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APA In-Text Citation: How to cite Multiple Authors, No Authors, Et al. and Direct Quotes in APA style

The American Psychological Association (APA) style is one of the most widely used citation styles in academic writing. Established by the American Psychological Association, this style provides guidelines for citing sources within the text and in the reference list at the end of a paper. This guide will delve into the specifics of APA in-text citations, offering clarity and examples for better understanding.

Components of an APA style In-Text Citation

An APA in-text citation typically includes:

  • Author’s Last Name: The surname of the author(s) of the source material.
  • Publication Year: The year the source was published.
  • Page Number (for direct quotes): If you directly quote from a source or a part of a source, you must include the page number.

Parenthetical and narrative citation:

Parenthetical and narrative are two formats of in-text citation in APA style.

Parenthetical citations:

These citations appear within parentheses and includes the author’s last name and publication year. They are inserted directly after the cited information.

Example: The research findings were significant (Roger, 2023).

Additional text (if any) can be added to the parenthetical citation using commas after the year.

Example: (refer James, 2022, for more details)

When both text and citation are presented within parentheses, use a semicolon to distinguish the citation from the text.

Example: (e.g., effects of stress on mental health; James, 2022)

Narrative citations:

In this format, the author’s name is integrated into the text, thereby providing context for the citation. Example: “According to Roger (2023), the research findings were significant.”

When both the author and date appear in the narrative, do not use parentheses.

Example: In 2023, Roger noted that the research findings were significant.

Types of In-text Citations

1. Paraphrasing in APA style

Paraphrasing means presenting original ideas in your voice while retaining the core message. When you paraphrase or summarize ideas from a source, include an in-text citation with the author’s last name and the publication year.


According to John (2020), paraphrasing requires careful attention to the original text.

When a paraphrase continues for several sentences, make sure to cite the work at the first mention. The citation need not be repeated as long as it is clear that it is the same work that is paraphrased.

2. Citing direct quotes in APA style

For direct quotations, you must include the author’s last name, the publication year, and the page number.


“Paraphrasing requires careful attention to the original text” (John, 2021, p. 45).

In cases where the source does not contain page numbers (e.g., webpages or some books), you may include a section name or paragraph number.


“Paraphrasing requires careful attention to the original text” (John, 2021, paraphrasing section, para. 5).


“Paraphrasing requires careful attention to the original text” (John, 2021, paraphrasing section).”

3. APA In Text Citation for  Multiple Authors

When a work has two authors, always cite both names every time the reference occurs in the text.


Research shows that collaboration leads to better outcomes (Johnson & Lee, 2019).

When there are three or more authors, use the first author’s last name followed by ‘et al.’ and the year.

Example: (Williams et al., 2018)

4. Citing articles with no author name in APA style

If a source does not have an author name, use the first few words of the title in the in-text citation. Use double quotation marks around the title of an article or chapter and italicize the title of a book or report.


(“Paraphrasing of text,” 2021)

Use of “Et al.” in APA Citations

When citing a work with multiple authors for the first time in your text, use the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” and the publication year. This approach streamlines the citation process, ensuring clarity without overwhelming readers with lengthy lists of names.

Example: If a study is authored by Smith, Johnson, Williams, and Davis in 2020, In subsequent citations, you’d simplify it to (Smith et al., 2020).


Well formatted APA in-text citations enhance the credibility of your work by acknowledging the sources of your information. Always refer to the most recent edition of the APA Publication Manual for specific guidelines and examples. Accurate and consistent citations not only demonstrate academic integrity but also facilitate further research and discussion in your field.

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