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The Student & Researcher’s Guide to APA In-Text Citations

Welcome to our guide on in-text citations! If you’re looking to learn the ins and outs of APA style in-text citations and how to do in-text citations APA, we’ve got you covered in this thorough guide.

Here’s a run through of everything this page includes:

  1. An overview of this style
  2. An explanation of what an APA style in-text citation is and why we use it
  3. A look into the two types of APA in-text citations and how they relate to full references
  4. How to write in-text citations APA for direct quotes and paraphrases
  5. How to organize your APA style in-text citation for various scenarios, including an APA in-text citation multiple authors and an APA in-text citation no author.

If you’re simply looking for a quick guide, check out our APA parenthetical citation guide, which serves as a lite-version of this page.

Let’s get started!

1. What is APA?

This is a term that you might hear your teacher, professor, or librarian throw around a lot. This abbreviation stands for

American

Psychological

Association

This association is kind of a big deal. They do a lot of things related to psychology, but they’re also famous for creating one of the most popular citation styles, APA format. There are other big names on campus, such as MLA format, and Chicago, but this particular style is commonly used by individuals who are writing a science-related paper.

Even if your paper doesn’t necessarily fall into a “science” category, many educators ask their students to cite in this style since it’s so commonly used.

If you’re trying to find information about other commonly used styles, there are more styles on EasyBib.com.

2. What is an APA In-text Citation?

In plain and simple terms, APA in-text citations are found in the text of a project. Get it? In text. The purpose of an in-text citation in APA is to show the reader, while they’re reading your work, that a piece of information in your project was found elsewhere. They’re placed IN the wording or body of a project, not on the last page; the last page has full references. To learn more about those types of references, check out APA citation.

We’ve all heard about the word plagiarism, and you already know what it means. Simply put, including APA in-text citations are one way to prevent plagiarism.

Here’s what’s included in an APA 6th edition in-text citation:

  • Last name(s) of the author(s)
  • Year the source was published
  • Page number (if available)

Depending on the number of authors and the source type, some in-text citations look different than others. To learn how to structure an in-text citation for APA, head towards the bottom half of this page. In fact, if you’re looking for an easy route, EasyBib.com has an in-text citation APA generator, which does the work for you. Use our automatic generator to create your full references, and you’ll see an option on the final screen to format your APA in-text citations. An APA in-text citation generator and full reference generator all in one. What could beat that?

Why do we use in-text citations?

When you do a research project, you’re probably going to include facts from websites, databases, books, and other sources. When you add those facts into your project, you must show where those facts came from. It’s the responsible thing to do. It prevents plagiarism. You always give credit to the original author. It’s kind of like thanking them for their contribution to your paper.

Here’s the neat thing about in-text citations. Since they’re IN your project, readers get a quick idea as to where the information you included came from. In-text citations APA are not long and lengthy, like the full references on the APA works cited page or APA bibliography. In-text citations are cute, little, and give us the perfect amount of information we need to understand where a fact came from. If you want to get the full information about the source, then you can flip to the back page of the paper, where the full reference is listed. The in-text citation APA style provides us with a tidbit of information. Just enough to glance at it and keep on going with reading the paper.

If you’re looking to learn more about MLA in-text & parenthetical citations or want to learn how to cite websites in MLA, EasyBib.com has the information you need to be a citing superstar.

3. Types of In-text Citations

Just like there are two days in the weekend, two types of peanut butter (creamy and nutty), and two types of foods we crave (salty and sweet), there are (you guessed it) two types of in-text citations.

The in-text citation APA option you include in your paper depends on how you craft your sentences.

Narrative:

In-text citation APA format, in narrative form, is one that shows the author’s name in the sentence itself.

Narrative APA in-text citation with page number:

Tyson, Strauss, and Gott (2016) encourage the use of simplified terms when it comes to discussing and defining the universe. For example, a small white star is simply called a white dwarf. Keep it short and sweet because the universe is confusing enough (p. 22).

Parenthetical:

This is a type of APA in-text citation where the author’s name(s) are in parentheses, usually at the end of the fact or quote.

