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APA In-Text (Parenthetical) Documentation
In APA style, source material is cited using a system that emphasizes the author and date of publication in its in-text citations. These in-text citations—used when source material is quoted, paraphrased, or summarized—point to full bibliographic citations located in the reference page at the end of the document. Here are general guidelines for in-text citations that cover the use of authors' names, placement of in-text citations, and treatment of nonrecoverable and electronic sources.
Use of Authors' Names
In APA style, only the author's last name is used in the document as a whole and within in-text citations in particular.
If the author's name is mentioned in the text
Most often, an author's last name appears in the text with the date of publication immediately following in parentheses:
Bolles (2000) provides a practical, detailed approach to job hunting.
If the author's name is not mentioned in the text
When the author's name does not appear in the text itself, it appears in the parenthetical citation followed by a comma and the date of publication:
Interactive fiction permits readers to move freely through a text and to participate in its authorship (Bolter, 2001).
Note: If you cite the same source a second time within a paragraph, the year of publication may be omitted.
If there are two authors
When a work has two authors, always cite both names every time the source is cited in the text:
Katzenbach and Smith (1993) define a team as "a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable" (p. 45).
If the authors' names appear in the text itself, connect the names with the word and; however, if the authors' names appear parenthetically, connect the names with an ampersand (&):
A team is defined as "a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable" (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993, p. 45).
If there are three, four, or five authors
When you cite for the first time a work with three, four, or five authors, cite all authors:
Cogdill, Fanderclai, Kilborn, and Williams (2001) argue that "making backchannel overtly available for study would require making its presence and content visible and its content persist, affecting the nature of the backchannel and raising social and ethical issues" (p. 109).
(Again, if the authors' names appear parenthetically rather than in the text itself, connect the final two names with a comma and an ampersand). In all subsequent citations, include only the name of the first author followed by et al. (the abbreviation for the Latin phrase meaning "and others"):
Cogdill et al. (2001) assert that "backchannel is multithreaded, substantial, and governed by many social conventions" (p. 109).
Again, if the authors' names appear parenthetically rather than in the text itself, connect the final two names with a comma and an ampersand.
If there are six or more authors
If a work has six or more authors, cite the last name of the first author followed by et al. in all citations:
Adkins et al. (2001) studied the use of collaborative technology during a multinational, civil-military exercise.
If two authors have the same last name
If a document includes sources by two authors with the same last name, include the first and middle initial of each author in all text citations:
R. P. Allen (1994) and D. N. Allen (1998) have both studied the effects of email monitoring in the workplace.
If two or more sources are cited
When citing two or more sources by different authors within the same citation, place the authors' names in parentheses in alphabetical order, followed by the year of publication and separated by a semicolon:
Hypertext significantly changes the process of information retrieval (Bolter 2001; Bush, 1945; Landow 1997).
If no author is identified
If no author is identified, use an abbreviated title instead, followed by the date. Use quotation marks around article or chapter titles, and underline book, periodical, brochure, and report titles:
The use of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems has grown substantially over the past five years as companies attempt to adapt to customer needs and to improve their profitability ("Making CRM Work").
Placement of Citations for Quoted Material
Specific page numbers for paraphrased or quoted material appear within the parenthetical citation following the abbreviation for page (p.). The location of the parenthetical citation for a quote depends upon the placement of quoted material within the sentence:
- If the quotation appears in midsentence, insert the final quotation mark, followed by the parenthetical citation; then complete the sentence.
Branscomb (1998) argues that "it's a good idea to lurk (i.e., read all the messages without contributing anything) for a few weeks, to ensure that you don't break any of the rules of netiquette" (p. 7) when you join a listserv.
- If the quotation appears at the end of the sentence, insert the final quotation mark, followed by the parenthetical citation and the end punctuation:
Branscomb (1998) argues that when you join a listserv, "it's a good idea to lurk (i.e., read all the messages without contributing anything) for a few weeks, to ensure that you don't break any of the rules of netiquette" (p. 7).
- If the quotation is long (40 words or more), it should be formatted as a block quotation, and the parentheses should appear after the final punctuation mark:
Bolles (2000) argues that the most effective job hunting method is what he calls the creative job hunting approach: figuring out your best skills, and favorite knowledges, and then researching any employer that interests you, before approaching that organization and arranging, through your contacts, to see the person there who has the power to hire you for the position you are interested in. This method, faithfully followed, leads to a job for 86 out of every 100 job-hunters who try it. (57)
Treatment of Nonrecoverable Sources and Recoverable Electronic Sources
Personal communications (letters, interviews, email, and other nonrecoverable sources) are cited in the text of the paper rather than in the reference list at the end. Provide the initials and the last name of the author.When citing an email or letter, provide the date the communication was sent. When citing an interview, provide the date the interview occurred:
R. N. Valesquez (letter to author, November 17, 2000) noted misapplication as the source of poor product results.
B. O'Connor (personal interview, March 3, 2001) indicated that an environmental task force is being established to evaluate the most pressing problems and strategies for addressing them.
