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Guide to Citations

A guide for everyone explaining basics of different types of Citation: What their purposes are, how to do them, and why they are important.

There are three elements to APA style in-text citations:

  • The author's last name (and sometimes first initial)
  • The year of publication
  • Page number (or paragraph number, if not available)

This is the general format for an in-text citation:

(LastName, YYYY, p.###).

If the author has been mentioned in the text itself, you don't need to put them in the citation. Usually, the year will be right after the author's name in the text and only the page number will be included at the end of the sentence. For example:

This author recalls that Burgess (2019) wrote "something like this" (p. 45).

Page numbers, while not required for this specific kind of in-text citation, are recommended for clarity.

Citing A Work With Two Authors

If in the text:

Authors Casey and Burgess (2019)....

If in parenthetical citation:

"This is a sentence" (Casey & Burgess, 2019, p. 26).

Note the use of the ampersand in the parenthetical citation.

Citing a Work With 3-5 Authors

Works with 3-5 authors should be cited similar to 2 authors with the following differences:

  • Commas should be in between each author and before the ampersand (&).
  • In all citations after the first, only the first author should be listed with "et al."°

For example:

.....(Burgess, Casey, Smith, Schmidt, & Johnson, 2019).

...... (Burgess, et al., 2019).

°What is "et al.?" It's an abbreviation of "et alia" meaning "and others." Note that there is no period after "et"

Citing a Work with 6 or More Authors

Similar to the above, all citations with 6 or more authors should list only the first author's last name and "et al." followed by the year. It should look like this:

..... (Smith, et al., 2019).

Unknown Author

If you can't find the author, use the title instead. For example:

("Title of the Work," 2019).

Corporate Authorship

If an organization or a corporation created the work you are referencing, use the corporation's name as the author. For example:

(Musicians Institute, 2019).

If an organization has a well-known acronym, include that in brackets, then use the acronym in every other reference to that organization. For example:

(Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], 2019).

(FBI, 2019).

When two or more works act as references for the same quotation, create the in-text citations in the same way, order them in alphabetical order, and separate them by a semi-colon (;). For example:

Several people have proven this... (Burgess, 2019; Casey, 1995).

Normally, referencing several works by the same author in APA is not a problem, since they are usually separated by the year of creation. However, if the citation includes several works by the same author, write the author's last name once and list the years chronologically, separated by commas. For example:

(Burgess, 1995, 2009, 2013, 2017, 2019).

With multiple authors with multiple years:

(Burgess, 1995, 2009, 2013; Casey, 1995, 1997, 1998).

For two or more works written in the same year, use lowercase letters:

(Burgess 1995a, 1995b).

If there are two authors with the same last name, include their first initials to avoid confusion. For example:

.... (C. Burgess, 2019, p. 123; J. Burgess, 1990, p. 321).

Personal Communications

For emails, interviews, messages, or any other person-to-person communication, do the same as normal citations, but use the person who wrote the communication as the author, include "personal communication" in the in-text citation, and include the full date. For example:

.... (Burgess, personal communication, November 21, 2019).

Indirect Sources

When citing another citation, use the phrase "as cited in" and include the source you found the information. For example:

"'This is a quote from another person'" (as cited in Johnson, 2019, p.15).

Unknown Date

If you don't know the date, use "n.d." For example:

.... (Burgess, n.d.).

Unknown Author AND Unknown Date

If you don't know the date or the author, use "n.d." for the date and use the title of the work instead. For example:

(Title of My Work, n.d.).

Sources Without Page Numbers

If you are citing a source, like an electronic journal article or a website, try to include any identifying information like a paragraph number. Use "para." before the number. For example:

... (Burgess, 2019, para.12).

Make sure you don't use pages from printed out web-pages as these can change over time, whereas paragraph numbers do not.