Here’s the same APA in-text citation example as above, but with the in-text citations APA information in parentheses:

Use simplified terms when discussing and defining the universe. For example, a small white star is simply called a white dwarf. Keep it short and sweet because the universe is confusing enough (Tyson, Strauss, & Gott, 2016, p. 22).

As you can see, the type of APA in-text citation you include, whether it’s a narrative one or one in parentheses, depends on how you decide to structure your sentences. It doesn’t matter if you use all narrative, all parentheses, or a mix of both. What is important is that you’re a responsible researcher and you properly cite your sources!

Remember, most facts, quotes, stats, and copied and pasted information NEED an APA in-text citation next to it. What’s the only type of information you don’t need to create an in-text citation APA for? Anything that’s common knowledge. For example, paper is made from trees. You and most people already knew that. That’s an example of common knowledge. It’s a piece of information that everyone already knows.

Now, before you simply include the author’s name(s), the date, and the page number in your project and think you’ve covered all your bases, you’re not quite done yet. In-text citations APA are only part of the puzzle. The other piece of the puzzle is found on the last page of the project: the reference page. That’s where all of the full references are found in their entirety. In-text citations only include the author’s name, year published, and the page number. The reference page, on the other hand, includes the title of each source, the publishers, the website addresses, and other information. Continue reading to learn why in-text citations and references on the reference page are the perfect match.

Before we continue, MLA works cited pages are very similar to the ones in this style. EasyBib.com has resources for many styles, to help you learn the ins and outs of referencing your work. We even have full pages on grammar topics too, to keep your paper in tip-top shape. Brush up on your noun, conjunction, and interjection skills with our easy-to-follow, comprehensive guides.

Full references

Would you ever put on one shoe and walk around without the other? Of course not. The same goes with in-text citations and full references. You must include both in your paper. Where there’s one there has to be the other.

Each and every in-text citation APA must have a matching full reference on the reference page. If you’re wondering why, it’s to allow the reader to get that sneak peek about the source while reading your paper (the APA in-text citation), and then learn all about it on the final page (the reference page). If the reader wants to get their hands on a copy of the sources you used, all of the information they need can be found on the reference page.

Remember those APA style in-text citation examples found above? Let’s take a peek at them again.

Here’s the one with the authors’ names in parentheses:

Use simplified terms when discussing and defining the universe. For example, a small white star is simply called a white dwarf. Keep it short and sweet because the universe is confusing enough (deGrasse, Strauss, & Gott, 2016, p. 22).

Here’s the full reference, which would be found on the final page of the project:

Tyson, N. D., Strauss, M. A., and Gott, J. R. (2016). Welcome to the universe: An astrophysical tour. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Notice that in the above in-text citation APA example, the full title of the book, the place the book was published, and the publisher are displayed. If the reader wants to locate the book themselves, all of the information they need is found in the full reference.

One other important thing we’d like to point out is that the same information from the in-text citation APA (Tyson, Strauss, & Gott) matches the first part of the full reference. This is done to allow the reader to easily find the full reference on the final page.

Remember, always include both in-text citations AND full references in your projects. In the body of projects, in-text citations APA serve an important purpose. They give the reader a snippet of understanding as to the origin of  information. It’s just enough information to allow the reader to continue reading the paper in a natural and fluid manner, without having to trip over long, clunky references. If the reader wants to get a detailed understanding of a source, they can flip to the back page, the reference page, to scope out all of the nitty gritty details.

In the next two sections of this page, we’re going to switch gears and share how to properly format direct quotes and paraphrases.

If you’re looking for specific source types, check out APA citation website and APA book citation. These two resources will explain how to format those specific types of references.

4. Direct Quotes

As Drake states in his lyrics, “We don’t like to do too much explaining,” so we’re going to keep this one short and to the point.

