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Citation Guide: In-Text Citation

Help with citing your sources for a research paper.

When to Cite

Are you...

  • using an exact quotation from another's work?
  • paraphrasing wording from another's work?
  • summarizing another's idea or research?
  • using obsure facts or figures?

Don't forget to cite your source!

In-Text Citations

Elements of In-Text Citation

APA Style uses the author-date method of in-text citation. There are several ways of documenting sources in-text, but all should include the following:

  • Author(s) last name
  • Year of publication

The purpose of in-text citation is to direct the reader to the corresponding citation on the References list. For example, using the brief in-text citation below, the reader could find the full citation on on the References list.


Experts' ability to reason depends on well-organized knowledge (Bransford, 2000).



Bransford, J. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


Strategies for In-Text Citation

You may word your in-text citation in several different ways to maximize the effectiveness of your writing. The most straightforward method is to include the author's (or authors') last name and the page number(s) following the quotation, idea, or fact you are citing.


There is not a strong correlation between a high GPA and students who began reading at an early age (Kahneman & Klein, 2009).


You may also refer to the author's name in the text of your paper. In this case, cite the date in parentheses following the author's name.


Kahneman & Klein (2009) found that there is not a strong correlation between a high GPA and early readers.


If you are using a direct quotation, include the page number where the quotation can be found.


"The correlation between early reading and graduating GPA is not high" (Kahneman & Klein, 2009, p. 522).



Kahneman, D. & Klein, G. (2009). Conditions for intuitive expertise: A failure to disagree. American Psychologist, 64, 515-526.




Multiple Authors

One to Two Authors: Cite each author every time the reference occurs.


The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association was first published in 1929 (American Psychological Association, 2010).


Three to Five Authors: Cite each author the first time the reference occurs. In subsequent references, cite only the first author followed by "et al." (meaning "and others") and the date.

Example - First Occurence:

A study by Nittrouer, Lowenstein, and Packer (2009) compared the abilities of native English-speaking children and adults.

Example - Subsequent Occurences:

The study found that English-speaking adults performed best (Nittrouer et al., 2009).


Six or More Authors: Cite only the name of the first author followed by "et al." and the date.


A study by Alloy et al. (2009) examines the relationship between bipolar personality and substance abuse.



Alloy, L.B., Bender, R.E., Wagner, C.A., Whitehouse, W.G., Abramson, L.Y., Hogan, M.E., ... Harmon-Jones, E. (2009). Bipolar

         spectrum-substance abuse co-occurence: Behavioral approach system (BAS) sensitivity and impulsiveness as shared

         personal vulnerabilities. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 549-565. doi:10.1037/a0016061

American Psychological Assocation. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, DC:

         American Psychological Association.

Nittroer, S., Lowenstein, J.H., & Packer, R.R. (2009). Children discover the spectral skeletons in their native language before the

         amplitude envelopes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35, 1245-1253.




No Author

When no author is available, cite in-text using the first few words of the source's reference list entry (usually the title.)


From 2010 to 2022, the U.S. Mint will issue quarters featuring United States National Parks ("Quarter to Feature Smokies," 2009).



Quarter to feature Smokies. (2009, September 10). Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved from


Personal Communication

Parenthetically cite the communicator's name, the phrase 'personal communication,' and the date of the communication.


(J. Smith, personal communication, February 18, 2016).

J. Smith claims that APA citation is the best citation style (personal communication, February 18, 2016).