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APA Citation Guide

A brief guide to using the APA Citation Style, with links to further resources.

When to Cite

See Chapter 8, Works Credited in the Text, pages 253-278 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

The general rule is to cite the work of individuals whose ideas, theories, or research have directly influenced your work. By properly citing your sources you will avoid plagiarism and demonstrate the amount of research you did in preparing your paper. Citations are necessary when quoting directly from another source, when paraphrasing another author, and when discussing ideas from others.

In-text Citations

See "Author-Date Citation System" from the APA Style Blog or sections 8.10-8.16 on pp. 261-269 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Papers written in APA style have brief, in-text citations that identify the author and year of publication. Each of these citations must correspond to an entry in the reference list. In-text citations have two formats, parenthetical and narrative:

Parenthetical:

Both the author and the date, separated by a comma, appear in parentheses.

Falsely balanced news coverage can distort the public's perception of expert consensus on an issue (Koehler, 2016).

Narrative:

The author appears in the running text and the date appears in parentheses immediately after the author name. 

Koehler (2016) noted the dangers of falsely balanced news coverage. 

The reader may then refer to the Reference list to find the rest of the information about the book or article written by Koehler and published in 2016.

Listing Authors In-text

See "Author-Date Citation System" from the APA Style Blog or sections 8.17-8.22 on pp. 261-269 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

The author-date method of in-text citation requires the inclusion of the author's surname and year of publication in the text at the appropriate place. Use surnames only. Do not include initials for first or middle names or suffixes, such as Jr. unless you cite more than one author with the same last name. 

 

Author Type Parenthetical Citation Narrative Citation
One author (Luna, 2020)

Luna (2020)

Two authors (Salas & D'Agostino, 2020)

Salas and D'Agostino (2020)

Three or more authors (Martin et al., 2020)

Martin et al. (2020)

Group author with abbreviation

First citation

Subsequent citations

 

(National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2020)

(NIMH, 2020)

 

National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH] (2020)

NIMH (2020)

Group authors without abbreviation (Stanford University, 2020) Stanford University (2020)

Adapted from "Basic In-Text Citation Styles" by the American Psychological Association, 2020, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, p. 266. Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association. 

Book with no author:

Use the book title in italics then the year.

(Interpersonal Skills, 2019)

Magazine article with no author:

Use the article title in quotes then the year.

("Understanding Sensory Memory", 2018)

More than one citation in same parentheses: 

Separate with semi-colon.

(Adams et al., 2019; Shumway & Shulman, 2015; Westinghouse, 2017)

Paraphrasing

See "Paraphrasing" from the APA Style Blog  or sections 8.23-8.24on pp. 269-270 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Paraphrasing allows authors to summarize and focus on significant information from one or more sources. It is an effective writing strategy and should be used most of the time rather than using direct quotes. 

Use either the narrative or parenthetical format when paraphrasing other's work. 

Page numbers when paraphrasing:

It is not required to provide page or paragraph numbers in the citations when paraphrasing. You may include one with the author and year if you feel as though it will help interested readers locate relevant passage in a long work such as a book. 

Webster-Stratton (2016) described a case example of a 4-year-old girl who showed an insecure attachment to her mother; in working with the family dyad, the therapist focused on increasing the mother's empathy for her child (pp. 152-153).

Long Paraphrases:

When paraphrasing continues for several sentences, cite the work being paraphrased on first mention. It is not necessary to repeat the citation as long as it is clear that the same work continues to be paraphrased. If the paraphrasing continues into a new paragraph, reintroduce the citation.

Using Direct Quotes

See "Quotations" from the APA Style Blog or sections 8.25-8.36 on pp. 270-278 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Use a direct quote rather than paraphrasing when: 

  • reproducing an exact definition
  • an author has said something memorably or succinctly
  • you want to respond to exact wording

Direct quotes should be followed by an author-date citation and the page number or location of the quote.

Short Quote: 

For quotes of fewer than 40 words, surround with quotation marks and put the period after the citation. 

Effective teams can be difficult to describe because "high performance along the domain does not translate to high performance along another" (Erving et al., 2018, p.470).

Long Quote: 

For quotes of 40 words or more create an indented block of text and do not use quotation marks.

Researchers have studied how people talk to themselves:

Inner speech is a paradoxical phenomenon. It is an experience that is central to many people's everyday lives, and yet it presents considerable challenges to any effort to study it scientifically. Nevertheless, a wider range of methodologies and approaches have combined to shed light on the subjective experience of inner speech and its cognitive and neural underpinnings. (Alderson-Day & Fernyhough, 2015, p. 957)

Citing from Secondary Sources

See "Secondary Sources" from the APA Style Blog

Citing secondary sources, or sources cited in another source, should generally be avoided. If possible, it is good practice to find the primary source, read it, and cite it directly. Only use secondary sources when the original work is out of print, unavailable, or available only in a language that you do not understand. 

If you do need to reference a secondary source, provide an in entry for the secondary source that you used in the reference list. In the text, identify the primary source and write "as cited in" the secondary source that you used.

For example:

(Rabbitt, 1982, as cited in Lyon et al., 2014)