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APA 7 Style Guide

Everything you need to know to create a paper using APA style.

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.

Rule #1

For each text citation there must be a corresponding citation in the reference list and for each reference list citation there must be a corresponding text citation.

Rule #2 

Each in-text citation will, at a minimum, refer to an author's name or authors' names and the year of publication. If the original source is paginated, you'll also include the page number specific information was pulled from. If there isn't an author, your in-text citation will refer to the first couple words of the article title.

Quick Reference

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

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

Need to Know:

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

Others argue that the moon is actually made up of various rocks (Stark et al., 1947). The SSR researchers Carter et al. (2008) further reveal that these rocks are inedible. Everyone is disappointed by this development (Stark et al., 2009).

Need to Know:

  • Include the name of only the first author plus "et al." in every citation, including the first citation. (APA 8.17)
  • Year of publication
  • Page number (if applicable)

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

Need to Know:

  • First word or two of the article title
  • "Quotes" if it's an article, Italics if it's a book
  • Enough of the title to be unique, but not the entire title

Experts agree that "the moon is comprised of green cheese" (Sousa & 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:

  • 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.
  • When quoting, you always need to include a specific page number (if the source has pages).

Lunar geologist Dr. Carter (1993) reports that the moon is made of cheese (p. 47). However, other scientists provide further evidence that it is made of brie and stilton in particular (Johnson et al., 1974pp. 178-179). 

Need to Know:

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

In-Text Citation Examples

One Author, paraphrased The moon is made of green cheese (Carter, 1942).
One Author, paraphrased, author in text

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

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.

Direct Quote, 2 Authors

Experts agree that "the moon is comprised of green cheese" (Sousa & Thompson, 1951, p. 43).

Use direct quotes sparingly in your paper and only quote the minimum you need to make your point. You should always have your own words framing the quote text, either before it, after it, or both.

No Author

Experts agree that "the moon is comprised of green cheese" ("Moon Analysis," 1961).

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?

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). 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 Works Cited (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.

3 or More Authors

The SSR researchers Carter et al. (1969) further reveal that these rocks are inedible. Carter et al. (1969) provide evidence based on lunar samples. Carter et al. (1969) found that rocks are a disappointing reality.

"... green cheese" (Underwood et al., 2000, p. 134).

If a work you are citing has three or more authors, give only the surname of the first author followed by et al. and the year for all citations.

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. 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.

Reference List Name: National Institute of Mental Health. (1999).

First Text Citation: (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 1999)
Following Text Citations: (NIMH, 1999)

Two Different Authors, One Sentence

Several recent studies indicate that ancient humans believed in the moon's rockiness (Underwood, 2016; Ladrian & 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; Ladrian & Harms, 1974).

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. 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). A more detailed example is given on the Articles page of this guide.

Same Name, Different People

Childrens' fairy tales give us the idea of the moon being of cheese (S. Rogers. 2014) which has persisted through modern imaginings like certain claymation features (B. Rogers, 2012).

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. If they happen to have the same first initials, even, include their full first names:

Childrens' fairy tales give us the idea of the moon being of cheese (Steve Rogers, 2014) which has persisted through modern imaginings like certain claymation features (Shmeve Rogers, 2015).

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...

Electronic Source, no page numbers

She defused the antimatter cannon and closed the wormhole (Rogers, 2014, para. 5). 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).

For electronic documents that do not have page numbers (such as an article written in HTML that appears as one long page on the screen), give the paragraph number to indicate what part of the document you are referring to. Precede the paragraph number with the abbreviation para. Also include section names where appropriate.

Multimedia Sources

The heroes renew their resolve to escape the moon following a tense conversation (Stark, 1948, 2:12).

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