“That’s terrific!” the editor cried; Hendrik Willem van Loon once said, “Somewhere in the world there is an epigram for every dilemma”; the first item on the questionnaire was, “How often do you engage in this type of behavior?”). In APA Style, when else is it OK to use quotation marks? I’m so glad you asked! Here are two key quotes from page 91 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth edition, to explain. (Before you awesome APA Style diehards point this out, I’m exercising some artistic license and taking advantage of the differing standards of an informal blog post and setting the two quotes as block quotes, even though they consist of fewer than 40 words each.)

To introduce a word or phrase used as an ironic comment, as slang, or as an invented or coined expression. Use quotation marks the first time the word or phrase is used; thereafter, do not use quotation marks. (p. 91)

Let’s take these cases one by one. An ironic comment is one that means something other than (often the opposite of) what it says. In the example provided in the Publication Manual, “considered ‘normal’ behavior,” the quotes around normal should indicate that the behavior under discussion deviates from what might immediately come to mind when thinking of the norm (whatever that might be). For example, what qualifies as normal behavior for an 8-year-old that has been awake for 24 hours straight with a stomach virus will not be the normal behavior of an 8-year-old child who has had a decent night’s sleep and no illness (not that I would know from experience. Actually, yes, I would). “Normal” is not precisely normal in the case of the sick, sleepless child.

Slang is an informal word or phrase that may not appear in a standard dictionary but is used colloquially; slang terms appear in scholarly writing most often when writers quote participants (yet another reason to use quotation marks!). For example, if a participant described a confederate’s relationship as “lolalam” (a slang word based on an acronym for the phrase love only lasts as long as the money) or said she was “LOLing” (laughing out loud) over the questions asked in the interview, those slang terms are loaded with meaning; using the slang term the participant used preserves and conveys that meaning to the reader.

An invented or coined expression is a new word or phrase often specific to the work it is used in (although sometimes a term will catch on and start being used elsewhere, which is part of the beauty of our ever-evolving language). The example provided in the Publication Manual is the “good-outcome variable.” This term is not likely to be used or understood outside of the study it was coined for, but within the context of the study, it makes perfect sense.

Then there is our second quote from the Publication Manual:

To set off the title of an article or chapter in a periodical or book when the title is mentioned in text. (p. 91)

Quotation marks are used for full or abbreviated titles of articles, book chapters, or web pages without authors that are mentioned or cited in text (see p. 176 of the Publication Manual; note that this is how they are presented in the text, not the reference list). Examples:

In Han Solo’s (2003) article, “With a Wookiee Beside Me: How I Became the Best Rebel Pilot in Any Galaxy,” Solo recounts how he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a game of Sabacc during the Cloud City Sabacc Tournament. The newspaper account of the tournament (“Sabacc Shenanigans,” 2000) corroborates Solo’s version of events.

More quotation mark questions? Let us know at styleexpert@apastyle.org or in the comments below!


December 13, 2012

How to Cite Different Groups of Authors With the Same Lead Author and Publication Date




by Tyler Krupa

What’s in a name? Properly citing different groups of authors with the same lead author and publication date can make a big difference. When you have two or more references of more than three surnames with the same year and they shorten to the same form (e.g., both Smith, Jones, Young, Brown, & Stanley, 2001, and Smith, Jones, Ward, Lee, & Stanley, 2001, shorten to Smith et al., 2001), clarify which one you are citing each time. On the second and all subsequent citations, cite the surnames of the first two authors and of as many of the next authors as necessary to distinguish the two references, followed by a comma and et al. (see the sixth edition of the Publication Manual, p. 175).

Smith, Jones, Young, et al., 2001

Smith, Jones, Ward, et al., 2001

Are you tempted to use an a or b to designate which is which? This is a common error—placing lowercase letters (a, b, c, etc.) after the publication date instead of citing the necessary surnames. Lowercase letters are used after the publication date only for references with the same author (or with the same two or more authors in the same order) with the same publication date (in which case the references are arranged alphabetically by title; see p. 182 in the Publication Manual). So, using a or b is not appropriate when you have different groups of authors with the same lead author and publication date. Here are some examples that show the correct and incorrect ways to format these types of references in your reference list and in your text citations:


McGregor, I., Nash, K., Mann, N., & Phills, C. E. (2010). Anxious uncertainty and reactive approach motivation (RAM). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 133–147. doi:10.1037/a0019701

McGregor, I., Nash, K., & Prentice, M. (2010). Reactive approach motivation (RAM) for religion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 148–161. doi:10.1037/a0019702


McGregor, I., Nash, K., Mann, N., & Phills, C. E. (2010a). Anxious uncertainty and reactive approach motivation (RAM). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 133–147. doi:10.1037/a0019701

McGregor, I., Nash, K., & Prentice, M. (2010b). Reactive approach motivation (RAM) for religion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 148–161. doi:10.1037/a0019702

In the examples above, the authors are not the same, and therefore a and b should not be used after the publication date.

