Skip to Main Content

CEMS APA 7th edition Referencing Style Guide: Introduction to in-text Citations

Introduction to In Text Citations

Basic Method of Citation

Use the author-date method of citation, that is, insert the surname of the author and the year of publication in the text at an appropriate point. It must be repeated in subsequent paragraphs and under new headings.

There are two general types of in-text citations namely, the parenthetical and narrative citations. Parenthetical citations reference a source at the end of a sentence and the source is not part of the sentence reference. In narrative form, the in-text citation forms part of the sentence text.


The research methodology includes the orientation to the research and the research methods (Smith, 2019).


According to Smith (2019) the research methodology includes the orientation to the research and the research methods.


Cite the name and date, for example Christensen (1994) described... or in a review of studies ... attitudes (Guion, 1973).

If the name of the author occurs in textual discussion (i.e. a narrative citation), only the date is cited in parentheses (first example above). Otherwise, in a parenthetical citation, both the name and date appear in parentheses (second example above). Note the full stop after the final parenthesis.

If a work has two authors, always cite both names every time the reference occurs in the text, for example: Katz and Kahn (1978) view organisations as open systems and according to Katz and Kahn (1978) ... or research has shown … (Katz & Kahn, 1978) .

Link the names with the word "and" in textual discussion, but with an ampersand (&) when they appear in brackets, in a table, and in the reference list – see example above.

If a work has three, four or five authors, include only the surname of the first author followed by "et al.”, for example: Mobasseri, Kahn and Ely (2024) will be written as:


... as found in previous studies (Mobasseri et al., 2024).


NOTEIf two references with three, four, five and six or more authors with the same date reduce to identical forms, cite the surnames of the first author and as many of the subsequent authors as are necessary to clearly distinguish between the two references, followed by "et al."

For example, distinguish between Guilford, Christensen, Peters, Smith, Hangry, (1954) and Guilford, Christensen, Peters, Mbala, Hangry, (1954) as follows:

Guilford, Christensen, Peters, Smith, et al., (1954)

Guilford, Christensen, Peters, Mbala, et al., (1954)

Use the lower-case letters with the year in the intext citation (a, b, c…) with the year to order the entries in the reference list. Example: Research by Berndt (2015a) illustrated that... Berndt (2015b) emphasizes that...

Always refer to the author or authors of the specific chapter concerned in an edited book, not to the editor.


When the source is a chapter written by Guion in a book edited by Dunnette and Hough, the correct citation is for example: Guion (1991) mentioned that performance measurement …

Complete information - author, title of the chapter, name of the editor, and name of the book – is then given in the reference list.


Always refer to the author or authors of the reprinted article concerned, not to the editor or editors of the book. For example, when the source is an article by Nadler and Lawler in a book compiled by Hackman, Lawler and Porter, the correct citation is:

... developed a diagnostic approach to study motivation (Nadler & Lawler, 1977). Complete information is given in the reference list.

Electronic journal publication has become much more prevalent as publishing in the electronic environment increases the efficiency of the publication process. In general, it is recommended that you should include the same citation elements, in the same order as you would for fixed-media sources. Add as much electronic retrieval information as needed for others to locate the sources you cited. Two such electronic retrieved elements are the uniform resource locators (URLs) and digital object identifiers (DOIs). The full URL example below, for example provides the protocol (htto:0, and file name of the specific document (workplace.html):

The DOI system provides a means of persistent identification for managing information on digital networks (see The DOI is intended to enable easy identification and use of trustworthy electronic content by promoting the cooperative development and application of a sustainable infrastructure ( A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the internet.  The DOIs are indicated in the reference list only (not in text) and function as links to the content you are referencing. 

For example, in the reference list:

Morey, C. C., Cong, Y., Zheng, Y., Price, M., & Morey, R. D. (2015). The colour-sharing bonus: Roles of perceptual organization and attentive processes in visual working memory. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 3, 18–29.


If there is no author, use the first few words of the entry in the reference list (usually the title) and the year in the text citation:

... (A manual of style, 1993).

