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Citations and Avoiding Plagiarism

APA Style Guide

What are different ways I can format my in-text citations?

In-text citations can be formatted as either narratives or parentheticals. A narrative includes the citation in the body of the text, whereas a parenthetical includes the citation in parentheses; these can occur in the middle of the sentence or at the end of the sentence. For example:

  • Narrative citation: “Smith (2010) claimed otherwise, however, detracting from the majority (p. 5).”
  • Parenthetical citation: “The author claimed otherwise, however, detracting from the majority (Smith, 2010, p. 5).”

Note that when writing out a citation in parentheses, always separate the name(s), year, and page(s) with commas. Further, you may not always need to include a page number in your in-text citations. The next section discusses how, when, and why to include page numbers using APA format.

I want to cite several pages at once. How would I format that?

You must include page numbers when using APA format if you are referring to a specific part of a text or if you are direct quoting. If you are referring to the text as a whole, you do not need to include a page number, and instead should just include the author’s last name and year of publication. If you do not know if your citation warrants a page number, include it so you do not potentially under-cite. When in doubt, over-cite rather than under-cite!

There are two different ways to refer to page numbers: use “p.” for a single page or “pp.” for multiple pages. For example:

  • Single-page citation: (Smith, 2010, p. 5)
  • Multiple-page citation: (Smith, 2010, pp. 5-7)

What is a block quote and how do I format one?

A block quote is any quote that is 40 or more words long. These must be specially formatted in the following ways:

  • The entire quote must be indented .5” away from the margin (equivalent to pressing the tab key once).
  • Block quotes must be double-spaced.
  • The parenthetical citation must go at the end of the block quote outside of the period.
    • If you refer to the author when introducing the block quote, just include the page number at the end of the quote; if you do not refer to the author when introducing the quote, include the last name, year, and page number at the end of the quote.

For example:

As the author explains:

If literature reflects the social world, the way women are depicted in fiction may shed light on how women behaved—or were expected to behave—in real-life 18th century England. Oftentimes, female characters are powerful until rendered powerless by patriarchal conventions present throughout society. The mechanisms of subordination were marriage, domesticity, and submission to men. For the women in this sample, osteoporosis and bone frailty were inevitable as they bore children and grew old; these were biosocial realities that largely could not be negotiated by women in traditional positions of little power as we often see inevitably happen to women in literature. (Barca, 2020, p. 4)

How do I cite a source in-text if it does not have page numbers?

It’s not unusual for certain sources, such as webpages, to not have page numbers. If this is the case, you may want to refer to the paragraph that you are pulling your information from. Similar to page numbers, if you are referring to just one paragraph, you will use “para.”; if you are referring to more than one paragraph, you will use “paras.” For example:

  • Single-paragraph citation: (Smith, para., 3)
  • Multiple-paragraph citation: (Smith, paras., 3-4).

How do I cite a source that has multiple authors?

The number of authors will determine how you will format your in-text citation. Regardless of how many authors there are, however, you will always separate the year of publication and page numbers (when applicable) with commas. For example:

  • One author: (Smith, 2020, p. 5)
  • Two authors: (Smith & Doe, 2020, p. 5)
  • Three or more authors: (Smith et al., 2020, p. 5)

Note that if there are two authors, you will use an ampersand (&) to separate the authors, not the word “and”. Three or more authors require the use of “et al.” after the first author’s last name to refer to the rest of the authors.

What if the source has no authors?

If a source has no authors, you will refer to the title of the source for your in-text citation. The type of source will determine if it must be in quotation marks, italicized, or left as normal text. A piece that is part of a larger work (webpage part of a website, chapter of a book, article in a journal, etc.) will be placed in quotation marks; a piece as a whole or that is a stand-alone will be italicized. The name of an organization will be left as normal text. For example:

Piece that is part of a larger work: (“Library Bill of Rights”, 2019, para. 1)

  • The "Library Bill of Rights" is a webpage on the American Library Association's website.

Entire piece or stand-alone piece: (A Story, 2020)

  • A Story is the title of a standalone book that has no author.

Organization: (American Library Association, 2019)

  • The American Library Association is an organization.

