What are in-text citations?
In text citations are references to other sources that are quoted or referenced in your work. These should be placed directly within the text to ensure that readers can acknowledge that quotes or ideas have been borrowed from others, without having to flip through to the reference list.
In-text citations are very brief to avoid disrupting the flow of the paragraph in which they appear. They provide the information needed to identify the ‘full’ reference in the reference list or bibliography at the end of your paper. The full reference gives the reader the information they need to find the original source you cited.
How to use in-text citations in APA Style
Unlike the Harvard Referencing style, in text citations in the APA format appear directly before the quote or idea that has been paraphrased. They inform the reader of the name of the author and of the year of publication.
Students may also choose to include a page number or page range where applicable, to direct readers to a specific extract. The page number is placed between brackets and located directly after the extract.
In-text citations for a single author should appear as follows:
- Horowitz (1972) wrote… (p.29)
- Junder (2011) argued… (p.17)
- Brendo (2002) stated… (p.4)
If the author’s name is not included in the text it must be included in parentheses after the quotation or extract, as follows:
(Author, Date, Page(s))
- (Bradford, 1976, p.23)
- (Felsenstein, 1985, pp. 7-9)
- (Duncan, 1955, pp. 14-15)
It is important to note that “p.” is used for a single page and “pp.” followed by a range of pages (pp. 83-89) is used to cite multiple pages.
In-text citations for two or three authors
In-text citations with two or three authors are very similar to single author citations. They appear in parentheses directly after a quote or paraphrased idea and notify the reader of the original authors and of the year of publication.
You should cite all of the authors followed by the year of publication:
Author 1, Author 2 & Author 3 (Date)
- Sanger, Nicklen & Couslon (1977) suggested… (p.54)
- Chomczynski & Sacchi (1985) made the case… (p.71)
- Bland & Altman (1986) wrote… (p. 36)
Again, if the authors’ names are not cited directly in the text, they must be included in parentheses after the quotation or extract, as follows:
(Author 1, Author 2 & Author 3, Date, Page(s))
- (Sanger, Nicklen & Couslon, 1977, p.54)
- (Chomczynski & Sacchi, 1985, p.71)
- (Bland & Altman, 1986, p.36)
In-text citations for four or more authors
Academic research can take years to accomplish and teams may be composed of dozens of researchers, all having contributed directly to the end product.
Thankfully, you don’t need to cite every single contributor.
When referring to a source with multiple authors, you can use the Latin term “et alia” which means “and others” and is abbreviated to “et al.” Keep in mind that the “al” in “et al.” is always followed by a full stop:
Author 1 et al. (Date)
- Lowry et al. (1951)… (p. 112)
- Saiki et al. (1988)…. (p.88)
- Altschul et al. (1997)… (p.31)
Similar to in-text citations with from a single or fewer than three authors, if the authors’ names are not cited directly in the text, they must be included in parentheses after the quotation or extract, as follows:
(Author 1 et al., Date, Page(s))
- (Lowry et al., 1951, p.112)
- (Saiki et al., 1988, p.88)
- (Altschul et al., 1997, p.31)
The APA style book states the period is followed by a comma.
In-text citations for corporate authors
It is also important to respect the APA referencing format when referencing a piece published by a corporate author or organization.
You must replace an unspecified individual author with a corporate name, both within the text and within the reference list at the end of your piece.
This rule applies to companies, organizations, societies and government departments:
Corporate Name (Date)
- Perlego (2020) claimed…
- The BBC (2012) argued…
- The OECD (2019) made the case for…
Keep in mind, if the organization is not cited directly in the text, it must be included in parentheses after the quotation or extract, as follows:
(Corporate Name, Date)
- (Perlego, 2020)
- (BBC, 2012)
- (OECD, 2019)
In-text citations without a date
Students should do their upmost to gather a much information as is possible about their sources to acknowledge other people’s work and demonstrate the breadth and of their research. Based on the documentation they are working with, this can sometimes prove difficult. Some sources, such as website and archival documents, do not have clear timestamps. If a source doesn’t have a clear publication date, the APA citation style says that students can omit the date in the in-text citation.
Students should nevertheless attempt to provide all the information they have within the text, to contextualize their sources and to allow their readers to fully understand and even find their source material for themselves.
- (Nature Limited)
- (The Brentford English Dictionary)
- (Pear Inc.)