Direct quotes in APA Style

A direct quote is a piece of text copied word-for-word from a source. You may quote a word, phrase, sentence, or entire passage.

There are three main rules for quoting in APA Style:

Example: APA direct quote
According to a recent paper, “quotes can be useful in academic writing” (Singh et al., 2019, p. 25).

Citing a direct quote

To cite a quote in APA, you always include the the author’s last name, the year the source was published, and the page on which the quote can be found. The page number is preceded by “p.” (for a single page) or “pp.” (for a page range).

There are two types of APA in-text citation: parenthetical and narrative.

In a parenthetical citation, you place the entire citation in parentheses directly after the quote and before the period (or other punctuation mark).

Example: APA parenthetical citation
A recent study of student plagiarism found that “plagiarism is often a matter of confusion rather than deception” (Horváth & Kovács, 2020, p. 4).

In a narrative citation, the author(s) appear as part of your sentence. Place the year in parentheses directly after the author’s name, and place the page number in parentheses directly after the quote.

Example: APA narrative citation
Horváth and Kovács (2020) argue that “plagiarism is often a matter of confusion rather than deception” (p. 4).

Remember that every in-text citation must correspond to a full APA reference at the end of the text. You can easily create your reference list with our free APA Citation Generator.

Generate APA references

Quoting a source with no page numbers

Some source types, such as web pages, do not have page numbers. In this case, to cite a direct quote, you should generally include an alternative locator, unless the source is very short.

The locator may be a chapter or section heading (abbreviated if necessary), a paragraph number, or a combination of the two. Use whichever locator will help your reader find the quote most easily.

For sources such as movies, YouTube videos, or audiobooks, use a timestamp to locate the beginning of the quote.

Example: Citing a section heading
While quotation is a useful tool, it should not be overused: “Relying too heavily on quotes often makes a paper less original” (Oliveira, 2018, Originality section).
Example: Citing a paragraph number
While quotation is a useful tool, it should not be overused: “Relying too heavily on quotes often makes a paper less original” (Oliveira, 2018, para. 5).
Example: Citing a heading and paragraph
While quotation is a useful tool, it should not be overused: “Relying too heavily on quotes often makes a paper less original” (Oliveira, 2018, Originality section, para. 5).
Example: Citing a timestamp
While quotation is a useful tool, it should not be overused: “Relying too heavily on quotes often makes a paper less original” (Oliveira, 2018, 01:23).

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Quoting 40 words or more (APA block quotes)

If the quote contains 40 words or more, it must be formatted as a block quote. To format a block quote in APA Style:

  • Do not use quotation marks.
  • Start the quote on a new line.
  • Indent the entire quote 0.5 inches.
  • Double-space the entire quote.

Like regular quotes, block quotes can be cited with a parenthetical or narrative citation. However, if the block quote ends with a period, place the citation after the period.

Example: Block quote with parenthetical citation
Sometimes it is necessary to quote a source at length:

Block quoting is particularly useful when you want to comment on an author’s language or present an argument that you will then critique. By setting the quote on a new line and indenting it, the passage is clearly marked apart from your own words. Therefore, no quotation marks are necessary. (O’Connor, 2019, p. 38)

Example: Block quote with narrative citation
O’Connor (2019) explains the purpose and format of block quotes:

Block quoting is particularly useful when you want to comment on an author’s language or present an argument that you will then critique. By setting the quote on a new line and indenting it, the passage is clearly marked apart from your own words. Therefore, no quotation marks are necessary. (p. 38)

Block quotes with multiple paragraphs

If the block quote contains multiple paragraphs, indent the first line of each paragraph after the first.

Example: Block quote with multiple paragraphs
Sometimes it is necessary to quote a source at length:

Block quoting is particularly useful when you want to comment on an author’s language or present an argument that you will then critique. By setting the quote on a new line and indenting it, the passage is clearly marked apart from your own words. Therefore, no quotation marks are necessary.

