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Citations: APA Style (7th ed.)

How to create a document and cite using the most recent edition of APA.

Rules of APA In-Text Citations

The purpose of the text citation is to briefly give readers the identity of the information you are citing, and allow them to find the information you provide in the reference list that enables readers to locate the exact piece of literature you used.


Every citation on the References page needs to be used at least once in your paper.

Every source documented in your paper should have a References entry.


Each in-text citation will, at a minimum, refer to an author's name or authors' names and the year of publication. (If there isn't an author, your in-text citation will refer to the first couple words of the article title.)

If the original source has page numbers, include the relevant page, too.

Author-Date format:

(Lastname, YYYY, p. #)   e.g., (Smith, 2020, p. 14)

Common Examples

Parenthetical Citations:

The moon is made of green cheese (Carter, 2013, p. 47). The moon is made of green cheese (Carter & Sousa, 2011, p. 47).

Experts agree that "the moon is comprised of green cheese" (Sousa & Thompson, 1974, p. 43).

Narrative Citation:

Lunar geologist Dr. Carter (1942) reports that the moon is made of cheese (p. 47).

If you mention that author's name in your actual sentence, you must contextualize who they are. Putting them in your narrative indicates they're important, so you need to clarify why. Conversely, if the author is not someone significant, don't name them in-text.

Never refer to a professional researcher by their first name alone (Taylor discovered...). They are Smith or Dr. Smith or folklorist Dr. Taylor Smith. Even if you were on a first-name basis with that researcher, you would still apply professional courtesy and refer to their titles and last names.


Need to Know:

  • Author last name(s) with year of publication and page number
  • Join the names with "&"

Parenthetical Citation:

Some say the moon is "green cheese" (Underwood et al., 2000, p. 134). Others argue that the moon is actually made up of various rocks (Stark et al., 1947).  Everyone is disappointed by this development (Stark et al., 2009, p. 198).

Narrative Citation: Can Be Clunky

It's harder to appropriately namedrop a team of people. Sometimes this can work in certain contexts, but it'll probably be easier to stick with parenthetical.

  •  Carter et al. (1969) found that rocks are a disappointing reality.
    • Carter who? This breaks the guidance about introducing people when they've been promoted to the main part of the sentence.


Need to Know:

  • For a work with three (3) or more authors, include the name of only the first author plus "et al." in every citation, including the first citation, unless doing so would create ambiguity.
  • Page number (if available)
  • If use a direct quote,  the page number is required
  • If a source is not paginated, use a method most helpful to readers, such as paragraph number or section/heading name to locate quotation.
Important Note: APA7 has weird rules about italics for online citations, so there are variations possible. Learn more on the Examples: Websites page of this guide.
  In Your Paper References
Digital-only source


Experts agree that "the moon is comprised of green cheese" (Moon Analysis, 2013).


Moon analysis. (2013). Space Cheese Fan Club, http://ch.z/moon.

Print + digital source The yellow cheddar became popular after astronaut Frank Borman orbited the moon ("Maker").

Maker of 'moon cheese' reports heavy demand. (1969, July 18). The New York Times.

Need to Know:

  • First word or two of the article title
  • Unlike the reference entry, Use Title Capitalization in your parenthetical citation for the article title  [APA 8.14]
  • "Quotes" if it's an article (unlike the reference entry), Italics if it's a book
  • Enough of the title to be unique, but not the entire title

Your in-text citations are, essentially, an abbreviation of your full reference that makes it easy for your reader to very quickly find the citation by skimming the left margin. Author names are typically the first part of the citation, but if you have a source with no named author, the article title becomes the first part. This is what you'll put in parentheses in your paper. You don't have to use the full title -- just the first word or two will be sufficient.

Caveat: an unnamed author is one thing, but if you also cannot locate publisher info or a date, chances are you have a bad choice of article to use in your research. If you don't know who's creating the information, how do you know whether you should trust them?

Online Article or Book

She defused the antimatter cannon and closed the wormhole (Rogers, 2014, chap. 15). There is no cheese inside of wormholes (Underwood, 1942, Introduction section).

Rogers emphasizes the character's development by echoing a conversation from earlier in the book (Carter, 2013, para. 10).


What to Include:

  • Give a section or header name, e.g. (Gecht-Silver & Duncombe, 2015, Osteoarthritis section). If the headings are long, you can abbreviate/shorten.
  • Count the paragraphs, e.g. (Chamberlin, 2014, para. 1).
  • Name section and paragraph number, e.g. (De Angelis, 2018, Musical Forays section, para. 4).


Multimedia Sources (Video/Audio)

The heroes renew their resolve to escape the moon following a tense conversation (Stark, 1948,  00:54:30-01:03:00).

If your source has a runtime rather than page numbers, you'll go by the time stamps of particular scenes or quotes.


Experts agree that "the moon is comprised of green cheese" (Sousa and Thompson, 1953, p. 43).

Sousa supports this theory but adds that "the core could be made of white cheddar" as well ("Deeper," 1990, p. 374).

Need to Know:

  • A page number is required for direct quotes. If a source is not paginated, use a method most helpful to readers, such as paragraph number or section/heading name to locate quotation.
  • Direct quotes always need to be framed by your own words before and/or after.
  • Don't change anything inside quotes!
    • If you do change something (for clarity or to fit your own sentence), place the changed word(s) in square brackets. E.g. Sousa adds that "the core could be [cheese]" as well.
  • Keep just what you need -- you have no obligation to keep the author's whole sentence if you don't need it.


