How To Use APA Format Citation?

Tips How To Use APA Format Citation

Most writing assignments require a student to research a certain topic. Your lecturer expects you to build a solid scientific ground for your arguments. It is the foundation of successful higher education: complementing the existing body of knowledge with your personal findings.

Yet, to refer to the ideas of other scientists in your papers, you need to know how to give them credit. With this aim, we use different citation styles for essay outline. Usually, a professor chooses a particular style and asks students to follow it. In this article, we will outline the basic rules of the APA citation guide (7th edition).  

Types of APA Style Citation

When you incorporate outside sources in your essay, you need to indicate the exact sentence where you use the idea proposed by someone else. The mastery of referencing is one of the most important study skills as it allows you to research responsibly, acknowledging the work of other people. When you use ideas that are not your own, APA style requires you to include an in-text citation. It is a short signal phrase that must be backed up by a detailed entry in a reference list. It will help your reader to find the source you mention in your paper and get additional data or verify the information.

In-Text Citations

APA in-text citations have a simple format, which includes the last name of the author and the year of publication. You should also include the page number. It is compulsory only for direct quotations. Yet, a lot of teachers also prefer having page numbers for paraphrased information. You can present in-text citations in a parenthetical or narrative form. 

  • Parenthetical citations include the necessary citation information in parentheses. They appear at the end of the sentence. For example:

This proves its value for digital marketing (Kingsnorth, 2019).

  • Narrative APA citations appear in the text itself and mention the author. The year of publication must be written in parentheses. A page number should also be placed in parentheses at the end of the quoted sentence.

According to Kingsnorth (2019), segmentation, targeting, and positioning help to understand the customer.

Kingsnorth (2019) has defined through-the-line as “creating an integrated approach by using an appropriate blend of above- and below-the-line marketing” (p. 11).

Reference List Entry

A reference list appears at the end of your paper. It should contain a separate entry for each source you mention within your work. Its content fully depends on the type of the cited work. In general, you need to include the author’s name, the title of the work, its year of publication, the name of the publisher or website, or the link if it is available. 

Kingsnorth, S. (2019). Digital marketing strategy: An integrated approach to online marketing (2nd ed.). Kogan Page.

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APA In-Text Citation: General Overview

APA in-text citations may seem confusing when you need to refer to the work that has a large number of creators or lists no authors at all. Let’s discuss these and other instances to find appropriate solutions.

APA Citation in Text: Author/Authors

The format of an APA in-text citation usually depends on the number of authors. According to the latest edition of the formatting guide, you can include the maximum of two authors in a citation. How to approach the works with multiple or group authors? Let’s have a close look at each instance.

One Author

To cite a work with an individual author, use a traditional author-year format. Include this information either in a parenthetical or narrative citation. If applicable, add a page number, starting with “p.” For example:

(Clarke, 2019)

(Clarke, 2019, p. 12)

Clarke (2019) argues that ...

Two Authors

Although the traditional one-author format is the most common, you may come across different authorship variations. When you cite a work written by two people, APA citation in text includes the names of both scholars, which should be connected with “and.” Yet, if you use a parenthetical citation, use a synonymous symbol “&.”

Butts and Rich (2017) describe the following elements of the Doctor of Nursing Practice…

(Butts & Rich, 2017, p. 55)

More Than Two Authors

Long in-text citations are to be avoided because they can substantially diminish the reading experience for your audience. Thus, in case you have a large list of authors to cite, you should use a common scholarly abbreviation “et al.” after the first surname. This way, you will acknowledge the contribution of each author of a certain work without any harm to your paper. An in-text citation will be short but still informative:

(Wilkinson et al., 2019, p. 330)

Group Author

Sometimes the author of the work may not be listed. Instead, you will see the name of an organization, either governmental or private, or the name of a website. Such information is perfectly suitable for your citations. Write the name of an organization in an in-text citation just as you would normally do with one’s last name. 

World Health Organization (2020) reports that... 

If the name of the organization can be abbreviated, do it to avoid long citations. You should include its full name and introduce an abbreviation in square brackets in the first citation and use a short version in all subsequent mentions:

(World Health Organization [WHO], 2020) 

(WHO, 2020)

Several Works by the Same Author

If you are going to cite several works written by a single author and published during the same year, you should do something to differentiate your in-text citations. APA citation format suggests that you add letters to the year of publication to avoid ambiguity. They must appear both in a reference list and in-text citations.