However, it is important not to rely on long quotes to make your point for you. Each quote must be introduced and explained or discussed in your own words. (O’Connor, 2019, p. 38)

Making changes to direct quotes in APA

In general, a direct quote should be an exact reproduction of the original. However, there are some situations where you may need to make small changes.

You may change the capitalization of the first word or the final punctuation mark in order to integrate the quote grammatically into your sentence, as long as the meaning is not altered.

Any other changes must be marked following these APA guidelines.

Shortening a quote

If you want to omit some words, phrases, or sentences from the quote to save space, use an ellipsis (. . .) with a space before and after it to indicate that some material has been left out.

If the part you removed includes a sentence break, add a period before the ellipsis to indicate this.

Example: Quote shortened with ellipsis
According to O’Connor (2019), “block quoting is particularly useful when you want to . . . present an argument that you will then critique” (p. 38).
Example: Quote shortened with ellipsis and period
According to O’Connor (2019), “block quoting is particularly useful when you want to comment on language or present an argument that you will then critique. . . . However, it is important not to rely on long quotes to make your point for you” (p. 38).

Clarifying a quote

Sometimes you might want to add a word or phrase for context. For example, if a pronoun is used in the quote, you may add a name to clarify who or what is being referred to.

Any added text should be enclosed in square brackets to show that it is not part of the original.

Example: Adding text to a quote
In the view of Anderson (2017), “the results [of the election] reflected global patterns” (p. 17).

Adding emphasis to quotes

If you want to emphasize a word or phrase in a quote, italicize it and include the words “emphasis added” in square brackets.

Example: Italicizing for emphasis
In the view of Anderson (2017), “the results reflected global patterns [emphasis added]” (p. 17).

Errors in quotes

If the quote contains a spelling or grammatical error, indicate it with the Latin word “sic”, italicized and in square brackets, directly after the error.

Example: Indicating an error
In the view of Anderson (2017), “the results reflected global paterns [sic]” (p. 17).

Frequently asked questions about APA Style

How do I quote in APA format?

To include a direct quote in APA, follow these rules:

How do I cite in APA format?

APA citations consist of an in-text citation and reference entry. Each source type has its own format; for example, a webpage citation is different from a book citation.

Use Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator to generate flawless citations in seconds or take a look at our APA citation examples.

How do I cite a source with no page numbers in APA Style?

When you quote or paraphrase a specific passage from a source, you need to indicate the location of the passage in your in-text citation. If there are no page numbers (e.g. when citing a website) but the text is long, you can instead use section headings, paragraph numbers, or a combination of the two:

(Caulfield, 2019, Linking section, para. 1).

Section headings can be shortened if necessary. Kindle location numbers should not be used in ebook citations, as they are unreliable.

If you are referring to the source as a whole, it’s not necessary to include a page number or other marker.

When should I use “et al.” in APA in-text citations?

The abbreviation “et al.” (meaning “and others”) is used to shorten in-text citations with three or more authors. Here’s how it works:

Only include the first author’s last name, followed by “et al.”, a comma and the year of publication, for example (Taylor et al., 2018).

How do I cite an indirect source in APA Style? (“as cited in”)

In an APA in-text citation, you use the phrase “as cited in” if you want to cite a source indirectly (i.e., if you cannot find the original source).

Parenthetical citation: (Brown, 1829, as cited in Mahone, 2018)
Narrative citation: Brown (1829, as cited in Mahone, 2018) states that…

On the reference page, you only include the secondary source (Mahone, 2018).

When should I use quotes?

In academic writing, there are three main situations where quoting is the best choice:

Don’t overuse quotes; your own voice should be dominant. If you just want to provide information from a source, it’s usually better to paraphrase or summarize.

Is this article helpful?
Shona McCombes

Shona has a bachelor's and two master's degrees, so she's an expert at writing a great thesis. She has also worked as an editor and teacher, working with students at all different levels to improve their academic writing.

16 comments

L
July 28, 2021 at 11:58 PM

If I am quoting an article, but that article has used another works quote; do I cite the article I am reading or the article that the author has quoted?

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
August 2, 2021 at 2:35 PM

Usually, it's best to try to find the original article and cite that directly. But if you're unable to access that article, you can use the phrase "as cited in" to cite it indirectly, as explained here.

