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In APA style, citations include at least these two elements:

  1. author
  2. publication year


A third element is necessary when citing a specific part of a source, such as when quoting, and entails an indicator of the specific part. This element is often a page or paragraph number. A page number is used for a source with pages, such as a book or journal article. A paragraph number is used for a source without pagination, such as a long webpage. The indicator can alternatively be the section of a document for which a page or paragraph number is not a suitable choice, a timestamp for videos or audiobooks, or a slide number in a PowerPoint presentation. Some examples include the following:

  • p. 65
  • para. 3-4
  • Chapter 7
  • Table 2
  • 2:54

See APA 7, Section 8.13 for more information and examples.

Citations in your capstone document are necessary to provide credit to the proper sources; failure to cite properly could result in plagiarism.

Although it is important to cite any ideas retrieved from sources, such as paraphrased explanations, quotations, statistics, of figures. It is not necessary to cite common knowledge (i.e., you do not need to cite that the Earth is round). Credit a source in each sentence that references material from a source. For examples of how often to cite a source in a paragraph, see some examples on the Citing Sources Properly page.

APA style citations are all in-text citations, meaning the information about the source appears in the body of the paper rather than in endnotes or footnotes.

How to Cite

Here is an example of citations within a paragraph:

True and Noble (2009) found many students are highly confused about citation. They also indicated some students receive erroneous information about citations or some professors are too lenient with them, causing even more confusion. In fact, Jones (2011) found 99 out of 100 students agreed citing work could seem like a "complex, maddening process" (p. 64).

In this example, note five main elements:

  1. Sources are cited narratively or parenthetically in each sentence in which they are used. The author and date citation can be left out, however, in contiguous following sentences that further explain the same source as long as the sentences clearly signal that the same source is being discussed.
  2. Parenthetical citations appear within the ending punctuation of a sentence.
  3. Publication years appear after the authors.
  4. Quotation page numbers appear after the quotation. Note that the page number is represented as p. 64, and a paragraph would be represented as para. 4. If a quotation spans multiple pages, use pp.
  5. The full word "and" is used for citations in the narrative, and the ampersand symbol (&) is used for parenthetical citations.

How Often to Cite

Citation issues can occur when writers use too few citations, use too many citations, or use too much information from a single source coupled with their own informed analysis on the information presented. Here are some factors to consider when citing sources:

1. Providing adequate commentary on the cited material.

Writers should ensure their manuscript is more than a collection of ideas from multiple sources; it should provide an original interpretation of that material. 

2. Beginning and ending paragraphs with topic sentences. 

The opening sentence of each paragraph should be topic sentence, the final sentence in the paragraph should conclude the point or provide a summary. Without these aspects, the reader is left without a sense of the paragraph's main purpose. In addition, the reader may not understand your reasons for including that material.

3. Using the cited material to support a specific thesis or claim.

All material that writers cite should contribute to a main argument (main idea). When reading the literature, keep that argument in mind, noting ideas or research that speak to the issues in the particular draft. 

4. Avoiding relying too heavily on one source.

Most capstone documents should include a variety of peer-reviewed sources. Writers may find one particularly useful study but should balance references to that study with research from other authors. Otherwise, the manuscript becomes more like a book report or summary on that one source and lacks synthesis.

5. Avoid including direct quotations from the literature.

In academic writing, rely primarily on paraphrasing when using evidence. When authors use their own words by paraphrasing, they demonstrate an understanding of the material.