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Citation Styles

Help with different citation styles including how to format citations.


APA style guidelines (2020) state that you should "cite the work of those individuals whose ideas, theories, or research have directly influenced your work" (p. 253).

You are required to cite sources within the text (or body) of the paper using the author-date citation system. This system consists of an in-text citation and a reference list entry. Every resource cited in the body of your paper must be listed alphabetically in the references list. Likewise, every resource in the reference list must be cited in the body of your paper.

  • The exceptions are personal communications you've had with others, general mention of whole websites or periodicals, or general mention of common software and applications. While they have in-text citations or mentions in the text, they are not included in the reference list.
  • Common knowledge is also not required to cite.

Format and Placement of In-Text Citations

APA style requires specific kinds of information be included in in-text citations. The author's last name and the work's date of publication must appear & are usually all that is necessary when citing an idea, an entire book, an article or other work. These must match exactly the corresponding entry in the references list.

Placement of the citation may vary within the text of your paper. There are two formats for in-text citations:

  • Narrative Citation:
    • The name of the author can be incorporated into the narrative of the paper.
      Example: In his study of how children learn the alphabet, Smith (2009) found...
    • The name of the author and the date may also be stated in the narrative without parentheses. 
      Example: In 2009, Smith found that children learn the alphabet in the following ways...
  • Parenthetical Citation:
    • Both the name and date of the work cited appear at the end of a sentence enclosed in parentheses.
      Example: Researchers studying how children learn the alphabet found that... (Smith, 2009)

No matter if using a narrative citation or a parenthetical citation, a page number appears if it is a direct quotation or if it's useful for location.

  • Narrative Citation Example: In 2009, Smith found that "children learn by ..." (p. 195)
  • Parenthetical Citation Example: (Smith, 2009, p. 195)

Using In-Text Citations


You may summarize or paraphrase the original words, thoughts or ideas of another. This lets you focus on and synthesize specific information from one or more sources rather than quote excessively. However, credit must be given to the source. You must cite any work or passage you paraphrase in the body of your paper with in-text citations. 

When a specific part of the work is quoted or paraphrased and has an indicator of where the information can be found (page number, paragraph number, time stamp, etc.), this is included within an in-text citation. The following are examples of in-text citations in various scenarios:

Multiple Authors: Use the word 'and' when citing multiple authors in the narrative of the paper; use '&' when citing parentheses.
  • 2 authors - cite both names every time the reference occurs in the text. The same methods as above can be used.
    Example: (Smith & Jones, 2009).
  • 3 or more authors: Use only the first author's name followed by 'et al.' and the date in first and all subsequent references. 
    Example: (Smith et al., 2009) OR Smith et al. (2009) found the following... 

Groups as Authors: When the author is a group (e.g. association, corporation, government entity etc.) their name is generally spelled out each time it appears in a text citation. If the group's name is long and there is a well known abbreviation use it in subsequent in text citations. Examples: 1st time: (Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 2009); Subsequent uses: (MADD, 2009).

No Author: Use the first few words of the reference (usually the title) and the date. Use double quotations marks around the title of an article, a chapter or web page, and italicize the title of a journal, book or report.
Examples: ("Comparing learning styles," 2009) OR (Learning the Alphabet, 2009).

Multiple Works with Same Author in Same Year: If you cite multiple works with the same author(s) and date, include a lowercase letter immediately following the date. Start with "a" and continue in alphabetical order. 
Examples: (Winston, 2015a) OR Winston (2015a) state that...
(Winston, 2015b) OR Winston (2015b) later clarified that...

No Date: If the date of publication is missing or unknown, use the abbreviation "n.d."

Indirect Sources: When you use a source cited in another source, name the original source in the narrative. The secondary source [the one you used] should be listed in your reference list and cited in parentheses.
Example: Roberts study of children found... (as cited in Smith, 2009).

Electronic Sources: Electronic sources that cited within the text should be treated the same as print sources. Include the author's name (or shortened title if there is no author) and date in parentheses.


Short Quotations: If you directly quote from a source and the quotation is 40 or fewer words, include it in the text and enclose it with quotation marks. There are several ways to handle this depending upon where the quotation appears in the sentence. Generally, the source is cited in parentheses immediately after the quotation marks and includes the author's name, date and page number,
Examples: (Smith, 2009, p. 195) OR Smith (2009) found that "children's learning included..." (p. 78).

Long Quotations: When you quote directly from the source and the quotation is more than 40 words display it in a free standing block without quotations. The quotation block should be double-spaced and appear on a new line indented at least 5 spaces from the left margin.

Online Sources: Credit online sources using the authors' name, date and page numbers in the same manner as print sources. If there are no page numbers but paragraphs are visibly numbered use them in place of page numbers. Use the symbol, or the abbreviation "para.," in place of the page number.
Examples: (Smith, 2009, 3) OR (Smith, 2009, para. 3).

If the paragraphs are not numbered but there are headings within the document or page list the appropriate heading and indicate the paragraph number under that heading. Include the author's name, date, heading title and indicate the paragraph under the heading.

Resources Used:

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association: The official guide to APA style (7th ed.). American Psychological Association.
Chapters 6 and 8 were consulted in preparing this guide. You can check out a copy of the manual from Hayden, Fletcher, Music, Downtown Phoenix, and Polytechnic Libraries. 

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). In-text citations: The basics. Purdue Online Writing Lab. 

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