What to Know About In-Text Citations


When writing research essays or articles, it’s vitally important to make sure all research is cited correctly and appropriately. The tricky thing is that there are a variety of citation styles (APA, MLA, Turabian, etc.) and each one has its specific requirements and expectations. The best bet to ensure you’re using your selected style guide correctly is to obtain a copy of the style guide either online, through your institution (if you’re faculty or a student), or in hard copy form.

Even with the style guide, mistakes happen! Most often, those mistakes occur in in-text citations. Here are some tips for citing research in your text, according to APA Style.

In APA Style, all in-text citations need to have at least two parts included: the author’s last name and the year of publication. These are an absolute must!

Example: Research shows that the sky is blue (Smith, 2012).

But what happens when there is no author listed for a resource? Well, then you use the title of the article or book in its place.

Example: Research shows that the sky is blue (“World of Color,” 2012).

And again, what happens when there is no publication year? Well, then you use the abbreviation “n.d.” in APA Style. (It stands for “no date.”)

Example: Research shows that the sky is blue (“World of Color,” n.d.).

What to Know about In-Text Citations

The above types of citations work great when you’re paraphrasing from a source (i.e., summarizing the source’s information in your own words); but what about when you want to take a line directly from the resource? Then it’s considered a direct quotation and a third part needs to be included in the in-text citation: the page number.

Example: Smith (2012) indicates that “the sky is, indeed, blue” (p. 25).

But what happens when there is no page number? Easy! You count paragraphs and use that number.

Example: Smith (2012) indicates that “the sky is, indeed, blue” (para. 4).

These APA Style in-text citations must be accurate and complete because they’re what lets a reader know where to find the full citation on the references list at the end of the article or essay. Making sure you have all the parts you need — author name, year of publication, and page number — will contribute to making certain you’re giving credit where it’s due!

Originally posted 6/25/2015 and happily updated 10/25/2017. Thanks for reading!

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