In-text Citation: APA 7th edition style Paper Format Guide

The following APA style in-text citation guide is per the 7th edition (2023). You can check our post on essay writing mistakes to avoid when doing a paper or follow our top 10 essay writing tips for better grades.

What are in-text citations?

An in-text citation concisely acknowledges the origin of information within the main body of a written work. These citations are directly linked to comprehensive reference entries located at the end of the paper.

By including an in-text citation in the paper, writers provide readers with a convenient way to locate the complete details of the sources cited. This practice not only enhances the credibility of the work but also allows interested readers to delve deeper into the referenced material if they wish to explore it further.

Whenever you are writing an APA 7th edition style paper, you must be able to cite every external source you use in your research paper. This is a must even if your essay is just 5 paragraphs long.

The reader should be able to tell that you arrived at your conclusions by relying on appropriate sources. In-text citations in your research paper should therefore be a means of showing credibility for your arguments.

In-text citations in APA style are different from HARVARD style, Chicago style, MLA style, and other commonly used referencing formats in academic writing. As highlighted in part 1 guide pertaining APA template and settings, make sure you set up your word document according to APA requirements before you start writing.

In-text citations are used in various academic works including discussion posts, reflection paper, research papers, annotative essays among others.

APA in-text citations consist of the author’s last name and publication year. When citing a specific part of a source, also include a page number or range, for example (Parker, 2020, p. 67) or (Johnson, 2017, pp. 39–41).

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Parenthetical vs. narrative in-text citations

The in-text citation can be placed in parentheses or naturally integrated into a sentence.

  • Parenthetical: There is a correlation between social media usage and the rate of spread of misinformation (Parker, 2019).
  • Narrative: Parker (2019) found a correlation between social media usage and rate of spread of misinformation.

When utilizing the narrative format, the publication year is placed immediately after the author’s name. In the case of parenthetical citations, they can be positioned either within a sentence or at its conclusion, right before the period.

To illustrate, let’s examine a paragraph that includes a comprehensive example with in-text citations:

According to Smith (2018), climate change has become a pressing global concern. This issue has led to numerous environmental challenges, such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events (Johnson, 2020). Furthermore, the effects of climate change have been observed across various ecosystems (Anderson & Lee, 2019). For instance, coral reefs, which are particularly sensitive to changes in temperature and acidity, have experienced widespread bleaching and degradation (Miller et al., 2021). These findings emphasize the urgent need for concerted efforts to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

You can check APA essays sample with this kind of in-text citations here

Note: The citations provided in this example are fictional and do not correspond to actual sources.

APA in-text citations with multiple authors

When citing a work that has two authors, you have the option to either use a parenthetical citation or a narrative citation. In a parenthetical citation, you would separate the names of the two authors with an ampersand (&). For example: (Smith & Johnson, 2022).

In a narrative citation, you would use the word “and” to connect the names of the two authors. For example: Smith and Johnson (2022) argue that…

On the other hand, if a work has three or more authors, you only need to include the last name of the first author followed by “et al.”, which is an abbreviation for the Latin term “et alii” meaning “and others”. For example: (Smith et al., 2022).

Including “et al.” instead of listing all the authors’ names is a common practice to keep citations concise, especially when a work has multiple authors. However, in the reference list at the end of your paper, you should provide the full list of authors for each source.

Group authors known by their abbreviations (e.g., CDC) are written in full the first time and are abbreviated in subsequent citations.

Author typeParentheticalNarrative
One author(Pierre, 2023)Pierre (2023)
Two authors(Pierre & Cook, 2023)Pierre and Cook (2023)
Three or more authors(Pierre et al., 2023)Pierre et al. (2023)
Group authors(Helpwriteanessay, 2023)Helpwriteanessay (2023)
Abbreviated group author
First citation
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2023)Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2023)
Abbreviated group author
Subsequent citations
(CDC, 2023)CDC (2023)

No author, date or page number

You can cite a source in APA 7th edition if it is missing some information as follows:

Unknown elementSolutionIn-text citation
AuthorUse the source title.(Source Title, 2023)
DateWrite “n.d.” for “no date”.(Harris, n.d.)
Page numberUse an alternative locator or
omit the page number.
(Harris, 2023, 03:46) or
(Harris, 2023)

In-text citation: No author

  1. If the author is unknown: In such cases, you should make an effort to determine if there is an organization or government entity responsible for the content. If you find such an organization, include its name in the in-text citation as well as in the reference entry. Check this example

For example: “The COVID-19 pandemic caused a decline in GDP in over 20 European countries” (Deloitte, 2022).

