Skip to main content

APA Citation Style 6th Edition: In-Text Citations

Rules of APA Text Citations

Rule #1 of APA Text Citations

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.  Each corresponding citation must have identical spelling and year.  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 #2 of APA Text Citations

Each text citation must include at least two pieces of information:

  • author(s)
  • year of publication

Many times, this information will appear like this (Smith, 2006). However, the same information may appear in other ways.  Read on -


Also, check out this pdf from Muhlenberg College for a quick guide on how to cite authors: when you have 1 author, 2 authors, 3-5, 6-7, 8-89, and specific problems with authors you may run across: APA 6th Edition - Citing Authors.




In-Text Examples

One Work by One Author

Example 1:
In 1999 Johansen reported that many women believe… (no parentheses are needed here, as all
     information is present).
Example 2:
     Johansen (1999) reported that many women believe…
Example 3:
     A report cited that many women believe…(Johansen, 1999).

One Work by Two Authors
Each time a work by two authors is cited, cite both authors.  See examples from One Work by One Author for further information in how to cite.

     Maude and Harold (2002) claim attending funerals can be beneficial.

     In a 2002 study, Maude and Harold concluded that funerals are a necessary part of the grieving process.

One Work by Three, Four, or Five Authors
For the first text citation of a work by three to five authors cite all authors.  For all subsequent citations, include only the surname of the first author followed by et al. If the work is cited more than once within the same paragraph, omit the year after the first citation.

1st Citation:
     Lennon, McCartney, Starr, and Harrison (1969) noted in their research…
2nd Citation (and further citations):
     Lennon et al. (1969) provided evidence that…
2nd Citation in same paragraph: 
     Lennon et al. found that…

One Work by Six or More Authors
If a work you are citing has six or more authors, give only the surname of the first author followed by et al. and the year for the first and subsequent citations. 

Authors with the Same Surname
If you have two works with the first authors having the same surname, include the first author’s initials in all text citations, even if the year of publication differs.  

Corporations, Associations, Government Agencies, and Other Groups as Authors
Names of group authors are always spelled out in the first citation. The name should appear in the first 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)   

Works with No Author
For a work with no author, cite the first few words of the reference list citation and the year.

Article Example:         The findings demonstrate how … (“New Findings,” 2001).
Book Example:            In the book Dating of Beowulf (1981) it is stated that … 

Referring to Specific Parts of a Source
When citing a specific part of a source, include the appropriate information such as:

  • page (abbreviate as p.)
  • pages (abbreviate as pp.)
  • chapter (abbreviate as chap.)
  • figure
  • table
  • paragraph (abbreviate as para.)

When quoting, always include the page number.

Example 1:      Kinsey stated, “We are recorders and reporters of the facts…” (1953, p. 5).
Example 2:      Discussing female sexuality, the author proclaims… (Kinsey, 1953, chap. 9). 

Referring to Specific Parts of a Source – Electronic Documents without Page Numbers
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.

Example 1:      As Friday stated, “They'd rather take their clothes off” (1984, para. 3).
Example 2:      When explaining the idea of jealousy … (Friday, 1984, Introduction section).
Example 3:     In her scandalous 1984 publication, Friday claims that dreams are never taboo (Introduction
                       section, para. 4

Sample APA Paper

Check out a video presentation from for an APA sample paper.