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APA Style

A guide to APA formatting, in-text citation, and the References list

In-Text Citation

Key Elements  
One Author: Direct Quotes No Author
One Author: Paraphrasing Author with Acronym Name
Two Authors Two Citations in One Sentence
Three-Five Authors Quoting a Quote
Six or More Authors Interview

Key Elements (6.03)

When you use others' ideas and quotes, cite your source by including:

  1. Author's last name
  2. Publication year
  3. (Only for direct quotes) Page number of the quote

The purpose of in-text citation is to direct the reader to the full citation on the References list -- i.e., (see the work by Bransford written in 2000) -- and the References list will have the full publication details. 

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

To maximize the effectiveness of your writing, you are encouraged to word your in-text citations in several ways.

  • Author's last name and publication year in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

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

  • Author's name in the text with the publication year in parentheses after it.

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


One Author: Direct Quotes (6.03 & 6.05)

Include the author's last name, publication date, and page number(s).

Ex. Although businesses collect a lot of information on their customers' buying patterns, "it is not enough to know how customers behave, you also need to know why" (Kahneman & Baudin, 2009, p. 522).


One Author: Paraphrasing (6.04)

Cite the author, publication year, and possibly page numbers.

Ex. Many insects and animals have a larger spectrum of color vision than humans, including ultraviolet and infrared (Gadhavi & Krupin, 2009).


Two Authors (6.12)

Put an ampersand between the authors.

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


Three-Five Authors (6.12)

Cite each author for the first in-text citation, then cite only the first author followed by "et al." (meaning "and others").

Ex. A study by Nittrouer, Lowenstein, and Packer (2009) compared the abilities of native English-speaking children and adults. The study found that English-speaking adults performed best (Nittrouer et al., 2009).


Six or More Authors (6.12)

Cite only the first author followed by "et al."

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


No Author (6.15)

Cite the first few words of the source's reference list entry (usually the title.)

Article or Website

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

Book or Report

Ex. Getting plenty of sleep is essential to academic success (College Bound Seniors, 2008).


Authors with Acronym Name (6.13)

For short names where the abbreviation would not be readily understandable, write out the name each time. For long names where the abbreviation is familiar, write out the name with the acronym in brackets for the first reference, then use just the acronym.

Ex. In 2012, approximately 1 in 68 children were diagnosed with a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2016).


Two Citations in One Sentence (6.16)

Order the citations alphabetically by the first author's last name. For works by the same author, order them by publication year: give the last name once and then the dates.

Ex. Several studies (Nakano, Ramirez, & Soo, 1999; Gadhavi & Krupin, 2009; Walker et al., 2008) cite the need for more replication studies.


Quoting a Quote (6.09)

Cite the quoted author in the text and the author of the article at the end.

Ex. Jonsen and Willse concluded "there was no direct correlation between the two factors" (Kosek, 2011).


Interview (6.20)

Only cite interviews in-text, not on the references list.

Ex. Individual researchers are not eligible for many private foundation grants, because often those funds are only given to nonprofit organizations (P. Karga, personal communication, May 3, 2016).