APA In-Text Citation General Guide

Citing references is an essential part of doing any academic or research papers. This system has two components: the in-text citation and the reference list. In this article, we will focus on in-text citations. In-text citations are meant to guide the readers in locating a specific source, so each one has a counterpart in the reference list except for two kinds of materials which are only cited in-text: classical works and personal communications.

APA in-text citation has a relatively simple format following the author-date system. This format applies to most kinds of references with very few exceptions. Below are the guides and examples that will help you in writing in-text citations. Generally, APA in-text citation is written with the last name of the author and year of publication separated by a comma inside the parentheses. If the name of the author is part of the narrative, only the year is enclosed in parentheses.


Work by One Author

Basic Format: (Last name, Year)


Example:  (Santos, 2003)


Note: Write only the last name without the initials for all in-text citations.


Work by Multiple Authors

Two to Seven Authors

Basic Format: (Last name A & Last name B, Year)

Example: (Moore & Martin, 1994)


Note: Use ampersand (&) instead of “and.” You can include up to five names, but in the subsequent citations just use the first author’s last name followed by et al.

More than Seven Authors

Basic Format: (Last name A et al., Year)

Example: (Wright et al., 2010)


Note: Only include the first author’s last name followed by et al.


Works with No Author

Basic Format:     (Title of the entry, Year)

(Anonymous, Year)

Examples:           (“College Years,” 2006)

(Anonymous, 2002)


Note: Enclose the title of the entry in double quotation marks. Write the full title if short, otherwise include only a few words from the title. If the source identified the author as Anonymous, cite Anonymous in the in-text citation.


Group as Author

Basic Format: (Name of the group, Year)

Example: (National Institute of Health, 1990)

Note: The name of the group may be abbreviated in the subsequent citations.


Authors with the Same Last Name

Basic Format: (Last name, Initials, Year)

Example: (Scott, M. A., 1997)

Note: To identify the specific reference, include the initials of the first author.


More than One Work in the Same Parentheses

Basic Format:     (Last name, Year; Last name, Year)

(Last name, Year (Book A), Year (Book B))


(Hopkins, 2004; Rios, 2012)

(Meyer, 1986, 1992)

(Meyer, 1986a, 1986b)

Note: Arrange works within the same parentheses alphabetically. For works of the same author, arrange by year, but if the references are also published in the same year add small letters (a, b, c, and so forth) as suffixes after the year.


Secondary Sources

Basic Format: (as cited in Last name, Year)

Example: Allport’s diary (as cited in Nicholson, 2003)


Classical Works

Basic Format:     (Last name, trans. Year)

(Last name, Original year of publication/Latest year of publication)

Example:             (Caldwell, trans. 1954)

(Bates, 1900/1943)

Note: If the date of publication is not available, use the year of translation preceded by trans.


Personal Communications

Basic Format: (Last name, personal communication, Date)

Example: (George, personal communication, June 8, 1985)

Note: The in-text citation for personal communications such as private letters, memos, electronic communications, personal interviews, and telephone conversations include the name of the author, personal communication and date.


Specific Part of a Source

Basic Format: (Last name, Year, Page or Paragraph number)



Short Quotations (less than 40 words)

Interpreting these results, Robbins et al. (2003) suggested that the “therapists in dropout cases may have inadvertently validated parental negativity about the adolescent without adequately responding to the adolescent’s needs or concerns” (p. 541), contributing to an overall climate of negativity.


Confusing this issue is the overlapping nature of roles in palliative care, whereby “medical needs are met by those in the medical disciplines; nonmedical needs may be addressed by anyone on the team” (Csikai & Chaitin, 2006, p. 112).


Long Quotations (40 or more words)

Others have contradicted this view:

Co-presence does not ensure intimate interaction among all group members. Consider large-scale social gatherings in which hundreds or thousands of people gather in a location to perform a ritual or celebrate an event.

In these in stances, participants are able to see the visible manifestation of the group, the physical gathering, yet their ability to make direct, intimate connections with those around them is limited by the sheer magnitude of the assembly. (Purcell, 1997, pp. 111-112)


  • When citing direct quotations, include the name of the author, year, and page number or paragraph number inside the parentheses.
  • Place the in-text citation after the quotation marks for short quotations.
  • For long quotations, the in-text citation comes after the end of the paragraph.
  • The page number is preceded by p. for only one page and pp. for two or more pages.

If the name of the author is listed within the narrative, write only the year and page number inside each parentheses. The year appears after the name of the author while the page number is written after the direct quotation.