In-Text Citations

APA Style uses an author-date citation system. In this system, an abbreviation citation appears in the text of your paper which directs readers to the citation in the reference list at the end of the paper. Each source cited in the text of your paper must appear in the reference list, and each source in the reference list must appear in the text of your paper.

Read More on the APA Style Website

Parenthetical vs. Narrative Citations

In-text citations can be formatted in two ways: parenthetical and narrative.

  • In parenetical citations, the author name(s) and publication date for the source appear in parentheses at the end of a sentence.
  • In narrative citations, the author name is incorporated into the actual text of the paper, with the publication year immediately following in parentheses.

Multiple Authors and Group Authors

Author type

Parenthetical citation

Narrative citation
One author (Smith, 2020) Smith (2020)
Two authors (Smith & Jones, 2020) Smith and Jones (2020)
Three or more authors (Smith et al., 2020) Smith et al. (2020)
Group author Stanford University (2019) (Stanford University, 2019)

Citing Multiple Sources in the Same Sentence

When citing multiple sources within the same set of parentheses, list the sources alphabetically in the order they appear in your reference list, separated by a semicolon.

  • (Allen, 2015; Smith 2009).
  • (B. Johnson, 2018; K. Johnson, 2017). ← Use first initials when last names are the same
  • (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2001, 2003). ← Multiple sources from same author

Citing Parts of a Source

To cite part of a source, provide the page, page range, chapter, section, or figure/table number after the date in your in-text citation.

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005, p. 10).
  • (Daniels, 2013, pp. 175-196).
  • (Sakamura, 1999, Chapter 5).
  • (American Psychological Association, 2020, para. 3).


For short quotations (fewer than 40 words), simply add quotation marks around the direct quote and incorporate it into your own text. Quotations of 40 words or more require block formatting.

Visit APA's website for examples and formatting guidelines for quotations.