Only if a work is designated as "Anonymous" cite the word "Anonymous" in the text.

... (Anonymous, 1992)


Multiple citations of the same author are arranged in chronological order, separated by commas, without repeating the author's name for each work, Place in press citations last. 

Recent studies (Schmidt & Hunter, 1980, 1981) ... 


In citing more than one paper by the same author in the same year, the suffixes a, b, c, et cetera, are added after the year, for example Studies (Terpstra, 1981a, 1981b). 


If different authors are cited at the same point in the text, the citations are arranged alphabetically according to the authors' surnames, separated by semicolons, for example ... (Crocker & Algina, 1986; Hambleton & Cook, 1977; Hambleton & Swaminathan, 1985; Hambleton et al, 1978). 


If the author is a lengthy corporate name, it must be spelled out in the first citation, but may be abbreviated in the second and subsequent citations.

First citation: ... (American Psychological Association [APA], 2019). Second and subsequent citations: ... (APA, 2019).


If reference is made to two or more authors with the same surname, to avoid confusion, citations in the text should include their initials, even if the year of publication differs. For example:

A. B. Nel (1986) and C. D. Nel (1987) both used the test developed by C. D. Nel and M. Parker (1982).


Personal communications may be personal or telephone conversations, letters, memos, electronic communication (e.g. E-mail), and the like.  Because they do not provide recoverable data, personal communications are cited in the text only and are not given in the reference list. Obtain the person's permission for the citation.  Give the initials and surname of the person together with an exact date if possible.

According to CH Smith (personal communication, 16 March 1984) the PAQ...

A cautionary note regarding the citation of E-mail communications: Because it is possible to send an E- mail note disguised as someone else, authors are responsible for the accuracy of such references, which includes verifying the source of E-mail communications before citing them as personal communications in manuscripts.


Cite the name of the case and the year of the decision, or all years given (in the case of two or more years), for example State v Jones (1986).

A reference to a court case not included in the South African Law Reports should name the specific court in which the case was heard, and the date(s) of the hearing.


Remember that the study guide is not a scientific resource but only a guide on how to work through the module content. Treat a Unisa study guide as a book with one or more authors. In the citation, leave out titles of authors that might be used in the study guides.

It is incorrect to state that a correlation of 0.75, for example means that there is a 75% relationship between X and Y (Wolfaardt et al., 1990).


When citing a website only without referring to a specific document, it is enough to give the address (e.g. In this case, no reference entry is needed.

If specific content from a website is referenced, the same author-date style should be used to reference the website. Sometimes the author can also be a group or agency. If the author is unknown, you can use the title of the website. If no specific date for the content is displayed, one can look at the last date that the website was updated. The date is not necessarily the copyright date of the website. If the date is not known at all, replace the date with n.d. (e.g. American Nurses Association (n.d.) revealed that …).


Multiple citations of the same author are arranged in chronological order, separated by commas, without repeating the author's name for each work, Place in press citations last.

Recent studies (Schmidt & Hunter, 1980, 1981) ...


In citing more than one paper by the same author in the same year, the suffixes a, b, c, et cetera, are added after the year, for example Studies (Terpstra, 1981a, 1981b).


If different authors are cited at the same point in the text, the citations are arranged alphabetically according to the authors' surnames, separated by semicolons, for example ... (Crocker & Algina, 1986; Hambleton & Cook, 1977; Hambleton & Swaminathan, 1985; Hambleton et al., 1978).

A figure may be a chart, graph, photograph, drawing, plot, infographic, or any other illustration that is not a table.

Tables and figures should be visually attractive and understandable. Therefore, the APA 7th edition style guidelines for tables and figures ensures consistent, clear formatting of your visual data. Tables and figures should adhere to the general rules noted below.


