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APA 6th Edition Referencing: In-text citations

This is a Wintec guide to help you with referencing in the American Psychological Association (APA) style.

What is an in-text citation?

When referencing in APA style, you need to include a short in-text citation each time you paraphrase or quote material. Each in-text citation should have a corresponding full reference list entry.

An in-text citation is found within the body of your assignment or research paper. It briefly acknowledges the source of the information you have used. In-text citations should include:

  • The source’s author's surname (or corporate name)
  • The year of publication
  • The page number (if needed)

​​This information should be enclosed in parentheses.

As noted, each in-text citation links to a full reference list entry at the end of the document. Your reference list provide the full details needed to locate the source/information. 


  • In-text citations should link to a source in the reference list and each item within your reference list needs to correspond to an in-text citation within your work.
  • You need to include an in-text citation whenever you use someone else’s ideas (paraphrasing or quoting) within your work.

There are two ways to format your in-text citations.

Narrative citations integrate the author's name with your sentence. E.g:

Example—in-text citation (direct)

According to Smith (2018), "lots of interesting stuff" (p. 5).


Parenthetical citations include details of author, date, and page numbers (where applicable) in a single set of parentheses at the end of a quotation or sentence that contains paraphrased material. For example:

Example—in-text citation (indirect)

"profound statement" (Smith, 2018, p. 5)

The following paragraph demonstrates what a passage of text looks like with in-text citations, and includes both direct and indirect citations (red text used for emphasis).

Example—assignment paragraph. 

"To avoid plagiarism, take careful notes as you research to keep track of all sources and collect the information you need to cite them properly" (American Psychological Association [APA], 2015, para. 2). Furthermore, Pears and Shields (2008) state that references can strengthen your writing and can help you attain a better mark or grade” (p. 11).  You need to reference both when paraphrasing and quoting (APA, 2010, p. 10). Paraphrasing is when you take someone else’s facts and ideas and put them into your own words (APA, 2010, p. 15).  If you are going to quote you must remember that direct quotations must begin and end with quotation marks” (Pulver and Adcock, 2010, p. 18).  It can be difficult to correctly cite sources such as web references in your work; it is therefore advisable to use a referencing guide to assist you (Kelly, 2000, p. 95).

Each in-text citation corresponds to a full reference list entry below.

Example—Reference List

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.).  Washington, DC: Author.

American Psychological Association. (2015). The basics of APA Style: Citing references in text. Retrieved from|utmccn=%28direct%29|utmcmd=%28none%29&__utmv=-&__utmk=260651277

Kelly, K. R. (2000). Author guidelines for electronic references. Journal of Mental Health Counseling. 22(2), 95-96.  Retrieved from Education Source database.

Pears, R., & Shields, G. (2008). Cite them right: the essential referencing guide (3rd ed.).  Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Pear Tree Books.

Pulver, B. and Adcock, D. (2010). Information literacy skills: Organizing and using information. London, England: Heinemann. 

Page numbers for paraphrased material

Should I include page numbers when paraphrasing?
Including page numbers in in-text citations following paraphrased material is strongly encouraged, 'especially when it would help an interested reader locate the relevant passage in a long or complex text' (APA, 2010, p. 171), but not mandatory. 

Formatting in text citations with more than one author

Two authors:

Axcell & Carlisle (2018) argue… (p. 2).

(Axcell & Carlisle, 2018, p. 2).

Three to five authors:

Include all authors in the first in text citation and then when you refer to that source again, just use the first name and then et al.

  • Include all the authors’ names in the reference list, Refer to Book with three to five authors for more information (this will apply to other sources too).

Axcell, Carlisle, and Jones (2018) argue… (p. 3) then Axcell et al. argue... (p. 3)

(Axcell, Carlisle, & Jones, 2018, p. 3) then (Axcell et al., 2018, p. 3).

Six or more authors:

Use only the first author and et al. for all citations.

Axcell et al. found… (p. 3).

(Axcell et al., 2018, p. 3).

Refer to Books with six or more authors for more information (this will apply to other sources too).

Additional information about in-text citations

Some things to remember about formatting:

  • The full stop comes after the closing bracket of the citation.
    • However: When providing a quotation of more than 40 words, indent the quotation and place the citation after the full stop.
  • You don’t need to give the author’s initials in the in text citation.
  • When referring indirectly to a source that has 2+ authors, use & instead of and within your parentheses—for example: (Smith & Lazar, 2018, p. 3). However, when referring to sources with 2+ authors directly, use andfor example: Smith and Lazar (2018) state that…” (p. 3).

Omitting material:

  • Use ellipsis (...) within a quote to indicate that you have omitted material from the original source. For example: “This is the movement of the middle class … from schools serving low socio-economic status (SES) areas to schools serving middle SES areas” (Brett, 1994, p. 43).

Adding emphasis:

  • To emphasise a word or words in a quotation use italic type, followed immediately by [emphasis added], e.g. Paraphrasing is more than “changing the order of a few words and substituting synonyms for a few others. Paraphrased ideas … should blend [emphasis added] with your style” (Rountree, 1991, p. 76) and show you understand the concept.

