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Reading Writing Lab

APA In-Text Citations


Whenever you include a quote, paraphrase, or summary from an outside source in your text, you will need to give that source credit. Failing to do so is plagiarism, and is a serious offense at BYU-Hawaii, and at many other institutions (plagiarism is also illegal!). There are two ways to cite a source within the text. One way is to use an introductory phrase, such as: "According to Dr. Hook," or "John Locke states..." The other is to conclude the quote or paraphrase with a parenthetical citation, which generally includes the author's last name followed by the year and a page number, such as: (Hook, 1999, p.56) or (Locke, 2001). While a direct quote requires the specifics (pages, chapters, figures, tables, etc.) of a source, citations for paraphrasing need only the author's last name and the year of publication. For summaries that span more than one sentence, it is conventional to use both methods, marking the beginning of the summary with an introductory phrase and concluding it with a parenthetical citation.

A rule of thumb that is good to keep in mind is that the information that will go into a parenthetical citation is usually whatever item of information is listed as the first part of the citation entry on the reference list. If the entry begins with an author's name, then the author's last name will be in the parentheses. If it begins with the title of a work, then that title (or a shortened version) will go into the parentheses.

The idea behind in-text citations is to allow the reader to easily associate borrowed words with an entry on the reference list. If the parenthetical citation for a quote is (Miele, 1993, p.276), then there should be an entry on the reference list that begins with Miele, Mary. Or if the citation reads, ( Quack, Oink, Moo, 1983), then there should be an entry on the reference list that begins with, Quack, Oink, Moo: The Authoritative Guide to Farm Animals, Their Sounds, and Their Meanings.

This section will give a series of examples and explanations for the many different ways to cite a source in-text.


*All cases and examples are taken from Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition.*

One Work by One Author

If the name of the author is given as part of the narrative (as in the first example below), then only the year is required in parentheses. If the name is not given, then list both the name and the year, separated by a comma, in parentheses (like the second example). As long as the study will not be confused with other studies cited, you do not need to list the year in subsequent references to the same source.

(Last Name, Year)

James (2002) charted reaction times...

In a recent study of reaction times (James, 2002)

One Work by Multiple Authors

For works with two authors, always cite both names each time the reference appears in the text. However, when the work has three, four, or five authors, list all of the authors the first time; in the subsequent citations, list only the last name of the first author, followed by “et al.” and the year. When a work has six or more authors, list only the last name of the first author, followed by “et al.” and the year.

Williams, Zippy, Chung, Anderson, and Chen (1996) found. . .

Williams et al. (1996) found. . .

Williams et al. found. . .

Groups as Authors

The names of groups that serve as authors (corporations, associations, government agencies, etc) are given each time they appear in the text, but can be abbreviated after the first citation. Just remember to include enough information that a reader could track down the reference you used without much difficulty.

First text citation:

(National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 1999)

Subsequent text citations:

(NIMH, 1999)

Works With No Author (Including Legal Materials) or With an Anonymous Author

When a work has no author, simply cite in text the first few words of the entry from the reference list (most likely the title) and the year. Use quotation marks around the title of an article or chapter, and italicize the title of a periodical, book brochure, or report. Legal materials, such as court cases, statutes, and legislation, should be cited by the first few words of the reference and the year. Also, a work with an anonymous author should be cited as “Anonymous,” followed by a comma and the year.

. . . on free care (“Study Finds,” 1982)

The book College Bound Seniors (1979) . . .

. . . (Anonymous, 1998)

Authors With the Same Surname

If you happen to cite two or more authors with the same last name, include the first author’s initials in all text citations, even if the year of publication differs. This will help diffuse confusion within the text and more easily allow for locating the entry on the reference list.

R.D. Luce (1959) and P.A. Luce (1986) also found. . .

J. M. Goldberg and Neff (1961) and M.E. Goldberg and Wurtz (1972) studied. . .

Two or More Works Within the Same Parentheses

If two or more references are cited within the same parentheses, order them in the same order in which they appear in the reference list. Works by the same authors should be arranged by the year of publication. Works by the same author with the same year can be identified by suffixes a, b, c, and so forth. Works by different authors should be listed in alphabetical order by last name, separated with semicolons.

Past research (Edeline & Weinberger, 1991, 1993). . .

Several studies (Johnson, 1991a, 1991b, 1991c; Singh, 1983). . .

Several studies (Balda, 1980; Kamil, 1998; Pepperberg & Funk, 1990). . .

Classical Works

If a work has no date of publication, cite the author’s last name followed by a comma and “n.d” (for “no date”). If the date of publication is inapplicable, such as for some very old works, cite the year of the translation used, preceded by “trans.” Or the year of the version you used, followed by “version.” Reference entries are not required for major classical works, such as the Bible; simply identify the first citation in the text the version you used. Parts of classical works (books, chapters, verses, lines, etc) are numbered systematically across all editions, so use these numbers instead of page numbers.

(Aristotle, trans. 1931)

James (1890/1993)

1 Cor. 13:1 (Revised Standard Version)

Specific Parts of a Source

Indicate the page, chapter, figure, table, or equation at the appropriate point in text. Give page numbers for quotations. Both “page” and “chapter” are abbreviated when used in text citations. For electronic sources that do not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number, if available, preceded by the ¶ symbol or the abbreviation “para.” If neither page nor paragraph is available, then cite the heading and the number of the paragraph following it to direct the reader to the location of the material.

(Cheek & Buss, 1981, p. 332)

(Shimamura, 1989, chap. 3)

(Myers, 2000, ¶ 5)

(Beutler, 2000, Conclusion section, para. 1)

Personal Communications

Personal communications include letters, memos, e-mails, messages from electronic message boards, personal interviews, telephone conversations, etc. Because they do not provide recoverable data, personal communications are not included in the reference list. Cite personal communications in text only. Give the initials as well as the surname of the communicator, and provide as exact a date as possible.

T.K. Lutes (personal communication, April 18, 2001)

(V.G. Nguyen, personal communication, September 28, 1998)