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Referencing: In-Text Citations

In-Text Citations

An in-text citation is the brief form of the reference that you include in the body of your work. It gives enough information to uniquely identify the source in your reference list. The brief form usually consists of:

  • family name of the author(s), and
  • year of publication.

In-text citations will look the same, regardless of whether you're referencing a journal article, a report, or a video.

For a brief (4-minute) introduction to in-text referencing, view the video below:

Please note that the closed captions might obscure some of the detail in this video. If viewing the video with subtitles, we recommend you click on the diagonal arrow on the video toolbar to watch the video in Panopto.


In-text citations can be written in different ways to fit your writing style. This table shows APA 7th style citations both in parenthetical form (in parentheses/round brackets at the end of the sentence) and in narrative form (where part of the citation is included within the narrative of your work):

Idea paraphrased
Direct quotation included
Parenthetical citation
Social media users will share different types of content on different sites, often basing their decisions on a mental model of how their audience on each site will react (Pitcan et al., 2018). Social media users "attempted to curate their shared content depending on how they imagined their audience on different social media platforms" (Pitcan et al., 2018, p. 170).
Citation included in the narrative
Participants in a 2018 study by Pitcan et al. shared different content on different social media sites, basing their decisions on a mental model of how their audience on each site would react. Participants in a study by Pitcan et al. (2018) "attempted to curate their shared content depending on how they imagined their audience on different social media platforms" (p. 170).


Parenthetical citation

The general form is (Author, date), within parentheses. Parenthetical citation is also known as information-prominent citation: it is used to emphasise the information being cited.

A parenthetical citation should directly follow the idea being cited. Include it within the punctuation of the sentence or portion of a sentence the citation relates to. For instance:

... as has been shown in a recent study (Mihrshahi & Baur, 2018), and discussed at length in the literature in years past (Smith, 2007).


Narrative citation

You do not necessarily need to use parenthetical citations in your work, but you must include both the author and the date of the work you wish to cite within the body of your text. There are multiple ways to include a citation within the narrative. Here are two examples:

Kessler (2014) found that among epidemiological samples . . .

In 2014, Kessler's study of epidemiological samples showed that . . .

Narrative citation is also known as author-prominent citation. Narrative citations place more emphasis on the author of the work you are using. This type of citation can introduce some variety into your writing, and will sound more natural in an oral presentation than a citation at the end of the sentence. However, it does require more skill to use clearly.

Academic Skills Essentials links to tutorials on writing clearly and appropriately in a variety of academic writing genres, created by ECU's learning advisers; especially useful are their tips on integrating others' ideas into your work with appropriate attribution, synthesising ideas from multiple sources, and notetaking to ensure you are giving credit to the correct sources. You can also find some great examples of citing works you have paraphrased on the APA Style website.


Number of authors
  Parenthetical citation Narrative citation
1 author (Smith, 2007) Smith (2007)
2 authors (Mihrshahi & Baur, 2018) Mihrshahi and Baur (2018)
3 or more authors (Kerr et al., 2016) Kerr et al. (2016)
Group author (Department of Health, 2020) Department of Health (2020)
  • If the work you are citing has one or two authors, include them in your citation every time. Separate two authors with an ampersand (&) in parenthetical citations, but write out the word 'and' if discussing the work in-text.
  • If the work has 3 or more authors, your brief in-text citation will give only the family name of the first author, followed by "et al." (which means "and others").
  • If the author is a company, government organisation, or other group, use the full name in your citation.
  • If you have multiple authors with the same name or no author, click on the appropriate question under In-Text Citations: Advanced below.


APA 7 Tutorial: Citing References in Text

Learn how to cite references in the text, including basic in-text citation formats, citing multiple works, achieving clarity, and formatting in-text citations with missing author and/or date information.

Academic Writer, © 2020 American Psychological Association.


Direct quotations

If you are including a word-for-word quote from another work, you must enclose the quote in quotation marks and add the page number or numbers to your citation. For electronic sources where there is no page number, use the paragraph number or section heading.

