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APA 7th Edition Guide

This guide provides an overview of the APA citation style and provides students with basic information to begin learning and applying this style in their academic writing.

In-Text Citations

Why Cite Resources?

 

 

Citing sources in the body of a research paper tells the reader that outside source material was used in the sentence where the in-text citation appears.  This lets the reader know it is not their original work or thought. Citing sources:

  • Lets the reader know whose research or ideas or theories influenced the paper's author
  • Provides authority and support for the positions taken in the paper
  • Acknowledges others in the field by giving credit for their original work

In-text citations also serve as finding tools. Because in-text citations are composed of the first two elements of the reference for the resource (author's last name and publication date), it provides the reader with enough information to find the resource in the paper’s References list. In other words, in-text citations and references match!

             

Creating In-text Citations: Paraphrases & Summaries

 

(Author, Date)      

APA style uses the Author-Date citation system. In-text citations appear in the text of the paper to let readers know that information in the sentence where the in-text citation appears was taken from source material. They are composed of the first two elements of the corresponding reference (Author, Date) for the resource and are designed to be short to avoid disrupting the flow of the paper.

There are two types of in-text citation:

  • Parenthetical
  • Narrative

Parenthetical In-Text Citation

This is the most common form of in-text citation.  It is composed of the author(s) last name and the year of publication. It is called a parenthetical citation because this information is enclosed in parentheses. The parenthetical citation appears at the end of the sentence where information from the source was used and, because it is a part of the sentence, appears before the period. See the example of a parenthetical citation below:

Students reported they prefer writing on a computer rather than with paper and pen (Cheung, 2016).

Narrative In-Text Citation

The narrative citation is used when the author's name is used in a sentence. In this case, the year of publication enclosed in parentheses follows the author's name in the sentence. See the example of a narrative citation below:

In his survey, Cheung (2016) found that undergraduate writers produced higher quality writing when composing on a computer rather than with paper and pen.

 

In-text Citations and References are Connected and Match!

In-text citations have two functions. First, they alert the reader that information from source material was used in a sentence where the in-text citation appears. It lets the reader know who's work influenced the writer's position or conclusions on the topic. Second, it serves as a finding tool so that the reader can quickly find the full reference in the reference list. The reference and in-text citation need to match. The example below illustrates how these match:

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Formatting In-Text Citations

 

In-text citations follow the Author-Date pattern. In-text citations can appear at the end of a sentence (parenthetical in-text citation) or in the text of the sentence if the author's name is incorporated (narrative in-text citation). If a work is by three or more authors, list the first author's last name followed by the phrase "et al." and the year of publication.

Examples of in-text citations for works by one author, two authors, or three or more authors appear below:

Work by One Author

   Parenthetical in-text citation              (Davis, 2019).

   Narrative in-text citation                     According to Davis (2019),...

 

Work by Two Authors

   Parenthetical in-text citation              (Ryan & Cooper, 2020).

   Narrative in-text citation                     In the study conducted by Ryan and Cooper (2020),...

 

Work by Three or More Authors

   Parenthetical in-text citation              (Morrison et al., 2018).

   Narrative in-text citation                     In the Morrison et al. (2018) study,...

Placing In-Text Citations

 

In-text citations follow the Author-Date pattern and appear in the sentence where information from source material is used.  Placement of in-text citations vary depending on whether the author(s) name is incorporated into the sentence (narrative citation) or if the author(s) is not named directly in the sentence (parenthetical citation). In-text citations are a part of the sentence and appear before the ending period.

 

Parenthetical Citations

A parenthetical citation appears when information from source material is used, but the author(s) name is not included in the sentence text. This type of in-text citation is composed of the author(s) last name comma year of publication enclosed in parentheses. It is placed at the end of the sentence before the ending period.  

 

Example:

Students reported they prefer writing on a computer rather than with paper and pen (Cheung, 2016).

 

Narrative Citations

A narrative citation is used when the author(s) name is included in the sentence text. In this case, the year of publication is enclosed in parentheses and appears after the author(s) name.

 

Example:

In his survey, Cheung (2016) found that undergraduate writers produced higher quality writing when composing on a computer rather than with paper and pen.

Creating In-text Citations: Quotations

 

Author-Date-# pattern:

When you copy a portion of the text directly from a source, it is called a direct quotation. You will enclose the quote in quotation marks, and your citation will contain the last name of the author(s), the year of publication, and page number of where the quote can be found in the source:

If you are using a source that has pages, then you will use an abbreviated p.:

(Smith, 2018, p. 4).

If you are using a source that does not have pages (a website), then you will use a paragraph number. You will count down to the paragraph where your quote is located. You will use an abbreviated para.: 

(Wilson & Miller, 2019, para. 2).

Parenthetical In-Text Citation:

If the author’s name is not incorporated in your sentence include the author’s last name, year of publication, and page or paragraph number separated with commas and enclosed in parentheses at the end of the quotation: 

Many writers appreciate the “ability to edit instantaneously” (Smith, 2008, p. 72) when writing in pencil or on a computer.

