APA 6th Edition In-Text Citations – Two Formats

25.12.22 Citation & referencing Time to read: 5min

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In-text citations are a cornerstone of academic writing, and in APA style (American Psychological Association) in the 6th edition format, they serve as a key method for assigning credit to the original sources of information. APA 6th edition in-text citations guide readers to the full reference in your reference list at the end of your paper, and help to avoid plagiarism. This article closely outlines the format and proper use of APA 6th edition in-text citation.

APA 6th Edition In-Text Citations – In a Nutshell

  • APA 6th edition in-text citation is used to illustrate the main source of the ideas proposed within a research paper.
  • There are recommended formats for writing APA 6th edition in-text citations if sources have missing authors or dates.
  • APA 6th edition in-text citations are used to cite direct quotations and paraphrased information in a research paper.

Definition of APA 6th edition in-text citation

In-text citations are used in APA style to quickly document the source of your information and refer to the full source reference at the end of the paper. The format of the APA 6th edition in-text citation typically includes the author’s last name and the year of publication, and page numbers if a direct quote is used.


Reference list entry: Bozeman. C. (1998). Odyssey to the stars. Penguin Publishers. http://www.pen.org/summercollection/2001/08/catching-fire.pdf

In-text citation: (Bozeman, 1998)

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Parenthetical vs. Narrative citation

There are two types of APA 6th edition in-text citations, parenthetical citation and narrative citation. Learn how to differentiate between those two in the below.

Parenthetical in-text citations

In parenthesis in-text citation, the author’s name and the date of publication (or other similar types of information) are included in parentheses.


Inaccurately news might skew public opinion (Burnside, 2016).

Narrative in-text citations

The author’s name appears within a statement, and the date comes directly after it in parentheses.


Burnside (2016) researched the danger of false news on the public’s perception.

When paraphrasing or summarizing an idea from another work, include only the author’s name and the year of publication. For example: (Burnside, 2016, p. 199).

Paraphrasing vs. Quoting

You can incorporate sources in your assignment by:

Short vs. Long (block) quotations

Short and long quotations are used in APA 6th edition in-text citation in different ways. The main differences between the two types are outlined in the table below:

Short quotations Long quotations
Put the quote between double quotation marks and include it in the text. A block quotation should not be enclosed by quotation marks.
Incorporates the author's name, year of publication, and the page number. It should begin on a new line and be indented by 0.5 inches from the left margin.
Include the author, date, and page number if the author and date are not mentioned in the text. The parenthesis should be followed by a period.
E.g. (Burnside, 2016, p. 210). Do not include additional space before or after the block quotation; simply double-space it.

Multiple authors and lacking information

The APA 6th edition in-text citation depends on the number of authors. The table below illustrates the appropriate style to use for each case:


Author Type Parenthetical Citation Narrative Citation
A Single Author (Burnside, 2016) Burnside (2016)
Two Authors (Burnside & Riverside, 2016) Burnside and Riverside (2011)
Three or More Authors (Burnside et al., 2016) Burnside et al. (2016)
Group Author with Abbreviation
• Initial Citation
• Successive Citations
• (United Nations [UN], 2022)
• (UN, 2022)
• United Nations (UN, 2022)
• UN (2022)
Group Author Without Abbreviation (Michigan College, 2022) Michigan College (2022)

In some cases, APA 6th edition in-text citations may have some missing elements, such as unknown authors, dates, or page numbers. These should be cited as follows:

No author in APA in-text citation

If no author or creator is provided, APA 6th edition in-text citation stipulates that you should use the name of the organization that published the work.


The move to green energy is a global effort in creating a sustainable planet (Ford, 2017).

If you are unable to find the organization responsible for the work, you can format your APA 6th edition in-text citation using the title of the source.


(“U.N. Data Report,” 2008)

Missing publication date in APA 6th edition in-text citation

In APA 6th edition in-text citation, we use the acronym n.d., which stands for “no date” if there is no date associated with a source and is enclosed in parentheses.


Format: Author, A. (n.d.). Title of document [such as article, book chapter, webpage]. Title of where it is found [such as magazine, journal, book, or website]. http://URL

Reference entry: Bearson, Y. (n.d.). I’m not going to argue with you! Bluestone Park Stories. http://bluestone.com/YogaBear1…

In-Text Citation: (Author, n.d.); (Bearson, n.d.)

Missing page number in APA 6th edition in-text citation

When directly citing in the text of your work, you should generally provide page numbers if they are provided. If no page numbers are provided, put the term “para.” before the paragraph number instead of the page number.


(Smithrowe, 2013, para. 4)

If there is only one paragraph and you must provide an APA 6th edition in-text citation, give the author’s last name and the year, but omit the page number.

APA 6th edition in-text citation – Multiple sources

Use parentheses in APA 6th edition in-text citation to illustrate an idea supported by several sources. The sources should be separated by a semicolon and presented in alphabetical order.


(Chris et al., 2018; Shum & Shun, 2016; Westhouse, 2015)

Arrange two or more works by the same author in chronological order, beginning with the year of publication. Begin with citations without known dates then arrange the rest in chronological order and conclude with in-press citations.

Mention the writers’ surnames just once; for each subsequent work, only the date is given.


(Department of Internal affairs, n.d., 2018a, 2018b, 2020)

Ambiguous APA 6th edition in-text citations

APA 6th edition in-text citations may be ambiguous if they are consistent with several references. For such cases, use the format below:


Scenario Solution APA in-text citation
Several works by one author within the same year Use a lowercase letter after the publication year (Smith, 2017a)
(Smith, 2017b)
Multiple authors with identical surnames Use the authors' initials (K. Curry, 2018)
(J.P. Curry, 2014)
Several works with more than 3 authors that have similar shortened forms Use as many names as necessary to differentiate the APA in-text citations (Mathews, Chan, et al., 2016)
(Mathews, Carter, et al., 2015)7
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Use the source’s title in the signal phrase or the first word or two in parentheses. Keep titles of articles, chapters, and web pages in quotation marks and the names of books and reports in italics. When essential words in titles are written in the text, they must be capitalized according to APA style.

You must include an in-text citation every time you summarize, paraphrase, or generally use ideas that are not your own. This might include ideas or recommendations for best practices.

The in-text citation can be included in parentheses at the end of other sentences or paragraphs as a substitute. Identify the source of each subsequent statement by utilizing qualifiers like “That article concludes,” “According to,” or “They also state.”

Provide the author’s name in the first entry alone and include three hyphens in place of the name, followed by a period and the title. The name is represented by the three hyphens exactly as it appears in the previous entry.