You may also optionally include a page or paragraph number when it would help the reader locate the relevant information in a long or complex text, even when you have paraphrased instead of quoting. Note: Some Schools prefer that you only provide a page number for a quotation, so check with your lecturer to understand their preference.

 If your quote spans more than one page in the source, use the abbreviation "pp." instead of "p.":

(Pitcan et al., 2018, pp. 170-171).

To cite information from a work with no page numbers, click on "How do you cite a specific part of a text?" below.


For quotations with 40 or more words, the formatting of both the quotation and the citation are slightly different. The quotation is offset from your text, and the punctuation of the quote comes before the in-text citation.


Social media users will share different types of content on different sites, often basing their decisions on a mental model of how their audience on each site will react.

Many participants curated a respectable online presence by avoiding sexual innuendo and censoring opinions on controversial topics. Aviva was “very wary about the things [she] puts online.” . . . She described her online self as a different “form.” She chose to present a fragment of herself, because certain facets of her being would be unacceptable to her imagined audience. (Pitcan et al., 2018, p. 170)

Note the ellipsis (. . .) in the quote above. This indicates that some text from the original work was omitted for this quotation. For more information on quotations in APA 7th style, refer to Sections 8.25 - 8.36 in the Publication Manual, the APA Style website here, or the tutorial below.

APA 7 Tutorial: Direct Quotations and Paraphrases

Learn how to cite and format direct quotations, including short quotations and block quotations; make and indicate changes to quotations; and cite paraphrased material.

Academic Writer, © 2020 American Psychological Association.

In-Text Citations: Advanced

If the work you want to cite is more complex than the examples above, click on a question below to find out more.

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If there is no author, including a company or government organisation that might be responsible for the work, your end-text reference will use the title in its place. (See section on End-Text References.) Your in-text citation should include a few words of that title, in title case.

If the title is italicised (stand-alone works such as books and films), italicise the few words of your title in your in-text citation. If it is not italicised (works that are part of a whole, such as chapters and articles), enclose those few words within double quotation marks.


Full end-text reference for an article (i.e. a part of a larger work) with no author

Italian government declares state of emergency in flood-ravaged Venice. (2019, November 15). The Age.

In-text citation

("Italian Government Declares," 2019)

In the article "Italian Government Declares" (2019)...

In-text citation for a stand-alone work with no author

(Interpersonal Skills, 2019)

According to Interpersonal Skills (2019)...

If an organisation's name is long and you will be using it multiple times, you might want to use an abbreviation in your citations.

To do this, include the abbreviation in parentheses after the full group name, the first time it appears. (The parentheses become square brackets when nested within another set of parentheses.) After you have introduced this abbreviation, you may use it throughout your work. You will still need to use the whole group name in the reference list entry.

You are not required to abbreviate a long name. You may use the full name every time.


Here are a couple of examples (bold text for emphasis):

Guidelines published by the Consultative Committee for Space Data Sciences (CCSDS) in 2016... as previously discussed (CCSDS, 2012).

...found in several studies (National Mental Health Commission [NMHC], 2018, 2019a, 2019b). A future NMHC report is planned on...


In APA style, you do not place two sets of parentheses next to each other (see also citing multiple works for one idea).

If the abbreviation is part of a narrative citation, separate the author and date with a comma as usual:

American Psychological Association (APA) (2014) ⇒ American Psychological Association (APA, 2014)

If the abbreviation comes before a parenthetical citation, separate the abbreviation from the citation with a semi-colon (;):

dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs) (Choi et al., 2011) ⇒ dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs; Choi et al., 2011)

For more information, visit the official APA style webpage on group author abbreviations.

If you are citing a work with no publication date, use the abbreviation for "no date" in place of the year of publication.: n.d.


Work with no publication date

(Garcia & Klein, n.d.)

Entry in an online dictionary that updates continuously

("Self-Report," n.d.)


If the work has a more detailed date than just the year (for instance, a newspaper article reference might include the month and day), include only the year in the in-text citation.


