Skip to Main Content

APA Citation Style: In-Text Citations

This guide provides information on the 7th edition of APA Citation Style as used at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.


Use in-text citations within the paper to indicate where certain ideas or words were derived. This citation should include the author’s last name and the year of publication.  The page number is also included when using a direct quotation. Don't forget to list a corresponding reference list entry at the end of your work. 

  Template Example
In-text citation (for a paraphrase) (Author Surname, year of publication) (Smith, 2000)
In-text citation (for a direct quotation) (Author Surname, year of publication, page number you took the quote from) (Smith, 2000, p. 124)


  • If a work does not have an author or creator, list the first word or two of the title inside quotation marks within the parentheses.
    • EXAMPLE: ("Using APA," 2000)
  • If a work does not have a date, list n.d. within the parentheses.
    • EXAMPLE: (Smith, n.d.)
  • If the work, such as a website or brochure, does not have pages, a paragraph number or heading/section name or both a paragraph number and a heading/section name together can be used in the in-text citation. Remember: Page numbers, paragraph numbers, or headings/section names are only used when quoting directly from a source.
    • EXAMPLE: (Smith, 2000, para. 3)
    • EXAMPLE: (Smith, 2000, Key Points section)
    • EXAMPLE: (Smith, 2000, Key Points section, para. 3)
  • In-text citations can be incorporated as parenthetical citations, which appear at the end of the sentence, or as narrative citations which appear in the middle or at the start of the sentence.
    • EXAMPLE - Parenthetical citation: Gibaldi (2003, p. 109) indicates that, “quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively.”
    • EXAMPLE - Narrative citation: Remember that “quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” (Gibaldi, 2003, p. 109).
  • If you are summarizing from multiple sources in one sentence, you can combine in-text citations within one parenthesis by separating each source with a semicolon and listing in alphabetical order.
    • EXAMPLE: Several authors write about how great the SAIT APA Guide is (Appel, 2019; Singh, 2024; Smith, 2023).

How to Cite a Direct Quotation

Short Quotations

When you incorporate a direct quotation into a sentence, you must cite the source. Fit quotations within your sentences, enclosed in quotation marks, making sure the sentences are grammatically correct. Below is an example of three different ways the in-text citation for a quote can appear in your assignment. Note that each example contains the same elements: author surname, year of publication, and page number that you took the quote from. 


Gibaldi (2003, p. 109) indicates that, “quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively.”

Remember that “quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” (Gibaldi, 2003, p. 109).

In 2003, Gibaldi wrote that, “quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” (p. 109).


Longer Quotations

If a quotation is 40 words or more, omit quotation marks and use a block format in which the quotation is indented ½ an inch from the left margin. Double space the entire block quotation. Cite the source in parentheses at the end of the block quote, after the final punctuation mark.

Co-presence does not ensure intimate interaction among all group members. Consider large-scale social gatherings
in which hundreds or thousands of people gather in a location to perform a ritual or celebrate an event. In these
instances, participants are able to see the visible manifestation of the group, the physical gathering, yet their ability
to make direct, intimate connections with those around them is limited by the sheer magnitude of the assembly. (Purcell, 1997, p. 14)


How to Cite When Altering a Direct Quotation

When you need to leave out part of a quotation to make it fit grammatically or because it contains irrelevant/unnecessary information, insert ellipses (three dots). 


In 2003, Gibaldi wrote that, “quotations are effective...when used selectively” (p. 109).

If you must add or slightly change words within a quotation for reasons of grammar or clarity, indicate the change with square brackets. This is not necessary when only modifying the capitalization of the first word in a quotation to fit the context in which the quotation is being used (e.g. mid sentence).


In 2003, Gibaldi wrote that, “quotations are effective in [academic writing] when used selectively” (p. 109).


How to Cite a Paraphrase

Even if you put information in your own words by summarizing or paraphrasing, you must cite the original author and the year of publication. 


Within the research paper, quotations will have more impact when used judiciously (Gibaldi, 2003).

