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APA Citation Guide: 3. In-Text

This guide will provide an overview of APA Citation Style.

APA In-Text Basics

Basic Format

  • Paraphrase:
    (Lastname, Year). Put at end of sentence before the period
  • Quote:
    (Lastname, Year, p. 57). Include page number(s) or, if there aren't page numbers count down to which paragraph the quote is from. Use these abbreviations:
    p. = page
    pp. = pages
    para. = paragraph
  • If the author is an organization, put the organization name in the Lastname position

Missing Information

  • If the author is unknown, put a few words from the title of the resource within quotation marks in the Lastname position.
    ("Stock surplus," 2007).
  • If your source has no date, use n.d. in the Year position.
    (Johnson Motors, n.d.).


  • If using a source that is commonly abbreviated (e.g. ACLU, APA, MSB), you need to write out the full organization name in the first in-text citation and show the abbreviation in square brackets. Then, following citations can use the abbreviation
  • Abbreviation example:
    1st in-text citation
    (American Medical Association [AMA], 2016)
    Following in-text citations
    (AMA, 2016)

Citing Multiple Authors In-Text

  • 2 authors:
    All in-text citations
    (Smith & Jones, 2005)

  • 3-5 authors:
    1st in-text citation
    (Benson, Dobbs, Zakari, & Denis, 1988)
    Following in-text citations
    (Benson et al., 1988)

  • 6+ authors:
    All in-text citations
    (Wadella et al., 2011)

Citing Images Used

The APA guidelines on citing images in-text are somewhat limited, but in research we have found that images should be treated like Figures in APA.  Each image must be cited in your reference list.  Here is the general form of how the in-text citation should look:

Stock image

Figure 1. Brief description of image (Lastname, year).


Image of puppy

Figure 2. Yellow lab puppy (Wiedmeier, 2012).

In-Text Citations

In-text citations are used in the body of the paper or project to show the source of the information you're using. If you use information from Source X in a sentence, an in-text citation tells your reader that the information in the sentence comes from Source X. Each in-text citation refers to a citation on your reference list. When you add information or ideas from an outside source, create a reference list citation for that item, and put an in-text citation where you use that information in the body of your paper.


in-text citation example

Reference List:

reference list example

How to Integrate Information from Outside Sources
Each method requires an in-text citation, which is highlighted in each example.


Paraphrasing occurs when a writer uses different words to express the same idea. This is a technique used in research to avoid copying the words of a source; however, changing only one or two words of a sentence is not considered paraphrasing. The sentences must be significantly different to avoid plagiarism.


paraphrase example


If your source is written perfectly and there's no way to paraphrase the author's words, then use a direct quote. You will want to use quotes occasionally and only when you feel you need to. Over-quoting is a common issue and leads readers to think, "if so much of this is quoted, why don't I just read the source that's being quoted?" Quotations require quotation marks around the exact words being quoted and the in-text citation requires a page number (or paragraph number, when citing something that doesn't have a page number).


A source with page numbers:

quote example 1

A source without page numbers:

quote example 2

Block Quotes

When quoting over 40 words at a time, a block quote is required. This means that you must:

  • remove the quotation marks;
  • make the quote freestanding (i.e. press "Enter" before and after the quote);
  • indent the quote 0.5"; and,
  • put the in-text citation after the period.


block quote example

Introducing the Author within the Text

You may have noticed the above example gives the author's name as part of the sentence.  An advanced technique that many writers use is to introduce the author or authors of the source being cited, into the text of the paper or project. This means that the author(s) names do not simply appear in parentheses at the end of the sentence, but they are actually a part of the sentence. This technique can be used for both paraphrasing or quoting. You can include as much information about the source as you feel necessary and then you don't have to put that information in parentheses. Introducing the author(s) and adding details about why they are experts on the topic gives credibility to your paper or project and lets your readers know more about who is being cited.



paraphrasing example


quoting example

*If you use this technique when quoting, your in-text citation might be spread throughout the sentence.  The year should ALWAYS appear right after the author(s) name(s) and the page or paragraph numbers should ALWAYS appear right after the quote.