Reply

S
May 28, 2021 at 1:00 PM

Hi,

I do still have some questions regarding direct quotation:

1 ) How do I quote when I want to add line breaks inside the quote, so the quote writes in one line while I want to separate the quote into two lines?

2 ) Conversely, how do I quote when there is a line break within a word in the original text? Do I have to take over the hyphenation then? So is it "quotation" or "quo-tation" then?

3) Some authors offer a free version of their paper which differs in the page numbers. I would like to have the journal in my reference entry to show that I used high quality papers but it looks confusing when the paper range is e.g. from page 14-30 and I directly cite page 2. What should I do in such a case (e.g. use different locators than the page number)?

Thanks a lot :)

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
May 31, 2021 at 4:11 PM

Hi,

To address your questions:

1) I'm not really clear on what you mean by this. If you just mean that the quote runs over onto a second line in your text, that's fine; you don't have to do anything special with the quote in that case. Otherwise, I'm not sure why you would need to manually split the quote into two lines. Maybe you can clarify what you mean here?

2) When there's a hyphenated line break in the original text, you should not replicate it; write "quotation," not "quo-tation."

3) It's usually best to cite the version of a paper you used to avoid problems like this. I would advise not worrying about including the journal information if this isn't the version you used; if you feel it's essential, you could perhaps add it in parentheses at the end of your citation, e.g. "(Also published in . . .)" But this is not standard, and generally the guidelines are to cite the version of a paper you actually used. Alternatively, you could try to gain access to the journal version through your institution (e.g. through the library database), if possible, and then cite that version, with the correct page numbers.

Reply

S
May 31, 2021 at 5:32 PM

Hi Jack,

thank you for your answer.

Regarding 1): In the original, the enumeration is without line breaks, e.g. "1) apple, 2) banana" and I want to cite it with line breaks, e.g.:
"1) apple,
2) banana"

Also another question, that came to my mind: If the original has highlighting, e.g. bold or italic, how do I indicate that I have not adopted this in the direct quote?

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
June 7, 2021 at 5:31 PM

I would usually suggest just citing the quote with its original formatting (i.e. without adding the line break); APA doesn't provide any guidance for making this sort of change to a quotation. But if you feel it's essential to do so, the best option may be to indicate the change in square brackets at the end, e.g.:

"1) apple,
2) banana [formatting adjusted from original]"

Regarding bold or italic from the original, you can indicate that you haven't added this yourself by clarifying in square brackets, e.g. "this was the only effective method [italics in original]" (p. 15).

Reply

Nicholas
April 22, 2021 at 7:09 PM

What about quotes from participants participating in the study (interviewees)? Should these participant quotes be in italics? Thanks
(kindly email me back with your reply please)

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
April 27, 2021 at 2:42 PM

Hi Nicholas,

No, quotations should never be in italics. They are marked as quotations by the use of quotation marks (or in the case of a block quote, by being indented). Italics are not needed, regardless of where you're quoting from.

Reply

Tierra
April 8, 2021 at 1:40 AM

Reading journal articles for class, I find that the quote is not by the author of the article when using quotes from the reading. It is from someone else that the author researched. When citing, should the author of the article be cited in the reading or the original person?

For example, in the article, Effects of the Parent-Adolescent Relationship, Walter and Shenaar-Golan are the authors. The quote, "Other studies have reported that adolescent boys were more interested in the shape of their bodies
than in their weight (Grogan, 2008; Silva, 2006)" was written by Grogan and Sliva.

Should the reference citation be created for Walter and Shenaar or Grogan and Silva?

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
April 16, 2021 at 3:06 PM

Hi Tierra,

Ideally, you'd find the original source that your source is referring to, and cite it directly. However, if you're unable to locate the original source, you can cite it indirectly, as described in this FAQ.

Reply

Tim Becker
February 22, 2021 at 5:03 AM

Hi, folks! Thanks for the helpful tips.

