You use in-text citations throughout the text of your paper to tell your reader where specific information came from. Anytime you pull information from an outside sources, whether it's ideas, a direct quote, a paraphrase or summary, you need to provide an in-text citation to tell your reader where that information came from. If parts of your paper don't have an in-text citation, then the reader assumes that either 1.) those are your thoughts and ideas or 2.) the information is "common knowledge" (something that everyone knows).
An in-text citation does not contain all the information needed for your reader to find the source. Instead, it only contains just enough information to help the reader find the source in your references list (the list of sources you should include at the end of your paper). The references list (similar to a Works Cited list) provides the reader with all the information they need about the source to find it..
In APA format, a typical in-text citation will include last name of the author(s) and the year the source was published. You should also include page numbers if citing a specific part of the source - in particular when using a direct quotation or specific paraphrase. Place the citation as close as possible to the information you are citing.
If any information is included in the sentence, you leave it out of the parenthesis. For instance, if you use the author(s) name in the sentence then only include the year in parenthesis. You'll see examples both ways below. Review the following information, but you can also refer to our APA In-text Handout or our sample paper.
Place the author’s last name and the year in parenthesis. If the in-text citation is at the end of a sentence, place the period outside the parenthesis.
Example 1: Chickens have been known to cross roads (Jordon, 2017).
Example 2: Jordon (2017) discussed how chickens like to cross roads.
If a source has two authors, use an ampersand (&) between the names in the parenthesis. Use "and" when referring to the authors in the text of your paper. Include both names every time you cite the source.
Example 1: The chicken crossed the road (Smith & Jones, 2013).
Example 2: Smith and Jones (2013) also discovered that the chicken crossed the road.
When a source has three or more authors list the first author followed by et al. (Latin for “and others”).
Example 1: The chicken was forced to cross the road (Adams et al., 2009).
Example 2: Adams et al. (2009) discovered who forced the chicken to cross the road.
When a source’s author is a company, organization or other group, the name of that group goes in the author position. If the group name can be or is commonly abbreviated, there is a different way to cite it than if it cannot be abbreviated. With abbreviated groups, the first citation is different than all the following citations.
Example: Group author that cannot be abbreviated
The chicken was forced to cross the road (Stanford University, 2020).
Stanford University (2020) discovered who forced the chicken to cross the road.
Example: Group author that can be abbreviated
First citation - The chicken was forced to cross the road (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2020).
All following citations – The chicken was not harmed while it was crossing the road (NIMH, 2020).
First Citation - National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2020) discovered who forced the chicken to cross the road.
Second citation – NIMH (2020) later revealed that the chicken was not harmed while crossing the road.
If a source has no author and is listed on the reference page by its title, use the first few words of the title and the year. Put double quotation marks (") around article or chapter titles and italicize periodical and book titles. Unlike the reference page, the main words of the title should be capitalized.
Example of a book with no author given: The chicken made a conscious decision to cross the road (The Big Book of Chickens, 2015).
Example of a journal article with no author given: The chicken did not want to cross the road ("The Case of the Chicken and the Road," 2016).
If you quote directly from the source, include page number(s). When paraphrasing information or referring to an idea from your source, APA encourages you to give page or paragraph numbers. Abbreviate the word “page” – p if one page number and pp. if a page range (more than one page).
Direct quotations work the same way as shown above, unless you’re including the author’s name in the sentence.
Example: Davis (2020) reported that “crossing the road was easy for the chicken” (p. 30).
Example: Davis (2020) reported that “crossing the road was easy for the chicken” (para. 5).
Use paragraph numbers and/or headings (abbreviate paragraph as para.) instead if given (pages 171-172). If source does not provide paragraph numbers, you can “count paragraphs down from the beginning of the document.”*
Example: Source with page numbers
Experts believe that the chicken crossed the road (Daniels, 2009, pp. 3-4).
Example: Online source, no page numbers but with paragraphs
Experts believe that the chicken wanted to cross the road (Douglas, 2007, para. 4).
Use the section heading and paragraph number (counted down from the beginning of that section heading). If you cannot use a heading, use a shortened form of the section title in double quotation marks (“). Count paragraphs down from the beginning of that section.
Example: Online source with section (no page numbers given) with section labels
One source gives a different theory about the chicken (Davis, 2009, Conclusion section, para. 3).
Example: Online source, (no page numbers given), with section titles
One source gives a different theory about the chicken (Davis, 2009, “Overview of Chickens,” para. 5). Note: The Original section title in this example was: “Overview of Chickens and the Roads They Cross.”
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