APA In-Text Citation Style

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Whenever you directly quote or paraphrase from one of your sources, follow the quotation or paraphrase with an in-text citation, also called a parenthetical citation. According to APA guidelines, the in-text citation includes the author’s last name, the year of the source’s publication, and the page number on which the quoted or paraphrased material appears in the source text. Example:

Linguists agree that “one thing we build with language is significance” (Gee, 2014, p. 98).

However, it is generally better to use a signal phrase, which includes the author’s last name, the year of publication in parentheses, and a past tense verb such as wrote, found, and pointed out. A signal phrase can also take the form of “According to (author).” If you use a signal phrase, you only need to put the page number in the in-text citation. For more about signal phrases, see Embedding Quotations. Examples:

Gee (2014) indicated that “one thing we build with language is significance” (p. 98).

According to Gee (2014), “One thing we build with language is significance” (p. 98).

What if my source doesn't have page numbers?
If the source has numbered paragraphs, cite those instead of the page number. Example:

Buford (2008) noted that language is constantly changing (para. 3).

If the source does not have numbered paragraphs but does have sections with headings, cite the heading and the paragraph. Example:

Daniels (2006) argued, “We would be wise to adapt our attitudes” (What it Means for Us, para. 4).

Otherwise, cite only the author’s name and year of publication, or use a signal phrase to eliminate the need for an in-text citation. Examples:

An article in The Guardian claimed that 1,000 new words appear in the dictionary each year (Bodle, 2016).

Bodle (2016) claimed that 1,000 new words appear in the dictionary each year.

 

What if I want to use a quotation found in a source other than the original?
Cite the source you are using rather than the original, but add the phrase “as cited in” before the author’s name. Example:

John Buford wrote, “Language is a living, breathing organism” (as cited in Gee, 2014, p. 136).

What if I have more than one author?
If you have two authors, use both authors’ names in all citations. Use the word “and” in your signal phrases, but use the ampersand (&) for in-text citations. Examples:

Buford and Collins (2008) claimed that “the meanings of words constantly change” (p. 36).

We must acknowledge that “the meanings of words constantly change” (Buford & Collins, 2008, p. 36).

If you have three or more authors, use all the authors’ names in the first citation; for subsequent citations, use the first author’s name only and substitute “et al.” (which means “and others”) for the other authors. Example:

Buford, Collins, and Holt (2008) observed that dialects change along with languages (p. 73). Based on their research, Buford et al. (2008) recommended different attitudes toward dialects (p. 82).

What if I don't know my author's name?
Use the title of the source instead. If the title is quite long, use a shortened version of it (e.g., a source titled “Examining the Process of Language Evolution” could be shortened to “Examining the Process”). Do this for both your signal phrases and in-text citations. Examples:

No one knows what English will look like in a thousand years (“Examining the Process,” 2001, para. 13).

According to “Examining the Process” (2001), no one knows what English will look like in a thousand years (para. 13).

Note: Put book titles in italics; put article titles in quotation marks.

What if my source was written by an organization, company, or group?
Use the name of the organization, company, or group instead of an individual’s name. If the name is quite long, spell it out in the first citation and follow it with an abbreviation in brackets. In later citations, cite the abbreviation instead of the full name. Example:

According to the group’s Policies and Procedures manual, each meeting begins with a song and a dance (League of Linguists [LoL], 2006, p. 18). The manual also stipulated that members must learn a new word every day (LoL, 2006, p. 19).

What if I use more than one source by the same author?
Use the year of publication to differentiate between the two sources. Example:

Buford (2008) concluded that language is always evolving. Based on his research, Buford (2010) argued for a more descriptive rather than prescriptive approach to teaching language.

If you use more than one source written by the same author in the same year, use lowercase letters after the year of publication to differentiate between the two sources. Example:

Daniels (2006a) observed that infants’ linguistic abilities are more sophisticated than previously thought (p. 113). It appears that more research is needed in this area (Daniels, 2006b, p. 22).

You can also eliminate the confusion by using each source’s title (or a shortened version of it) in your sentence. Example:

In Between the Lines, Daniels (2006) observed that infants’ linguistic abilities are more sophisticated than previously thought (p. 113). Linguists have called for further research in this area, as indicated in “A Call for Action” (Daniels, 2006, p. 22).

What if I don't know the year of publication?
Use the abbreviation n.d. (which means “no date”) instead. Example:

Immersion results in a faster rate of fluency than other forms of language acquisition (Collins, n.d., p. 4).

What if I use a very long quotation?
It is generally better to paraphrase than to directly quote a long stretch of text. However, for any quotation 40 words or longer, treat it as a block quotation. Block quotations are not placed in quotation marks. Instead, they are set off from the rest of your text and indented. Unlike with other quotations, the final punctuation mark comes before the in-text citation. Example:

Gee (2014) examined the ongoing debate over the “official English” movement, summarizing each side’s perspective:

In several states in the United States, bilingual education has become controversial. Some people argue that immigrant children should be allowed to learn school content (such as science and math) in their native language while they are also learning English. Others argue that immigrant children should learn English immediately and quickly and then be exposed to school content only in English. (p. 146)

In other words, the debate seems to center on the question of whether immigrants to the United States have a duty to acclimate themselves to the dominant language or the United States has a duty to accommodate the immigrants.

 

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