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Citation Guide


Topos uses APA documentation style. APA recommends in-text citations that refer readers to a list of references. An in-text citation gives the author of the source, the year of publication, and a page number in parentheses for direct quotations and most paraphrases. At the end of the paper, a list of references provides publication information.


Miller and Lazar (2002) reported that “the current state of the humanities is similar to the state of the literary studies  five decades ago” (p. 183).

Miller, S. Z., & Lazar, P. (2002). The state of the humanities: Today. The Journal of Humanities, 12, 172-190.

1. Basic format for a quotation

Lazar (2003) noted that despite growing numbers of scholarship programs, many undergraduates still “remain in ignorance about their opportunities” (p. 17).

If the author is not named in the signal phrase, place the author’s name, the year, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation: (Lazar, 2003, p. 17).

When your parenthetical citation names two or more works, put them in the same order that they appear in the reference list, separated with semicolons.

2. Work with two authors

Name both authors each time you cite the work. In the parentheses, use “&” between the authors’ names; in the signal phrase, use “and.”

According to Miller and Lazar (2003), “Environmental factors may contribute as much as 80% to the success of undergraduate studies” (p. 174).

Successful students often engage in extracurricular activity (Miller & Lazar, 2003, p. 174).

3. Work with three to five authors

Identify all authors in the signal phrase or the parentheses the first time you cite the source. In subsequent citations, use the first author’s name followed by “et al.” in either the signal phrase or the parentheses. For more than five authors use the first author’s name followed by “et al.” in the signal phrase or the parentheses.

4. Work with unknown author

If the author is unknown, mention the work’s title in the signal phrase or give the first word or two of the title in the parenthetical citation. Titles of articles and chapters are put in quotation marks; titles of books and reports are italicized.

Children struggling to control their weight must also struggle with the pressures of television advertising (“Television,” 2002).

5. Authors with the same last name

To avoid confusion, use initials with the last names.

Research by T. Taylor (1989) revealed that . . .

6. Two or more works by the same author in the same year

When your list of references includes more than one work by the same author in the same year, use lowercase letters (“a,” “b,” and so on) with the year to order the entries in the reference list. Use those same letters with the year in the in-text citation.

Research by Miller (2003b) has yielded new findings about ...

7. Personal communication

Personal interviews, memos, letters, e-mail, and similar unpublished communications should be cited in the text only, not in the reference list. (Use the first initial with the last name in parentheses.)

Atkinson’s colleague has contended that advertisers will need to design ads responsibly for their younger viewers (F. Johnson, personal communication, October 20, 2009).

8. Electronic source

When possible, cite electronic sources as you would any other source (author, year).

Atkinson (2001) found that children who spent at least four hours a day watching TV were less likely to engage in adequate physical activity during the week.

When the date is unknown, use the abbreviation “n.d.” When an electronic source lacks stable numbered pages, your citation should include information that will help readers locate the particular passage being cited. For electronic files in portable document format (PDF) give the page number in the parenthetical citation.

9. Sacred or classical text

Identify the text, the version or edition you used, and the relevant part (chapter, verse, line). It is not necessary to include the source in the reference list.

Last Updated ( Friday, 30 March 2012 10:55 )