(McLean, 2019a)

(McLean, 2019b)

Several Sources in One In-Text Citation

If you apply evidence from two sources in a single sentence, you need to indicate it. Include them both in a parenthetical citation. The sources must be arranged in alphabetical order just as they appear in References. You should use a semicolon to separate the sources in an APA citation like in the following example:

(DiGiacomo, 2020; Murphy, 2012)

However, if you cite different works by the same author, there is no need to repeat the name several times. Write it only once and list years from the least to the greatest: 

(Murphy, 2012, 2014)

Different Authors with the Same Surname

If two different authors from your list of references have the same last name, add their initials in in-text citations to help the reader differentiate between them. Put them before each last name. This step is especially relevant for works published in one year. 

(G. Barrett, 2016; L. Barrett, 2016)

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APA In-Text Citation: Web Pages

Basic Rules

The APA citation format of in-text citations for electronic sources does not differ much from print ones. The same author-year scheme works for them as well. However, a reference list will require additional information, such as the month and date of publication, site name, and link. For example:

Reference List Entry
In-Text Citation

Gill, N. S. (2018, July 30). Ancient Greek comedy. ThoughtCo.

(Gill, 2018)

Unknown Author

You may sometimes encounter web pages without an author listed. Yet, as long as a website is trustworthy, you can cite it in your academic papers. For example, you can use works with no known author in an argumentative, persuasive, or cause and effect essay. To create APA format in-text citations for such sources, our professionals recommend to use the title of the article in inverted commas instead of the name of the author. If it is long, you are free to shorten it to two-three words. 

Sanctuary cities enhance community safety and cooperation with authorities (“Immigration Topic Overview,” 2018)

Unknown Date

Another issue with incomplete reference information is when a source lacks the date of publication. It is a common problem for electronic sources as they can be continuously updated. To omit the date is not a solution. Instead, you need to add an abbreviation “n.d.” after the name of the author or the title of the source when there is no known author. This abbreviation stands for “no date” in academic papers. For example:

(Jones, n.d.)

No Page Numbers

If a source does not have page numbers, it is acceptable to omit them. However, an APA quote citation may require page numbers to help the reader locate the source quickly. They should always follow direct quotations. For electronic sources without pagination, you can include the number of a paragraph, chapter, or any other distinctive part of the source. For example:

As for the largest groups, “Mexicans make up the largest segment (12.7 million or 25.4 percent) of all immigrants currently living in the United States” (“Immigration Topic Overview,” 2018, para. 2).

Online Dictionary or Encyclopedia Entry

You should treat online dictionaries as ordinary web pages. Thus, format them in the same way. If the name of the author is available, use it. Otherwise, write the name of the organization or web site as an author. For example: 

(Merriam-Webster, n.d.)

Indirect Citations

Peer-reviewed articles and books often include multiple citations of other sources. Be careful when incorporating such indirect citations in your research. It is always better to find the original source of information to avoid possible misunderstandings or distortions. However, if it is not available, use the following format:

(as cited in Balzer & Kottner, 2015, p. 1656)

APA In-Text Citations: Journal Articles

To cite scholarly journal articles, you will need the basic rules that we have already discussed. Although the APA in-text citations of articles will not differ from other sources, the reference list should include the italicized title and volume of the cited journal as well as the issue and page numbers. 

Reference List Entry Example
In-Text Citation

Zahavi, D., & Martiny, K. M. M. (2019). Phenomenology in nursing studies: New perspectives. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 93, 155-162.

(Zahavi & Martiny, 2019)

Note that when you insert a link to the article, it is better to include either a DOI or a stable link. Ordinary URLs are less preferable because they can change or disappear over time. 

APA In-Text Citations: Books

Basic Format

Book APA citations include the author and year, separated with a comma. A corresponding reference list entry is more detailed, listing the title (italicized) and publisher as well. Take a look at the following example:

Reference List Entry Example
In-Text Citation

Bott, D. (2007). Chanel: Collections and creations. Thames & Hudson.

(Bott, 2007)

Edited Book

An edited book with an author includes the name of an editor only in references. In contrast, if a book does not have an author and lists only editors, their names must appear in APA in-text citations. A republished work must list not only the year of publication of your copy but also the original publication date. For example:

Reference List Entry Examples
In-Text Citation

Delpit, L. (Ed.). (2019). Teaching when the world is on fire. The New Press.

(Delpit, 2019)

Shakespeare, W. (2004). Twelfth night. (B. A. Mowat, & P. Werstine, Eds.). Simon & Schuster. (Original work published 1602)

(Shakespeare, 1602/2004)

A Part of a Collection or Anthology

When you cite not the whole book but a separate essay, article, or chapter, list only the authors of this smaller work. An APA style citation should list their names as well. Yet, a reference list must be more detailed and also include editors and the title of a larger work within which the cited piece appears. To add the page range, use the abbreviation “pp.” if you cite several pages and “p.” for one page. Take a look at the following example offered by writers:

Reference List Entry Example
In-Text Citation

Price, J., & Koretz, D. M. (2013). Building assessment literacy. In K. Parker Boudett, E. A. City, & R. J. Murnane (Eds.), Data wise: A step-by-step guide to using assessment results to improve teaching and learning (pp. 35-67). Harvard Education Press.