Narrative In-Text Citation

If you incorporate the author’s name into your sentence follow the author's name with the year of publication in parentheses and include the location in parentheses directly following the quote:

In his survey, Miller (2006) found that some writers like the sound “of graphite turning ideas into reality” (p. 72) when writing in pencil. 

 

Quotations of 40 or More Words Require Block Format

 

Quotations of 40 or more words included in a paper are presented in block format. The quotation begins on a new line and the whole quotation is indented 1/2 inch from the left margin. No quotation marks are used and the citation appears at the end of the quotation after the final punctuation mark. In fact, this is the only situation where a parenthetical reference appears outside of a period!

Writing Tip:  Block quotations should be used sparingly.  Remember that your voice is important -- after all it is your paper! Instead of using a block quotation, consider taking pieces of the larger quote and either paraphrase them (put their ideas into your own words and provide an in-text citation) or include precise, shorter quotations from the larger quote, integrated into your own sentences. Either approach will help to ensure that you (the writer) have engaged with information in the quote and directly applied it to the topic of the paper.

Here is an example of a block quotation. Note: Normally the passage would be double spaced but, due to space restrictions, this example is single spaced.

 

Place direct quotations longer than 40 words in a free-standing block of typewritten lines, and omit quotation marks.  Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same place you would begin a new paragraph.  Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin.  Maintain double-spacing throughout.  The parenthetical reference should come after the closing punctuation mark. (Angeli, et al., 2018, para. 27)

 

To create a block quotation, use the block indent button:

NOTE about Quotations:  Use them sparingly!

Although paraphrasing information is preferable, there are specific situations when a quotation can be an effective choice.  For example:

  • Famous Quotation
    • Including a famous or familiar quotation can be effective when introducing a topic or in setting the tone of a paper.
  • Words of an Expert
    • Providing the words of an expert can bolster your position or argument.
  • Couldn't Say It Better
    • In rare instances, it may be difficult to paraphrase a short passage without changing the meaning; including a precise quotation may be preferable.
  • Facts and Statistics
    • Sources of facts and statistics--including those presented in tables or charts -- must be documented in your paper using in-text citations and references.
  • Opposite Point of View
    • Including a quotation that opposes your position can be an effective method to prove why your position on the issue is preferable.
Paraphrases and Summaries

 

Author-Date pattern:

When you summarizeparaphrase, or otherwise refer to an idea, concept, or fact gained through your research, your citation will contain the last name of the author(s) and the year of publication:

(Smith, 2018)

(Wilson & Miller, 2019)

Qualities of a "Good" Paraphrase

 

Academic writing often requires students to integrate information found in source material.  There are various ways to do this; quotations, summaries, or paraphrases.  A paraphrase is a detailed restatement in your own words of main ideas from the portion of the source that is paraphrased.

Creating a well-written paraphrase can be a challenging skill to learn.  Understanding the qualities of a "good" paraphrase can help. A well-written paraphrase includes the following qualities:

  • Includes all the important details
    • All of the main details in the original appear in the paraphrase
  • True to the original
    • The paraphrase does not change the original author's meaning.
  • Same length or shorter than the original
    • ​The paraphrase is roughly the same length or shorter than the original. 
  • In your own words
    • The paraphrase is written using language, tone, and style that is your own.
  • Source is cited in-text and in the References list.
    • Paraphrased material must include both an in-text citation and a reference in the References list.

Example of a well-written paraphrase:

Original Passage:

University of Tulsa psychologist Judy Berry studied seventy-three Oklahoma eighth graders who had taken a parenting course.  For ten days, each student had to care for a ten-pound sack of flour as if it were a baby.  Berry's research on her young subjects suggests the course worked.  The teenagers in the study had a sounder sense of parental responsibility than they did before they took the course.

Harper, K. S. (1996). 'Flour babies' surrogacy teaches eight-graders parenting skills. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25(4), 25-28.

Example of a Good Paraphrase:

Extended parental role-playing can actually increase an adolescent's awareness of parental responsibilities as shown by psychologist Judy Berry's study involving eighth grade students (Harper, 1996).

 

Avoid Patch Writing!

Students learning how to paraphrase may inadvertently "patch write."  Patch writing occurs when a writer uses a passage from source material and changes a few words and phrases before including the passage in a paper or assignment.  Not only is this  "bad" paraphrasing but it is also a form of plagiarism.  View the example below to gain a better understanding of patch writing:

Original Passage:

University of Tulsa psychologist Judy Berry studied seventy-three Oklahoma eighth graders who had taken a parenting course.  For ten days, each student had to care for a ten-pound sack of flour as if it were a baby.  Berry's research on her young subjects suggests the course worked.  The teenagers in the study had a sounder sense of parental responsibility than they did before they took the course.

Patch Writing Example:

University of Tulsa psychologist Judy Berry conducted a study of eighth graders who had taken a parenting course. Students had to treat a ten-pound sack of flour as if it were a baby.  The results of Berry's study suggested that teenagers in the study had a better understanding of parental responsibility than they did before they took the course (Harper, 1996).

TIP:  Notice how the bolded phrases are identical to the original.  Even though there is an in-text citation, patch writing is still a form of plagiarism.