Basic In-Text Citations

Basic In-Text Citations Podcast (APA 7th Ed.)

Basic In-Text Citations Podcast (APA 7th Ed.) Transcript

Greetings, everyone. This is Kurtis Clements with another effective writing podcast. In this episode, I will discuss the nuts and bolts of basic APA in-text citations.

Let me first say a few words about APA. APA stands for American Psychological Association, which in addition to being a widely regarded professional organization is also a documentation style used primarily in the social sciences and includes such fields as education, psychology, sociology, criminal justice, and business.

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, which is the full title of the style guide, is in its 7th edition that first came out in October 2019. Historically new editions of the publication manual come out about every ten years give or take.

When one needs to document content using APA style, the Publication Manual is an essential resource to consult. You will also find terrific content on the official website of APA at or the APA Style Blog at

Before I get to the nuts and bolts of APA in-text citations, let me talk more generally about documentation so that you are familiar with the APA terminology used in the 7th edition.

When you write a paper that uses information that originated elsewhere, you need to indicate such information within the body of the paper with in-text citations.

At the end of the paper and on a separate page, the complete list of the sources appears. This page is called References. The reference list entries, or references, contain more specific bibliographic information about each source so that someone would have enough information to track down a source if one wanted to. Make sense?

Ok. Good. Let’s turn our attention to APA in-text citations. In-text citations are short nuggets of information that use the author-date citation system and appear in the body of the paper. In-text citations come in two forms: parenthetical and narrative citations that provide readers with the bare-bones information about a source.

In case you’re wondering what the difference is between parenthetical and narrative citations, let me explain. With the author-date citation system, sometimes both the author and date appear in parenthesis separated by a comma–thus, a parenthetical citation–and sometimes only the date appears in parenthesis, and the author’s name is used in the sentence as part of the narrative–hence narrative citation.

Put another way: In parenthetical citations, the author-date information appears inside parenthesis whereas in a narrative citation, the author’s name is part of the sentence and the year of publication is placed in parenthesis.

But wait!, you say. What about direct quotes? What about videos? What about . . . Yes, yes, yes, good questions. Let me explain a bit more.

Typically, a basic APA-style parenthetical citation includes the author’s last name and the year of publication separated by a comma for a paraphrase. For a direct quote, the in-text citation typically includes the author’s last name, year of publication, and the page or paragraph number, each element separated by a comma. The abbreviation for page is lower case “p” period and for pages “pp” period. The abbreviation for paragraph is “para” period.

Narrative citations follow the same basic pattern except the author’s name is used in a signal phrase followed by the year of publication in parenthesis prior to the paraphrase or direct quote.

In today’s world, audio and video are major ways in which information is transmitted, so citing such sources is likely. Obviously, audio and video lack page or paragraph numbers, but such sources do have a timestamp, so you would use that part of the source to cite the content. Let’s say you want to use a direct quote from this podcast. One way you could incorporate material from the podcast is like this: According to Clements, put the date of publication in parenthesis, and then start the quote “Audio and video are major ways in which information is transmitted, so citing such sources is likely” end quote followed by the time on the podcast that the statement was made in parenthesis.

Now of course, not every source is as neat and tidy as we might like, and truth be told, depending on the type of source and complexity of the work, variations exist in terms of how a parenthetical or narrative in-text citation may actually appear, so use the information presented in this podcast as general guidelines to follow.

Before I go any further, let me say that the minutiae of APA–the periods and marks of punctuation and spacing–will make listening to this podcast about as clear as San Francisco fog, so I am going to skip most of that kind of information in this podcast. What I encourage you to do, however, is to consult a stable text-based resource for guidance.

You might be thinking, ok, ok, I get what you are saying about spacing and punctuation, but what I want to know is when to use a page number and when to use a paragraph number. Great thought! When quoting directly, use a page number in the citation if standard pagination appears on the page as would be the case in most print-based sources and most content found in an online research database. Most electronic sources such as websites and blogs do not include the page number, so in those instances–and, indeed, any instance when page numbers are lacking–use the paragraph number, which in most cases will require you to count those paragraphs manually. Now there are lots of variables to the basic principles of APA in-citations, so please keep in mind that this podcast is like a movie trailer: you get a sense of what it’s all about, but not the full story.

When citing the content used from outside sources, you will want some variety with your in-text citations–That is, you don’t want the citations to be set up exactly the same way every time. In this regard, you will want to use both parenthetical and narrative in-text citations in your paper.

You may be wondering how to compose the in-text citation if no author is listed or there are multiple authors or perhaps there is no date of publication, so let me explain how to properly cite some common source variations you’re likely to encounter.

If you have a source with no listed author, go to the next key piece of information–the title, not the date of publication–and cite the entry by it. If the title is for content that appears in a larger work like a journal or newspaper article, use double quotation marks around the title. If the title is for a stand-alone source like a book or website, or for a source in which other content appears like a journal or magazine, use italics for the title. When any title appears within the body of a paper, always use title case in which the major words are capitalized. What is considered a major word? The first and last words of a title are considered major words. Nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions of four or more letters are also considered major words.

So, if you have a newspaper article published in 2020 with no listed author and the title of the article is “Keep Your Day Job,” you format a parenthetical citation by using the title of the article in double quotes and in title case followed by the date of publication with a comma separating those two elements.

If you happen to have a source with no listed author and the title is long, shorten it for the in-text citation and then be sure to use the same shortened version of the title for subsequent entries.

What do you do if the source lacks a year of publication? If you cannot find a date of publication, then use lower case “n” period lowercase “d” period in parentheses for “no date.” Most sources will have a date of publication, though sometimes for websites, you need to poke around to find the information.

Sometimes a work has more than one author, and APA of course has specific requirements. If a work has two authors, include both last names connected by an ampersand (that fancy character that looks like a backwards S used for “and”) for the citation along with the date of publication and separating the two elements with a comma. If a work has three or more authors, include only the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” (Latin for “and others”) and then the date of publication.

Sometimes a work has no named author other than an organization of some sort like the Centers for Disease Control or the American Psychological Association. APA considers this type of source to have a group author, and the group author is used in the in-text citations. But of course, using the group author can take different forms, so let me elaborate.

Whenever a group author can be abbreviated, please do so. The Center for Disease Control, for example, is widely known as the CDC, and let us not forget that most know the American Psychological Association by APA. Here are the particular rules to follow: For a parenthetical citation, the first time the work is used, write out the full group author and put the abbreviation in brackets. Subsequent parenthetical citations can use the abbreviation. For a narrative citation, write out the full group name in the sentence and put the abbreviation followed by the date of publication in parenthesis. Subsequent sentences can use the abbreviation for the group author.

The last usage situation I want to discuss is how to cite if you use the same source more than once in the same paragraph. First, every parenthetical citation will include the author and date. However, you should not include a parenthetical citation for the same source from one sentence to the next in the same paragraph if neither the author or topic has changed. So if you are paraphrasing content from Clements published in 2020 in three successive sentences, you only need to put Clements and the year of publication in a parenthetical citation after the last sentence from that work.

Narrative citations are handled a bit differently. A narrative citation will include the author’s name in the sentence and the year of publication in parenthesis. If the same source is used in the same paragraph, the year of publication can be omitted after the first instance of the author’s name. But remember: Parenthetical citations will always include both the author and date.

I know there is much to remember when it comes to APA in-text citations, and this podcast only scratches the surface. However, the content presented does provide basic in-text citation guidance that should help you when citing. I encourage you to identify a couple of good resources that can be your go-to sources to consult when you have questions.

Well, everyone, that does it for this podcast. I hope you found the information helpful. Thanks for listening. Happy writing.