(Price & Koretz, 2013)


To cite a translated work, list the name of the creator and the year of publication. If the work was republished several times, include both dates separated with “/.” The name of the translator should appear only in the APA reference format. It will be redundant in your text. 

Reference List Entry Example
In-Text Citation

Baudelaire, C. (2008). The flowers of evil (J. N. McGowan, Trans.). Oxford University Press. (Original work published 1857)

(Baudelaire, 1857/2008)

Framing Elements of a Book

Some books have an introduction, preface, foreword, or afterword written by different authors than those who created the main text of a work. So, we should give credit precisely to the authors of these smaller parts. The format of an entry in references will be similar to a work in a collection.  

Reference List Entry Example
In-Text Citation

Mayer, R. E. (2010). Foreword: Applying the science of learning to college teaching. In S. A. Ambrose, M. W. Bridges, M. DiPietro, M. C. Lovett, & M. K. Norman (Eds.), How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching (pp. xiii-xvi). Jossey-Bass.

(Mayer, 2010)

Official Report

If a report includes the name of the author, use it to cite the document. However, the authorship of reports belongs to organizations. Cite organization as an author regardless of the fact whether it is a private or governmental entity. Include an URL if you take a report from the Internet. For example:

Reference List Entry Examples
In-Text Citation

Evans, A. C. (2016). 2016 annual report. American Psychological Association.

(Evans, 2016)

U.S. Department of Education. (2019). FY 2019 agency financial report (AFR).

(U.S. Department of Education, 2019)

How to Cite in APA: Audios, Videos and Images

APA Citation in Audios, Videos and Images

Students often find it difficult to cite non-textual sources. Videos, photographs, podcasts, films, and songs require particular reference information. Here you mention a director instead of an author, the date range of release instead of the publication date, and the number of an episode substitutes an issue number. Such changes are not random. They are conditioned by the type of source. Let’s look through the most common audiovisual sources. 


When you cite a film or a video, you need to use the name of its director as an author. A reference list entry must specify the title of a person in parentheses. Just as you would mention a publisher for print sources, here you need to include a production company. Pay attention that sometimes movies have several production companies, list them using a semicolon. As always, an example will help us to illustrate the APA format citation:

Reference List Entry Example
In-Text Citation

Wright, J. (2007). Atonement [Film]. StudioCanal; Working Title Films.

(Wright, 2007)

YouTube Video

YouTube is a popular source, which contains a lot of educational materials in addition to entertaining content. To cite such videos, you can use either the name of an uploader or even a nickname if the former is not available. 


The citation of a podcast is rather simple. You can use either a producer or a host as an author. The choice should suit the information that you incorporate into your paper. If you can access an URL, please include it to help your readers find the source in one click. Look at the APA citation example:

Reference List Entry Example
In-Text Citation

James, E., & Robins, J.  (Hosts). (2020, September 4). #100 - Salty balance, WAFTAs and upside down agreements (No. 100) [Audio podcast episode]. In Elis James and John Robins.

(James & Robins, 2020)


An APA citation of a certain artwork will include the name of its creator: painter, sculptor, architect, or performer. Besides, you will include the year of its creation. When an APA in-text citation is not much different from other sources, a reference entry should also include information on the medium used for the creation of the cited artwork and the location and name of the museum where the piece belongs. 

Reference List Entry Example
In-Text Citation

Picasso, P. (1901). Seated Harlequin [Painting]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, United States.

(Picasso, 1901)


If the cited photo is a part of a museum collection, follow the same format as for an artwork. That is, include the name of a museum and its location. If it is an individual photo published online, include a website as a source instead. When there is no title, put the description of the photo in square brackets. To help your teacher find the original photo, add a link as a final element of a reference entry. An APA in-text citation will include only an author and a year. 

Reference List Entry Example
In-Text Citation

Berger, N. (2020). [The Bear Fire] [Photograph]. CNN.

(Berger, 2020)

To Sum Up

Our APA citation guide provides extensive instructions for every source you might need to refer to in your paper. The main thing to remember is to include the name of the author and the year of publication in each APA in-text citation. This way, you will avoid plagiarism and conduct research according to the standards of academic integrity. 

When you need to cite anything in APA or Chicago format, first check what type of source it is: book, article, web page, chapter, report, video, etc. Then, choose the corresponding section from our guide to create a correct APA in-text citation. We know how daunting it may seem, especially if it is your first research paper. If you need help, message us, write my essay. DoMyEssay works with a team of expert who know citation styles inside out. They can help you to make accurate citations for all the necessary sources.

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