In-Text Citation


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In-Text Citation in APA Style

Jump to in-text citations for entire web sites and and email.  

In-text citation has two components:

  • A signal phrase that lets the reader know the source of the information.  Often, the signal phrase is an excellent way of making a transition from one part of your writing to the next.  It is a phrase of the general form "<author> wrote..."  It is also a good idea to describe the author's credentials in the signal phrase.  
  • Parenthetical citation that directs the reader to the exact entry of the Works Cited list from which your information was obtained. 

Every time you "borrow" information in your writing, you need to use some sort of in-text citation.  Usually, that will consist of both a signal phrase and parenthetical citation, but, depending on the amount of information presented in each, one or the other many not be necessary.  

The APA recommends an author-date system of in-text citation.  That means that either the signal phrase and parenthetical citation must contain information about the author and the date.  It could happen that both appear in parentheses, both appear in the signal phrase, or the author is in the text and the year is in parentheses.

You can cite specific parts of the text, such as chapters or pages. If you cite a quote, you MUST also include the page number(s) on which the quote appears.  

Please note that in-text citations give credit to more than just quotes.  If you refer to any information that is not your own personal knowledge or thought, you should cite it.  On a similar note, when you include a quote in writing, give a good transition from the text before it to keep your essay flowing well. 

Parenthetical Citation Structure

You may be familiar with a standard style of parenthetical citation including the author's last name and a page number.  However, a parenthetical citation could require only a page number if the author's name is mentioned in the previous sentence (in the signal phrase).  The table that follows given all the potential components of a parenthetical citation.  

The entire citation is placed within parentheses and is written at the sentence being cited.  Each section of the citation is separated by a comma.  

Also, "author" could be substituted with any other individual whose name is reversed and leads off the the References list entry, such as an editor or translator.

If the signal phrase includes the author's name, it may be omitted from the parenthetical citation.  Likewise, if the signal phrase includes the publication date, it may be omitted from the parenthetical citation.  

The potential components of a parenthetical citation, listed in the proper order:  


Formatting Details and Usage

Author(s) or Title
  • Give the last name of the author.   

  • If your References list has two or more authors with the same last name, include the first and middle initials, followed by the last name, of any authors with shared surnames.  Ex: "A. B. Lastname."

  • If the source has more than one author,

    • For two authors, include both last names here, separated by an ampersand (&).  (Use the word "and" in the signal phrase.)

    • For three to five authors...

      • ... and for the first citation, include all the last names here.  Follow the first and second with commas and precede the last with an ampersand (&).  

      • ... and for the second citation, give only the first author's last name, followed by "et al."

    • For six or more authors, include only the first author's last name, followed by "et al."

      • If there are several common authors, list as many as are needed to differentiate between works, followed by "et al."

  • If the author is corporate or institutional, include the name of the corporation or institution.  

    • If the corporation is commonly known by its abbreviation, provided the abbreviation in brackets ( [ ] ) following the name.  Then, in subsequent citations, you may use only the abbreviation.  [Example]

  • If there is no author, you must include the title in the citation instead.  

    • Capitalize the title as you would a periodical title.

    • For an article or chapter, enclose the title within double quotation marks.

    • For a book or periodical title, underline or italicize the title.   

  Comma (,)
  • Give the four-digit year of publication.
  • If the work is a translation, precede the date with "trans."  Ex: (Author, trans. 2000).
  • If the work is reprinted, give both publication dates in chronological order, separated by a slash (/).  Ex: (Author, 1989/2000).
  Comma (,)
Specific Parts of the Work (Pages)
  • If you are citing the entire source, omit the page number(s).
  • In most cases, include the page number(s) being cited, using digits.  
  • Precede page numbers with "p." for a single page or "pp." for multiple pages.  
  • If you are citing information from more than one page, separate consecutive page numbers with a hyphen.  Do not precede or follow the hyphen with any spaces.  
  • If you are citing a literary work that is divided into chapters (such as a novel), write "chap." followed by the chapter number (using digits) to cite a specific chapter instead of a page.  
  • If you are citing a web source that does not have fixed page numbers,  
    • If there are paragraph numbers available, write "para." followed by the paragraph number.
    • If there aren't paragraph numbers or page numbers available but there are headings, give the name of the heading in plain text, followed by a comma. Then write "para." and the number of the paragraph relative to the heading. 
  Closing parenthesis

If you wish to cite a letter, interview, email, etc., cite it as a "personal communication."  The structure is shown below in the parenthetical citation for email.

If you wish to include multiple different citations within one set of parentheses, separate them with a semicolon (;).  However, doing so is not recommended, because it could confuse your reader.   

(American Psychological Association [APA], 168-174)

Citing Electronic Information In-Text

The APA's document "Electronic References Formats Recommended by the American Psychological Association" provides the most up-to-date information on citing information obtained on the Internet.  All the the information presented here is taken from that document.  

Citing Email

Email is cited in text as "personal communication."  To cite personal communication in-text, you must include the person with whom you communicated and the date of the communication.  The parenthetical citation takes the following format, with an example given:

( Speaker's Initials and Last Name ,




( L. A. Chafez , personal communication , March 28, 1997 )

If you mention the author's name in the text preceding the parenthetical citation, you can omit it from the parenthetical citation.  

You do not need to include email in the Reference list, since email is not recoverable by the average person reading your essay.

Citing an Entire Web Site

To site an entire web site in-text, you only need to give the URL in parentheses.

( URL )
( )

You do not need to make a Reference list entry for an entire web site.

Citing an Specific Document from the Internet In-Text

Cite Internet documents as you would an article, using the author date system described above.  Only give page numbers if they are fixed.  For electronic sources that do not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number. This number should be preceeded by the paragraph symbol or the abrievation para. The following citation examples are from

( Author's Last Name ,

Publication Date



( Myers , 2000 , para. 5 )

If neither page numbers nor paragraph numbers are given, cite the heading and the number of the paragraph following it.

( Author's Last Name ,

Publication Date



( Myers , 2000 , Conclusion section , para. 1 )


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Created: 06/27/2000
Last Modified: 09/25/2002