Quoting according to the APA rules

Whenever you literally copy text from a source, it’s called a quote. Copying a definition of a concept from a certain source is an example of a quote.

The APA Style has established a number of rules for the layout of quotations. For example, you must use double quotation marks when writing a quote with fewer than 40 words.

Quote of fewer than 40 words

When citing a section of text fewer than 40 words, you use double quotation marks directly before and directly after the quote.

Example: Quote of fewer than 40 words

The definition of soccer is, according to Van Persie (2014), “running back and forth with each other and whoever scores the most, wins” (p.15).

A famous soccer player always said, “playing soccer with each other on a beautiful Sunday afternoon is the greatest thing there is” (Sneijder, 2013, pp. 2-3).

Quote of 40 words or more

If the quote contains 40 words or more, then place the quote in a separate block that begins on a new line and is indented in its entirety.

When you have a quote with multiple paragraphs, further indent the first line of every paragraph after the first paragraph.

If the quote ends with a period, then you note the source reference only after the period. See the example below for more explanation.

Example: Quote of more than 40 words

The second anniversary of Scribbr was widely reported in the press:

Scribbr is now two years old and that is being celebrated with the introduction of a new version of the APA Generator. Now that more and more students make grateful use of the APA Generator, it is high time for a new version, according to the founders.

The APA Generator is very popular because the APA Style has many exceptions. As a result, it is difficult for many students to really get the hang of the APA Style. In addition, the APA Generator saves many students a great deal of time. (Schlagers, 2014, p. 3)

Punctuation after quotations

This overview provides advice about whether you need to include punctuation after a quote.

Other rules when quoting

The quote must be a verbatim copy of the source text. This means that you must also reproduce any spelling or grammatical mistakes. However, you may change the first letter of the quote to a capital or lowercase letter. You may also adjust the punctuation at the end of the quote.

If the misspelled words are bothersome, or if you want to add or remove something from the quote, then you must follow set rules.

Spelling errors in a quote

You may never correct spelling errors in a quote. Obvious spelling mistakes in a quote can be annoying. You can let your reader know that you noticed the spelling error and that it’s not your own error.

Do this by placing the word ‘sic’ after the appropriate misspelled word. You write the word ‘sic’ between brackets and in italics. The word ‘sic’ is Latin and roughly means thus, in this way, like this, or so—in other words, “this is how I found it.”

Example: Spelling error in a quote

The definition according to Schrijvers (2014) is as follows: “the use of multiple penns [sic] to write a text” (p. 458).

Other sources (including The Chicago Manual of Style) say it is acceptable to correct minor spelling mistakes and typos such as those above.

Removing or shortening text in a quote

When you omit parts of text from a quote, you are then obligated to write the following in its place: “ . . . ”. This is called the ellipsis sign. When you remove a few words in a sentence, write three dots. Between each of the dots, put a space.

When you remove an entire sentence from the quote, write four dots, again with spaces between the dots. Note that the first dot is a period. See the example below.

Example: Removing text from a quote

According to Koeman (1996), shooting a free kick is not difficult: “Shooting at a . . . goal is simple: you only have to aim well. . . . If you haven’t trained to shoot at the goal then it’s more difficult, of course” (p. 7).

Adding text to a quote

Sometimes you want to add something to a quote to clarify a particular sentence or idea. When you add something, you must put this between brackets [].

Example: Adding text to a quote

“Writing letters is being done less frequently. Instead of this, many people often type an email [on the computer]” (Jositu, 1998, p. 6).

Emphasizing words in a quote

When you want to emphasize a word or phrase in a quote, you can do this by italicizing that word or phrase. Directly after this, write ‘emphasis added’ between brackets.

Example: Emphasizing words in a quote

“While studying, you learn at times to work hard but your university period is also full of periods where you learn not [emphasis added] to work hard” (Swaen, 2012, p. 9).

Citing quotations in the text according to the APA Style

As you have seen in the examples above, we have placed a source reference after each quote. We have done this according to the official rules of the APA Style for citing references in the text.

Do you cite the same source several times in a paragraph? If yes, you have to include a citation each time – but you can be creative about how and where you include citations.

Is this article helpful?
Bas Swaen

Bas is co-founder of Scribbr. Bas loves to teach and is an experienced thesis writer. He tries to help students with writing clear and easy to comprehend articles about difficult topics.

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