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How to cite in APA format

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In APA you cite a source in two places: in the text and in the reference list. Both of these citations are essential—the in-text citation lets the reader know that full information of the source is available in the reference list and the reference-list entry helps the reader locate the source. All in-text citations in the text have corresponding reference-list entries. Similarly, all reference-list entries have one or more corresponding in-text citations.

In-text citations

The author’s surname and the year of publication are the fundamental, but essential, components of an in-text citation. Page numbers are also added in cases when quotes are referred to in the text. You can include in-text citations in one of the two ways: a narrative citation or a parenthetical citation.

Narrative citations

Narrative citations act as a component of the sentence. In narrative citations, the year of publication alone is set in parenthesis. A narrative citation for a single author is shown below:

Goldberg (2003) considers discrimination as a key factor.

Parenthetical citations

Both the author’s name and the year of publication are included in parenthesis at the end of the sentence in parenthetical citations. A parenthetical citation with a single author will look like this:

Work-life balance is considered important (Sethu, 2021).

Including page numbers

When quotes are included in the text, you must mention the page number on which the quoted text appears in the source. Both narrative and parenthetical citations are included below for your understanding:

Narrative:

Murray (2013, p. 54)

Murray (2013, pp. 53–57)

Parenthetical:

(Murray, 2013, p. 54)

(Murray, 2013, pp. 53–57)

Example in-text citations

A few examples of in-text citations are given below for different author numbers:

One author

Only the surname of the author is included for in-text citations. In parenthetical citations, a comma is added before the year of publication.

Narrative:

Colt (2016)

Parenthetical:

(Colt, 2016)

Two authors

Narrative citations take “and” as separators between the surnames of the authors. An ampersand symbol is used in parenthetical citations.

Narrative:

Thomson and Ip (2020)

Parenthetical:

(Thomson & Ip, 2020)

Three or more authors

Always use only the surname of the first author and “et al.”

Narrative:

Alim et al. (2016)

Parenthetical:

(Alim et al., 2016)

Group author

Add the group author in place of the author’s name.

Narrative:

Ng Collaboration (2003)

Parenthetical:

(Ng Collaboration, 2003)

No author

If a source does not have an author, the source title is added in the author’s field. Usually, no author sources are cited as parenthetical citations.

Italicize the text or place the title in quotations, depending upon how the title is written in the reference-list entry. If the source title appears in italics, the title is italicized in the in-text citation. If no formatting is given in the reference-list entry, place the title in quotation marks in in-text citations.

Parenthetical:

(“Scavengers of the World,” 2004)

Parenthetical, book:

(Michel Foucault, 2003)

Parenthetical, journal article:

(“Bringing race into second language acquisition,” 2019)

Reference list entries

Entries in the reference list are called full citations. Each reference-list entry has four major elements:

  1. Author names.
  2. Year of publication
  3. Title(s) of the source
  4. Source of reference

Examples of reference-list entries

The examples of a book, journal, webpage of a website, and YouTube references are provided for your reference. All examples given here are by a single author. The alphabets “F” and “M” in the below templates refer to the first and middle initials of an author.

Book

The title of the book is set in italics and sentence case.

Template:

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the book. Publisher.

Example:

Fairclough, N. (2001). Language and power. Longman.

Journal article

The article title is given in sentence case. Capitalize the first word of a subtitle. The journal title is given in headline-case and italicized. The volume number is formatted in italics. Include the DOI if it is present. Add “https://doi.org/” before the DOI number. For an online journal, add the URL if you do not find a DOI. Avoid using a period after the DOI or URL.

Template:

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume(issue), page range. URL or DOI

Example:

Flores, N. (2016). A tale of two visions: Hegemonic whiteness and bilingual education. Educational Policy, 30(1), 13–38. https://doi:10.1177/0895904815616482

Webpage of a Website

The webpage title is written in plain text. The name of the website is italicized. Note the format of the date given in the template and example and write your date accordingly.

Template:

Author or Organization Name. (Year, Month Day of Publication). Webpage title. Title of the Website. URL

Example:

AEO. (2014, May). Annual Energy Outlook 2014 with projections to 2040. Energy Information Administration. http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/

YouTube video

Write the video title in sentence case and italicize it. Add the word “Video” after the video title and give it inside square brackets. Then, include “YouTube .” Finally, provide the link of the video.

Template:

Uploader’s name. F. (Year, Month Day Published). Video title. [Video]. YouTube. URL

Example:

Brand, R. (2021, May 29). Covid: Leaks, lies and incompetence. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dArz2OPsGSU

Reference entries for different numbers of authors

The appearance of author names in the reference-list entries is decided by the number of authors in the cited sources. The following examples explain how the author names appear for different numbers of authors.

One author

Write the name of the author and the publication year.

Template:

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume(issue), page range.

Example:

García, O. (2009). Emergent bilinguals and TESOL: What’s in a name? TESOL Quarterly, 43(2), 322–326. https://doi:10.1002/j.1545-7249.2009.tb00172.x

Two authors

Write the names of both authors with an ampersand symbol as a separator. Include a comma before the ampersand symbol.

Template:

Author Surname, F. M., & Author Surname, F. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume(issue), page range. DOI or URL

Example:

Jacobs, T., & Tschötschel, R. (2019). Topic models meet discourse analysis: A quantitative tool for a qualitative approach. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 22(5), 469–485. https://doi:10.1080/13645579.2019.1576317

However, do not add an ampersand symbol when you use two organizations as authors.

Template:

Organization 1 and Organization 2. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume(issue), page range. DOI or URL

Example:

American Physical Society and Institute of Physics Publishing. (2020). Physics in everyday life. Journal of Physics, 97(2), 94–99.

3–20 authors

This is new in APA 7th edition. If the number of authors is from 3 to 20, write the names of all authors. Insert an ampersand symbol before the name of the last author. Below you will find an example for 4 authors.

Template:

Author Surname, F. M., Author Surname, F. M., Author Surname, F. M., & Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume(issue), page range. DOI or URL

Example:

Liu, L. L., Benner, A. D., Lau, A. S., & Kim, S. Y. (2009). Mother-adolescent language proficiency and adolescent academic and emotional adjustment among Chinese American families. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38(4), 572–586. https://doi:10.1007/s10964-008-9358-8

More than 20 authors

If the list has more than 20 authors, write the names of all authors up to the 19th author. Then, use an ellipsis followed by the final author of the source. Do not add the ampersand symbol before the name of the last author.

Template:

Author Surname1, F. M., Author Surname2, F. M., Author Surname3, F. M., Author Surname4, F. M., Author Surname5, F. M., Author Surname6, F. M., Author Surname7, F. M., Author Surname8, F. M., Author Surname9, F. M., Author Surname10, F. M., Author Surname11, F. M., Author Surname12, F. M., Author Surname13, F. M., Author Surname14, F. M., Author Surname15, F. M., Author Surname16, F. M., Author Surname17, F. M., Author Surname18, F. M.,  Author Surname19, F. M,¼ Last Author name, F. M. (Publication Year). Article title: Subtitle. Journal Title, Volume(issue), page range. DOI or URL

Example:

Fin, K., Horn, E., Baird, B., Kim, G. B., Fang, I.-H., Sing, B. M., Savor, L., Id, F., Neil, B., Tom, U., Ellen, L. K., Thorp, B., Wendy, T., Fallon, X., Flinch, F., Guru, B. L., Donald, E., Ellis, F., Nancy, B. M., ¼ Ling, H.  (2005). The conservative restoration and neoliberal defenses of bilingual education. Language Policy, 4, 395–416.

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