Citing Sources

In most cases, you will be citing sources from a journal, book, or book chapter. These are also the most common types of citations you will see in published documents. The basic rule is that you will state the author (or authors) and then the date of the publication. However, the exact format can vary depending on how many authors and whether you give the citation in a sentence or wholly within parentheses (brackets). More and more, we are seeing other types of citations being used. These mainly include multimedia and internet-based publications, such as web pages, video clips, and other electronic media. Use the following examples as a guide on how to cite sources in the text of your research report or essay.

One work by a single author
Erikson (1963) introduced a lifespan perspective to the developmental progression of human beings.


The developmental progression of human beings is often viewed according to a lifespan perspective (Erikson, 1963).
One work by two authors
Too much parental control may lead to a child’s inhibition of self-expression (Papalia & Olds, 1995).


According to Papalia and Olds (1995), too much parental control may lead to a child’s inhibition of self-expression.
One work by three or more authors
Note: you only cite the name of the first author with et al. each time you cite the reference. If a citation is ambiguous, that is, the author and years would be the same as another citation, write out as many author surnames needed to distinguish the reference, followed by et al.

According to Jones et al. (2000), emotional expression in the families of people with schizophrenia is … (every citation)


The research to date on marital happiness in step-families is problematic because it is based on a comparison with the marital happiness of first marriage families (Gray et al., 1998).
Authors with the same surname
Use the authors’ initials in all citations to avoid confusion. For example:

S. Freud (1929) and A. Freud (1934) both averred the significance of early childhood experience.
Citing two or more sources for the same concept
1. List your sources in alphabetical order of authors’ names.

Recent theorists have contributed substantially to our understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a product of family dysfunction (Herman, 1994; Terr, 1995; Van Der Kolk, 1996).

2. If the publications are by the same author, order them according to year of publication.

Later writers acknowledged the possibility that family dysfunction may affect the emergence of PTSD symptoms (Terr, 1993, 1994, 1995).

3. If the publications are by the same author AND are in the same year, add suffixes to your references to distinguish one from another.

Terr acknowledged the possibility that family dysfunction may affect the emergence of PTSD symptoms in children (1994a, 1994b).
Citing an author’s ideas that are listed in another person’s book/article
First avoid using secondary sources; it is always better to seek out the original source. When you reference an author’s idea that is listed in another person’s book/article you need to include the name of the original author/s (e.g., Kohut) together with the author and date of the book/article from which you have cited the information/idea (e.g., as cited in Goldstein, 1990). For example:

According to Kohut (as cited in Goldstein, 1990), broader insight, greater autonomy of ego functions, and increased control over impulsiveness may accompany these gains.

In the reference list you only include the details of the journal/book which you have read yourself (e.g., Goldstein, 1990).
Citing electronic material in text
To cite a specific part of an electronic source, indicate the page, chapter, figure, table, or equations in text, as shown in the example below. Note that page but not chapter is abbreviated.

(Cheek & Buss, 1981, p. 332) or (Shimamura, 1989, Chapter 3)

Note: For internet articles which do not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number, preceded by the abbreviation para (e.g., Myers, 2000, para. 5). If neither paragraph nor page number are visible, cite the heading and the number of the paragraph following it to direct the reader to the location of the material (e.g., Beutler, 2000, Conclusion section, para. 1).
Referencing within a paragraph
When the first occurrence of a citation is part of the narrative, only include the year in the first citation and not in subsequent non-bracketed references. For example:

Among epidemiological samples, Kessler (2003) found that early onset social anxiety disorder results in a more potent and severe course. Kessler also found...... The study also showed that there was a high rate of comorbidity with alcohol abuse or dependence and major depression (Kessler, 2003).

When first citation occurs in brackets, you must cite the year in ALL further citations in that paragraph. For example:

Among epidemiological samples, early onset social anxiety disorder results in a more potent and severe course (Kessler, 2003). Kessler (2003) also found...... Kessler (2003) also showed that there was a high rate of comorbidity with alcohol abuse or dependence and major depression.

Note: the year must always be included in all bracketed citations.
Personal communications
Personal communications including email messages, private conversations or interviews are cited in-text but because they do not contain recoverable data, do NOT cite them in your reference list. However, it is extremely rare that personal communications will be cited in undergraduate research reports or essays. It is strongly discouraged because the accuracy of the citation is difficult to verify. Citations of personal communication are rare in published research. If you see this citation, it will be given in-text, with initials and the last name of the communicator, and the date of the communication. For example:

P. Smith also claimed that many of her students had difficulties with APA style (personal communication, November 3, 2002).
Lecture materials
Similar to personal communications the citation of material presented during a lecture is discouraged. It is expected that students will cite the original source that is the basis of the lecture material. If it is to be cited, it should be cited in-text but NOT in your reference list, unless it is ‘recoverable’ material (i.e., posted on a public website). An example of how to reference a lecture in-text is provided below:

In an Introduction to Literature lecture at Capital Community College on April 14, 2004, Professor Charles Darling described William Carlos Williams’ poem as a barnyard snapshot (C. W. Darling, ENG 102 lecture, April 14, 2004).

Remember: Just because you cite a source doesn't mean that you are allowed to copy from that source word-for-word. Just changing a couple of words around also won't do the job. You must write in your own words the information contained in that source. Whenever you feel you must quote directly, you should use the format required for a quotation.