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APA Style 6th Edition: Citing Your Sources

Provide guidance on the APA format style based on the 6th edition of the APA Publication Manual.

Purpose and Overview of In-text Citations

APA follows an author and date of publication model for citing sources in your research paper and are presented as either narrative or parenthetical citations.  The formatting does not vary due to format type, however it may deviate from the norm due to factors such as: number of authors, organization instead of individual author, lack of author, or lack of date.  By providing the standard author and date within your paper, the reader will be able to link the information presented easily to the full citation provided in the reference list.

View examples and explanations on this page or visit the In Text Quick View for more examples.

Help! No page numbers!

According to the APA Publication Manual, "Many electronic sources do not provide page numbers" (unless they are PDF reproductions of printed material).  Therefore, "If paragraph numbers are visible, use them in place of page numbers. Use the abbreviation para."


Dudley (2009) believes that the best remedy for homework blues is a strong green tea (para. 5).

One work, One author

Author named in text:

Social historian Richard Sennett (1980) names the tendency to come to terms with difficult experiences a "purification process" whereby "threatening or painful dissonances are warded off to preserve intact a clear and articulated image of oneself and one's place in the world" (p. 11).

Author named in parentheses:

The tendency to come to terms with difficult experiences is referred to as a "purification process" whereby "threatening or painful dissonances are warded off to preserve intact a clear and articulated image of oneself and one's place in the world" (Sennett, 1980, p. 11).

These examples © Duke University Libraries

More than one way to cite:

Flynn (1999) stated in her treatise
In a recent treatise on services (Flynn, 1999)
In a 1999 treatise, Flynn stated

Subsequent references to same study in same paragraph:

In her treatise on services, Flynn (1999) stated her evaluative methods…Flynn also described

Two or More Authors

One work, multiple authors

When a work has two authors, always cite both authors' names in your text:

        Significant findings in a study of Los Angeles (McCroskey & O'Keefe, 2000)

When a work has three, four or five authors, cite all authors the first time:

        (Nishimoto, Salcido, Aranda, & Land, 1998)

In subsequent citations, include the last name of the first author, followed by et al. (not italicized), and the year.

        (Nishimoto et al., 1998)

For narrative citations, use the word "and" to separate authors, for parenthetical citations, use an ampersand:

         McCroskey and O'Keefe (2000) studied Los Angeles...
         (McCroskey & O'Keefe, 2000)

Group Authors, Etcetera

Groups as authors

First text citation: (National Association of Social Workers [NASW], 1987)

Subsequent text citation: (NASW, 1987)

Works with no authors

Cite the work in your text using the first few words of the reference list entry (usually the title). Put double quotation marks around the title of an article or chapter, and italicize the title of a periodical, book, brochure or report:

The policy stated in the article (“Services for Disabled Children,” 1992)

The policy stated in the book Access to Services for Children (1995)

Specific parts of a source

Indicate the page, chapter, figure, table, or equation at the appropriate point in your text. Give page numbers for quotations, and use the abbreviations for the words page and chapter:

(Aranda & Knight, 1997, p. 344)

(Ell & Castaneda, 1998, chap. 5)

Personal communications

This format applies to emails, messages from nonarchived discussion groups, electronic bulletin boards, personal interviews, telephone conversations, etc. Do not list personal communications in your reference list as they are not recoverable by your reader. In your text, provide initials and surname of communicator and as exact a date as possible.

(M. Flynn, personal communication, September 20, 1999)

Multiple Works by the Same Author(s) in the Same Year

Sometimes you'll have multiple works by the same author in the same year. For instance, you may reference a number of tax documents from the same year, which would all be cited with (Internal Revenue Service, 2012).  So how do you differentiate?

In those instances, differentiate sources with a letter after the year. From the example above, the 990 form might be (Internal Revenue Service, 2012a) and the 1040 form would be (Internal Revenue Service, 2012b).  Just make sure the letters stay consistent in your reference list!

Citing Indirect Sources

Sometimes, you will use a source that you didn't yourself read.  In those cases, the original source came from a secondary source you did read.  From Purdue OWL:

If you use a source that was cited in another source, name the original source in your signal phrase. List the secondary source in your reference list and include the secondary source in the parentheses.

Johnson argued that...(as cited in Smith, 2003, p. 102).
In this example, Smith appears in your reference list and Johnson does not.