Newspaper article published June 22, 2018

(Caro, 2018)

To cite a specific part of a text within your in-text citation, include information that would identify that portion of the work alongside the usual author-date citation. This might be a page range, a foreword or chapter from an authored book, the appendix of a report—whatever specific portion you would like to highlight.

If a work has no page numbers, you will need to help the reader find the relevant section of the cited work using a different method: paragraph number, section name, time stamp, or a combination of those. What you use depends on what is available in the work you are citing. See the examples below and the APA webpage: Direct Quotation of Material Without Page Numbers.

Your reference list should contain an entry for the entire work, not just the portion you are citing.

You can also use this method to discuss a section of work within your writing.


Page range

(Wang, 2018, pp. 27-31)

Paragraph number

(Vrajlal, 2020, para. 3)

Section name

(Beyond Blue, n.d., Plan for the Future section)

If the section title is long, you can abbreviate it to the first few words. Enclose the shortened section title in quotation marks.

(World Health Organization, 2020, "How to Cope" section)

To cite a specific kind of section (e.g. chapter or figure), write the type of section out in full, beginning with a capital letter. See here for more examples.

(Thornton, 2019, Slide 14)

(Sheridan, 2006, Chapter 2)

(NMBA, 2016, Standard 5)

Time stamp

To quote from an audiovisual work, include a time stamp for the point where the quotation begins.

(Boisvert, 2019, 3:38)


Some classic works (like Shakespeare's works or the Bible) use a numbering system that is consistent across editions, and when citing specific portions it can be more helpful to use that system than to give page numbers, e.g. citing lines in Act 5, Scene 1: (Shakespeare, 1623/1963, 5.1.38-43). See the APA Style website for more information about works with canonically numbered sections.

Narrative citations can be in any order. To include multiple parenthetical citations for the same idea, fold the references into the same set of parentheses, separated with a semi-colon.

Place the works in the order they appear in the reference list, which is usually alphabetically by first author. If including two works with the same author (or first author) but different dates, give the author only once, and list the dates in chronological author.

Please note that you do not need to include an exhaustive list, and too many citations can be visually disruptive for a reader. Include only the citations you need to support your work. What counts as an appropriate level of citation depends on the context, but see this APA Style post for more information.


Multiple references, in general

(Cairns, 2013; Gemmill et al., 2001)

Same author, multiple dates

(Smith, 2015, 2019)

(Kong et al., n.d., 2018, 2019, 2020, in press)


If you would like to highlight one particularly important work out of several, give that citation first, followed by an introductory phrase (such as "see also"), and then the rest of the citations. You might do this to point out the most relevant, recent, or highly regarded source.

Special emphasis on one work

(Gemmill et al., 2001; more recently discussed in Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016; Kong et al., 2019, in press; Sheridan & Khoo, 2018)

To make sure each work has its own in-text citation, add a lower-case letter to the year in your reference list. The same letter will be added to the year in your in-text citation each time you want to cite that source:

(Johnston, 2018b)

If you're citing something with a more specific date, the letter still attaches to the year. If the work has no publication date, the letter attaches to the abbreviation for "no date" in place of the year (but include a hyphen before the appended letter).


More specific date

Caro, J. (2019c, August 29). The greatest gifts I received from my father. The Sydney Morning Herald.

In-text citation: (Caro, 2019c)


No date

Beyond Blue. (n.d.-a). Our history.

In-text citation: (Beyond Blue, n.d.-a)

If you are citing works by two different authors who have the same family name and different first initials, include their first initials in your in-text citations—even if the publication dates are different. If two authors with the same family name are cited in the same work, there is no need to include their initials.​


Authors with the same surname in different works

(A. L. Smith & Gorkin, 2019; H. Smith, 1982)

Authors with the same surname in the same work

(Palmer & Palmer, 2016)


If the two different authors have the same first initials, reference their works using the standard author-date format, the same way you would if they were the same person. Only include extra information if not doing so would be confusing. For instance, if you are discussing their opinions as two sides of an issue, or reviewing the body of work each author has contributed to the field. In that case, include the full first name of each author in your in-text citation.