I do still have a question regarding quotations. In one sentence, I'm quoting and synthesizing two sources. My goal is to draw attention to the similarities between the metaphors they use (via direct quotation) and the conclusions they draw (via synthesized paraphrase), and I'm not sure how to handle the in-text citation. Here's the breakdown:

* The first quote "merely mechanical application" comes from Yancey et al.
* The second quote "simple mapping" comes from Anson
* The rest of the sentence after "simple mapping" is essentially a paraphrase/synthesis of BOTH sources.

Is there a way to indicate this in the following sentence?

Option 1 seems to credit Anson with the synthesized section:

According to critics, transfer theory implies “merely mechanical application” (Yancey et al., 2014, pp. 7–8) or “simple mapping” of prior knowledge and skills to unfamiliar writing contexts, which actually require navigating complex rhetorical, social, and situational factors (Anson, 2016, p. 544).

Option 2 clarifies the quotes more clearly, but readers might interpret this as me taking credit for the final clause.

According to critics, transfer theory implies “merely mechanical application” (Yancey et al., 2014, pp. 7–8) or “simple mapping” (Anson, 2016, p. 544) of prior knowledge and skills to unfamiliar writing contexts, which actually require navigating complex rhetorical, social, and situational factors.

Option 3 seems plausible, so long as readers would understand that my non-alphabetical citation of the authors correlates with the order of the quotations.

According to critics, transfer theory implies “merely mechanical application” or “simple mapping” of prior knowledge and skills to unfamiliar writing contexts, which actually require navigating complex rhetorical, social, and situational factors (Yancey et al., 2014, pp. 7–8; Anson, 2016, p. 544).

Please note that I know of several ways to rewrite this particular sentence to avoid ambiguity (and will probably do so right now), but since this kind of situation has come up quite a bit already, I'd like to learn this citation strategy and decided to use this most recent conundrum as an example. In case you're wondering why it comes up so often, I'm in a discipline (Writing Studies) that has one foot in the social sciences, hence the use of APA style, and the other foot in the humanities, hence the conventions of direct quotation and sentence-level synthesis.

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
February 23, 2021 at 2:08 PM

Hi Tim,

That is indeed a tricky sentence to cite appropriately, since you don't want to cite the sources both at the relevant quotes and at the end (APA specifically warns against "overcitation"). Of the options you give, I'd avoid 1, for the reason you mention that it seems to attribute the paraphrase to Anson. I'd lean towards 2; in this case you've clearly cited the specific quotes, and can trust the reader to infer that the rest of the sentence paraphrases those same sources.

3, I think, risks being ambiguous; APA recommends alphabetical order for in-text citations. They give one example of eschewing this order, but it's specifically to emphasize the most important citation, rather than to reflect the order they are quoted in the sentence: (Sampson & Hughes, 2020; see also Augustine, 2017; Melara et al., 2018; Pérez, 2014)

Reply

doug young
February 11, 2021 at 10:34 PM

When did the comma after the year become required?

According to Parker (2009), "people from that country work harder" (p. 28).

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
February 17, 2021 at 4:22 PM

Hi Doug,

The comma after the year here isn't a requirement of the citation style; it's just there to separate the introductory phrase (According to Parker) from the rest of the sentence. See the examples here.

Reply

Jessica
January 27, 2021 at 3:32 AM

Hello
How can I continue in a quote like this:

According to Parker (2009), "people from that country work harder" (p. 28)

Should I just do something like this:

According to Parker (2009), "people from that country work harder" (p. 28) which this research does not confirm, since the results show that...

or, should I use a period after like (p. 28). which

Thank you.

Reply

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
February 1, 2021 at 3:30 PM

Hi Jessica,

To continue the sentence after the quote, you would use a comma after the page reference, like this:

According to Parker (2009), "people from that country work harder" (p. 28), which this research does not confirm, since the results show that …

Do note that in this case, the quote used might also be confusing, since it doesn't specify what country "this country" is. If the country is not specified in the previous sentence, you could modify the quote to clarify this, e.g.:

According to Parker (2009), "people from [France] work harder" (p. 29), which …

Reply

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