  1. Using the source title in place of the author: If no author or organization can be identified, you can use the source title instead. If the title is italicized in the reference entry, it should also be italicized in the in-text citation. However, for court cases, the title is italicized in the in-text citation but not in the reference entry. If the title is not italicized, it should be enclosed in double quotation marks. Remember, when writing a professional academic paper, it is advised that you strictly use peer-reviewed journals/articles rather than posts.

For example:

  • (“U.S. Flood Risk,” 2015)
  • (Thinking, Fast and Slow, 2017)
  • (APA style Paper Format: In-text Citation and References, 2023)

In both cases, it is important to apply title case capitalization, which means capitalizing the first letter of each major word in the title.

Long titles can be shortened, but the first word of the title should always be included to help readers locate the corresponding reference entry.

In-text citation: No publication date

If the publication date is unknown, write “n.d.” (no date) in the in-text citation.

(Martin, n.d.)

In-text citation: No page number (alternative locators)

Page numbers are only required with direct quotes in APA. If you are quoting from a work that does not have page numbers (e.g., webpages or YouTube videos), you can use an alternative locator, such as:

  • (Liu, 2020, 03:26)
  • (Johnson, 2019, Chapter 3)
  • (McCombes, 2016, para. 4)
  • (Davis, 2016, Slide 15)
  • (Flores, 2020, Table 5)
  • (Streefkerk, 2020, “No page number” section)

You can also cite the Bible in your paper as follows:

Use chapter and verse numbers, even when page numbers are available; example

(English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Joshua. 2:7)

Multiple sources in one parenthesis

If a statement is supported by multiple sources, the in-text citations can be combined in one parenthesis. Order the sources alphabetically, and separate them with a semicolon.

When citing multiple works from the same author, list the years of publication separated by a comma.

Various studies have indicated that the U.S. economy may be unable to recover at least until 2025 (Martin, 2020; Coursepivot, 2021; Pierre, 2021, 2022).

Avoiding ambiguity in APA in-text citations

When in-text citations are ambiguous because they correspond to multiple reference entries, apply the solutions outlined in the table below.

SituationSolutionIn-text citation
Multiple works by the same author in the same year.Add a lowercase letter after the year.(Cooper, 2023a)
(Cooper, 2023b)
Different authors with the same last name.Include the authors’ initials.(H. Taylor, 2023)
(B. J. Taylor, 2023)
Multiple works with 3+ authors that shorten to the same form (i.e., same first author(s) and date).Include as many names as needed to distinguish the citations.(Cooper, Lee, et al., 2023)
(Cooper, Ross, et al., 2023)

Citing indirect sources (“as cited in”)

When referring to a source that you have come across through another source, it is generally recommended to access and cite the original or primary source directly.

This allows you to provide accurate and reliable information to your readers. By consulting the original source, you can ensure that you have the most up-to-date and firsthand information available.

However, in situations where you are unable to locate the original source, you can still include a citation by using the secondary source that led you to it.

In this case, you would use the phrase “as cited in” to indicate that you are citing information that was mentioned or referenced in the secondary source.

For example, if you read a book by Author A who mentions a study conducted by Author B, but you are unable to find the original study by Author B, you can cite it as follows:

Author B (as cited in Author A, year) conducted a study that…

By using the “as cited in” phrase, you acknowledge that you did not directly access the original source but found the information within another source. It is important to note that whenever possible, it is preferable to locate and cite the original source to ensure accuracy and reliability in your research.

Example: (Patrick, 1975, as cited in Pierre et al., 2023)

When the publication date of the primary source (the original source you are unable to access) is unknown, you should include only the year of publication of the secondary source (the source you have accessed and are citing). This practice ensures consistency and accuracy in your citations.

For example, if you are citing a statement made by Porter that you found in Johnson’s work and you are unable to determine the publication date of Porter’s original source, your citation would appear as follows:

Porter (as cited in Johnson, 2017) states that…

In this case, you are attributing the statement to Porter, even though you did not directly access Porter’s work. By including the phrase “as cited in,” you indicate that you encountered Porter’s information through Johnson’s work.

It’s important to note that you only need to include a reference entry for the secondary source (Johnson’s work) in your reference list or bibliography.

Since you did not directly consult Porter’s original source, it is not necessary to include a separate reference entry for it. However, you should ensure that you provide accurate and complete information for the secondary source in your reference list.

By following these guidelines, you maintain clarity and integrity in your citations, acknowledging both the original author (Porter) and the source you have consulted (Johnson).

Example paragraph with in-text citations

APA paragraph showing in-text citations

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Editorial Team. (2023, May 10). In-text Citation: APA 7th edition style Paper Format Guide. Help Write An Essay. Retrieved from

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