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APA 7th Edition Guide: In-Text Citation

Student Sample Paper

It is important to acknowledge the work of others when using another persons words or ideas. APA mandates the inclusion of parenthetical in-text citations within the body of the paper followed by a corresponding Reference page located after the paper's text. The reference list is an alphabetical listing of works cited in the paper and includes the authors names, publication date, title, and source. This is enough information for the reader to find the source. 

In general the author's last name and publication date is enough information to acknowledge the original source within the paper. In cases where a direct quote is used, page numbers must be included with the parenthetical in-text citation. 

Author date citation system

  • Each work cited in the text must appear in the reference list
  • Each work in the reference list must be cited in the text
  • Author's names and publication dates should correspond between those found in the text and reference list
    • the reference list may include day, month, and year but the corresponding in-text citations should only include the year
  • Personal communication that is not recoverable by the reader is cited in the text only
  • Do not include author's suffix such as Jr.., only include the authors last name
  • The in-text citation publication year should correspond with the publication year found in the reference
  • If the source has no date then use n.d. to indicate that no date was available

 ​Parenthetical and Narrative Citations

To allow the narrative of the paper to flow naturally, APA allows both a parenthetical and narrative in-text citation style. 

Parenthetical In-Text Citation

The parenthetical in-text citation style requires that author names and date of publication be placed within parentheses separated by a comma. The parenthetical citation can appear within or at the end of a sentence, if it appears at the end of the sentence then the period should be placed after the closing parentheses. 


  • (Author, 2020)  [One author]
  • (Author & Author2, n.d.)  [Two authors; no date available]
  • (Author et al., 2020)  [More than two authors]

Narrative In-Text Citation

The author appears in the text followed by the date in parenthesis. 


  • Author (2020)  [One author]

  • Author and Author2 (n.d.)  [Two authors; no date available]

  • Author et al (2020 p. 72-74)  [More than two authors, page numbers included for direct quote]

Citing Group Authors

Some works may be authored by groups rather than individuals. In this case, the group name will be used as the author. A group name may be abbreviated to an acronym if it is more known by the acronym, if not doing so would cause long repetitious entries within the text, or if the group is mentioned three or more times within the text. 

APA does not require that a group author's name is abbreviated. 


  • Provide the full name of the group in the first mention followed by the abbreviation

First in-text citation examples

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, 2020) [narrative in-text citation]

(National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], 2020) [parenthetical in-text citation]

Subsequent in-text citation examples

NASA (2020)  [narrative in-text citation]

(NASA, 2020) [parenthetical in-text citation]​

  • Do not abbreviate the group author's name in the reference list; it should appear in full as it does in the firs in-text citation

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (2020, February 24). Katherine Johnson Biography.   

  • It is only necessary to introduce the group author once even when several references by the same group are used within the paper

  • Spell out the name of the group in full if two or more groups share the same acronym in order to avoid confusion 

Citing Multiple Works

Multiple works can be cited by placing the in-text citation within parenthesis and separating the citations with semi-colons. Each citation should be in alphabetical order.

Example: (Jagger, 2020; Lamar and Frances, 2018; Prince, 2019; Trent, 2020)

Citing Multiple Works by the Same Author

When citing multiple works by the same author, organize the works by publication date listing works with no date first. 

Parenthetical Example: (Department of Education, n.d., 2018a, 2018b, 2020) [works published within the same year should be differentiated with the letter a for the first source b for the second].

Narrative Example: Jagger (n.d., 2018, 2020)

Citing Works with the Same Author and Date of Publication

When citing more than one work with the same authors then add a lower case a after the first works date of publication then a b after the second works date of publication. Continue in this manner for each additional work cited.


(Jagger & Janice, 2020a)

Jagger and Janice (2020b)

(Cohen, n.d.-a, n.d.-b)

Citing Authors with the Same Last Name

If the first author of multiple citations share the same last name then include that author's first initial to reduce confusion. 

Example: (C. Taylor, 2020; R. Taylor & Flores, 2015)

Placing Emphasis on Works Within a Multiple Source In-Text Citation

To place emphasis on the most important work among a list of cited works, place it first in the list followed by see also. Then list the other citations in alphabetical order.

Parenthetical Example: (Jagger & Janice, 2020; see also Douglas et al., 2014; Gonzalez, 2017; Williams & Chung, 2016)

Narrative Example: Jagger and Janice (2020), Douglas et al, (2014), Gonzalez (2017), and William and Chung (2016) explored . . .

Citing Unknown Authors

If no author is given then include the title and year in the in-text citation. If the title is italicized in the reference list (e.g. book title) then italicize the title within the in-text citation, if the title is not italicized then place double quotations around the title.

Example Book with no author: (Counseling Methods, 2019)

Example Magazine article with no author: ("Failing the Vulnerable," 2017)

The title should appear the same in the in-text citation and reference list. In the reference list, the title will replace the author and retain italicization but it should not include double quotation marks.

Translated, Reprinted, Republished, and Reissued Dates 

Include the original publication date and the republish date within the parenthesis for Translated, reprinted, republished, and reissued works.


Aristotle (ca. 350 B.C.E./1994) 

(Shakespeare, 1623/2009)

Note: ca. is an abbreviation for circa and is used to indicate an approximation of the publication date when not known. BCE is an abbreviation for before the common era that should be used for dates before C.E (common error). It is not necessary to include CE for common era dates.

Omitting the Year in Repeated Narrative Citations

If the same source is used multiple times within one paragraph the date may be omitted. Each reference should include the author and no other source should be cited. If another source is cited between references then the name and date of each source should be included.

Parenthetical in-text citations should always include both author and date. 

The first citation in each paragraph should include the author and date even if the same source was cited in a previous paragraph.

If multiple sources written by the same author are cited within a paragraph include the author and year in each citation to avoid confusion. 

Personal Communication

Personal communication are sources that cannot be retrieved by the reader and should only be used when no other recoverable source can be found.

Common types of personal communication include:

  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Personal interviews
  • Live speeches
  • Classroom lectures (unrecorded)
  • Personal letters

Do not include personal communication citations in the reference list since readers will not be able to recover the source.

Example of Personal Communication In-Text Citation

  • Narrative Citation: J.D. Romero (personal communication, February 4, 2020)
  • Parenthetical Citation:(E. Brown, personal communication. February 4, 2020)



For more information see Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 7th edition - Chapter 8 Work Credited in the Text pages 253-278 (Available at the UNT Dallas Library)

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