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How To Do APA In-Text Citation?

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Preparing an academic paper is a tedious task as it involves writing,editing, proofreading, maintaining conventions, and above all referencing all the sources you have cited. It becomes really difficult when you have to prepare a lengthy paper and properly do in-text citation for each resources you referred. In-text citation is a reference made to the source in the body of the text of your paper. In case you fail to do so or do it improperly, there would be only two consequences; your teacher or assessment committee would not be able to find out the source of your study , leading to low grades, or you may be charged with academic dishonesty. Students generally need to do in-text citation in APA style for majority of their papers.Doing in-text citations properly according to the APA format is possible only when you know the set of rules involved in APA in-text citation.

If your professor has asked you to use APA in-text citation for your assignment, and you don’t know how to do that, don’t worry. This blog will provide you with all the necessary details regarding how to perform in-text reference for different sources of information used in your academic paper. So, let’s begin.

What is APA In-Text Citation?

The abbreviation APA stands for American Psychological Association which started using a set of guidelines for the documentation of sources used in their work. Now, this set of guidelines is followed by millions of researchers all over the world, mostly in the field of social sciences like anthropology, psychology, sociology etc.

While using APA format for an academic paper, you need to know the two different APA referencing formats employed in any document or paper. The first is the APA format in-text citation,which is done in the body of the text, and the other one is the APA reference page, which is a list of references put at the end of the paper or document. The in-text citations refer back to the reference page at the end of the academic paper.

How to do In-Text Citation in APA Format?

While writing a paper, whenever you summarize, paraphrase, or quote information from a different source, you need to acknowledge it. The APA style follows the author-date method of in-text citation. It means that the author’s last name and the year of publication for the source should be mentioned in the text, just where the reference content is used in the page; for example: (Lee, 2006).

As shown above,if you are using a direct quote in the text, you also need to include the page number in the in-text APA citation; for example: (Lee, 2006, p. 215). In case the source of information involves multiple pages, you need to use “pp.” instead of “p.” before listing the page numbers. Also, use an en dash for page ranges. Here’s an example: (Lee, 2006, pp. 210–214.)

In the above example pp denotes the page range from page number 210 to page number 214 from which the information has been resourced.

There is another set of rules that you need to follow while doing  in-text citation in APA paper format. You need to:

  • Always capitalize the first letter of proper nouns, including author names and initials; e.g. K. Lee. If two or more authors are present, you need to capitalize the first letters of both the authors’ last names or initials ex: ( Cyart and March,1963) or (Litt, Kaden and Stephens,2005)
  • If you are referring to the title of a source within the paper, capitalize the first letter of all the words, except the articles and prepositions within the title; e.g. Art of War, Journal of Education Pschycology. In case the title starts with an article or preposition, you will have to capitalize the first letter of the word.Ex: On Free care [In the reference list, only the first letter of the first word in the title is capitalized]
  • When you are capitalizing a hyphenated compound word, you need to capitalize the first letter of both of words; e.g. Home-Grown Onions.
  • Capitalize the first letter of the first word after a dash or a colon; e.g. “With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa”.

Now, these were the basic rules on how to in-text reference in APA citation style. Interestingly, the rules often vary depending on certain elements of the source.

Types of In-text Citation in APA

The APA format in-text citations you include in your paper depending on how you write the sentences. Based on the sentence structure, the in-text citations are classified into two types:

  1. Narrative:

In this form of in-text citation, the author’s name appears in the sentence itself. Here’s an example:

Lee (2006) makes things a lot easier for readers by explaining how it happened. She mentioned that the Britishers were still ruling the country when the plague hit (p. 109).

  1. Parenthetical:

In this form of in-text citation, the author’s name is in mentioned in parentheses, generally at the end of the quote or fact. Here’s an example:

One of the biggest reasons behind the plague outbreak was the poor sanitation in the country. It is surprising given the fact that the Britishers were still ruling the country. (Lee, 2006, p. 109).

How to In-text reference a Direct Quote

While citing a direct quote within the text, you can use either of the two types of APA in-text citation.

Here’s an example for the narrative APA in-text citation of a direct quote:

As Dr. Cooper (2012) once said, “Things could have been better if people do their jobs properly”.

In the parenthetical format, the citation would look like the following:

“Things could have been better if people do their jobs properly” (Cooper, 2012).

How to Write In-text APA Citation When There Are Multiple Authors

While citing a source with multiple authors here’s what you need to do:

  • For parentheses:

(1st author’s last name, 2nd author’s last name, 3rd author’s last name, year published, p. number)

Example: (Lee, Thomas, Eric, 2013, p. 201)

  • For narratives:

1st author’s last name, 2nd author’s last name and 3rd author’s last name (year published), found that “direct quote” or paraphrase (p. number).

Example: Lee, Thomas and Eric (2013) found that the reason behind the plague was poor sanitation (p. 201).

When the number of authors is more than six, write:

  • For Parentheses:

1st author’s last name et al. (year published), found that “direct quote” (p. number).

Example: (Lee, Thomas, Eric, 2013, p. 201)

  • For Narratives:

1st author’s last name et al., year published, p. number)

Example: Lee et al. (2013) found that the reason behind the plague was poor sanitation (p. 201)

When the name of the author of the source is missing, just write the published year and the page number as mentioned.

Well, you can now prepare an academic paper with an in-text citation in APA style with the information shared in this blog. However, if you need any more support, you don’t need to look anywhere else.

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Hi, I am Ethan, a nerd by nature, a data scientist by profession and, a gadget lover at heart. Thanks for stopping by and sparing a few minutes to know me. I would like to let you know, apart from being a Maths lover and a tech freak I have a fetish for English writing. I am into everything that spells maths, technology, and essays. I have an experience of 10 years as a data scientist and that of 5 years as a freelance English essay writer at I like sharing my experiences with people, which further makes me an occasional blogger. 

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