What is an In-Text Citation?

Learning Outcome

After completing this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Create and format in-text citations in APA Style.

You find a great idea or argument in a source that supports your topic and you want to include it. To do this you need to create an in-text citation and add it to your paper where you have discussed evidence from that source, either as a direct quote or a paraphrase. In-text citations tell your reader which ideas belong to you and which ideas belong to someone else.

There are two different ways that you can include in-text citations into your assignments: as a parenthetical citation or as a narrative citation.

The following example shows how these two types of in-text citations have been included in a paper. Click on the symbol to learn about them.

The image below provides an overview of these two types.


As you can see, an in-text citation is formatted using three key pieces:

  1. Parentheses,
  2. Author’s family name or group name, and
  3. Year.

In-text citation information is pulled directly from its matching reference list citation. So, it is easiest to create the reference citation first and then its matching in-text citation.


So far we have focused on paraphrasing examples. So next, we’re going to look at quotation examples for in-text citations.

When you use a direct quote instead of a paraphrase, you also need to include the quote’s location in the work. Additionally, when you paraphrase specific passages in longer-length works, you include the location. Location information is added to your in-text citation directly after the date. For example, a parenthetical citation would look like: (Smith, 2010, pp. 3-4).

Note that instructors often prefer location information for all in-text citations, so check with your instructor.

For the following quotation examples, click on the symbol to learn about how to add in-text citations for short quotes and block quotes.

Short Direct Quote In-Text Citation Examples

Narrative Citation

Parenthetical Citation

Block Direct Quote In-Text Citation Examples

Narrative Citation

Parenthetical Citation


The image below details some location information examples and their appropriate abbreviation.

Note: Your instructor may prefer you include location information for all in-text citations. We advise asking your instructor.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of in-text citations, head to the next section to complete a few in-text citation practice activities.

Image attribution:

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License

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APA Style Citation Tutorial by University of Alberta Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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