Skip to main content

Cite Your Sources: APA

What is APA Style?

  • Uses the author and year in parentheses as the in-text citation.
  • Preferred by many writers in the social sciences.

Note: Information in this guide is based on the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

How do I format my in-text citations?

A. Parenthetical and Narrative In-Text Citations 

  • In-text citations have two formats: parenthetical and narrative.

  • In parenthetical citations, the author name and year of publication appear in parentheses.

  • Include the author's last name and year of publication, separated by a comma and enclosed in brackets.

    • This hypothesis was tested (Smith, 2010).

  • In narrative citations, the author appears in the text of the sentence and the date appears in parentheses immediately after the author name.

  • Include an in-text citation in the text immediately following the information that is being referenced.

    • Smith (2010) tested this hypothesis.

  • In some cases, the author and date might both appear in the narrative. In these cases, do not use parentheses.

    • ​​​In 2010, Smith tested this hypothesis. 

  • If there is no author, use the first words from the title of the article or book. For an article title use quotation marks, and for a book title use italics. 

    • ("Effects of Alcoholism," 2015)

    • (Studies of Alcohol, 1999)


B. In-Text Citations: More than One Author and Group Authors

  • When there are two authors, use the ampersand (&) in the parenthetical citation, but not in the sentence.

    • (Novak & Gowin, 1984)

    • Novak and Gowin (1984) reported...

  • When there are three or more authors, use “et al.” in the parenthetical citation and in the sentence. Note the comma in the parentheses.  

    • (Winters et al., 1984)

    • Winters et al. (1984) reported...

  • When there is a group author with an abbreviation (such as an organization), define the abbreviation only in the first citation, and for all subsequent citations use the abbreviation.

    • First citation: (Canadian Mental Health Association [CMHA], 2019)

    • Subsequent citations: (CMHA, 2019)

    • First citation: The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA, 2019)…

    • Subsequent citations: CMHA (2019)


C. In-Text Citations and Page Numbers 

  • Although it is not necessary to provide a page or paragraph number in the citation for a paraphrase, you can include one to help readers find the relevant passage in a long work, such as a book. You can add a comma after the year, and then insert the page number. 

    • (Zelickson & Robbins, 1986, p. 24)

  • When using a direct quotation, always provide the author, year, and page number in the in-text citation. For a single page, use the abbreviation “p.” and for multiple pages, use the abbreviation “pp.”

    • (Feng, 2017, p. 78)

    • (Feng, 2017, pp. 59-67)

    • (Feng, 2017, pp. 46, 52)


D. Repeating In-Text Citations in a Paragraph

  • Once you have used a narrative citation in a paragraph, do not repeat the year in subsequent narrative citations in that same paragraph.

    • First narrative citation in paragraph: Meyer (2016) found that…

    • Subsequent narrative citations: Meyer discovered…; She noticed that…

  • However, continue to include the year in all parenthetical citations:

    • e.g., Meyer (2016) reported that Type 2 diabetes was primarily due to obesity and lack of exercise in people who are genetically predisposed. Meyer also found that this type makes up about 90% of cases of diabetes. The other 10% is due primarily to diabetes mellitus type 1 and gestational diabetes (Meyer, 2016).

How do I format my reference list?

  • The reference list should be placed at the end of your paper on a separate page entitled "References".

  • Put the list in alphabetical order by author. Double-space the list, and use a hanging indent to format all entries.

  • Titles of books and periodicals should always be in italics; titles of articles should be in regular type without quotation marks.

  • List authors by "Last name, First initials."

  • If there's no author, start with the article title.

  • If your article has a Digital Object Identifier or DOI, you should include this number instead of the website URL. Do not include a date of retrieval when using the DOI.

  • Format both DOIs and URLS as hyperlinks that begin with “https://” or “http://” and omit the words “Retrieved from” or “Accessed from.”

Article in a Journal or Periodical (Print)

In-text citation:

... (Sobell, Cunningham, & Sobell, 1996).

Reference list:

Author(s), A. A. (Date). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume(issue), page–page.

Sobell, L. C., Cunningham, J. A., & Sobell, M. B. (1996). Recovery from alcohol problems with and without treatment: Prevalence in two population surveys. American Journal of Public Health, 86, 966-972.

Article in a Journal or Periodical (Online)

In-text citation:

... (McKay & Zakanis, 2009).

Reference list:

  • Many publishers now assign a Digital Object Identifier or DOI to articles.
  • If your article has one, you should include this number instead of the website URL.
  • Do not include retrieval dates unless the source material may change over time (e.g., Wikis). 
  • If your article has a DOI, it will be on the first page of the article or in the full record display on the database page of the search engine you are using. If the article has a DOI, the reference will look like this:


Online Article with a DOI

Author, A. A. (Date). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume(issue), page-page.

McKay, M., & Zakanis, K. (2009). The impact of treatment on HPA axis activity in unipolar major depression. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 44(2), 183-192. j.jpsychires.2009.01.012


Online Article without a DOI

Author, A. A. (Date). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume(issue), page-page. URL

Patterson, Q. S. (1999). Psychology and the student. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 23(3), 225-227.

Book - One Author

In-text citation:

… was tested (Smith, 2010).
… was tested (Statistics Canada, 2008).

Reference list:

Author, A. A. (Date). Title (Edition). Publisher Name.

Rosenthal, R. (1987). Meta-analytic procedures for social research (2nd ed.). SAGE Publications.

Resources to Help with Writing

Guide: Plagiarism and Academic IntegrityGuide: Cite Your SourcesLink to Guide: Write clearly: Grammar

Suggest an edit to this guide

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.