Citing an Author Throughout a Paragraph: Notes on a Tricky APA Shortcut -->

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

Citing an Author Throughout a Paragraph: Notes on a Tricky APA Shortcut

41 comments
Amber Cook explains using the year in in-text citations.
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


41 comments :

  1. Thanks Amber! These rules can be a bit.... overwhelming. I appreciate the direction.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Please review the Little Brown Book, 6th edition page 449 regarding using repeated citations within the same paragraph. This has a different explanation. I have used this for years, but just recently had issues with a professor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello.

      I'm not sure what examples/explanation the Little Brown Book provides. At Walden, students should follow APA style, so we always recommend going directly to the 6th edition Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for guidance.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the great rules refresher on the same author within the same paragraph (with multiple sources). Great review of info!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had a professor who stated that if I was paraphrasing from the same source multiple times within a paragraph, I should only cite at the beginning and at the end of the paragraph. He indicated that this is the ruling according to APA 6th edition. I cannot find this in my APA Bible. Please advise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm...In our interpretation of APA (based on example at the bottom of page 174), it is appropriate to cite in each sentence providing information from that source. If you only cite in the first and in the last sentences, the reader doesn't know where the ideas in the middle sentences came from. I hope that makes sense!

      Delete
  5. This was a perfect explanation. I cannot thank you enough for stating it so plainly!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for enlightenment. I really appreciate WUWC for providing update and reminders to WU students. Thank you and more power to the WUWC staff.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you, Ana! We're glad to have you as a reader!

    ReplyDelete
  8. When summarizing a work as part of an assignment, every sentence in a paragraph is likely to be from the same source. Citing at the end of each sentence is going to be excessive at best. An example of this can be found here: http://rasmussen.libanswers.com/a.php?qid=107534.

    This is discussed on the APA Style Blog here: http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2013/04/when-to-include-the-year-in-citations-appearing-more-than-once-in-a-paragraph.html
    Essentially, it is not necessary to provide a citation for each sentence in these cases, as long as it is clear that the source is the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sean, thanks for your thoughtful and researched disagreement :) You’re correct that the APA Style blog says you don’t have to keep repeating a citation if your whole paragraph is about the same source, if you cite the source at the beginning of the paragraph, and if it’s clear that the source is the same. Interestingly, though, the example in the original post (before the comments) includes multiple citations in a paragraph that seems to only use information from one source, even though it also seems clear that the information is from the same source. This citation frequency is important because most of your paragraphs will synthesize information from multiple sources and include your own analysis—you likely won’t have many paragraphs that only use information from one source and don’t include any of your own ideas or explanation. The citations help readers distinguish what information is from what source and what information is your own analysis. For example, the Rasmussen page gives the following paragraph:

      Frogs are excellent indicator species to measure wetland health. According to a recent study by Willemssen (2010), frogs are very sensitive to changes in pH caused by acid rain, and they are also very sensitive to different types of pollution. The study notes that when frog populations in a wetland plummet, one can be sure that something is going wrong in the wetland. In addition, when oddities in frog morphology appear, like frogs with five legs or two heads, one can also assume something is going wrong in the wetland environment.

      I agree that the sentence beginning “The study notes…” is clearly using information from the study already cited. As the reader, though, I’m not sure about the last sentence. I can assume that that information is also from the Willemssen source—but it could be from that source, or it might be from a different source, or it might be the writer’s own idea. Without a citation, I’m not 100% sure. In other cases, where the information comes from can be even harder to determine without a citation.

      If you are a strong writer with a good grasp of APA, you may be able to stray from our suggestion a bit without causing any confusion for readers. The same is true for particular assignments where you may be asked to summarize one source. However, we generally recommend including a citation in every sentence that uses information from a source so that there is no confusion for readers and so that your citation practices are consistent.

      Thanks again for your comment!

      Delete
    2. I'm in agreement with you, WUWC. When grading I need a clear start and end to the cited material. A smart use of "the study states" or "this research goes on to note" will ensure that the student's reader knows the student is still on the same cited material for those middle sentences. I always insist on a clear citation for the first and last sentences of a cited area, and rarely do I advise that the whole paragraph be considered one citation. If nothing else, they need a topic sentence and a few synthesis sentences of their own.

      Delete
    3. Yes, if a whole paragraph is made up of cited material from one source, it's likely that the writer needs to keep working on synthesis and analysis. Thanks for the comment!

      Delete
  9. I own a new understanding about the placement of the paragaraf true ... thank you for your review APA

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you so much for this explanation! It was very helpful. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great! We're glad to hear it, Geneva. Thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  11. Am I crazy, or does your example break the rule you just established? You say "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," but then in your example you say "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." Shouldn't we be able to omit the second use of the year? I do get that if Cook appears in parentheses, the year has to be there, but here the attribution is outside of the parentheses. [Sorry for the all caps--not shouting, just trying to draw attention to the relevant section].