If you are citing a source that has a long title, shorten it in your in-text citations, but always use the first word of the source so it’s easily searchable in your references. For example:

  • DON'T Write: (A Story for A Tragic Night, 2020)
  • DO Write: (A Story, 2020)

What if the piece I want to cite has no date?

If you want to cite a piece that has no date, you will replace the year with “n.d.”, meaning “no date”. For example:

  • Date: (Smith, 2010, 5)
  • No Date: (Smith, n.d., 7)

How do I cite several sources at once?

If you have several sources that all back-up your argument, you may want to cite them all at once. To do this, you will separate each citation with a semi-colon and list them in alphabetical order, not in chronological order. For example:

Multiple Sources: (Baron, 2010; Gray, 2005; Smith, 2009)

What is a reference page and what do I include in it?

The reference page goes at the end of your paper and includes full citations for sources referenced throughout your work. Note that the number of authors, regardless of the source, will always be “Last Name, First Initial” format; this format stays the same through the last author, who is separated with an ampersand (&). For example, “Smith, T., Rose, M., & Doe, J.”.

The type of source you are citing will determine how it should be formatted; view the examples below for commonly used source types.


Book: Last Name, First Initial. (Year). Title of Book. Publisher.

Example: Myers, N.L. (2015). Recovery’s edge: An ethnography of mental health care and moral agency. Vanderbilt University Press.


Chapter in an Edited Book: Last Name, First Initial. (Year). Chapter Title. In First Initial/Last Name (Ed.), Title of Book (pp. page numbers). Publisher.

Example: Weiss, K.M., & Buchanan, A.V. (2010). Evolution: What it means and how we know. In C.S. Larsen (Ed.), Paleopathology: A contemporary perspective (pp. 41-55). Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Note that for both books, the titles and chapters are all in lowercase sans the first letter of each title and any words that come after punctuation, such as a colon (:). Different sources have different formatting requirements that determine what should be capitalized. See the next section for journal articles, which have special capitalization rules.

Journal Article: Last Name, First Initial. (Year). Title. Journal Article, Volume(Issue), pages. DOI.

Example: Hawkes, C., Norris, K., Joyce, J., & Paton, D. (2021). A qualitative investigation of mental health in women of refugee background resettled in Tasmania, Australia. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-11934-y

  • Journal articles will always be in lowercase format except for proper nouns, the first letter of each sentence, and after punctuation (such as a colon). The journal name, however, will be formatted using the same capitalization and punctuation that the journal itself uses. For example, the journal “PLOS One” will not be formatted as Plos One but as PLOS One in the actual reference list. Please refer to this link (APA Reference List: Basic Rules) for more information on how to format journal articles using APA.

Website (full publication date): Last Name, First Initial. (Year, Month Day). Webpage Name. Website Name. URL

Example: Michaels, P. (2022, February 2). Best iPhones in 2022: Which iPhone should you buy? Tom’s Guide. https://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-apple-iphone,review-6348.html

  • For APA, do not include a period after the URL.

Website (no publication date): Last Name, First Initial. (n.d.). Webpage Name. Website Name. URL

Example: Ovenden, S. (n.d.). Foraging: A beginner’s guide. BBC Good Food. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/foraging

  • If a website has only a month and year, include those in the same format you would if you had the full date available (Year, Month).

Website (published by an organization): Organization Name. (Year, Month Day or n.d., whichever is applicable). Webpage Name. URL

Example: Seton Hall University. (n.d.). Celebrating Black History Month. https://www.shu.edu/diversity-equity-inclusion/black-history-month.cfm

  • Note that celebratory months such as Black History Month or Indigenous Peoples’ Month are capitalized in the webpage name.

Website (with retrieval date): Last Name, First Initial. (Year, Month Day or n.d., whichever is applicable). Webpage Name. Website Name. Retrieved Month Day, Year, from URL

Example: Miller, S.G., & Wu, J. (2022, February 22). Coronavirus in the U.S.: Map of how many cases have been confirmed across the country, by state. NBC News. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/coronavirus-u-s-map-where-virus-has-been-confirmed-across-n1124546

  • You only need to include a retrieved date for a website that is expected to change, such as the above COVID-19 dashboard, which has been updated since January 28, 2020, with the most current information on the pandemic.