In-text citations in APA (7th ed.)

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According to the requirements of the official edition of the APA Publication Manual (7th ed.), each work cited in text should have a corresponding entry in the list of references at the end of paper.

This article describes the main rules of APA in-text citations. They are applied uniformly to all types of sources (book, journal article, patent, preprint, etc.). For the rules of creating bibliographic references for each particular source type, please see the relevant section of our website.

General rules of in-text citations

According to the requirements of APA Style (7th ed.), an in-text citation contains two key elements: the author and the date of publication. At the same time, there are two types of in-text citations, namely parenthetical citation and narrative citation, which are formed as follows:

Parenthetical citation:

(Last Name of the author, year)

Narrative citation:

Last name of the author (year)

The last name of the author and the year of publication are the same as given in the list of references. Compare the following examples:

Reference in the list of references:

Boberg, C. (2019). A closer look at the short front vowel shift in Canada. Journal of English Linguistics, 47(2), 91–119.

Parenthetical in-text citation:

The vowel shift in Canada occurred <…> (Boberg, 2019).

Narrative in-text citation:

Boberg (2019) notes that the vowel shift in Canada occurred <…>.

Number of authors in in-text citations

According to the requirements of the APA Manual (7th ed.), in contrast to bibliographic references, the names of the following numbers of authors are to be given in in-text citations:

– if a source has one or two authors, all authors' names are given;

– if a source has three or more authors, only the first author's name is given, followed by 'et al.'

Templates of in-text citations:

1 author:

Parenthetical citation:

(Last Name, year)


(Greenbaum, 1996)

Narrative citation:

Last Name (year)


Greenbaum (1996)

2 authors:

Parenthetical citation:

(Last Name of the 1st author & Last Name of the 2nd author, year)


(Daly & Rengel, 2009)

Narrative citation:

Last Name of the 1st author and Last Name of the 2nd author (year)


Daly and Rengel (2009)

Attention: In parenthetical citations, the 'ampersand' sign ('&') is used; in contrast, in narrative citations, the names of the authors are joined by the conjunction 'and'.

3 or more authors:

Parenthetical citation:

(Last Name of the 1st author et al., year)


(Tscheuschner et al., 2020)

Narrative citation:

Last Name of the 1st author et al. (year)


Tscheuschner et al. (2020)

If multiple sources with three or more authors have the same year of publication and the same last name of the first author (or authors) and thus are converted into the same in-text citations along the templates above, this makes it impossible to identify the specific source for the reader. In this case, the seventh edition of the APA Publication Manual requires citing as many authors as needed to distinguish the sources, i.e. all names up to the first different author, abbreviating the rest of the names to 'et al.' For example, consider two works with the following authors:

White, Smith, De Paul, Xi, and Roberts (2019)

White, Smith, Sonders, Gemini, Scott, Bhardwaj, and Delaney (2019) 

The corresponding in-text citations in APA are the following:

(White, Smith, De Paul, et al., 2019)

(White, Smith, Sonders, et al., 2019)

However, if only one author remains after the name of the first different author, their name is not abbreviated to 'et al.'; instead, all authors' names are given in the in-text citation:

(Romagnoli, Jones, Foster, and Willis, 2020)

(Romagnoli, Jones, Foster, and Smith, 2020)

Particular cases

The APA Publication Manual considers a number of particular cases when the above templates require being modified. Below, we analyse the main of such cases. We advise using the web service Grafiati for creating automatically both your lists of references and in-text citations under APA (7th ed.). Our online service takes into account all the nuances of in-text citations described in the seventh edition of the APA Manual and generates ready-to-use citations, which you can simply paste into your paper.

First authors with the same last name

If multiple works in the list of references share the first author with the same last name but different initials, the corresponding in-text citations always contain the initials of the first author (even if the works have different years of publication):

(W. Dixon, 2020)

(L. Dixon and Strickland, 2009)

Same author and same year of publication

If multiple works cited share the same author(s) and the same year of publication, a Latin minuscule from 'a' to 'z' is added to the year value in every such citation, just as in the list of references (see in more detail about adding the Latin letter index to the year element in APA references in this article):

(Evans, 2017a)

(Evans, 2017b)

Year of original publication

If the year of original publication is given in the corresponding reference list entry, it is also given in the in-text citation: before the year of cited publication separated with a slash:

(Čapek, 1936/2010)

Work without a credited author

If a work has no credited author, the title of the work is given in the in-text citation instead of the author's last name. If the work title is italicised in the list of references, it is also italicised in the in-text citation; otherwise, double quotation marks are put around the title:

(Basic pancakes, n.d.)

("Head to streaming for premieres," 2020)

Citing multiple works in parentheses

When citing multiple works by different authors within the same parenthetical citation, indicate the elements in alphabetical order, separating them with a semicolon:

(Grama et al., 2019; Luthin, 1987; Kettig & Winter, 2017)

When citing multiple works by the same author, indicate the author's last name only once and place the years of the works chronologically, separated by commas:

(Alexander, 1964, 1965, 1988)

Citing particular pages, etc.

If you need to cite a particular fragment of a source (a page or page range, a table, etc.), indicate the details of the fragment in the in-text citation after the year of publication, separating them with a comma:

(Bolton, 2020, pp. 11–13)

The web service Grafiati allows creating in-text citations in APA (7th ed.) taking into account all the requirements described above and adapting them to the language of your bibliography. Create the bibliographic reference for the source you need by filling in several fields, and we will automatically generate a correct in-text citation that will also show you where to insert the numbers of cited pages: just substitute 'XXXX' with the number of page, range of pages, number of chapter, etc., and you can paste the citation into your paper right away, without losing any time on analysing all the requirements of the style.

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