Lunar geologist Dr. Carter (1993) reports that the moon is made of cheese (p. 47). Carter's colleague Dr. Slate has further evidence that it is made of brie and stilton in particular (Moon and Crackers, 1974, p. 178, 234).

Need to Know:

  • Not just rewording -- synthesize the info a bit to make it your own while still giving credit to the originator.

Weird Situations

Jump to:


Source Cited Another Source (Indirect/Secondary Citation)

  • A study done by a team of geologists led by Dr. Underwood casts doubts on the moon being made of cheese (Sousa & Carter, 1941, p. 153). According to Dr. Underwood (as cited in Slate, 1963), cheese is an unlikely geological material.

This is what you'll use when you've read an article that mentions another study. You want to use the info that other study mentions, but you can't find a copy of the full original. Instead, you will cite the article you've actually read in your References (which means your in-text citation will be based on that), but you'll name-drop the other study in your paper.

If you're pulling in a quote or specific info that was repeated from somewhere in the article you actually used, indicate this by mentioning that what you're pulling in is secondhand from the source you actually looked at.

  • ... green cheese (Hausinger, 1994, as cited in Romanoff et al., 2017).

Association, Corporation, Government Agency, etc as Author

Names of group authors are always spelled out in the first citation. The name should appear in the first in-text citation as it does in the reference citation.

Reference List Author Name: Don't Abbreviate
  • National Institute of Mental Health. (1999).
First Parenthetical Citation: Full Name AND Abbreviation
  • (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 1999)


However, in following citations, they are sometimes abbreviated and sometimes not. How to decide: You need to give enough information in the text citation for someone to find the reference list citation.

Following Text Citations: Just the Abbreviation
  • (NIMH, 1999)

Two Different Sources, One Sentence

  • Several recent studies indicate that ancient humans believed in the moon's rockiness (Underwood, 2016; Ladrian and Harms, 2017).

In this example, there are no page numbers because we're referring to the overall/main idea of the authors' works rather than specifically citable information. A semicolon ( ; ) separates the authors of the different sources from each other. A further example:

  • Other studies have shown the composition of the moon to include silicon, magnesium, and iron ("What is the moon made of?"; Underwood, 1999, p. 16; Ladrian and Harms, 1974, p. 53-4).

Same Author, 2 Different Works

  • Lunar geologist Dr. Carter remains convinced that the moon is made of cheese (2013, p. 68) and has further evidence that is made of brie and stilton in particular (2011, p. 174).

Because APA Style includes the year of publication, the two articles will be clearly distinguishable from one another, provided they were published in different years.

  • Some remain convinced that the moon is made of cheese (Carter, 2011a) and further evidence suggests that is made of brie and stilton in particular (Carter, 2011b, p. 174).

If the articles are by the same person and were published in the same year, add letters after each year to make the difference clear, both in your References page and your in-text citations, e.g. (Carter, 2011a, p. 5) and (Carter, 2011b, p. 10).

Same Name, Different People

Same Last Name, Different First Name:
  • Childrens' fairy tales give us the idea of the moon being of cheese (S. Rogers. 2014, p. 37) which has persisted through modern imaginings like certain claymation features (B. Rogers, 2012, p. 52).

If two different authors have the same last name, you need to include their first initials to keep them distinct from each other, even if the years of publication are different.


Same Last Name, Same First Initial:
  • Childrens' fairy tales give us the idea of the moon being of cheese (Steve Rogers, 2014, p. 37) which has persisted through modern imaginings like certain claymation features (Shmeve Rogers, 2015, p. 52).

On your references page, you may include their full first name in brackets in your citation:

Rogers, S. [Shmeve]. (2015). This is an article title stand-in...

Rogers, S. [Steve]. (1942). This is another article title stand-in...

Same Authors, Titles, AND Dates

Add letters after each year to make the difference clear.

  • Some remain convinced that the moon is made of cheese (Carter, 2011a) and further evidence suggests that is made of brie and stilton in particular (Carter, 2011b, p. 174).

Which letter goes to which source depends on the order they're listed on the References page (alphabetically). Include the letter in the References entry as well as the parenthetical.

No date? Place a hyphen between the "n.d." and the assigned letter.

  • Green cheese (Fisher, n.d.-a).


In-Text Citations for Non-Paper Works

Though written essays are kind of the default format -- or at least, incredibly common -- you do still need to worry about citations when creating presentations, movies, infographics, or other types of works! The only thing that doesn't apply is all the 'Times New Roman size 12 double-space' formatting rules.

You do also have more flexibility in how and where you include citations, too!


You can use traditional parenthetical citations, especially if you've used multiple sources on one slide.

Traditional in-text parenthetical citation

You can also go less formal [unless your professor has said otherwise!] by tucking the citation into the corner of the slide (Greene). You even have the flexibility to include extra info that MLA wouldn't normally allow but can help contextualize the source (Green, NPR Morning Edition).

Traditional citation but in corner of slide Less traditional, more contextual attribution

You must also include a Works Cited slide! We could create hanging indents, but it's not strictly necessary. A bulleted list might also work in this situation.

Sample works cited slide


Annotation added to movie with citationYou can add a formal parenthetical citation at the appropriate times in your video in some corner of the video.

Recommendation: wherever you place it, keep it consistent! E.g. if the first one is the bottom-left corner, make all the citations in the bottom-left corner. This helps your reader know where to look as well as to know what that pop-up means each time it appears.

There's no rules about size/font/format! Just pay attention to how it contrasts to your video's background.