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Citing Sources: In-text Citations

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Guides & Sample Papers

The OWL at Purdue provides resources that may useful for writing projects & citation help.

Click here for a full-length self-paced online tutorial from the APA's website.

Publication Manual

Copies of the Publication Manual are found in the reference and check out collections of the Philadelphia Campus Library and the Newtown LRC.

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Basic Format: Crediting Sources in the Text of Your Paper

Citations to sources in the text allow the reader to consult the full reference citation in References at the end of your paper. APA style uses the "author's last name, publication date" method of citation.

    • Include the author's last name, publication date. How many authors to include in the in-text citation depends on how many authors are responsible for the creation of the work. (See examples below.)
    • Your source MAY list an organization as the author. This is often true when you are citing a web page.
    • If your source does not have an author, use an abbreviated version of the title.
    • Include page numbers when citing direct quotations. Page numbers are encouraged, but not required, when paraphrasing, especially if including them would make it easier for the reader to find the original piece (within a much longer work, for example). (See example.) Refer to Section 6.04 of the Publication Manual.
  • When citing sources without page numbers, include the paragraph number. (See example.)
  • Place the reference after the information being cited.

One Work by a Single Author

  • Include the author's last name and year of publication in parentheses after the information that should be cited:

                        A recent study of cyberbullying and teens (Paez, 2018) suggests that...

  • When referring to the author in the text, only include the publication year in parentheses:

                        In a study of cyberbullying and teens, Paez (2018) found that...

One Work by Two Authors

Cite both names each time the reference occurs in text.

Ruppel and Avellino (2009) note that students find the new APA format difficult to use.

Students find the new APA format difficult to use (Ruppel & Avellino, 2009).

Note: “and” is used when multiple authors are listed within the text of the sentence. “&” is used when multiple authors are listed in parenthetical material (), in tables and captions, and in the reference list.

One Work by 3-5 Authors

Cite all authors the first time a source is used. Use the first author's surname and "et al." in subsequent citations.

First citation:

Ruppel, Avellino, and McNamara (2009) OR (Ruppel, Avellino, & McNamara, 2009)

Subsequent citations:

Ruppel et al. (2009) OR (Ruppel et al., 2009)

Subsequent citations: include the year if it is the FIRST citation of the reference in the paragraph. For details about including/omitting the date on all remaining subsequent citations within a paragraph, please see p.175 of the Publication Manual.

Note: “and” is used when multiple authors are listed within the text of the sentence. “&” is used when multiple authors are listed in parenthetical material (), in tables and captions, and in the reference list.

One Work by 6 or More Authors

Cite the first author's surname, "et al." in all citations.

In this example, the work being referenced was written by Ruppel, Avellino, Slowik, Jones, Smith & Eyre. Use the following for all in-text citations.

Ruppel et al. (2009) OR (Ruppel et al., 2009)

No Author

If a source has no identified author, use the first few words of the reference list entry (usually the title) followed by the year.

  • Use "double quotation marks" around the title of an article, chapter, or web page
  • Italicize the title of a periodical (journal or magazine), book, brochure, or report

The Chinese government announced that reporters must get permission to engage in news-gathering and reporting...("China's Crackdown," 2011).

No Publication Date

If a source has no publication date, use the abbreviation "n.d." in its place.

Few studies on field trips address the potential for higher levels of cognitive learning...(Hurley, n.d.).

Page Numbers

Page numbers are required when citing a direct quotation.

"From the point of view of a US based food company the EU rules may appear to be trade protectionism rather than reasonable consumer protection" (Andersen, 2010, p. 141).

OR

According to Andersen (2010), EU regulations concerning the labeling of genetically modified foods "may appear to be trade protectionism rather than reasonable consumer protection" (p. 141).

Page numbers are encouraged but not required when citing paraphrased information. Consult with your faculty member.

To countries outside the EU, labeling rules for GM food products might be interpreted more as an attempt to benefit EU trade than to safeguard consumers (Andersen, 2010).

Sources with No Page Numbers

When no page number is available, as when citing from a website, the text version of an article, or the text version of an ebook, use the paragraph number preceded by the abbreviation "para." The following is an example from an HTML text version of The Scarlet Letter. There are no page numbers, but every paragraph in the text is numbered.

"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true" (Hawthorne, 1850, para. 266).

If the paragraph numbers are not available and the source includes headings, reference the closest section heading and count the paragraphs to the item to be cited. Below is another example from an HTML text version of The Scarlet Letter. In this version, there are no page numbers, and the paragraphs are not numbered. The closest heading is the chapter title. The quote can be found in the third paragraph under that heading.

"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true" (Hawthorne, 1850, The Minister in a Maze, para. 3).

Secondary Sources

If the information you are reading is cited by the author as originally published in another work, the work you are reading is known as a secondary source.  Always list the work you read on your reference list. In the text of your paper, cite the original source. (See Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, p. 178)

In-text citation: the original source that was cited in the work you read.

According to Ruppel and Slowik's research (as cited in Wukowitz, 2003)...

Reference list: cite the work you READ which mentions the original study.

Wukowitz, L. (2003). Undergraduate use of research databases: Instruction and assessment. Library Research Quarterly, 4, 523-533.

Personal Communications

Personal communications such as interviews, phone calls, letters, e-mails, and memos are cited in the paper's text but not in the reference list. They are generally considered "non-recoverable data" because another researcher couldn't easily locate the information. (See Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, p.179)

  • Cite the person's initials, surname, and the date of communication; it is not necessary to indicate the type of communication.
  • You may want to verify your professor's preference in this matter

K. K. Ruppel (personal communication, August 7, 2017)...

...in a memo to staff (D. J. Slowik, personal communication, August 7, 2018)

Web Pages

Non-periodical web pages are cited in-text just like you would cite another source, using the author and date method of citation.

Start with the author: In some cases, the author is the organization that created the page.

          (American Psychological Association, 2009)

If you cannot locate the author or organization that authored the page, use the title of the page, in quotation marks.

          In an article about school reform ("No Child Left Behind," 2007)...

Then include the date: always try to find the date the work was written, created, or last updated. Don't use the copyright date of the webpage. 

Paragraph numbers: For direct quotes, include use paragraph numbers (for text pages as website pages are unlikely to have page numbers unless you are citing a document). For example: 

         The “...(APA) is a scientific and professional organization that represents psychology in the United States” (American Psychological Association, 2009, para. 1).

If you are referencing various pages from a website, make sure you include a reference entry for each page you cite so your reader can easily locate that information. If the pages have the same author and year, place a letter next to the year in both the in-text citation and the reference entry (for example, 2009a). For example:

          The “...[APA] is a scientific and professional organization that represents psychology in the United States” (American Psychological Association, 2009a, para. 1).

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