How to Cite the Same Source Multiple Times in a Paragraph

Longer Paraphrased Sections
If you are writing a paragraph that is citing the same source multiple times, you do need to clearly identify all information in that paragraph that is from that source. It would be awkward to put a citation at the end of each sentence but an end of paragraph citation is not sufficient.  According to the current APA manual, "Within a paragraph, when the name of the author is part of the need not include the year in subsequent nonparenthetical references to a study as long as the study cannot be confused with other studies cited in the article. Do include the year in all parenthetical citations" (p. 174).

In other words, include a full in-text citation the first time you mention the source in your paragraph. As you are writing the rest of the paragraph, refer back to that source as needed so that your reader knows you are continuing to use that same source.  If you are using a direct quotation, always include the year of publication and the page number. 


Example (adapted from:

Frogs are excellent indicator species to measure wetland health.  Willemssen (2010) recently conducted research in Wisconsin that shows that frogs are very sensitive to changes in pH caused by acid rain, and they are also very sensitive to different types of pollution. Willemssen's research indicates that when frog populations in a wetland plummet, one can be sure that something is going wrong in the wetland. One very telling quote from Willemssen's research is that "87% of wetlands where two-headed frogs are found have high levels of  environmental contamination" (2010, p. 341). 

Incorporating Images in Course Assignments

Figures and images adapted from other sources require a reference list citation according to the type of source being cited, but require a figure number, caption, and copyright attribution in place of the in-text citation. You are still required to include a reference list citation using the example listed at the top of the Images tab of the APA guide.

Begin the caption with the word "Figure" and a number, provide your own caption for the image, and then insert the image below. Follow this with a copyright attribution statement.

Example of In-Text Copyright Attribution:

Figure 1

Proper Desk Setup

Note. Adapted from Making the office safe, by Larry Smith, 2016, Pearson Publishers.


Exceptions to the Copyright Act typically allows you to include images in your course assignments without obtaining prior permission from the copyright holder. Images that are in the public domain or listed as "no attribution required" do not require a copyright attribution. It is good practice to seek out permission to use an image and to consistently attribute images in your work.

These guidelines vary from what is expected in the Business Report Writing Guidelines. Check with your instructor to clarify their expectations for attributing images.

How to Cite Multiple Entries with the same Author and Date

According to the APA Style Blog, "when multiple references have an identical author (or authors) and publication year, include a lowercase letter after the year. These letters are assigned when the references are placed in order in the reference list (alphabetically by title . . .). The year–letter combination is used in both the in-text citation and the reference list entry. Use only the year with a letter in the in-text citation, even if the reference list entry contains a more specific date."

Smartland Hotel pricing decreased last year (Smartland, n.d.-c) even as room bookings increased (Smartland, n.d.-a).

Reference List:
Smartland. (n.d.-a). Booking rates.
Smartland. (n.d.-b). Festivals, holidays, and concerts.
Smartland. (n.d.-c). Room rates.

How to Cite Secondary Sources

Sometimes an author writes about research that someone else has done, but you are unable to track down the original source. In this case, because you did not read the original source, you will include only the source you did read in your reference list. The words “as cited in” in the parenthetical reference indicate you have not read the original source.

You read Bertram's report that has an interesting result from Fong's 1987 study. You cannot locate Fong's study.

How it should appear in your assignment:
Fong’s 1987 study (as cited in Bertram, 1996) found that older students’ memory can be as good as that of young people, but this depends on how memory is tested.

How it should appear in your reference list:
Do not include Fong (1987) in your reference list but do include Bertram (1996).

How to Cite Personal Communications

Personal communications are sources of information that you have received but are not accessible to others. Examples of personal communications include emails, texts, online chat messages, direct messages in an app, personal interviews, phone conversations, live speeches, unrecorded lectures, letters, private online group messages, etc. According to APA guidelines, they are not included in the reference list. Only an in-text citation is used which includes the person's name, the phrase "personal communication," and the date.


A. P. Smith also claimed that many of her students had difficulties with APA style (personal communication, November 3, 2015).

Many students had difficulty with APA style in writing classes (A. P. Smith, personal communication, November 3, 2015).

chat loading...