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Citing Your Sources - APA Style: Citing References in Text

Citing References in Text

APA style uses the author-date citation system. Remember that all references cited in text must also appear in the reference list.

One Work by One Author
In general, insert the author's surname and the publication year, separated by a comma and enclosed in parentheses, in the appropriate place in the text:
  • The report (Ferris, 2009) examines the group interaction....
If the author's name is mentioned in the sentence, put only the date in parentheses:
  • In the report by Ferris (2009)...
If both the author and the year are part of the textual discussion, parentheses are not needed:
  • in 2009, the report by Ferris...
One Work by Multiple Authors
When a work has 2 authors, cite both surnames:
  • In the report (Ferris & Brown, 2009)...
When a work has 3 to 5 authors, list all the authors’ surnames the first time the reference is used. In subsequent references, include only the surname of the first author followed by et al. :
  • Ferris, Brown, Smith and Lang (2009) examined
  • Ferris et al. (2009) analyzed the results.
For 6 or more authors, use only the surname of the first author followed by et al. and the year. However, if two references use the same first author surname, list the first author surname followed by as many of the subsequent authors as needed to distinguish between the references.

Groups as Authors
In general, spell out the entire name of the group author every time you use it. If the group author is long, spell out the name of the group author followed by an abbreviation in brackets the first time the group author appears in a citation, and use only the abbreviation in subsequent citations:
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 2006)
  • UNESCO (2006)
No Author or Anonymous Author
Cite the first few words of the reference list entry (usually the title), italicize the title of the book or the periodical and give the year. Use quotation marks around the title of an article:
  • The book Psychological Studies (2000) was reviewed carefully.
  • The article on families (“American Families,” 2002) is a classic study of family dynamics.
Citing Specific Parts of a Source
List the page, chapter, figure, table or equation in the text. The word Page, but not the word chapter, is abbreviated.
  • (Ferris, 2007, Chapter 3)
  • (Ferris, 2000, p. 54)
For electronic sources that do not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number preceded by the abbreviation para. If neither paragraph nor page numbers are visible, use the nearest preceding heading and the number of the paragraph following it:
  • (Ferris, 2000, Methodology section, para. 2)


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