APA in Text Citations

By | May 7, 2017

This short tutorial will take you through the basic elements of citing your research sources in APA style.

Why do I use research?

Research is there to support your argument, not to make it for you.

Use material you find in books, journals, and websites as evidence that your conclusions are reasonable and valid.

Always give credit to those sources of evidence by including in-text citations in your paper.

Terms of the trade

Summary VS. Paraphrase

Paraphrasing is putting someone else’s ideas into your own words.

Quotation – Quotation a source means you have taken information from your research source and copied it word-for-word into your document. Whether you copy and paste it or type it straight into your document, if you don’t indicate that those are the exact words from your source, you will commit plagiarism.

Anything in your paper that does not have quotation marks around it is assumed to be your original work—your own words.

If there is no clear source for your information either within the sentence itself, in a parenthetical citation at the end of it, or in the context of the preceding sentences, it is assumed to be your idea.

Essential Tools:

One more time…

If there are no quotation marks or parentheses, and you have not stated your source anywhere in the sentence, you are telling your audience that you wrote it and you thought it.

What is an in-text citation?

An in-text citation gives the appropriate details about the source of the information you have just presented in your sentence. That information can be a grammatical part of the sentence and/or enclosed in parentheses (a parenthetical citation) at the end of the sentence.

  • It is part of your written paper, NOT part of your reference page.
  • Whether you use a quotation or paraphrased material, you MUST CITE the source that gave you that information.

For example…

French, Walker, and Shore (2011) concluded that despite popular belief, gifted students need as much attention as average learners from their teachers and peers in order to learn effectively and develop socially (p. 155).

Anatomy of an APA Citation

  • The last name of the author(s)
  • The year of publication
  • Page number(s) (when citing information located on a specific page rather than a general reference)
  • Whenever you use information from a source, the NAME of the source and the DATE OF PUBLICATION must appear in the sentence or in a parenthetical citation.
  • In the body of the sentence, the date should appear in parentheses when it is next to the name of the source.

Introduce Source Material with Signal Phrases.

Don’t expect your research to speak for itself. Whether you paraphrase or quote your source, use a signal phrase or verb to introduce it:

apa in text citations

You can introduce source information with a phrase like “according to…” or try working the information or quotation right into the flow of your sentence with one of these signal words:

When the Author is Neutral:

  • Comments
  • Describes
  • Explains
  • Illustrates
  • Notes

When the Author Argues:

  • Argues
  • Claims
  • Contends
  • Maintains
  • Insists

When the Author Suggest or Infers:

  • Concludes
  • Finds
  • Predicts
  • Proposes
  • Reveals
  • Speculates
  • Suggests
  • Considers

A Word about Tense…

If you are referring to a specific part of a clinical study or even what that study found, use the past tense.


Make sure your audience knows which citation belongs to which sentence.

When using in-text citations, always place the final punctuation AFTER the parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence.

If you are using quoted material, close your quotations marks first.

Then include your publication information in parentheses.

Then include your publication information in parentheses.

Then add the period.

In this case the author and publication year have already been included in the body of the sentence.

If you are paraphrasing a specific point from your source, you don’t need quotation marks.

Make sure you include your page number in the parentheses.

Then add the period.

If you are paraphrasing information and you have not identified your source in the body of your sentence, put that information in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

Then add the period.

But be sure the author and publication year have been included in the body of the sentence, OR…

Include it in a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence.


Some general advice:


The #1 reason students plagiarize, apart from intentional cheating, is their failure to cite as they write. Don’t try to write out your entire paper without citing any of your evidence until the end. You WILL miss something. Aside from that, you are creating twice the work for yourself. Why not cite the source while you have it open in front of you as you are writing?

  • Use quotations sparingly.
  • When you paraphrase, don’t just replace a few words with synonyms. Truly put it in your own words.
  • Make sure you understand the source material you are using.
  • After you introduce source material, make sure you comment on why it is relevant to your thesis or elaborate on it further.
  • Introduce your source material in a variety of ways.

Make sure your sources are credible and scholarly.

Avoid Web Sources like:

  • Personal Websites/Blogs
  • School websites, unless created by a noted professor
  • Suite101.com
  • Ask.com
  • eHow.com
  • 123helpme.com
  • Any other website that is constructed for the purpose of generating essays rather than actual research.
  • Wikipedia is fine for general background information to get you started, but you should not use it as a source or reference for your paper.

Acceptable Web Sources:

  • Online Scholarly Journals/publications retrieved through a database service like Gallileo, EbscoHost, OR Eric.
  • Recognized online newspapers like the NY Times or Wall Street Journal, etc. (especially those that have a print presence as well as an online presence).
  • Established Professional Organization websites like APA, NCTE, or ASA, etc.
Category: APA