Citation Guide: American Psychological Association (APA)

In-Text Citations

In APA an in-text citation must include the author's last name and the year of publication. Below are some of the more common ways to cite information in-text. For more information refer to the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual, chapter 6.


Basic Format for a Source Named in Your Text

Place the publication year in parentheses directly after the author’s last name. Include the page number (with “p.” for “page”) in parentheses after a direct quotation.


Jennings(2012) pointed out that humans are poor students of probability, meaning that we’re prone to “develop paranoid nightmare-inducing phobias about the unlikeliest things (plane crashes, strangers kidnapping our kids) while ignoring far more pressing risks (heart disease, car accidents)” (p. xiv).

According to Jennings (2012), humans have a tendency to fear the most unlikely phenomena, while brushing off more apparent dangers.

Note that APA style requires using the past tense or present perfect tense to introduce the material you are citing: Jennings argued or Jennings has argued.


Basic Format for a Source Not Named in Your Text

Insert a parenthetical note that gives the author’s last name and the year of publication, separated by a comma. For a quotation, include the page or paragraph number of the source.


Psychoneuroimmunology, a new field of medicine, “studies the ways that the psyche – the mind and its content of emotions – profoundly interacts with the body’s nervous system and how both of them, in turn, form an essential link with our immune defense” (Mate, 2011, p. 5).

Psychoneuroimmunology is a new field of medicine that examines the link between human emotion and physiology and how that unity affects health and immunity over the course of a life (Mate, 2011).


Basic Format for Two Authors

List the last names of both authors in every mention in the text. If you mention the authors’ names in a sentence, use the word “and” to separate the last names, as shown in the first example. If you place the authors’ names in the parenthetical citation, use an ampersand (&) to separate the last names, as shown in the second example.


Tannenbaum and Marks (2012) indicated that “many of [MTV’s] most important founders came from radio backgrounds, which freed them from abiding by the existing rules of the television industry” (p. 14)

MTV was largely founded by individuals with radio expertise, which allowed the network to operate outside the constraints of the television industry (Tannenbaum & Marks, 2012).


Basic Format for Three, Four or Five Authors

In parentheses, name all the authors the first time you cite the source, using an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name. In subsequent references to the source, use the last name of the first author followed by the abbreviation “et al.” (Latin for “and others”).


Those who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) are preoccupied with one or more areas of the body they feel are imperfect or deformed (Wilhelm, Phillips, & Steketee, 2013). As a result, they tend to engage in compulsive rituals to improve or conceal the perceived flaw (Wilhelm et al., 2013).


Basic Format for Six or More Authors

In all references to the source, give the first author’s last name followed by the abbreviation “et al” (Latin for “and others”).


While their study suggests that female Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqui Freedom soldiers are just as resilient to combat-related stress as are male soldiers, Vogt et al. (2011) submitted that further research is needed to evaluate gender differences in the long-term effects of stress postdeployment.


Basic Format for a Corporate, Group or Government Author

In general, cite the full name of the corporation, group, or government agency the first time it is mentioned in your text. If you add an abbreviation for the name in square brackets the first time you cite the source, you can use the abbreviation in subsequent citations.


A new international treaty has been signed to help combat the illicit trade of tobacco products (World Health Organization [WHO], 2013). This protocol not only will establish a global tracing system to reduce and eliminate illicit tobacco trade but also will play an important role in protecting people around the world from a serious health risk (WHO, 2013).


Basic Format for an Unknown Author

Sources with unknown authors are listed by title in the list of refrences. In your in-text citation, shorten the title as much as possible without introducing confusion. Add quotation marks to article titles, and italicize book titles.


While life expectancy in general has improved for those living in developed countries, the improvement has been far more drastic for form – a phenomenon that is closing the gender gap in longevity (“Catching Up,” 2013).


Basic Format for Two or More Works by the Same Author in the Same Year

After organizing the works alphabetically by title, insert a lowercase letter after the publication year (“2013a” or “2013b”).


Garfield (2016b) noted that our evolution as a society is consistently reflected in how we map our world: from the origins of triangulation and the fixing of longitude to aerial photography and, now, GPS and satellite navigation.


Basic Format for Two or More Authors with the Same Last Name

Use the authors’ initials in each citation.


While both R. Cohen (2012) and L. Cohen (2012) have presented stark and sincere biographies free of bias, L. Cohen has introduced a new concept to the genre by chronicling three worthy subjects at once.


Basic Format for Two or More Works Cited Together

List the sources in alphabetical order, and separate them with semicolons. If you are referring to two or more sources by the same author, order those sources chronologically and separate them with commas; give the author’s last name only once (“Gharab, 2010, 2012”).


Rather than encourage exploration into more difficult and inaccessible energy stores, our new awareness of the finite nature of the earth’s resources should incite a change in lifestyle that no longer strains the limits of our environment (Dietz & O’Neill, 2013; Klare, 2012).


Basic Format for a Source Cited in Another Source

Ideally, you should track down the original source of the information. If you cannot find the original, mention its author and indicate where it was cited.


Slater posited that the rise in online dating services has led to a decrease in commitment, as this technology fosters the notion that one can always find a more compatible mate (as cited in Weissmann, 2013).


Basic Format for a Source with No Page Numbers

Many visual documents, such as brochures and digital sources, such as websites and full-text articles from databases, lack page numbers. If the source has numbered paragraphs, indicate the paragraph number using the abbreviation “para.” If the paragraphs are not numbered, include the section heading and indicate which paragraph in that section contains the cited material.


Doig (2012) examined the rise in tactical urbanism, a kind of city planning newly employed by big government to take small bits of unusable public space and re-create them as parks, gardens, and other areas designed for public use (para. 3).


Basic Format for E-mail, Letters, and Other Personal Communication

Give the first initial(s) and last name of the person with whom you corresponded, the words “personal communication,” and the date. Don’t include personal communication in your references list.


(C.Soto, personal communication, May 13, 2016)


Basic Format for a Website

For an entire website, give the URL in parentheses in your text, and don’t include it in your references list. To cite a quotation from a website, give the paragraph  number or section heading and include the source in your references list.


The Library of Congress ( offers extensive online collections of manuscripts, correspondence, sound recordings, photographs, prints, and audiovisual materials spanning decades of American history.

The Environmental Protection Agency (2016) combats climate change by evaluating policy options that “range from comprehensive market-based legislation to targeted regulations to reduce emissions and improve the efficiency of vehicles, power plants and large industrial sources” (para. 2).

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