How to Do In-Text Citations in APA Style

by | Oct 13, 2020 | APA Style, Essay Writing

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Information is taken from the 7th edition Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, latest version, 2020. 

 

In-text citations are crucial to APA style papers because they allow your reader to see what information you’re citing and how that supports your argument. As with most common citation styles, APA in-text citations should always correspond with the reference list at the end of your paper.

Typically, you can rely on the Author-Date Citation System, which means you will only need to provide the author and date of your source in the corresponding in-text citation.

Reference List:

Smith, P.A. (2015). Psychology in the Context of Religion. Journal of Psychology, 115(3), 188–207.

Parenthetical Citation:

(Smith, 2015)

Narrative Citation:

Smith (2015)

As you can see, APA in-text citations have two formats: parenthetical and narrative. Which format you use will depend on the context of your citation. Let’s break that down a little further.

APA Style Parenthetical Citations

Parenthetical citations are more common than narrative citations, and that is because they are used when the text surrounding them does not already include the source author’s name. In a parenthetical citation, the author and date are separated by a comma. They can come at the end of a sentence or within the middle, but when the in-text citation appears at the end of the sentence, the period or other ending punctuation must fall after the closing parentheses.

Here’s an example:

The links between human psychology and religion run deep within every civilization in history (Smith, 2015).

APA Style Narrative Citations

Narrative citations are necessary when the author’s name is already part of the sentence. It’s perfectly acceptable to use as many of these as you want in your APA style essay, especially if it helps the overall flow of your sentence structure.

Here’s an example:

Smith (2015) noted that the links between human psychology and religion run deep within every civilization in history.

The author’s name and the source’s date may both appear within the text of the sentence. When that happens, no parenthetical citation is required, as the sentence itself acts as an in-text reference.

Note that if the same narrative citation appears multiple times in one paragraph, you can omit the source’s publication year after the first use.

Citing Multiple Works in APA Style

Citing multiple sources in one in-text citation in an APA paper should be done by ordering the sources alphabetically within the parentheses and separating them with a semicolon.

Here’s an example:

The links between human psychology and religion run deep within every civilization in history (Holiday, 2017; Smith 2015).

If both sources are from the same author, order them by the year of publication.

Here’s an example:

The links between human psychology and religion run deep within every civilization in history (Smith, 2015a, 2015b, 2018).

If you would like to emphasize one particular source from one sentence, even though multiple sources were used in that sentence, you will start the parenthetical citation with that source. Follow it with a semicolon and a phrase such as “see also,” then continue with the less critical sources.

Here’s an example:

The links between human psychology and religion run deep within every civilization in history (Smith, 2015; see also Holiday, 2017; Smith, 2018).

Finally, if multiple sources are cited within the text of the sentence using narrative citations, they may come in any order. Just do whatever sounds the best to your ear!

Here’s an example:

Smith (2015) and Holiday (2017) both noted that the links between human psychology and religion run deep within every civilization in history.

Citing Specific Parts of a Source in APA Format

If you want to cite a specific part of a source, follow the Author-Date Citation System, then add a comma and follow up with the particular part of the source you want to emphasize.

Here are some examples:

(Smith, 2015, p. 22)

(Smith, 2015, Table 1)

(Smith, 2015, Part III)

(Smith, 2015, Slide 7)

(Smith, 2015, pp. 19–25)

(Smith, 2015, paras. 5–6)

(Smith, 2015, Chapter 10)

Citing Sources with Unknown or Anonymous Authors in APA

If a source has no author, you can replace the author’s name with the source title in the in-text citation. If the title is italicized in the reference list, it needs to be italicized in the in-text citation as well. If it is not italicized in the reference list, it needs to be enclosed in double quotations within the in-text citation.

Here’s an example:

The links between human psychology and religion run deep within every civilization in history (“Psychology in the Context of Religion,” 2015).

If an anonymous author writes the source—and that author is marked explicitly as anonymous, you can simply replace the author’s name with “Anonymous.”

Here’s an example:

The links between human psychology and religion run deep within every civilization in history (Anonymous, 2015).

Citing Sources with More Than One Author in APA Style

If you’re using a source with just one or two authors, each author’s name should appear in every in-text citation. Include an ampersand between each author’s name.

Here’s an example:

The links between human psychology and religion run deep within every civilization in history (Smith & Holiday, 2015).

However, if you’re using a source with three or more authors, you should only include the first author’s name, followed by “et al.”

Here’s an example:

The links between human psychology and religion run deep within every civilization in history (Smith et al., 2015).

If you have multiple sources with authors of the same surname, you can include the author’s first initial(s) before their last name in the in-text citation.

Here’s an example:

The links between human psychology and religion run deep within every civilization in history (C. Smith, 2015). Still, there are several key differences between the specific civilizations we are studying (A. L. Smith, 2015).

Summary

Do in-text citations in APA format seem a bit simpler now? We hope so! There are many particular details to pay attention to, but hopefully, this guide helps you out. Take your time and good luck with your APA style essay!


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