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Citation / Referencing Guide: In-Text Referencing

In-Text Referencing

For every source you have mentioned in your paper, there should be a corresponding entry in your Reference list, except for the case when citing personal communication. The sources mentioned in your paper is known as in-text referencing or in-text citation. The in-text referencing could like one of the following:

1. Smith and Jones (2010) found... (Author's name part of narrative)
2. The findings on altruism (Smith & Jones, 2010) .. (Author's name in parentheses)

The first format (1) is used when you wish to emphasize the author's work relevance to the point you are making.

General reference to a work or works

  • Separate multiple works mentioned for one point with semi-colon ;
  • Order the citations by author alphabetically in the same order in which they appear in the reference list
  • Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names and initials
Format (1)

Smith and Wexwood (2010) reported an increase in the number of books read, whereas Gibson (2011) reported a decrease. Albright, Wayne, and Fortinbras (2004) found no significant results.


J. D. Smith (2001) and D. E. Smith (2003) have also found … [Use initials for authors with same family name even if years of publication are different.]

Format (2)
A common result from many studies of X has been that … (Johnson, 1984, as cited in Brown, 2007; Jones, 1991, 1995a, 1995b, in press; Smith & Green, 2004; Yang, Peng, & Cheng, 2005; Zabinski et al., 2006).
  • When a work has two authors, cite both names every time.
    Format (1)
    Yang and Peng (2003) have argued that …
    Format (2)
    It was found that .....(Yang & Peng, 2003)
  • When a work has three, four, or five authors, cite all authors the first time the reference occur; in subsequent citations, include only the surname of the first author followed by et al.
    Format (1)
    Tang, Koesling, Kivshar, and Rialto (2002, 2003) have investigated whether … [First instance for three to five authors. Note the comma before “and”. 2002, 2003 indicates multiple works by same authors in different year of publication] Subsequently: Tang et al. (2002, 2003) …
  • Format (2)
    • First citation: (Tremblay, Richer, Lachance, & Cote, 2010)
    • Subsequent citations: (Tremblay et al., 2010)
  • If six or more authors, use “et al.” from first instance onward.
  • f you have two sources by the same author in the same year, use lower-case letters (a, b, c) with the year to order the entries in the reference list. Use the lower-case letters with the year in the in-text citation.
  • The same suffixes a, b, c are assigned in the Reference list, order alphabetically by the title of the work
    Format (1)
    Jones, 1991, 1995a, 1995b, in press supports ......["in press" indicates work has yet to be published.]  

    Research by Jones (1995a) illustrated that...

    Format (2)
    Research illustrated that... (Jones, 1991, 1995a)


  • If the author is an organization or a government agency, mention the organization in the signal phrase or in the parenthetical citation the first time you cite the source.
    Format (1)
    According to the American Psychological Association (2000),...
    Format (2)
    Training materials are available (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2001, 2003)
  • If the organization has a well-known abbreviation, include the abbreviation in brackets the first time the source is cited and then use only the abbreviation in later citations.
    Format (2)
    • First citation: (Economic Development Board [EDB], 2000)
    • Subsequent citations:(EDB, 2000)
  • When citing a standard, the in-text citation shows the author as the standard organization.
  • Format (2)
    Specifications follow industrial standards. (Singapore Standards, 2001)

When citing a patent, the in-text citation should shows the patent number follow by the year of issue (not the application (filed) year).

Format (2)
(U.S. Patent No. 10,067,041, 2018)

See the parts highlighted in yellow

Unknown Author
  • If a author is unknown, use the first few words of the title and the year in the parentheses. Use double quotation marks around the title.
    Format (2)
    Teens with depression find it difficult to concentrate on schoolwork or extracurricular activities (“Teens and Depression,” 2001).   
No Date
  • Use "n.d." for "no date"
No Page Number
  • For quoting a direct text or section from a resource, you should always quote the page number when available. if the page number is not available, indicates chapter or paragraph numbers instead.
  • Use the abbreviation “para” or "chap" with the relevant number in the parentheses. If the paragraph number is not visible, cite the heading and the paragraph number following it.
Format (1)
As Myers (2000, para. 5) aptly phrased it…
Format (2)
(Beutler, 2000, Conclusion, para. 1)
If you use a source that was cited in another source, name the original source in your signal phrase. List the secondary source in your reference list and include the secondary source in the parentheses. See FAQ for more details.
Format (1)
Johnson, 1984, as cited in Brown, 2007 argued that...
Format (2)
Johnson argued that...(as cited in Brown, 2007, p. 102).
You are highly recommended to seek and cite the original source instead of citing from indirect sources. A source quoted in another source that you read will contain interpretation and opinions from the author's views and also in the context of his / her paper rather than for your argument. By citing indirect sources for ideas or quotations that you could have obtained easily, you may give the impression that your research is superficial.

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Direct quotation or reference to a specific part of a work

  • Direct quotations are usually put inside quotation marks (“ ”), followed by the reference
    Format (1)
    Simons (2002) has described this process as being one of “…” (p. 36). [For quotations less than 40 words long. Note that (p. 36) goes before the full stop.]
    Format (2)
    • This process has been described as being one of “…” (Simons, 2002, p. 36).
    • In contrast, Yang (2001, chap. 3) has argued that <summary of argument>.
  • For quotations 40 or more words long, separate from the main text and use the block quotation style indented 1/2 inch from the left margin,. Note that (p. 12) in this instance goes after the final full stop. No quotation marks are needed around the quotation.
    Format (1)
    To understand the huge gender imbalance in the physics community, Wertheim (1995) has argued that it is necessary to recognise that:

    Science is not just driven by practical needs and desires, but also by psychological need and desires. If we are to understand the evolution of physics we cannot just look at the history of its theories, we must also look at the psychology of its practitioners. We must go beyond intellectual history and also explore the emotional forces impacting on the community of physicists. (p. 12)

More Examples

For examples on citing references such as websites, e-books, YouTube, etc, see Quick Answers - References provided by the American Psychological Association.


These in-text referencing examples were provided by Prof Deng Xudong, Director of the Centre for Communications Skills, Singapore Institute of Technology.

APA Style Manual

To have a more detailed understanding of the APA style, do refer to the following books and ebook, which are available in SIT Library.