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APA - 6th edition: In-text Citations

Writing in-text citations

In-text citations are the citations that you include within your paper. APA uses the author-date method for in-text citations. Your in-text citations must match what you have on your reference list, unless you are citing a personal communication! There are many rules for writing in-text citations and this page will only cover the basics, for complete information please see the APA Manual, specifically chapter 6.

You can write in-text citations two different ways. You can use the author's name as part of the sentence and then place the year in parentheses. The second option is to place both the author information and the year in parentheses. When you are using a direct quotation you must include the page number (for print items) or paragraph number (for electronic/web based items).

Examples: According to Earp (2010) graduate students......

     Graduate students tend to utilize..... (Earp, 2010).

      Some of the items are "written in the positive direction and need to be key-reversed before totaling the scores" (Onwuegbuzi et al., 2004, p. 313)

When writing your in-text citations make sure to pay attention to the number of authors. Below are some basic rules and table 6.1 in the APA Manual gives wonderful examples of these rules:

  • When citing a work by 1 or 2 authors you always include both the names for an in-text citation.
  • When citing a work by 3, 4, or 5 authors you always include all the authors for the first in-text citation. For subsequent in-text citations you only list the first author followed by et al.
  • When citing a work by 6 or more authors you only need to list the first author followed by et al. 
  • When citing an item without an author use the first few words of the title.


Number of authors First in-text citation Additional in-text citations
Two authors

According to Agodini and Harris (2010) OR 

elementary school math.....(Agodini & Harris, 2010) 

No change from original

Three authors

According to Bolick, Adams, and Willox (2010) OR 

Elementary social studies.....(Bolick, Adams, & Willox, 2010) 

Bolick et al. (2010) OR

(Bolick et al., 2010) 
Six or more authors

According to Connor et al. (2008) OR

Reading instruction.....(Connor et al., 2010)

No change from original


Citing Personal Communications: 

Personal communications include but are not limited to lectures, interviews, phone calls, and emails. These types of materials are cited differently because they cannot be retrieved by others. These items will only be cited in-text, they will not have a matching reference on the reference list. Below are two examples.

V. J. Earp (personal communication, January 31, 2013) stated that the reason....

Some of the reasons student find research difficult....(V. J. Earp, personal communication, January 31, 2013).