Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Please note: Off-campus access to many library resources is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Hope Library Guides

APA: Home

Lists of References

In text citations

In Text Citations


1. Basic format for a quotation Ordinarily, introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author’s last name followed by the year of publication in parentheses. Put the page number preceded by "p." (or "pp." for more than one page) in parentheses after the quotation.


Critser (2003) noted that despite growing numbers of overweight Americans, many health care providers still “remain either in ignorance or outright denial about the health danger to the poor and the young” (p. 5).

If the author is not named in the signal phrase, place the author’s name, the year, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation: (Critser, 2003, p. 5).

NOTE: APA style requires the year of publication in an in-text citation. Do not include a month, even if the entry in the reference list includes the month.

2. Basic format for a summary or a paraphrase Include the author’s last name and the year either in a signal phrase introducing the material or in parentheses following it. Give a page number to help readers find the passage. For online sources without page numbers, see No page numbers in item 12.


Yanovski and Yanovski (2002) explained that sibutramine suppresses appetite by blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain (p. 594).

Sibutramine suppresses appetite by blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain (Yanovski & Yanovski, 2002, p. 594).

3. Work with two authors Name both authors in the signal phrase or the parentheses each time you cite the work. In the parentheses, use “&” between the authors’ names; in the signal phrase, use “and.”


According to Sothern and Gordon (2003), “Environmental factors may contribute as much as 80% to the causes of childhood obesity” (p. 104).

Obese children often engage in limited physical activity (Sothern & Gordon, 2003, p. 104).

4. Work with three to five authors Identify all authors in the signal phrase or the parentheses the first time you cite the source.


In 2003, Berkowitz, Wadden, Tershakovec, and Cronquist concluded, “Sibutramine . . . must be carefully monitored in adolescents, as in adults, to control increases in [blood pressure] and pulse rate” (p. 1811).

In subsequent citations, use the first author’s name followed by “et al.” in either the signal phrase or the parentheses.


As Berkowitz et al. (2003) advised, “Until more extensive safety and efficacy data are available, . . . weight-loss medications should be used only on an experimental basis for adolescents” (p. 1811).

5. Work with six or more authors Use the first author’s name followed by “et al.” in the signal phrase or the parentheses.


McDuffie et al. (2002) tested 20 adolescents, aged 12-16, over a three-month period and found that orlistat, combined with behavioral therapy, produced an average weight loss of 4.4 kg, or 9.7 pounds (p. 646).

6. Work with unknown author If the author is unknown, mention the work’s title in the signal phrase or give the first word or two of the title in the parenthetical citation. Titles of articles and chapters are put in quotation marks; titles of books and reports are italicized. (For online sources with no author, see item 12.)


Children struggling to control their weight must also struggle with the pressures of television advertising that, on the one hand, encourages the consumption of junk food and, on the other, celebrates thin celebrities (“Television,” 2002).

NOTE: In the rare case when “Anonymous” is specified as the author, treat it as if it were a real name: (Anonymous, 2001). In the list of references, also use the name Anonymous as author.

7. Organization as author If the author is a government agency or another organization, name the organization in the signal phrase or in the parenthetical citation the first time you cite the source.


Obesity puts children at risk for a number of medical complications, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and orthopedic problems (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2004, p. 1).

If the organization has a familiar abbreviation, you may include it in brackets the first time you cite the source and use the abbreviation alone in later citations.


(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2009)


(CDC, 2009)

8. Authors with the same last name To avoid confusion, use initials with the last names if your reference list includes two or more authors with the same last name.


Research by E. Smith (1989) revealed that . . .

9. Two or more works by the same author in the same year When your list of references includes more than one work by the same author in the same year, use lowercase letters (“a,” “b,” and so on) with the year to order the entries in the reference list. (See item 6.) Use those same letters with the year in the in-text citation.


Research by Durgin (2003b) has yielded new findings about the role of counseling in treating childhood obesity.

10. Two or more works in the same parentheses When your parenthetical citation names two or more works, put them in the same order that they appear in the reference list, separated with semicolons.


Researchers have indicated that studies of pharmacological treatments for childhood obesity are inconclusive (Berkowitz et al., 2003; McDuffie et al., 2002).

11. Personal communication Personal interviews, memos, letters, e-mail, and similar unpublished communications should be cited in the text only, not in the reference list. (Use the first initial with the last name in parentheses.)


One of Atkinson’s colleagues, who has studied the effect of the media on children’s eating habits, has contended that advertisers for snack foods will need to design ads responsibly for their younger viewers (F. Johnson, personal communication, October 20, 2009).

12. Electronic source When possible, cite electronic sources, including online sources, as you would any other source, giving the author and the year.


Atkinson (2001) found that children who spent at least four hours a day watching TV were less likely to engage in adequate physical activity during the week.

Electronic sources sometimes lack authors’ names, dates, or page numbers.

Unknown author

If no author is named, mention the title of the source in the signal phrase or give the first word or two of the title in the parentheses (see also item 6). (If an organization serves as the author, see item 7.)


The body’s basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is a measure of its at-rest energy requirement (“Exercise,” 2003).

Unknown date

When the date is unknown, use the abbreviation “n.d.” (for “no date”).


Attempts to establish a definitive link between television programming and children’s eating habits have been problematic (Magnus, n.d.).

No page numbers

APA ordinarily requires page numbers for quotations, summaries, and paraphrases. When an electronic source lacks stable numbered pages, include paragraph numbers or headings to help readers locate the particular passage being cited.

If the source has numbered paragraphs, use the paragraph number preceded by the abbreviation “para.”: (Hall, 2008, para. 5). If the source contains headings, cite the appropriate heading in parentheses; you may also indicate the paragraph under the heading that you are referring to, even if the paragraphs are not numbered.


Hoppin and Taveras (2004) pointed out that several other medications were classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as having the “potential for abuse” (Weight-Loss Drugs section, para. 6).

NOTE: Electronic files in portable document format (PDF) often have stable page numbers. For such sources, give the page number in the parenthetical citation.

13. Indirect source If you use a source that was cited in another source (a secondary source), name the original source in your signal phrase. List the secondary source in your reference list and include it in your parenthetical citation, preceded by the words “as cited in.” In the following example, Satcher is the original source, and Critser is the secondary source, given in the reference list.


Former surgeon general Dr. David Satcher described “a nation of young people seriously at risk of starting out obese and dooming themselves to the difficult task of overcoming a tough illness” (as cited in Critser, 2003, p. 4).

14. Sacred or classical text Identify the text, the version or edition you used, and the relevant part (chapter, verse, line). It is not necessary to include the source in the reference list.


Peace activists have long cited the biblical prophet’s vision of a world without war: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4, Revised Standard Version).