Inserting material:

  • Enclose your own additions to quotations, or explanations, in square brackets, e.g. Through play the child needs to learn to manipulate and master body, mind, emotions and relationships, as “such mastery is essential to [more extensive] cognitive development, strong ego development and good mental health” (Schuster & Ashburn, 1992, p. 328).
  • If a quote is longer than 40 words: miss a line, do not change the line spacing, indent left and right, do not use quotation marks, put a full-stop before the in-text citation, and leave a line at the end. See example in APA FAQs.

Incorporate quotations into your discussion:

  • They may be all or part of a sentence placed: at the beginning, embedded in, or at the end, of your sentence.

When quotations are complete sentences:

  • They need to be referred to in, or linked to, the previous and/or following sentence. This will show your understanding of the quote. 


Can I put abbreviations/acronyms for corporate authors in in-text citations?

Yes, you can after the first citation. For example:

First citation Subsequent citations
The Ministry of Health (MOH, 2013)…

MOH (2013)…

(Ministry of Health [MOH], 2013)

(MOH, 2013)

See APA Manual, p. 177

It’s not necessary to put the abbreviation after the corporate author’s name in the reference list; simply list it in full.

Example—reference list entry

Ministry of Health. (2013, May 27). New Zealand suicide prevention action plan 2013–2016. Retrieved from

How do I reference multiple works by the same author?

Refer to this table to see the rules that apply:

Single author with multiple works from different years are listed by year of publication, beginning with the earliest year.    

Smith, B. (2007).
Smith, B. (2008).
Smith, B. (2009).

Single authors who are also co-authors are listed before the co-authored work (even if the co-authored work was published earlier). Brown, A. (2010).
Brown, A., & Smith, B. (2008).

Single author with works published in the same year are arranged alphabetically by title and then a lowercase letter (a, b, c,) is added after the publication year.

Smith, B. (2011a). Birth control…
Smith, B. (2011b). Pre-conception checklist…

See APA Manual, p. 182

The order of the letters is determined by the alphabetised titles in the reference list.  It is NOT determined by which one you refer to first in-text. Thus, even if you mentioned his article on “Pre-conception checklist” first in your assignment, you would still refer to (Smith, 2011b, p. 33).

How do I cite a summary or paraphrased passage from 2 or more texts in the same parentheses?

Where there is more than one source being referred to, list them alphabetically by the first author’s surname. Separate the citations with semi-colons. For example:

(Brown, 2006, p. 72; Jones & Allen, 2005, p. 12; Smith, 2004, p. 35).

How can I give multiple citations from the same source in one paragraph?

Putting an in-text citation after every sentence from one source is distracting. Instead, introduce the source early, then refer to the author by name or pronoun. If you use the author’s name as part of the narrative, you only need to put the year in parentheses once, at the start.  However, the year always needs to be included when the author’s name is in parentheses. For example:

Lazar (2006) describes several aspects of the data gathering process. He notes that the relevance and number of questions can affect participation rates. Lazar also found that . . .  (pp. 33-34). 


Another important factor in the willingness of participants to complete the survey was the time of day that they were approached (Lazar, 2006, p. 35).

See APA Manual, p. 174, section 6.11

Note that tutors would not want you to paraphrase a whole paragraph in this way. Probably 2 or 3 sentences would be acceptable. It is also not good practice to paraphrase several pages into one sentence; rather break the ideas up so that they are easier for the reader to follow. Use three dots within a quote to indicate that you have omitted material from the original source, e. g. “This is the movement of the middle class . . . from schools serving low socio-economic status (SES) areas to schools serving middle SES areas” (Brett, 1994, p. 43).

How do I cite someone quoted in another author's work (a secondary citation)?

This is called giving a citation from a secondary source.  Often an author quotes someone else.  For example, you are reading a book by Partridge and he uses a quote from a source by Crane. If you use the quote (or paraphrase it), your in-text citation will look like this:

“Self-control and success in life are strongly linked” (Crane, as cited in Partridge, 2012, p. 34).

Crane (as cited in Partridge, 2012) states that there is a definite link between self-control and how successful people are in their lives (p. 34).

In the reference list, you would only include the details of the book by Partridge, as that was the source that you looked at. If you think the in-text citation is too long (for example, when you are writing an assignment with a low word count), then you can look for Crane’s source and use that information in-text and in the reference list

How do I cite a long quote (over 40 words)?

Citing a long quote is similar to citing a short quote, except the formatting is slightly different. You need to:

  • miss a line
  • do not change the line spacing
  • indent left and right
  • do not use quotation marks,
  • put a full-stop before the in-text citation
  • leave a line at the end.

Look at the example below:

Mentoring is an important aspect in nursing leadership.
The mentor has the responsibility to create opportunities for professional growth and involvement, whereas the protégé is responsible for responding to these opportunities. The mentor has the responsibility to create opportunities for the protégé to gain recognition for the work accomplished; the protégé is accountable for being responsible and reliable with the work accepted. (Jones, 2007, p. 26)

So beginning nurses need to take advantage of the opportunities provided by their mentor.

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