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APA In-Text Citations

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APA style is the format that is typically required of students who are writing essays and reports for courses in psychology and the social sciences. This style is similar to MLA, but there are small but important differences. For example, the APA format calls for fewer abbreviations in the citations, but it places more emphasis on publication dates in the notations. 

The author and date are stated any time you use information from an outside source. You place these in parentheses immediately after the cited material, unless you have mentioned the author's name in your text. If the author is stated in the flow of your essay text, the date is parenthetically stated immediately after the cited material.

For example:

During the outbreak, the doctors thought the psychological symptoms were unrelated (Juarez, 1993).

If the author is named in the text, only put the date in parenthesis.

For example:

Juarez (1993) has analyzed many reports written by psychologists directly involved in the studies.

When citing a work with two authors, you should cite the last names of both authors. Use an ampersand (&) to separate the names in the citation, but use the word and in the text.

For example:

The small tribes along the Amazon that have survived over the centuries have evolved in parallel ways (Hanes & Roberts, 1978).

or

Hanes and Roberts (1978) claim that the ways in which the small Amazonian tribes have evolved over the centuries are similar to each other.

Sometimes you will have to cite a work with three to five authors, if so, cite them all in the first reference. Then, in following citations, state only the first author's name followed by et al.

For example:

Living on the road for weeks at a time has been linked to many negative emotional, psychological, and physical health issues (Hans, Ludwig, Martin, &Varner, 1999).

and then:

According to Hans et al. (1999), lack of stability is a major factor.

If you use a text that has six or more authors, cite the last name of the first author followed by et al. and the year of publication. The complete list of authors should be included in the works cited list at the end of the paper.

For example:

As Carnes et al. (2002) have noted, the immediate bond between a newborn baby and its mother has been extensively studied by many disciplines.

If you are citing a corporate author, you should state the full name in each in-text reference followed by the publication date. If the name is long and the abbreviated version is recognizable, it may be abbreviated in subsequent references.

For example:

New statistics show that owning pets improves emotional health (United Pet Lovers Association [UPLA], 2007).
The type of pet seems to make little difference (UPLA, 2007).

If you need to cite more than one work by the same author published in the same year, differentiate between them in the parenthetical citations by putting them in alphabetical order in the reference list and assigning each work with a lower case letter.

For example:

Kevin Walker's "Ants and the Plants They Love" would be Walker, 1978a, while his "Beetle Bonanza" would be Walker, 1978b.

If you have material written by authors with the same last name, use the first initial of each author in every citation to distinguish them.

For example:

K. Smith (1932) wrote the first study done in his state.

Material obtained from sources such as letters, personal interviews, phone calls, etc. should be stated in the text using the person's name, the identification personal communication and the date said communication was obtained or took place.

For example:

Criag Jackson, Director of Passion Fashion, stated that the color changing dresses are the wave of the future (personal communication, April 17, 2009).

Keep in mind a few punctuation rules as well:

  • Always put the citation at the end of the material used.
  • If you are using a direct quote, put the citation on the outside of the closing quotation mark.
  • End punctuation (period, exclamation point) for the text follows the parenthetical citation.
  • If you are using a block quotation, place the citation after the final punctuation mark of the paragraph.
  • Always include a page reference for the material being cited.
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