Citation Guide: American Psychological Association (APA)

In-Text Citation Format

For specific rules and examples see the In-Text Citations section

The APA's in-text citation system follows a parenthetical format, much like the MLA's; however, it emphasizes authors and dates of publication because authors and dates of research are important benchmarks denoting relevancy and validity in both the social and the natural sciences.


APA uses an in-text author-date citation system. The in-text citation directs readers to the References list at the end of the paper, where every source that is cited in-text is listed alphabetically.  If a source is not cited in-text, it should not appear in the References list.  However, there are two types of sources that are cited in-text but not listed in the References list: classical works and personal communications.

Some general rules for APA in-text citations are:

  1. If someone's ideas, research, or theories have influenced your thinking or work, you should cite them in your writing

  2. Cite facts or figures that are not common knowledge.

  3. Always give the author's last name and the publication date.

  4. Place a comma between the author's name and the year of publication: (Fisher, 2012).

  5. If the author's name is given in the sentence where the citation appears, only the publication date needs to be given in parentheses.  If the author's name is not mentioned, give both pieces of information in parentheses.

  6. Parenthetical citations are always included inside sentence punctuation.

  7. Page numbers are included for direct quotations and must include abbreviations ("p." or "pp.").  Page numbers are encouraged but not required for paraphrased material.

For more detailed information on in-text citations format see chapter 6 of the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual.

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