When citing these references in the text, cite the necessary number of surnames to distinguish between the references. In these two references, this distinction is not reached until the third author. Here’s how these reference should be cited in text:


First citations:

(McGregor, Nash, Mann, & Phills, 2010)

(McGregor, Nash, & Prentice, 2010)

Second and subsequent citations:

(McGregor, Nash, Mann, & Phills, 2010)

(McGregor, Nash, & Prentice, 2010)


First citations:

(McGregor, Nash, Mann, & Phills, 2010a)

(McGregor, Nash, & Prentice, 2010b)

Second and subsequent citations:

(McGregor et al., 2010a)

(McGregor et al., 2010b)

Note that in the first reference example above, you should use the four surnames “McGregor, Nash, Mann, and Phills” instead of “McGregor, Nash, Mann, et al.” in the second and subsequent citations. The reason for this is that et al. means “and others,” so if there is just one more surname remaining after distinguishing between the two references, just list the final name instead of using et al. (For more examples on how to correctly use et al., see a recent post to our blog.)

Now you know how to properly cite different groups of authors with the same lead author and publication date. Questions? Leave us a comment.

November 29, 2012

The Finer Points of APA Style: When Authors Have the Same Surname

Anneby Anne Breitenbach

There really is a certain satisfaction one gets from knowing how to use a tool correctly and well. That’s as true of an editorial style as it is of a lathe or a chisel. Like a well-made tool, APA Style has been crafted and honed for a specific purpose, in this case, “to advance scholarship by setting sound and rigorous standards for scientific communication” (p. xiii). Part of that communication for authors is to be sure to be as clear as possible about who their sources are. Thus, we’ve developed rules for distinguishing between sources if there is any risk that they might be confused. And using those rules correctly pleases me.

The reason behind them is clear, but the need to apply them is rare enough that using them is a skill. Let’s make sure you know how to use them too.

The Publication Manual says this: “If the reference list includes different authors with the same surname and the first initial, the authors’ full first names may be given in brackets” (p. 184).

Thus, if you cited Danny Thomas’s biography Make Room for Danny and Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales, your reference list entries would look like this:

Thomas, D. [Danny], & Davidson, B. (1991). Make room for Danny. New York, NY: Putnam. 
Thomas, D. [Dylan]. (1954). A child’s Christmas in Wales. Norfolk, CT: New Directions.

You would also want to distinguish between the two references in your in-text citation by using both first and last names. Your format would be (Danny Thomas, 1991) and (Dylan Thomas, 1954).

For further information on how to order references by authors with the same last name in the reference list, see our posts on Citing the Recurring Author With Crystal Clarity and Order in the Reference List!

Wood shaving

November 15, 2012

How to Cite a Class in APA Style

Timothy.mcadooby Timothy McAdoo

Have you ever learned so much in a class that you wanted to cite the whole thing? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, because a class is not a retrievable source, when you try to put together a reference, you won’t have a "where" there. There, there: Don’t worry, you do have other options!

Citing a Course Pack or Custom Textbookback to school

Sometimes people who ask about citing a course are really trying to cite the textbook, course pack, custom textbook, or other published materials used in the class. Our recent post on that topic provides a number of options.

Citing the Teacher’s PowerPoint File or Other Materials

In some cases, you might want to cite materials presented by the instructor that were not included in a course pack or a custom textbook (e.g., the instructor’s lecture itself or a PowerPoint presentation designed by the instructor). 

If the instructor has posted the materials somewhere online, you can cite them directly. But, it’s more likely that he or she is the only source for the materials. In that case, cite as a personal communication (see the Provide a Reliable Path to the Source section of our post on what belongs in a reference list).

Citing Your Own Class Notes 

In other cases, you might want to cite your own notes from the class. Again, because these notes will not be a retrievable source for most readers, cite them as a personal communication (see the Provide a Reliable Path to the Source section of our post on what belongs in a reference list).

Citing the Course Itself 

Your experience of attending the class simply cannot be replicated or retrieved. But, although the course itself is not retrievable, you may be able to find a description of the course on your school’s website. If you can find it online, you can cite it!

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