APA Citation Quick Guide
APA Style is one of the most popular citation styles.
This quick guide will help you become more familiar with APA Style’s citation guidelines. You can also check our full APA Style guide.
When you refer to a source in your work, include an in-text citation. This means citing the authors’ last names and the publication year directly in the sentence where you use the information.
After the main body of your work, include a reference list (also called a bibliography). In the reference list, cite all your references in full. This will help your readers retrieve the sources you use in your work.
An in-text citation is a concise way to show the reader where the original idea came from and to give credit to the original author.
According to APA’s citation guidelines, you should write down the last name of the authors and the year of publication. This can be done in multiple ways:
- An earlier study in which X and Y were compared revealed that … (Smith, 1988).
- Smith (1984) shows how, in the past, research into X was mainly concerned with …
- In 1984, research was carried out by Smith that indicated that …
When there are two authors, separate their last names with an ampersand.
When there are three or more authors, separate their last names using commas. The last two authors’ last names should be separated by both a comma and an ampersand (in a citation) or “and” (in the running text).
- Research shows that there is a great need for … (Reynolds & Thomas, 2014).
- Reynolds and Thomas (2014) write that there is a great need for …
- Recent research suggests that there is … (McGuire, Morrison, Reynolds, & Thomas, 2014).
- McGuire, Morrison, Reynolds, and Thomas (2014) argue that …
As you can imagine, citing a source with 3–5 authors takes up a lot of space in the text.
That is why you shorten the citation when you use the source a second, third or fourth time.
How? Instead of writing down all authors’ last names, write only the last name of the first author, followed by “et al.,” which means “and others.”
- In this research, many participants made use of … (McGuire et al., 2014).
- McGuire et al. (2014) noticed that …
6 or more authors
When your source has six or more authors, simply use the last name of the first author followed by “et al.” in your in-text citation:
- Lunott et al. (2015) see the …
Organization as author
When the source is published by an organization instead of a person, cite the organization’s name as the author.
- According to new research … (Microsoft, 2014).
When you copy an excerpt of a text from another source and place it between quotation marks, you are quoting. When you quote, you are required to add the page number to the in-text citation.
- This is also true from the business plan: “making an APA Generator is a lot of work, but many students benefit from it” (Swan, 2014, p. 5).
Multiple sources in one citation
Sometimes, it’s necessary to cite multiple sources in one sentence. You can do this by citing multiples sources and separating them using semicolons.
- Various studies show that … (Docker & Vagrant, 2002; Porter, 1997; Lima, Swan, & Corrieri, 2012).
Reference list or bibliography
Every source that is cited in the text also has to be cited in full in your reference list.
The format differs depending on the source type (e.g. a website, journal, book, etc.), but every reference starts the same:
LastnameAuthor1, InitialsAuthor1, & LastnameAuthor2, InitialsAuthor2. (PublicationYear/Date). Title.
- In reference list:
Beswick, G., & Rothblum, E. D. (1988). Psychological antecedents of student procrastination.
Note: Book titles should be italicized.
AuthorLastName, FirstInitial. (Year). TitleBook (edition). City, State/Country: Publisher.
- In reference list:
Porter, M.E. (1998). Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors (3th ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.
Journal article citations
Note: The journal title and volume number should be italicized.
AuthorLastName, FirstInitial., & Author LastName, FirstInitial. (Year). TitleArticle. TitleJournal, Volume(Issue), Page Number(s). https://doi.org/DoiNumber
- In reference list:
Andreff, W., & Staudohar, P. D. (2000). The evolving European model of professional sports finance. Journal of Sports Economics, 1(3), 257–276. https://doi.org./10.1177/152700250000100304
Nothing should be italicized.
AuthorLastName, FirstInitial. (Year, Month Day). TitleArticle [OptionalType]. Retrieved from http://WebAddress
- In reference list:
Worland, J. (2015, July 27). U.S. flood risk could be worse than we thought. Retrieved from http://time.com/3973256/flooding-risk-coastal-cities/
Note: The title should be italicized.
NameOrganization or AuthorLastName, FirstInitial. (YearofPublication). Title Report. Retrieved from http://WebAddress
- In reference list:
Royal Bank of Scotland. (2015). Annual Report and Accounts 2014. Retrieved from http://investors.rbs.com/~/media/Files/R/RBS-IR/2014-reports/annual-report-2014.pdf
More APA Style examples
Do you want to cite a photo, interview, press release or another source type that is not on this list? We have many more APA Style examples to help you cite correctly.
Sorting the reference list
Sort the references in alphabetical order based on the author’s last names of that reference. If multiple sources are written by the same author(s), then sort them by publication year.
When you use the APA Citation Generator, your list is sorted automatically.
Plagiarism means copying someone else’s work, without giving that author credit. This is not only unfair for the original author, but also considered cheating and can have direct consequences for you. So, always try to avoid plagiarism!
Tips for avoiding plagiarism:
- Save your sources. This way, you can keep track of them. You don’t necessarily have to have the citation perfectly formatted from the beginning.
- When you quote or paraphrase text, temporarily highlight it to remind yourself that you need to add the correct citations.
Check whether you’ve cited all your sources correctly, both in the text and in the reference list.
- Quote, paraphrase and summarize other’s work correctly.
- Run a plagiarism checker.
APA Generator FAQ
- Where do I put citations in my text?
If you use several sources, you should refer to them frequently in your text. The basic rule is that it is better to refer to sources too much than too little.
Readers of your thesis should know at a glance if the information you are presenting is taken from a source.
- What do I do if information is missing?
You may find that you don’t have all of the information normally required for a citation, particularly if you are using internet sources. If this happens, just skip those fields in the APA Generator. The citation will be generated for you in the correct manner.
- What do I do with a source within a source (indirect reference)?
If you want to refer to a source that is included in another source, we recommend that you try to track down the original source. If you find it, you can then just cite it following the normal APA rules.
If you cannot find that original source, you should cite it through the source that mentioned it. This is called making an indirect reference or citing a secondary source.
Within your text, you then need to mention both authors.
Example: Driessen (in Swaen, 2014) uses three methods.
If one author has quoted another author, you need to add “as cited.”
Example: Driessen (in Swaen, 2014) describes three methods.
- What do I do with an intranet source?
We recommend treating intranet sources as normal internet sources in your thesis.
Include a brief citation in the text and list the source in your reference list as well. You should also add a footnote that indicates that the source is not available publicly.
For more a complete answer, check out our full article on intranet sources.
- Can I translate a quote from a source?
If you want to use a translation of a quote, the APA Style says that you should treat it as paraphrased text – not a quote.
In this case, follow the regular rules for paraphrasing and don’t use quotation marks. In your reference list, write the original title followed by the translated title in square brackets: [x].
- I have another question about the APA Generator…
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