“Direct quotes” are a fancy term used for any text that has been copied and pasted into your paper. That Drake quote above is a direct quote. Direct quotes are any words or sentences copied and pasted into your project, but they don’t necessarily have to be a person’s quote. Anytime you copy and paste text into your assignment, you must include an APA in-text citation next to it. This shows the reader that 1) the information came from another source 2) you’re being a responsible researcher and clearly documenting the outside source.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to direct quotes:

  • Direct quotes are a solid way to show evidence and prove your point, but use them sparingly. Your paper shouldn’t be riddled with copied and pasted text.
  • Put quotation marks around the copied and pasted information.
  • Always include the page number for direct quotes, if one is available. For an APA in-text citation page number, include p. before the number. Use pp. for a page range.

To create a narrative APA in-text citation, include the author’s last name in the sentence like this:

    • As Drake (2013) once said “We don’t like to do too much explaining.”
    • In the above APA in-text citation example, the Drake quote was taken from the song, “Started From the Bottom,” in 2013. The title of the source would be included in the reference page.

Or, you include the author’s name in parentheses:

    • “We don’t like to do too much explaining” (Drake, 2013).

Paraphrases

We said above that your entire paper shouldn’t have direct quotes everywhere. So, another way to include information from a source is by adding a paraphrase. Simply put, a paraphrase is restated information, but formed using your own words and writing style. Paraphrases still need an in-text citation since the information was obtained elsewhere.

Check out this quote from the song, “For Time,” by Drake:

“I like it when money makes a difference, but don’t make you different.”

To include it in your paper, without using the exact quote, make a paraphrase. Here’s one that would work:

Money has the ability to benefit things in your life, but it’s truly great when it doesn’t cause the person to act differently or change who they are (Drake, 2013).

The above APA in-text citation example is one with Drake’s name in parentheses. If you’d like to include the author’s name narratively, here’s an option:

In Drake’s (2013) lyrics, he shares that money has the ability to benefit things in your life. It’s truly great when it doesn’t cause the person to act differently or change who they are.

It is recommended to include page numbers for paraphrased material, but isn’t required.

Here’s more on paraphrases and direct quotes.

5. Organizing In-text Citations

Ready to learn how to structure your in-text citations? The next section dives deep into developing them and answers “How to do in-text citations APA.” Keep in mind that how each one is formed depends on the number of authors and other factors.

Even though the structure varies, most in-text citations APA are placed in this manner for narrative in-text citations:

Author’s Last Name (Year) “Quote or Paraphrase” (p. number).

For ones in parentheses, most are placed in this manner:

“Quote” or Paraphrase (Author’s Last Name, Year, p. number).

Notice that whether you choose to include a narrative in-text citation APA or one in parentheses, the author names and the year published are always together. They’re pretty much holding hands. Cute, huh?

Read on to learn the ins and outs of structuring various in-text citations.

Don’t forget, EasyBib.com has an in-text citation APA generator. Wondering what it’s all about? Here’s a quick explanation: We work for you so citing is easy for you. Yep, you read that correctly. Our tools structure your in-text citations the way they’re supposed to be structured. Use our automatic generator to create your full references, and on the final screen you’ll see the option to create your in-text citations. An APA in-text citation generator that’s easy as pie!

Something else we do for you? We have a plagiarism checker that scans your paper for any instances of accidental copying. We also have tons of grammar pages to keep your page in check. Check out our adverb, preposition, and verb pages.

If your source has one author

If your source has one author, lucky you! Your in-text citation is pretty simple to structure.

Narratively:

Author’s Last Name (Year published) are found in the sentence with a “direct quote” or paraphrase (p. number).

Parentheses:

“Direct quote” or Paraphrase (Author’s Last Name, Year published, p. number).

Need to create an APA in-text citation for a source without an author? How about an APA in-text citation multiple authors? Continue reading to see the other ways to structure an APA style in-text citation.

APA in-text citation two authors

If your source has two authors, place them in the order they appear on the source. Do not place them in alphabetical order.

In-text citation APA two authors examples:

Narratively:

Use the word “and” in between the authors’ names.

1st Author’s Last Name and 2nd Author’s Last Name (Year published) are found somewhere in the sentence with a “direct quote” or paraphrase (p. number).

