APA in-text citations

An APA in-text citation consists of the author name(s) and the publication year. When quoting a source, you’ll also need to include the page number(s). All the other information about your sources, such as the title, website URL or journal name, should be included in the reference list.

An APA in-text citation can be added in three different ways:

  • There is a great need for an APA Citation Generator (Swaen, 2014).
  • Swaen (2014) writes that there is a great need…
  • In 2014, there was concern that Swaen forgot to think about…

APA Citation Generator

APA in-text citation for multiple authors

When including an APA in-text citation for a source with multiple authors, some specific rules apply. The table below provides an overview of what to do in each case.

Overview of APA in-text citations
Number of authorsFirst in-text citationSubsequent in-text citationsIn the running text (first mention)In the running text (subsequent mentions)
1 author(Taylor, 2018)(Taylor, 2018)Taylor (2018) statesTaylor (2018) states
2 authors(Taylor & Kotler, 2018)(Taylor & Kotler, 2018)Taylor and Kotler (2018) stateTaylor and Kotler (2018) state
3 – 5 authors(Taylor, Kotler, Johnson, & Parker, 2018)(Taylor et al., 2018)Taylor, Kotler, Johnson, and Parker (2018) stateTaylor et al. (2018) state
6+ authors(Taylor et al., 2018)(Taylor et al., 2018)Taylor et al. (2018) stateTaylor et al. (2018) state

Using “et al.” in APA style

When a source has many authors, APA style guidelines state that you can use “et al.,” which means “and others.” This helps improve the readability of your text. In the overview above, you can see exactly when you should make use of “et al.”

Punctuation

  • Separate multiple author names using commas. Only the final name in the list should be preceded by an ampersand sign (“&”).
  • When using the abbreviation “et al.,” always include a period (“.”).
  • Include a comma between “et al.” and the publication date (e.g. Taylor et al., 2018).
  • There should be no punctuation between “et al.” and the author’s name preceding it.
  • The period ending the sentence always comes after the citation (even when quoting).

Never use an ampersand symbol (“&”) in the running text. Instead, use the full word “and.”

  • Taylor and Kotler concluded … (2018).
  • According to research of Taylor & Kotler … (2018).

Quotes and in-text citations

When you quote a source, you need to include an in-text citation, according to APA style. The same format applies for any other APA in-text citation. However, when quoting, you also need to include the page number(s) from the original source. It looks like this:

If the quote covers only one page, use “p. 16.” If the quote covers two or more pages, use “pp. 16-18” instead.

There are again three ways to include the in-text citation:

  • This is also true from the business plan: “creating an APA Citation Generator is a lot of work but many students benefit from it” (Swaen, 2014, pp. 14–15).
  • Swaen (2014) states the following: “making an APA Citation Generator is a lot of work but many students benefit from it” (pp. 14–15).
  • In 2014, Swaen wrote as follows: “making an APA Citation Generator is a lot of work but many students benefit from it” (pp. 14–15).

No page numbers available

In case there are no page numbers, such as for a website, start at he title and count from there to determine the paragraph number from which the quote originates. If the title is very long, then you can shorten it in your citation.

Example: quote with a heading instead of a page number

This is also true from the business plan: “making an APA Generator is a lot of work but many students benefit from it” (Swaen, 2014, Conclusion, para. 2).

Quotes of 40+ words (block quotes)

Furthermore, be aware that when quoting 40 or more words, specific formatting rules apply. Read more about this in our article on quoting according to APA guidelines.

Lists and in-text citations

When referencing a list of items from a source, you also need to include an in-text citation. If a list comes from one source, then put the citation after the last list item. It if comes from several different sources, add citations for each item.

Example of list from one source:

The following factors are identified:

  • Wired lifestyle
  • Time pressure;
  • Risk aversion;
  • Internet experience; and
  • Social interaction (Johnson, 2016).
Example of list from several sources:

The following two basic characteristics were found in the literature:

  • Consumers experience greater risk for online purchases (Writers et al., 2016).
  • Young consumers experience no additional risk for online purchases (Porter, 2016).

Exceptions and missing information

When citing sources, you may notice that the basic APA guidelines cannot be applied to every source. Information can be missing, confusing for the reader or simply different. We listed the most common exceptions and included instructions on what to do when you encounter them.

No author and/or no date

It may happen that you can’t find the name of the author(s) or the year of publication. This is a common problem for internet sources.

No author

If the author is unknown use the title of the article (example: “U.S. flood risk could be worse than we thought”, 2015).

No date

If the year of publication is unknown, use “n.d.” which stands for “no date” [example: (Johnson, n.d.)].

An organization as author

It’s also common that instead of a person, an organization is listed as the author. When this happens, use the name of the organization as the author.

Multiple sources one citation

Say you’ve found multiple sources supporting a statement. You can then combine the in-text citations and separate them using semicolons.

Example multiple sources one citation

Several studies show that … (Porter, 2004; Swaen, 2017; Brown & Brody, 2009).

Multiple publications from the same author(s) in the same year

When you use multiple publications from the same author that are also published in the same year, the in-text citation looks exactly the same. To indicate to the reader that they’re different, you should distinguish them by adding a suffix after the publication year.

Example multiple publications of the same author:

Research by Swaen (2014a) shows that …

Repeated use of the same source

If you use the same source multiple times in a paragraph or section, then you will have to include the citation each time. However, you can be creative about it. The important thing is to make it clear to the reader that the information comes from a source.

Example repeated use of the same source:

Research by Swaen (2016) shows that students think the APA Citation Generator is a useful tool. Swaen also states that universities are increasingly using the generator. Scribbr is therefore continuing to develop the APA Citation Generator (Swaen, 2016).

Different authors with the same surname

If the surname of two authors is the same, you should include the initials of these authors, even if the publication year is different.

Example different authors same surname:

B. Swaen (2017) states that … , as does G. H. Swaen (2008).

Citing a source within a source

If you want to cite a source that you have found in another source, you can do one of two things. First of all, you should try to find the primary source, in which case you can cite it using the regular APA guidelines.

If you are not able to find the primary source, you should cite it through the source that led you to it. APA style has special guidelines for this. The in-text citations looks like this:

Examples: citing a paraphrased indirect source
  • Porter (in Johnson, 2017) states that… .
  • Five possible causes are stated (Porter, in Johnson, 2017).
Example: citing a quoted indirect source
  • Porter (as cited in Johnson, 2017) states that… .
  • Five possible causes are stated (Porter, as cited in Johnson, 2017).

Note that you only need to include the publication year of the source you consulted (here Johnson)

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Raimo Streefkerk

Raimo has a bachelor's and master's degree and has written several papers and theses. He likes to share his knowledge by writing helpful articles.

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