How to Do Parenthetical Citations in APA Format

apa parenthetical citation
  • Published Date: December 2, 2017

Anytime you’re writing a research paper, you’ll more than likely have to include some parenthetical citations.

These are known as in-text citations.

It’s where you reference an outside source, using information from that source to make a point or support a thesis.

Because the information is not likely to be known by the majority of readers, you cite your source right there in the text.

This article will describe how you do that using the APA style.

Parenthetical Citation When Author’s Name IS Used in the Sentence

If you’re using the author’s name in the sentence to introduce the information sourced from the text of the author, just put the date of the text’s publication in parentheses after the author’s name. Like this:
Jim Nabors went on to do fantastic work later in his career but the one regret he always had, according Oldman (2016), Jim’s unofficial biographer, was that he never got to play Hamlet on Broadway.
Parenthetical Citation When the Author’s Name is NOT Used in the Sentence

If you don’t mention the name of the author of the source you’re citing in your text, then you’ll need to put that name in the parentheses along with the date of publication. Like so:
Golf would be a lot easier if it weren’t for all the gophers that have been shown to have an innate antipathy for greens (Murray, 1980).

APA Parenthetical Citations with Multiple Authors

Using a Source That Has Two Authors

The method is the same as for one author—you just slip an ampersand in to tie the two names together. Like this:

In ancient Sparta, women held more sway than men (Gulliver & Thompson, 2012).

First Time You Use a Source with Multiple Authors

The first time you use a source with multiple authors, you’ll want to use their names, like this:
The approximate dates for the start of the Cold War are disputed, but the airlift in Berlin serves for as good a beginning as any (Colby, Stewart & Marshall, 2008).
The Second Time You Use a Source with Multiple Authors

No need to include all the names. Give the first one and add et al.
Stalin did not trust Truman, and he trusted Churchill even less—and for good reason, as each plotted against the Soviet Union dictator (Colby et al., 2008).
A Source That Has Several Authors Attached to It

Journal articles often have many writers attached to the article. Instead of including a dozen last names in the parentheses, just do the first three and follow that up with an et al. to cover the rest. Like so:
Establishing a connection between genetic material and the disease has been impossible to do for a lack of consistency among the findings of randomized trials (Benson, Carlos, Delgado et al., 2017).
For more tips on how to cite journals in APA style, check out this tutorial [link to article].

Using a Direct Quote

If you want to use a direct quote from a source, it means you need to supply the reader with the page number in the text from which it is taken:
Ellis (2003) shows that climate change is not the result of any man-made pollution but rather the natural result of “a planet that is constantly in flux” (p. 37).
Or, if you don’t name the author in the text, then like this:

The inspiration for Conrad’s novella came from an experience the author had when sailing in the Pacific during the “pining days of his youth when his taste for adventure was still strong” (O’Connor, 1987, p. 3).

Using a Direct Quote from a Website

If you’re using a website as a source, you’re more than likely to find that there are no page numbers to include in the in-text citation. That’s okay. Use headings or paragraph numbers in lieu of a page number—but only if possible. If not—no worries.
The onset of the illness can be triggered by environmental factors such as stressful situations or pollution (Jones, 2017, Discussion section, para. 2).
See this tutorial for more tips on how to cite a website in APA style.

Using More Than One Source to Cite Information

It is not uncommon to use multiple sources in a single citation. This often occurs in research papers when you’re trying to show support for an idea. Just put the sources in order by date. Like so:
In several studies, researchers have shown that servant leadership combined with the application of emotional intelligence can have a tremendously positive impact on worker morale (Gonzales, 2000; Francisco & Butler, 2004; Grecco & Stephens, 2007; Bertrand 2012).
Or, if you are mentioning the names in the text, then like this:
These findings support the conclusions of Galloway (1998), Parker (1999) and Morgan (2003) regarding how a strong organizational culture can best be achieved.
Using a Source That Has No Given Author

Sometimes when you use an Internet source, an author of the text is not listed. Many times a website will post articles but no author. In that case, give the title of the article and put it in quotation marks. Like this:
New Orleans was the real birthplace of jazz, as a confluence of events and circumstances produced the unique sounds that then spread to other major urban areas (“The Birth of Jazz,” 2014).
Using a Source That Has No Date

Sometimes you go to cite a source only to find that you can’t find a date! No worries—just use “n.d.” where no date is given. In fact, that’s what it stands for: “no date.”
The Scopes Trial was a staged event from beginning to end, designed to pit the two extremes of science and religion at one another’s throats (Brutus, n.d.).
Using an Organization as a Source

It’s not uncommon for organizations or groups to publish information that can be used as a source. In cases where the organization takes ownership of the text, you can use the organization’s name as the author.
Schizophrenia affects more than 20 million people all over the world (World Health Organization, 2013).
Using a Classical Work That Has Been Translated

Classical works are commonly used as sources too. However, the translations are usually a lot closer to our time than to the author’s—so maybe you’re thinking it looks a little odd to reference Plato in your paper while sticking the current year next to his name. Of course Plato didn’t publish anything in 2015! But the translator of his work did. So insert “trans.” before the date—like so:
In the Allegory of the Cave, the inhabitants are watching shadows on the wall, taking it as reality, when in reality what they are seeing are simply illusions (Plato, trans. 2015).
Using the Bible

The Bible can come in handy whenever you want to support your thesis with a quote from Scripture. No need for dates or page numbers though: just give the Book, the chapter and verse, and follow that up with the Edition of the Bible you are using. Like this:
Christ identified Himself as the “true vine” and His Father as “the husbandman” (John 15:1 King James Version).


Doing parenthetical citations in APA is simple.

You’ll need to do it in order to show that you’re not just making up evidence or arguments to convince your reader.

So if you find some tidbit of information in a source that can help you sell your paper, throw it in there—but you have to be sure to cite that source right there in the paper wherever you use that great info!

In other words, give credit where credit is due.

It does no good to try to pawn off other people’s knowledge as your own—mainly because if it’s not commonly known already, your reader is going to want to know where you got that info from!

So be sure to say by including an in-text citation—i.e., a parenthetical citation.

Give the author or authors’ last names, follow that up with the year in which the source was published, and if you’re using a direct quote from the source add the page number of the text from where the information was retrieved.

Need more help with apa parenthetical citations for your research paper?  Check out our research paper writing service and get the assistance you need.

Helpful Tips and Reminders:

  1. Always be sure to check the latest updates on APA citation methods from the official APA manual.
  2. Two or more authors? Use the “&” symbol!
  3. No need to shove half a dozen authors’ last names into your parentheses: 3 of them and an et al. will do.
  4. No author? Give the title of the article in quotation marks.
  5. No date? Put “n.d.” where the date would normally go: it means “no date.”
sample essay writing service

Cite This Resource:

Latest APA Format (6th edition)

Copy Reference
How to Do Parenthetical Citations in APA Format. (2017, December 2). Retrieved from

Latest MLA Format (8th edition)

Copy Reference
"How to Do Parenthetical Citations in APA Format." Student Network Resources Inc, 2 December. 2017. Web. 29 May 2022.

Latest Chicago Format (16th edition)

Copy Reference
Student Network Resources Inc. "How to Do Parenthetical Citations in APA Format." (accessed May 29, 2022).