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APA format: Reference citations, with examples

by Nancy Rosenbaum

When to reference

If you restate or make mention of someone else’s idea, someone else’s published or unpublished work, or quote directly from a work, you must cite the source.

How to cite

Citations may be incorporated into the running text:
According to research published by Jones in 1994 . . .

or parenthetically:
(Jones, 1994)

If you have made mention of a specific fact or quotation, your citation should also include the page on which that fact or quotation can be found; the typical format used to reference a page is the parenthetical citation—(Jones, 1994, p. 18)—or simply “p. 18” if the author has been mentioned earlier in the paragraph. In all cases except for those involving block quotations, the parenthetical citation is included before the period that ends the sentence.

Variations on How to Cite

Same author

If you make mention of the same author’s work multiple times in the same paragraph and that work would not be confused with any other work (that is, only one such work by that author is mentioned in the paragraph), you include the date in the first citation only. For all citations in that paragraph, you mention only the author’s name.

Block quotations

For block quotations (those of 40 or more words, although this number may be different for specific institutions and journals), the citation follows the period that ends the sentence.

Multiple authors

When a work has two authors, cite both authors’ names every time. In the text, use the word “and” to link two authors. In parenthetical citations, use the ampersand (“&”) to link two authors.

When a work has three, four, or five authors, cite all of the authors’ names the first time you cite the work. Thereafter, include only the name of the first author’s last name and “et al.” Be sure to include the period after “al.”; do not add a period after “et” and do not italicize this Latin term. All of the authors are listed in the References section. In the text, use commas between all of the authors' names, including before the word “and” immediately preceding the last author’s name in each citation (e.g., “Walker, Jones, and Smith”). In parenthetical citations, use the ampersand instead of “and” (e.g., “Walker, Jones, & Smith”).

When a work has six or more authors, include only the name of the first author, followed by “et al.” (e.g., “Smith et al., 2000”). The first six authors’ names should be included in the References entry (if there are more than six, end with et al.).

Multiple references in a parenthetical citation

Multiple references can be included in the same parenthetical citation. Use commas within each citation and separate the citations with semicolons. The citations are listed alphabetically (by the name of the first author of each citation). For example: The first seven authors’ names should be included in the References entry (if there are more than seven, insert the first six, then insert ellipses and the last author’s name).