When using a source, it is mandatory to mention it directly in the text. The APA Style has established a set of rules in this regard. In this article we will explain the rules step by step to cite a source within the text.
Basic rules for quotations in the text
We must know that we must mention every kind of exactly used source. There is no distinction between a book or a Facebook message, for example. Instead, there is a difference between quoting a source and paraphrasing or summarizing a source.
In a quote within the text, the author and year of publication of the source must always be reported. If you literally quote a source, then you must also indicate the page number of the quotation in question.
- Paraphrase / summary: Author and publication year
- Quotation: Author, year of publication and page number
- Example: Citing a source in the text by paraphrase or summary
Option 1: Studies conducted by Scribbr demonstrated the great need for an APA Generator (Swaen, 2014).
Option 2: Swaen (2014) states that there is a great need …
Option 3: In 2014, concern arose that Swaen had forgotten to think …
Warning! When using Option 1, you must always put the source before the end point of the sentence. The point must always follow the reference to the source. Furthermore, you must always put the comma between the author and the year of publication.
Example: Citing a source in the text by citation
Option 1: Here is what agrees with the business plan: “creating an APA Generator requires a lot of work, but many students will benefit from it” (Swaen, 2014, pp. 14-15).
Option 2: Swaen (2014) states that: “creating an APA Generator requires a lot of work, but many students will benefit from it” (pp. 14-15).
Option 3: In 2014, Swaen wrote that “creating an APA Generator requires a lot of work, but many students will benefit from it” (pp. 14-15).
Has the source been written by several authors? In the case of three or more authors, the rules are slightly different. Below we will explain the rules step by step and conclude with an overview.
For two authors, an “&” if the reference is placed at the end of the sentence, or an “e” if it is placed inside it.
Example: 2 authors
Studies conducted by Scribbr have shown great need … (Swaen & Driessen, 2014).
Swaen and Driessen (2014) state that there is a great need …
Three, four or five authors
The first reference that appears within the text indicates all the authors. In subsequent references, instead, only the first author is indicated followed by “et al.”
Example: Quote 3-5 authors at the end of the text
First quote: Studies conducted by Scribbr have demonstrated the great need … (Swaen, Driessen & Van Laak, 2014).
Following quotations: Furthermore, many students use them … (Swaen et al., 2014).
Example: Quote 3-5 authors in the text
First quote: Swaen, Driessen and Van Laak (2014) argue that many studies have been conducted on this phenomenon.
Following quotations: Swaen et al. (2014) they are aware of the ever greater differences.
Six or more authors
In this case, only the first author is indicated followed by “et al.”. Warning! In case this abbreviation makes two sources published in the same year identical, it is necessary to add authors until the sources will be distinguishable one from the other. Also in this case, if no authors are indicated, it is necessary to put “et al.” At the end.
Example: Quote 6 or more authors at the end of the text
First reference: The authors affirm that the differences are always greater (Swaen et al., 2014).
Following references: Despite these differences, the agreement remains solid (Swaen et al., 2014).
Example: Quote 6 or more authors in the text
First quote: Swaen et al. (2014) they see the differences becoming ever larger but remain optimistic.
Following quotations: Swaen et al. (2014) not only are they optimistic, but they intend to continue at full capacity.
“Serial comma” and the prefix in the surname in English
When specifying a source there are two important differences between Italian and English. In English the “serial comma” is used. It means that a “comma” is added before an “&” or “and”. Moreover, in the English language the prefix in the surname like “De Rossi” or “van Persie” is unknown.
Formatting citations following the APA Style
In addition to always reporting the number of pages of the source of the quotation, the APA Style also has rules for formatting the quotation. For example, there is a difference between a quote of less than 40 words and a quote of more than 40 words.
When not to use the page number
Internet sources often do not have a page number. If the source has a paragraph number, then you must indicate that instead of the page number. The abbreviation for the paragraph is “para.”
A source in a quote
When quoting a source in which a second bibliographic reference is already present, it must be left as it is reported in the source used by us (an indirect bibliographic reference). It is not necessary to mention this second reference among our bibliographical references. Here is a further explanation regarding this exception.
Exceptions for citing sources in the text in APA Style
During the writing of your paper, some exceptions may occur that the previous rules cannot be applied. APA has come up with a rule for every exception and we have collected them in a complete overview.
Indicate the sources in the bibliographic references
In addition to citing the source directly in the text, the APA Style provides that all the sources used are also reported in the bibliographical references at the end of the paper.