When including figures or tables in your work, please note:

•    All figures and tables must be referred to in the main body of the text.
•    Number all figures and tables in the order they first appear in the text.
•    In the text, refer to every table/figure by its number. For example, "As shown in Table 1, ..." (note no italics, and capital "T" for "Table") OR
As illustrated in Figure 3...
•    There are two options for the placement of tables/figures in a paper. The first option is to place all tables/figures on separate pages after the reference list. The second option is to embed each table/figure within the text
•    If you reprint or adapt a table from another source in your paper (e.g. a table from a published work), you must include a copyright attribution in in a Note directly below the figure/table indicating the origin of the reprinted or adapted material in addition to a reference list entry for the work. The attribution will follow any explanatory notes required for the figure.
•    Important notes: When reproducing or adapting copyrighted tables/data sets in your thesis or dissertation or other publications - you must get permission from the copyright holder/s for using the material in your thesis or dissertation or other publications. You may not need permission when a reprinted or adapted figure is obtained from the public domain. Works used Creative Commons licences should be cited accordingly. 

•    An attribution for a figure or a table reproduced from an Open Access journal article with a Creative Commons licence must include:
o    'From' when reprinting the figure or 'Adapted from' when adapting
o    Title of article, in Title Case and double quotation marks " "
o    by Author(s). The first initial(s) followed by the surname
o    Year of publication
o    Journal title, in Title Case and italics
o    Volume (in italics) and issue number in (round brackets)
o    Page number of original figure. (Where there are no page numbers use Section headings and paragraph numbers)
o    DOI or URL, in (round brackets)
o    Creative Commons licence


Note. (A) Expression Recognition & (B) Expression Detection (A = Anger; D = Disgust; F = Fear; H = Happy; Su. = Surprise; Sa. = Sad). (C) Full confusion matrices underlying performance at each eccentricity for the Emotion Recognition Task (rows = expression presented; columns = response chosen). From "Identifying and Detecting Facial Expressions of Emotion in Peripheral Vision," by F. W. Smith and S. Rossit, 2018, PloS ONE, 13(5), Results section, Figure 1 ( CC BY.

IMPORTANT: If a figure or a table is not Open Access or Creative Commons, you may need to obtain written permission from the copyright holder to reproduce or adapt a figure or table. The copyright permission statement should be included at the end of the Note.

•    You must also list the figure/table in your Reference list. Notice that the order of the citation elements and capitalisation differs slightly in the figure/table note compared to the reference list:

Smith, F. W., & Rossit, S. (2018). Identifying and detecting facial expressions of emotion in peripheral vision. PLoS ONE, 13(5), Article e0197160.

As noted above, tables usually show numerical values or text, in columns and rows. The components below must all be present in the table:

•    Number: The table number (e.g. Table 1) appears above the table in bold (no italics, no period ending)
•    Title: The table title appears one double-spaced line below the table number, using non-bolded Italic Title Case (no period ending)
•    Headings: All tables should include column headings, including  a heading for the leftmost column (stub heading)
•    Body:  The table body includes all the rows and columns of a table.  The body may be single space, one and a half spaced, or double spaced, which ever is clearer. 
•    Limit the use of borders or lines in a table to those needed for clarity. Do not use vertical borders to separate data (see APA Manual, s. 7.17, pp. 205-206 for more details)
•    Note: A note can appear below the table to describe the contents of the table  that cannot be understood from the table title or body alone, (e.g. definitions of abbreviations, copyright attribution). Notes are double-spaced and flush left. Not all tables include table notes

Follow the link below to APA website to see examples of different tables such as self-produced tables and reprinted tables (with permission) or adapted tables:


A figure may be a chart, a graph, a photograph, a drawing, or any other illustration or nontextual depiction. Any type of illustration or image that is not a table is referred to as a figure.


•    Number: The figure number (e.g., Figure 1) appears above the figure in bold (no period finishing).
•    Title: The figure title appears one double-spaced line below the figure number in Italic Title Case (no period finishing).
•    Image: The image portion of the figure is the chart, graph, photograph, drawing, or illustration itself.
•    Legend: A figure legend, or key, if present, should be positioned within the borders of the figure and explain any symbols used in the figure image.
•    Note: A note may appear below the figure to describe contents of the figure that cannot be understood from the figure title, image, and/or legend alone (e.g., definitions of abbreviations, copyright attribution). Not all figures include notes. Notes are flush left, non-italicised. If present they begin with Note. (italicised, period ending). The notes area will include reference information if not an original figure, and copyright information as required.

