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APA Style: In-Text Citations

All APA-style papers include in-text citations as well as a reference list at the end of the paper with entries that correspond to the in-text citations.

Whenever you use ideas or facts in your essay that were originally discussed or discovered by someone other than yourself, you must acknowledge the originator of those ideas and facts. The only exception is when you discuss common knowledge.  An example of common knowledge is that Friday comes before Saturday or that Confederation in Canada occurred in 1867. However, if you are unsure if something is common knowledge or not, provide a citation to be on the safe side and avoid the possibility of plagiarism.

Tip: 

This page provides an overview of APA style. For most assignments, this is all you will need. For more detailed information, the complete APA style guide is available in the UOIT Library. You may also use the APA 6th Edition Quick Reference.

How do I place citations in my essay or report?

In APA style, in-text citations can appear in one of two ways: (a) in a signal sentence, or (b) in parentheses.

  1. In a signal sentence, the surname of the author is integrated into the text followed by the year of publication in parentheses.
  2. Alternatively, the author’s last name and year of publication are both placed in parentheses at the end of the sentence (and before the punctuation).
  3. Long quotes (40 words or 4 lines of text) are formatted differently. For a long quotation, introduce the text in the preceding sentence and begin the quote as a block indent without quotation marks. The source citation is placed after the end punctuation for the quote.

There are some variations depending on the nature of the source.

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Page numbers are included if you refer to (or summarize) a particular part of the source or if you quote from it. Page numbers go in parentheses between the last quotation mark and before the end punctuation.
  1. As Robert Pool (1997) argued, “modern technology is not simply the rational product of scientists and engineers that it is often advertised to be” (p. 9).

One author

The surname of the author always precedes the date of publication.

  1. Loverock (2009) addressed....
  2. The study addressed.... (Loverock, 2009).

Multiple authors

Give the surname of each author in the order in which it appears on the publication.

  1. Arrigo and Griffin (2004) suggested that...
  2. The research presented suggested that... (Arrigo & Griffin, 2004).

For works with three, four or five authors, include each name the first time it is written; in subsequent references to the same work, list only the last name of the first author, followed by “et al.“

  1. First reference to the source:
    1. Name, Name, Name and Name (Year).
    2. (Name, Name, Name & Name, Year).
  2. Subsequent references:
    1. Name et al. (Year).
    2. (Name et al., Year).

When citing works that have six or more, give only the first author’s last name, followed by et al. and the year.

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If you cite your source directly in the text, use the word “and”. If you are citing the authors within parentheses, use “&” between the two final authors’ names instead of using the word “and”. This applies to all multiple author citations.

Groups/Organizations as authors

Groups or organizations such as corporations, associations and government agencies can also author a work. The names of such groups or organization are usually spelled out in the first citation; in subsequent references, the abbreviated form of the name is used. If the group is not very well known or the abbreviated name could be easily confused, spell out the name each time you use it.

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In the list of references the names are always spelled out.

Other than deciding whether to write the name out at all times or not, there aren’t any differences between formatting the citation for a work with one author or multiple authors. The organization/group is the author, so the name of the group occupies the authors’ position.

  1. In the report, Perspectives on Canadian Drug Policy, the John Howard Society of Canada (2003) suggested that...
  2. The research suggested.... (The John Howard Society of Canada, 2003)

No author

When there is no author, the title of the article or book replaces the author’s name and the date comes after the title. Follow the guidelines for titles.

  1. ...(Seeing Sheep Sleep, 2009.)
  2. In Seeing Sheep Sleep (2009)....

Different authors with the same name

If you are using two sources that have different authors with the same last name, use the initials of the first and middle (if applicable) names to differentiate between the authors.

  1. J. A. Smith (2000) and S. D. Smith (2001) have both argued that ....
  2. Writing at different times and in different places, some scientists have come up with similar theories (J. A. Smith, 2000; S. D. Smith, 2001).

Citing two sources at the same time

If you want to cite more than one source at one time, follow these guidelines:

  1. List the sources alphabetically by author’s last name.
  2. Separate each reference with a semi-colon
    1. (Adams, 2000; Smith 2001; Tent 2004).
    2. (Smith & Jones, 2002; Smith & Reading, 2004).

Multiple sources with the same author

If you are referencing more than one work written by the same author or authors with the same name, do not repeat their names; differentiate using the date. If the author has more work from the same year, differentiate by placing the lower case letters a, b, c, etc. after the year of publication.

  1. (Smith, 2000, 2001).
  2. (Smith, 1999a, 1999b, 2000, 2001a, 2001b).

Citing specific parts of sources

If you want to cite a specific part of a source, such as a chart, table, or figure, or quote from the source, include the page number in the citation.

  1. As Robert Pool (1997) argued, “modern technology is not simply the rational product of scientists and engineers that it is often advertised to be” (p. 9).
  2. It is clear that “modern technology is not simply the rational product of scientists and engineers that it is often advertised to be” (Pool, 1997, p. 9).

Personal communication

If you have relevant information from letters, memos, emails, or informal interviews that have not been published, follow the guidelines for citing personal communications. You may cite class lectures and discussions in this way unless your professor indicates otherwise.

Personal communications are only cited within the body of the paper and not within the reference list. This is because these sources are not available to the general public. Give the initials of the first names and the last name of the person that you communicated with. Identify the citation as a personal communication and give as much information about the date as possible.

  1. (M. Dragiewicz, personal communication, November 16th, 2008).
  2. In a recent telephone conversation, M. Dragiewicz (personal communication, November 16th, 2008) stated that ....
  3. (M. Dragiewicz, lecture, November 16th, 2008).

Tip: 

Always confirm with your professor that personal communications and lecture notes are acceptable sources of information for your project.

Audiovisual material

Audiovisual material is any film, television series or broadcast, sound clip, or a clip from the Internet. The way to cite audiovisual media is similar to the general form of citations, but there are some variations. For example, when citing a film, name the director and producer instead of the author(s).

  1. In Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes (Hurt, 2006), three arguments are demonstrated.
  2. In Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, Hurt (2006) demonstrated that there were several significant events.

Citing electronic sources

For the in-text citation, follow the formats as described above. The electronic nature of the source is noted only in the reference list, not in the in-text citation. With many electronic sources, page numbers are not used. If that is the case, cite the paragraph number.

  1. (Smith & Jones, 2002, para. 28).
  2. Smith and Jones (2002, para. 28) agreed that UOIT is a brilliant school.

If the paragraph number is not given, use the heading and paragraph number starting under that heading.

  1. (Smith & Jones, 2002, Introduction section, para. 3).

Note: 

This information is based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, 2010. It is your responsibility to check with your professor regarding exact expectations for citations and referencing. Some professors may prefer other editions of the APA style guide.