Authors with the same surname: John & Jane Brown, works published in different years

(Brown, 2011, 2019)

Authors with the same surname: John and Jane Brown, both works published in 2019

(Brown, 2019a) ... (Brown, 2019b)

If identifying the two authors as separate people is needed to avoid confusion

...according to a new study (Jane Brown, 2019), in contrast to the results of the 2011 survey by John Brown et al.

In APA 7th edition, only the first author is included in your in-text citation if there are three or more authors. This is true even if the other authors are different. However, if the rules for creating an in-text citation have given you the same in-text citations for two works with multiple authors, add as many of the other authors as you must to uniquely identify the works. Use the same citation every time it appears in your text.


Multiple authors, but the same first author​; different years

(Kong et al., 2018; Kong et al., 2019)

Multiple authors, same first author; same year

(Kong, Webb, McLaughan, et al., 2019; Kong, Webb, Sheridan, et al., 2019)

Only the final author is different

...with unexpected results (Kong, Webb, & McLaughan, 2019). These findings were corroborated by Kong, Webb, and Sheridan (2019)...

Citing content you found in one source that is originally from another source (e.g. a quote from a book that was cited in a lecture) is called secondary citation. Usually you want to avoid doing this: it is better to find the original source, read it, and cite that. You can't be sure that the source you read has represented the original idea fairly.

If the original source is not available, give an end-text reference only for the work you consulted, but mention the author and date of both the work you used and the original in your in-text citations.

For instance, if I wish to use material from an out of print poetry book by S. Khoo (originally published in 1928), which was quoted in a 2020 video by L. Sheridan, my in-text citation will look like this:

(Khoo, 1928, as cited in Sheridan, 2020)

I will include an end-text reference for the L. Sheridan video only: this is the only work I actually accessed.


Note that secondary citation is not necessary just because an author cites other works. This is a normal and expected part of academic writing. Consider whether the work you've read provides context, a new approach, or synthesis of the cited ideas; or if it is simply reporting the work of another researcher.


For more information, read the APA Style page on secondary citations, or try this interactive tutorial and self-quiz on secondary sources.

If you want to discuss an image or table created by someone else, cite it as you would cite any other work: (Author, Year). If you would like to reproduce that image or table, or include parts of someone else's work inside an image or table you create, you will need to include a caption. The citation will then form a part of that caption.


For more information about captions, see the page on Figures, Tables, & Images. For more information about copyright and finding images that you can use in your work, see the page on Creative Commons & Copyright.

Our 9-minute video on referencing visual art gives an introduction to captions, as well as in-text and end-text referencing for visual arts.

If the source you would like to cite is one that a reader would not be able to access (such as an email, telephone conversation, or unrecorded lecture), you would need to cite it as personal communications.

You should only cite personal communications if there is no source you can cite for that information that would be available to other people. You should also consider carefully whether the source you would like to cite is credible and appropriate to include in your assignment. If you learned about an idea in a class lecture, you should look for the original research your lecturer used to create the class materials, and cite that. Only use this format if it is genuinely new information that is not available elsewhere.


Personal communication citation

For your in-text citation, include the first initials and family name of the source, the phrase 'personal communication', and the full date (if available).

(S. L. Henderson, personal communication, November 8, 2009)

Unlike other works you cite, you do not include a reference list entry for personal communications. End-text references provide the information needed for a reader to retrieve the source; these works are not retrievable.


If you have conducted personal interviews as part of a research project, your own research data does not count as personal communications. For more information about how to present information from your own data, see Section 8.36 in the APA manual.

APA 7 Tutorial: Personal Communications

Learn how to cite personal communications, including emails, classroom lectures, personal interviews, text messages, letters, and telephone conversations, as well as how to cite or discuss other types of interviews, such as recoverable interviews or research participant interviews that serve as a data source for your study.

Academic Writer, © 2020 American Psychological Association.

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