Parentheses:

If you choose to include both authors’ names in parentheses, use an ampersand in between their names.

“Here is the direct quote” or Here is the paraphrase (1st Author’s Last Name & 2nd Author’s Last name, Year, p. number).

If your source has three authors, four authors, or five authors

Now here’s where things get a tad bit tricky. For the first in-text citation, include all three authors’ names. For any additional mentions in the text, only include the first author’s last name and then add ‘et al.’ Et al. is a fancy way of saying “and others” in Latin.

Narratively:

1st mention:

1st Author’s Last Name, 2nd Author’s Last Name, and 3rd Author’s Last Name (Year published) are found somewhere in the sentence with a “direct quote” or paraphrase (p. number).

Additional mentions in the text:

1st Author’s Last Name et al. (Year published) is found with a “direct quote” or paraphrase (p. number).

Parenthetically:

1st mention:

“Here is the direct quote” or Paraphrase (1st Author’s Last Name, 2nd Author’s Last Name, 3rd Author’s Last Name, Year published, p. number).

Additional mentions in the text:

“Here is the direct quote” or Paraphrase (1st Author’s Last Name et al., Year Published, p. number).

If your source has six or more authors

Many journal articles, case studies, and scientific research include multiple authors. It’s not uncommon to see six, seven, eight, or more authors listed on a source. Too many cooks in the kitchen? Apparently not!

You might be scratching your head, trying to determine how to effortlessly fit all author names in the text of your paper. It would probably look clunky and distracting, right? Don’t worry, you only need to include the first author’s last name in all mentions in the text. Whoever lucky number one is on the source (the author displayed in the first position), they’re the only person’s name included in the first mention and all other mentions in your paper.

Example of an APA in-text citation multiple authors, shown narratively:

1st Author’s Last Name et al. (Year published) somewhere in the sentence with the “direct quote” or paraphrase (p. number).

Example of an APA in-text citation multiple authors, shown in parentheses:

“Here is the direct quote” or Paraphrase (1st Author’s Last Name et al., Year published, p. number).

If you’re looking for more information on structuring journal articles, check out our APA journal page.

If you’re looking for a simple solution to referencing multiple authors, EasyBib.com creates in-text citations APA for you! Whether you need to create a reference for one or two authors, or an APA in-text citation for multiple authors, we’ve got you covered!

APA in-text citation no author

It’s common to come across sources without any authors. Movies, brochures, website pages often do not have a visible author’s name. If you find that the source you’re attempting to reference does not have an author, use the first few words from the reference list entry in the APA in-text citation with no author. Most often, it’s the title of the source.

If the source is a website page, an article, or a chapter, place quotation marks around the title in the body of your paper.

If the source is a book, newspaper, report, or brochure, place the title in italics.

Remember, you do not have to use the entire title in your in-text citation APA no author. You can use only the first few words from the reference list.

APA in-text citation no author example shown narratively:

“First few words of the webpage, article, or chapter Title” (Year) along with the “direct quote” or paraphrase (p. number). OR First few words of book, newspaper, report, or brochure (Year) along with the “direct quote” or paraphrase (p. number).

APA in-text citation no author example shown in parentheses:

“Here is the direct quote” or paraphrase (“Web page, Article, or Chapter Title,” Year, p. number). OR “Here is the direct quote” or paraphrase (Book, Newspaper, Report, or Brochure Title, Year, p. number).

In-text citations for APA if your source has no date

No date? No problem! An APA in-text citation no date situation is easier to solve than you think. Only include the author’s name and the page number.

APA in-text citation no date example:

(Foster, p. 35).

If your source is made by a group, organization, company, or government agency

There are two types of groups: Ones that are abbreviated often and ones that are not abbreviated. For example, think about these two citation style types: APA and Chicago. One is abbreviated (for the American Psychological Association) and the other is usually written as is (Chicago style).

How to in-text cite APA for abbreviated groups

If the company is often abbreviated, in the first mention in text, display the full name and the abbreviation. In the second and any other subsequent mentions, only use the abbreviation.

