APA Style, 7th Edition


A citation is a note that tells your reader you used a source to write your sentence. Citations provide just enough information to lead your reader to the reference entry for that source.

Citations include 2-3 pieces of information:

Note: The examples below use red font to emphasize each part of a citation as they are discussed. Do not use red font in your citations

Part 1: Author

Authorship may be assigned to a group, or to one or more individuals. When authorship is assigned to individuals, only the last name of the author(s) is included in a citation.

Number of authors Example
1 author ...with unanticipated consequences (Ewing, 2018). OR As Ewing (2018) mentions...
2 authors ...heal the sick (Martin & Talukdar, 2016). OR Research by Martin and Talukdar (2016) demonstrates that...
3 or more authors ...in this process (Yates et al., 2019). OR Yates et al. (2019) suggest that...
Group author ...background checks (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2019).

For sources with 3 or more individual authors, write the first author's last name and the phrase " et al." This phrase stands in for the other authors.

Part 2: Year of Publication

The source's year of publication is after the author. Do not list the month or day in your citation, even if it is provided. If no date is provided, write "n.d.", which means "no date".

Date listed on source Example
Date listed on source ...no matter the cost (Ratushniak, 2014).
No date listed on source ...fiscal responsibility (Carteri, n.d.).

Note: If a webpage provides multiple dates, use the 'last updated' date. Do not use the 'last reviewed date' or the copyright (c) year listed at the bottom of a webpage. 

Part 3: Location of information in the source 

Include location information only when you use the exact words from a source (i.e., directly quote) in your writing. Location information may be a page number, paragraph number, or section heading.

Type of source Location information Example
Book, journal article, report, etc. Page number: (p. #) ...no matter the cost" (Singh, 2014, p. 10).
Short webpages Paragraph number: (para. #) ...fiscal responsibility" (Reynaud, 2015, para. 5).
Long webpages Section heading: ("...") ...is correct" (Parkland Institute, 2013, "Research Focus").

Note: If the webpage you are using is very long, use a section heading to help your reader locate the words you used. 

Paraphrasing: You have a great piece of information from a book, and you want to include it in your essay. Paraphrasing is like putting that information into your own words. You're not copying the exact sentences, but you're telling the same idea using different words and sentence structure. You can't just change one word and call it your own.

For example, if the original text says, "The sun is a massive ball of hot gas," you could paraphrase it by saying, "The sun is a huge sphere made up of extremely hot gases." 

Direct Quoting: Let's say you come across a sentence in a book that is just perfect for your essay. Direct quoting is when you use the exact words from that source in your writing. But you have to be careful!

       1. Quotation Marks: When you copy the words exactly, you need to put them in quotation marks. It's like putting a little fence around them to show that they belong to someone else.

For example, "The moon orbits the Earth."

       2. Citation: After the quotation, you put some numbers in parentheses. This helps people find the exact spot in the original source. It could be a page number, paragraph number, or section heading.

For example, "The moon orbits the Earth" (Smith, p. 23).

       3. Signal Phrase: Before you drop a quote into your essay, you need to introduce it with a signal phrase. This is just a fancy way of saying you set it up with your own words. Don't just start a sentence with a quote – ease into it.

Instead of saying, "The moon orbits the Earth," you could say, "According to Smith, 'The moon orbits the Earth'" – and then add your citation.

Paraphrasing is like putting information into your own words, and direct quoting is when you use the exact words from a source, but you have to be careful to use quotation marks, cite it properly, and introduce it smoothly with a signal phrase.


Original source The emergence of social media platforms has created amazing possibilities for Indigenous peoples to combat centuries-old stereotypes and misconceptions.
Paraphrase Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter offer new venues for Indigenous resistance to deeply rooted myths and stereotypes (Vowel, 2016).
Direct quote Social media sites have "created amazing possibilities for Indigenous peoples to combat centuries-old stereotypes and misconceptions" (Vowel, 2016, p. 88).


Parenthetical Citations: So, you have an interesting fact or quote that you want to include in your essay, but you don't want to disrupt the flow of your writing. Parenthetical citations are like little notes you add at the end of a sentence to show where you got your information.

For example: "The Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old (Smith, 2020)."

See that "(Smith, 2020)"? That's a parenthetical citation. It tells your reader that the information you just shared came from a specific source, in this case, Smith's work published in 2020.

Narrative Citations: Now, let's say you want to put the information into your sentence instead of sticking it on at the end. Narrative citations are like incorporating the source's name or details right into your sentence.

For example: "According to a study by Smith in 2020, the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old."

In this sentence, "According to a study by Smith in 2020" is your narrative citation. It's seamlessly woven into your writing, making it clear where your information is coming from.

To summarize, parenthetical citations are like little tags at the end of a sentence, while narrative citations are blended into your writing to give credit to your sources. Both help you avoid plagiarism and show respect to the people whose ideas you're using!


Parenthetical citation Many first-year students initially experience stress and homesickness because college is their first experience living away from home (Adams, 2017). 
Narrative citation   Research by Adams in 2017 suggests that many first-year students initially experience stress and homesickness because college is their first time living away from home.