How to write in-text citations according to APA? 


This article is a quick guide about APA in-text citation standards to help you achieve proper scientific writing.

Table of contents:

  1. What is APA style?
  2. What is an APA in-text citation?
  3. Types of APA in-text citations
  4. How to format in-text citations APA style
  5. Example paragraph with in-text citations
  6. Mettzer’s citation and reference generator

A fundamental part of writing a scientific paper is to acknowledge other authors that have been a source of your study.

Through correct citation and referencing, you avoid plagiarism and ensure the originality of your research. 

That’s why proper citations and references are so important.

If you are writing an academic paper and don’t know what an in-text citation is and how to use it according to APA formatting, this article is going to help you 😉

We will present APA in-text citation standards to help you achieve proper scientific writing.

Let’s start 😉

What is APA style?

APA style — or APA format — is a formatting standard for academic papers, especially for journal articles.

These standards emerged with the American Psychological Association (APA) style manual in 1929. Since then, the APA style has been revised several times to adapt it to the new needs of scientific research.

In October 2020, APA presented the 7th Edition of its style guide — the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association — which replaces the last update of the standards in 2009. The 7th Edition is therefore the most current version of APA style.

The 2020 APA standards meet the latest demands of the academic world. That is why the new edition pays special attention to the citation of online materials and the concern with a more inclusive language.

What is an APA in-text citation?

According to APA, “the in-text citation appears within the body of the paper (or in a table, figure, footnote, or appendix) and briefly identifies the cited work by its author and date of publication”.

APA Style uses the author–date citation system for in-text citations, which means you must identify the author’s last name and the year of publication to properly cite the source.

This process is called in-text citation, i.e., the citation of other authors when you refer to, quote, or paraphrase their study in the body of your paper.

Therefore, every time you write a sentence based on another author’s idea, you must cite it.

But remember that for each in-text citation, there must be a corresponding entry in your reference list. These are two different kinds of standards that must be followed.

Types of APA in-text citations


It is when you use an author’s idea, but with your own words. In this case, you must cite the author’s last name and the year of publication, separated by a comma.

For example:

  • Narrative citations: Teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each student’s skill. (Thompson, 2009).
  • Parenthetical citations: Thompson (2009) shows that teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each student’s skill.

For paraphrasing, APA style does not require a page or paragraph number in the citation.

apa in-text citations


Direct quotation is the exact transcription of the author’s words. No changes are made. It is, therefore, the reproduction of the author’s idea verbatim.

In other words, a direct quotation is when you copy and paste a passage from the research source.

According to APA standards, the direct quotation must contain the author’s last name, year of publication, and page number.

However, there is a difference in formatting depending on the quotation length.

Short quotations (fewer than 40 words)

In short quotations, you must incorporate the sentence in your text with quotation marks. After the quotation, the author’s last name, the page number and the year appear in parentheses.

For example:

  • When we analyze the production of scientific knowledge it’s important to understand that modern research involves the interlocking efforts of a whole workforce: not just the star professors but more importantly the research team, graduate students, technical staff, the other research teams, journals, institutes, funding agencies, and more. (Connell, 2019, p.12).

Block quotations (40 words or more)

Although, if the quotation has 40 words or more, it should be written in a new line and the whole block must be indented 0.5 in. from the left margin and double-spaced. 

In this case, you don’t add quotation marks as with short quotations.

Block quotation example:

When we analyze social imagination, it’s important to note that:

  • The imagination can be both empowering and disempowering. It can create and deepen vulnerabilities, but it can also make people stronger and able to resist. Different ways of imagining can sensitize or desensitize people to human experiences—not only those of others, but even one’s own; they can make people feel close or distant to others—and even to aspects of themselves; and they can create or sever social bonds, affective ties, and relations of empathy or antipathy, solidarity or lack of solidarity. (Medina, 2013, p. 252).

Secondary Sources

A secondary source refers to content replied from the original source (primary source).

In other words, imagine you were reading a paper that quotes Angela Davis, but you do not have access to the original book written by Angela Davis. Even so, you want to use that content in your paper. To do that, you’ll need to create a secondary source citation.

In this case, you should write — in parentheses — the name of the original author followed by the year of publication, then the term “as cited in” and inform the name of the secondary source, the year of publication — and the page number if it is a direct quotation.

  • (Davis, as cited in Smith & Osman, 2015).

But, remember, it’s a good practice in the academic world to always search for the primary source. Therefore, use secondary sources sparingly.

How to format in-text citations APA style

One author

  • (Connell, 2010, p.10) or Connell (2010).

Two authors

In a source with two authors, you should use their last names separated by an ampersand (&) in a parenthetical citation or “and” in a narrative citation.

  • (Connell & Pearse, 2015) or Connell and Pearse (2015).

Three or more authors

According to the APA manual, all in-text citations with three or more authors are shortened to the name of the first author followed by the expression et al.

For example:

  • (Butler et al, 2013) or Butler et al (2013).

Online sources

When you use online sources, such as a website or an online article, for example, the reference may be an organization rather than a person.

APA in-text citation for these cases consists of the organization’s name followed by the year of the publication.

If you are writing a direct quotation, you may also include a locator since most online sources don’t have a page number. Some options for locators can be paragraph number, heading or section name.

For example:

In-text citation

  • More than 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression (World Health Organization, 2018).

Reference entry

  • World Health Organization. (2018, March 22). Depression.

Example paragraph with in-text citations

apa in-text citations

Mettzer’s citation and reference generator

Correctly formatting your paper is central to ensuring respect for scientific standards. 

Although it is not a very simple step, with Mettzer it can be easier 😉

Mettzer is the first and only digital platform that integrates – in one place the entire cycle of academic work. From planning your research, formatting in APA style to plagiarism checking.

Mettzer’s text editor formats any academic work in APA style. It automatically generates citations and references for you.

Besides the citation generator, Mettzer’s text editor has a Plagiarism Checker to ensure the originality of your academic works.

You can even start your academic paper from a pre-ready template!

With Mettzer’s technology you save time to focus exclusively on what matters, which is the content of your research.

Check out this powerful tool!

You can take a free trial for 7 days 🙂

apa in-text citations

Deixe um comentário

Esse site utiliza o Akismet para reduzir spam. Aprenda como seus dados de comentários são processados.

Teste agora nosso editor que formata trabalhos nas Normas da ABNT e APA

Modelos customizáveis de acordo com sua universidade