Narratively:

1st mention:

Full Company’s Name (Abbreviation, Year) with the “direct quote” or paraphrase (p. number).

2nd mention:

Company Abbrev. (Year) “direct quote” or paraphrase (p. number).

In parentheses:

1st mention:

“Direct quote” or paraphrase (Full Company’s Name [Abbreviation], Year, p. number).

2nd mention:

“Direct quote” or paraphrase (Abbreviation, Year, p. number).

How to in-text cite APA for Non-abbreviated groups

Always include the full group, company, or organization’s name in each and every mention in text.

Narratively:

Full Name of Group (Year) with the “direct quote” or paraphrase (p. number).

In parentheses:

“Direct quote” or paraphrase (Full Name of Group, Year, p. number).

If you have sources by authors with the same last names

We’re not quite sure how the author of The Baby-Sitters Club (Ann M. Martin) could be used in a paper that’s also referencing the author of Game of Thrones (George R. R. Martin), but hey, it could happen! It’s a Martin party! It’s important to show the reader the difference between the two individuals to prevent any confusion. To differentiate between the two authors in the text, include their first initials.

Example of in-text citation APA:

“Here’s a quote” (A. Martin, Year, p. 6). G. Martin (Year) also states “this direct quote” (p. 45).

As always, keep the author names and the dates directly next to each other. They love being together and it’s a best practice.

If you have multiple sources by the same author

You may have a bunch of case studies, articles, or books that you’re referencing, all by the same author. Let’s say you’re analyzing two works by Sigmund Freud, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious and also Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, both of which were published in 1905. Placing (Freud, 1905) in the text would be confusing for the reader. How would the reader determine which source you’re referencing?

If this is the situation you’re in, there’s a pretty simple fix. Place a lowercase a next to the year in the first source (Freud, 1905a). Place a lowercase b next to the second source (Freud, 1905b). Include those same lowercase letters in the full references on the reference page, like so:

Freud, S. (1905a). Fragment of an analysis of a case of hysteria. Retrieved from //staferla.free.fr/Freud/Freud%20complete%20Works.pdf

Freud, S. (1905b). Jokes and their relation to the unconscious. Retrieved from //staferla.free.fr/Freud/Freud%20complete%20Works.pdf

If you’re citing a source within a source

Did you stumble upon the perfect quote that’s quoted in another source? It happens all of the time and it can be a little tricky to figure out how to quote a quote.

The American Psychological Association recommends locating the original quote, if possible. Instead of relying on secondary sources, take the time to locate the original source to make sure the quote is accurate. Finding and reading through the original source also provides you with further information on your research topic!

If finding the original source isn’t possible, due to out of print titles, web pages taken down, or other factors, then it’s okay to quote the secondary source. In your writing, use the phrase “as cited in Secondary Author’s Last name, Year.”

On the reference page, include the reference for the secondary source.

Example of APA in-text citation format in parentheses:

Carranza stated, “Districts 3 and 15 are showing how we can have the important conversations and take bold action on this issue” (as cited in Shapiro, 2019).

How to in-text cite APA, narratively:

As cited in Shapiro’s (2019) article, Carranza stated, “Districts 3 and 15 are showing how we can have the important conversations and take bold action on this issue.”

On the reference page, Shapiro’s article would be referenced in its entirety.

If you’re citing audiovisual material

In-text citations APA for songs, videos, podcasts, television shows, and other audiovisual materials look a bit different than other types of sources. They include an extra piece of information: a time stamp.

Narratively:

Bill Nye (2017) shares that the sun is over four-hundred septillion watts (13:15).

In parentheses:

The sun is over four-hundred septillion watts (Bill Nye, 2017, 13:15).

If you’re still scratching your head, and feeling the urge to type “how to do in-text citations APA” into Google, click here for a website that we dig.

If you’re looking for a quick fix to developing your references, EasyBib.com has you covered! Our tools can help you create an APA in-text citation multiple authors, one author, no authors, plus more!

Once again, if grammar isn’t your thing, and you’re looking for help related to specific parts of speech, check out our adjective, pronoun, and determiner pages, among many, many others!