Please check the APA style website for an illustration of the basic figure components and placement of figure in a text:


No citation or copyright attribution is required, but may require a signed release if identifiable people are present.

Using another person's photograph:
Beletsky, Y. (2013). Three planets dance over La Silla [Photograph]. European Southern Observatory.

To cite a specific part of a source, indicate the page, chapter, figure, table, or equation at the appropriate point in text. Always give page numbers for quotations. Note that the words page and chapter are abbreviated in such text citations, for example (Cheek & Buss, 1981, p.332) and (Shimamura, 1989, chap. 3).

For electronic sources that do not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number, if available, preceded by the paragraph symbol or the abbreviation para. If neither paragraph nor page numbers are visible, cite the heading or sub heading and the number of the paragraph following it to direct the reader to the location of the material, for example (Myers, 2000, p.5) and (Beutler, 2000, Conclusion section, para.1)


  • The page number must be included for direct quotations.
  • "Today's research is built on a foundation of the hard work and dedication of past researchers..." (Bekwa et al., 2019, p.39)
  • Indent the whole paragraph when there are more than 40 words.
  • Quotations support or elucidate the text and are given verbatim, in their exact original form; any grammatical, spelling or printer's errors are retained. Always cite the source of a quotation (see sec 3.4). Use quotations sparingly and avoid lengthy quotations. 
  • Use brackets, not parentheses, to enclose material (e.g. additions or explanations) inserted in a quotation by someone other than the original author. 
  • If you wish to emphasize a word or words in a quotation, change these words into italic print, followed immediately by "[italics added]". 
  • If you spot an error in the quotation, insert "[sic]" immediately after the error. 
  • Citation of a page, chapter, figure, table or equation should be made at the appropriate point in the text and not in the reference list. Because material within a book is often difficult to locate, authors should, whenever possible, give page numbers in books to assist readers.  Page numbers are always given for direct quotations. 


Short quotations (up to about 30 words) are incorporated in the text and enclosed in double quotation marks. 

According to Anastasi (1963, p.135) test validity can be defined as "what the test measures and how well it does so". 


Longer quotations are set off or indented from the text as a free-standing block with no quotation marks. Quotations may be shortened using ellipsis. Three ellipsis points (...) are used to indicate material omitted within a sentence. Four points indicate any omission between two sentences within a quotation. Do not use ellipsis points at the beginning or end of a quotation. 

Kerlinger (1986, p.175) presents the following as the definition and purpose of statistics: 

“Statistics is the theory and method of analysing quantitative data obtained from samples of observations in order to study and compare sources of variance of phenomena, to help make decisions to accept or reject hypothesized relations between the phenomena, and to aid in making reliable inferences from empirical observations.” 


•    Use the abbreviation “p.” TO INDICATE A SINGLE PAGE (e.g., p. 25, p. S41, p. 221).
•    Multiple pages, use the abbreviation “pp.” and separate the page range with a dash (e.g., pp. 34–36).
•    For pages that are discontinuous, use a comma between the page numbers (e.g., pp. 67, 72).

Avoid secondary resourcing as far as possible. Only reference the source that you physically used.

When the source you are using cites information by other authors, you wish to mention without consulting the original sources, indicate clearly that the author of your source cites this information, for example: ... the principles according to Baker, Crocker and Algina, and Hambleton and Swaminathan (as cited in Wolfaardt, 1990) are ...

In the reference list you would mention only Wolfaardt (1990), the article you read, and not the other three references, you did not read. Also, omit the dates of sources you did not consult.

Avoid excessive use of this type of citation; rather consult the original source if applicable, especially in the case of a thesis or dissertation.