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hah, thanks for the all-caps disclaimer (and for the comment!) :) When Amber writes that "the year only needs to appear the first time it shows up" (para. 3), the key point comes right after that: The year "can be omitted thereafter IN OTHER IN-TEXT CITATIONS in that same paragraph" (para. 3; all-caps mine for emphasis). This rule about sometimes including and sometimes not including the year only applies to in-text citations and not to parenthetical citations. In that example you pointed out, "Cook (2010) asserted that..." needs to include the year because it is the first *in-text* citation for that source in the paragraph. It doesn't matter that a parenthetical citation for that source came first. Does that help?

      This rule can be so confusing that we actually wrote another blog post on it. For another take and more examples, check out "Three Key Points for Knowing When to Use the Year or Date in APA Citations" (http://waldenwritingcenter.blogspot.com/2014/10/three-key-points-for-knowing-when-to.html).

      Hope this helps! Do let us know if you have further questions!

      Delete
    2. OK, after reading it several times through, that makes sense. Thanks! And I couldn't agree more with Cook (2010). ;)

      Delete
    3. :) Great! You're welcome! Thanks for following up.

      Delete
  12. When citing though one paragraph of paraphrased information for one author through an entire paragraph, where is the citation placed? Once at the end of the paragraph, or after each sentence? Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent question, Anonymous--thanks for asking! Citing at just the end (or just the beginning) of a paragraph generally isn't considered enough citations, even if all of the paragraph's information comes from the same source. Because citations tell readers a) when you are using source information and b) which source you used, readers will generally assume that sentences without citations are the writer's own ideas, information, and analysis. Scroll through the comments on this post and check out our (long) response to Sean--then let us know if you have other thoughts or questions!

      Delete
  13. Thank you so much for this! So clear-cut!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's wonderful to hear. Thank you for your comment!

      Delete
  14. Great article - thanks! I have a question: What about page numbers? I presume you only have one reference listed at the end of the paper in the reference section. What if you site 6 different pages throughout your paper? I think I've seen it like this: "Research shows blah blah blah (Cook, 2006, pp. 23) Then you would have Cook listed once (without page numbers) in the back reference list. Is that correct? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great question, Sarah! In the reference list, you would list the publication only once. If that reference is a journal article, you would list the page range at the end of the citation, but before the retrieval information (e.g. 33-54; note that there should be no parentheses). If the reference is a chapter in an edited volume, you would list the page range parenthetically after the title of the book it appears in, but before the publisher information. For specific examples, please see Chapter 7 of the APA Publication Manual, or just follow this link to our page that includes common reference list examples: http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/apa/references/examples

      Delete
  15. A great share, only this time I found the writing on APA shortcut in detail. Thanks...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading! We are glad that you are finding our content helpful.

      Delete
  16. Thank you so much for explaining this so clearly. I could not find an explanation I could understand in any of the other sources I commonly use!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, thanks so much for the kind note! We are so glad you found this explanation to be accessible. :)

      Delete
  17. Perhaps the only place online with this question answered. Thank you for posting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to hear, Robert! We're glad you found what you were looking for!

      Delete
  18. Thank you, this was very helpful!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kelley! Glad you found this helpful.

      Delete
  19. When citing the same author in a paragraph, rather than say "the author stated", can you begin a sentence with "he" or "she" and then give the citation at the end of the sentence? Or is the end citation needed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there! This is a great question. We at Walden actually suggest using the singular "they" when you are referring to an author instead of using "he" or "she"(you can refer to this guideline here, under "Singular They:" http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/grammar/nounpronounagreement). However, whether or not you need the end-of-sentence citation is reliant on your organization of the text itself.

      If you include a signal phrase, such as "the authors/researchers" in your sentence, your text might look like this, "The authors(Mohamed & Sinclair, 2013) claimed that BLANK."

      You might go on to say, "BLANK, however, is not as reliable as BLANK. (Mohamed & Sinclair, 2013)."

      And then, "Mohamed and Sinclair are pioneers in BLANK."

      Does this example make sense? You can see another example in the text of this blog post:
      "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."

      Delete
  20. At last I found what answers my question! This article is really helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for checking us out! We have lots of other APA Citation advice all over our blog. Use the search box up in the right-hand side bar to catch 'em all.

      Delete
  21. Hi, would you please elaborate to me on how to cite/reference the same author when he/she is involved in more than one paragraph in your work, when paragraphs are simultaneously arranged and even when they are located separately. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure! This rule really just applies to one paragraph at a time, so it doesn't matter if the author's work appears in 1 paragraph or 17. We always recommend citing each sentence that comes from the research, but you can see how that can be cumbersome if you are going to refer to the same author's work over and over. By following this rule, the first time you use the source, name the author and cite the sentence. For the rest of the paragraph, you can just name the author.

      As soon as you start a new paragraph, however, no matter where that paragraph is, this starts all over again.

      Delete