Recoverable electronic sources
When citing recoverable electronic sources in text (that is, those sources that have an Internet address), use the author-date method described above. Also, when quoting or paraphrasing source material from an Internet source, include either the paragraph number or "n.p." (for no page) directly following the quote or paraphrase:
Wigand and Benjamin (1995) predict "an evolution from manufacturer-controlled value chains to electronic markets" (n.p.).
This handout was written by Judith for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN, using the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association; it may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.
Updated: 6 March 2004
When using APA format for in-text citations, remember that they follow a basic formula of (author, date, p.), for more specific information see the information below, or refer to the Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition), or visit the Purdue Online Writing Law (OWL) for up to date tips.
Place citations within sentences and paragraphs so that is is clear which material has come from which sources. Use pronouns and transitions to help you indicate whether several sentences contain material from the same source or from different sources:
Symthe (1990) found that positioning influences ventilation. In his quasi-experimental study of 20 ICU patients, he used two methods to... However, his findings did not support the work of Karcher (1987) and Atley (1989) who used much larger samples to demonstrate that...
When using quotations taken directly from the text, place the authors last name, the date of publication, and the page number used within parentheses after the quote:
"Rare and special collections are being digitized, not only for preservation purposes, but as a means of encouraging wider access to those materials." (Falk, 2003, p. 259).
or, if introducing the quote, refer to the year directly after the author's name, and the p. # directly afterward:
According to Falk (2003), "Rare and special collections are being digitized, not only for preservation purposes, but as a means of encouraging wider access to those materials." (p. 259)
Two or more authors
When a work has a single author or two authors, cite their names and the date of publication whenever you refer to their work in the text. (Exception: Within a given paragraph, do not include the date after the initial citation unless you are citing other publications elsewhere in your paper by the same authors), Join two co-authors in the text with the word "and", but within parentheses use an ampersand (&).
If authors have the same surname, always include their initial in each citation.
When citing co-author groups of three to five authors, cite all names and the date in the initial citation, but only the first author followed by et al. and the date in the subsequent citations.
For co-author groups of six or more authors, cite in the text only the surname of the first author followed by et al. and the date. If two or more six-author groups shorten to the same surname, cite the surnames of as many subsequent authors as need to distinguish between references.
If a work has no author, use the first two or three words of the title (omitting a beginning article), and capitalize each word of your shortened version. Place the short title in quotation marks if it is an article or chapter, or underline it if it is a book or periodical. Substitute the short title for the name of the author. An article: ("Learned Helplessness," 1985). The full title appears alphabetically in the references list (without quotation marks) in the author position.
When citing an edited work (a book, a report, a monograph) and that work has no author, the editor(s) assume the author position.
E-books, or references without page numbers
If a work, such as an e-book does not use page numbers, use as much information from the page as possible. For example, use a section and paragraph number:
One of the author’s main points is that “people don’t rise from nothing” (Gladwell, 2008, Chapter 1, Section 2, para. 5).
Alphabetize multiple references within parentheses and separate author groups with a semicolon. You may separate a major reference from others by inserting "see also" before remaining references, which appear alphabetically:
Ex. (Patel, 1990; see also Arndt, 1986; Turgel, 1992).
When selecting one or more authors to represent the work or findings of a large group of authors, inform the reader by including "e.g." within the citation:
Ex. A large number of studies have shown that variations in brain waves are common (e.g., Engle, 1993a; Reuter, 1990, Trautman, 1987).
When an author-date citation appears at the end of a sentence, place the period after the parentheses. When an author-date citation appears mid-sentence, punctuation depends on the context.
Spacing has changed in the new APA guidelines: only one space after periods, excepts for initials within parentheses. For. ex.: (U.S.)
Indicate in the text when you are citing from a secondary source in one of the following ways:
Place both authors in the same citation at the end of the sentence: (Smith, 1976, cited in Carrginton, 1989)
Cite them separately within the same sentence: Smith (1976) fornulated a theory about deviant behavior (cited in Carrington, 1989).
Use appropriate verbs to distinguish between empirical and nonempirical works:
"Zuckerman (1989) compared two groups of..." [empirical] vs. "Basil (1991) wrote extensively about..." [nonempirical].
Also inform the reader about background information: "For a review, see..." or "(see discussion in Ryan, 1990)."
When citing more than one article published by an author in the same year, repeat the year but add a suffix to represent each article (Wilbourn, 1988a, 1988b). Suffixes are assigned according to the alphabetical order of the first major word in each title and also appear in the reference list, where the author's name is repeated for each article.