Citing an Author Throughout a Paragraph: Notes on a Tricky APA Shortcut
By Amber Cook, Senior Writing Specialist
In both the fifth and sixth editions of the APA manual, there is a shortcut involved in citing the same author multiple times within a paragraph. It’s a rule that was so vexing to understand in the fifth edition that we tutors had a long e-mail thread with the subject line “The Great 208 Debate.” (Page 208 was the location of the rule. And yes, we are that dorky.) In the sixth edition (now on p. 174, or p. 71 in the latest Perrin Pocket Guide), the guideline is explained somewhat more clearly, but it still generates more questions than just about any other APA conundrum.
There are two parts to this rule: One applies to in-text citing (where the author is part of the sentence itself), and the other applies to parenthetical citing (where the author and year appear at the end of the sentence within parentheses).
1. In-Text Citing:When presenting the author’s name in the text of a sentence, the year only needs to appear the first time it shows up, and it can be omitted thereafter in other in-text citations in that same paragraph:
a. First time for in-text citation:
Cook (2010) asserted that a shortcut causing this much trouble may not be a shortcut after all.
b. Next in-text citation in the same paragraph:
Cook noted that, in spite of the frustrations it sometimes causes, APA is a pretty handy style guide.
2. Parenthetical Citing:Every time the author of a source appears within parentheses, there must also be a year within those parentheses. Unlike in rule # 1, the year will never be dropped from the parenthetical citation:
a. Like this:
APA often confounds writers, especially with citation shortcuts (Cook, 2010).
b. Never like this:
Citation may actually be simpler without such a rule (Cook).
The key here is that these two rules operate independently. The number of times a source is mentioned in parentheses (# 2 above) will not impact the decision to use the year in an in-text citation (# 1 above). See this example:
APA often confounds writers, especially with citation shortcuts (Cook, 2010). Cook (2010) asserted that a shortcut causing this much trouble may not be a shortcut after all. Citation may actually be simpler without such a rule (Cook, 2010). Cook noted that, in spite of the frustrations it sometimes causes, APA is a pretty handy style guide.
If you'd like to see more examples, check out our post on Three Key Points for Knowing When to Use the Year or Date in APA Citations and our website resource.
Some other things to keep in mind:1. This rule only applies to the same work by the same author. If you have multiple works in that paragraph, the rules here apply to each source separately.
2. This rule only holds true within one paragraph at a time. Once you shift to a new paragraph, you’ll need to start over with the citation pattern described above.
3. If you are using multiple sources by the same author, you must always include the year to differentiate between the sources.
The good news: It doesn’t get much more complicated in the APA manual, so if you can get a handle on this, you’re in great shape for navigating the rest of the guide. We may even let you in on our next geeky e-mail thread about APA minutiae.
Other posts you might like:Three Key Points for Knowing When to Use the Year or Date in APA Citations
Demystifying In-Text vs. Parenthetical Citations
APA Citations: The Method to the Madness
What's the Citation Frequency, Kenneth?
When to Use an Author Name in the Body of a Sentence and When to Keep It in the Parenthetical Citation