Direct quotes in APA Style
A direct quote is a piece of text copied word-for-word from a source. You may quote a word, phrase, sentence, or entire passage.
There are three main rules for quoting in APA Style:
- If the quote is under 40 words, place it in double quotation marks.
- If the quote is 40 words or more, format it as a block quote.
- Cite the author, year, and page number with an APA in-text citation.
Citing a direct quote
To cite a quote in APA, you always include the the author’s last name, the year the source was published, and the page on which the quote can be found. The page number is preceded by “p.” (for a single page) or “pp.” (for a page range).
There are two types of APA in-text citation: parenthetical and narrative.
In a parenthetical citation, you place the entire citation in parentheses directly after the quote and before the period (or other punctuation mark).
In a narrative citation, the author(s) appear as part of your sentence. Place the year in parentheses directly after the author’s name, and place the page number in parentheses directly after the quote.
Remember that every in-text citation must correspond to a full APA reference at the end of the text. You can easily create your reference list with our free APA Citation Generator.
Quoting a source with no page numbers
Some source types, such as web pages, do not have page numbers. In this case, to cite a direct quote, you should generally include an alternative locator, unless the source is very short.
The locator may be a chapter or section heading (abbreviated if necessary), a paragraph number, or a combination of the two. Use whichever locator will help your reader find the quote most easily.
For sources such as movies, YouTube videos, or audiobooks, use a timestamp to locate the beginning of the quote.
Quoting 40 words or more (APA block quotes)
If the quote contains 40 words or more, it must be formatted as a block quote. To format a block quote in APA Style:
- Do not use quotation marks.
- Start the quote on a new line.
- Indent the entire quote 0.5 inches.
- Double-space the entire quote.
Like regular quotes, block quotes can be cited with a parenthetical or narrative citation. However, if the block quote ends with a period, place the citation after the period.
Block quotes with multiple paragraphs
If the block quote contains multiple paragraphs, indent the first line of each paragraph after the first.
Making changes to direct quotes in APA
In general, a direct quote should be an exact reproduction of the original. However, there are some situations where you may need to make small changes.
You may change the capitalization of the first word or the final punctuation mark in order to integrate the quote grammatically into your sentence, as long as the meaning is not altered.
Any other changes must be marked following these APA guidelines.
Shortening a quote
If you want to omit some words, phrases, or sentences from the quote to save space, use an ellipsis (. . .) with a space before and after it to indicate that some material has been left out.
If the part you removed includes a sentence break, add a period before the ellipsis to indicate this.
Clarifying a quote
Sometimes you might want to add a word or phrase for context. For example, if a pronoun is used in the quote, you may add a name to clarify who or what is being referred to.
Any added text should be enclosed in square brackets to show that it is not part of the original.
Adding emphasis to quotes
If you want to emphasize a word or phrase in a quote, italicize it and include the words “emphasis added” in square brackets.
Errors in quotes
If the quote contains a spelling or grammatical error, indicate it with the Latin word “sic”, italicized and in square brackets, directly after the error.
Frequently asked questions about APA Style
- How do I quote in APA format?
To include a direct quote in APA, follow these rules:
- Quotes under 40 words are placed in double quotation marks.
- Quotes of 40 words or more are formatted as block quote.
- The author, year, and page number are included in an APA in-text citation.
- How do I cite in APA format?
You need an APA in-text citation and reference entry. Each source type has its own format; for example, a webpage citation is different from a book citation.
Use Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator to generate flawless citations in seconds or take a look at our APA citation examples.
- How do I cite a source with no page numbers in APA Style?
When you quote or paraphrase a specific passage from a source, you need to indicate the location of the passage in your APA in-text citation. If there are no page numbers (e.g. when citing a website) but the text is long, you can instead use section headings, paragraph numbers, or a combination of the two:
(Caulfield, 2019, Linking section, para. 1).
Section headings can be shortened if necessary. Kindle location numbers should not be used in ebook citations, as they are unreliable.
If you are referring to the source as a whole, it’s not necessary to include a page number or other marker.
- When should I use “et al.” in APA in-text citations?
The abbreviation “et al.” (meaning “and others”) is used to shorten APA in-text citations with three or more authors. Here’s how it works:
Only include the first author’s last name, followed by “et al.”, a comma and the year of publication, for example (Taylor et al., 2018).
- How do I cite an indirect source in APA Style? (“as cited in”)
In an APA in-text citation, you use the phrase “as cited in” if you want to cite a source indirectly (i.e., if you cannot find the original source).
Parenthetical citation: (Brown, 1829, as cited in Mahone, 2018)
Narrative citation: Brown (1829, as cited in Mahone, 2018) states that…
On the reference page, you only include the secondary source (Mahone, 2018).
- When should I use quotes?
In academic writing, there are three main situations where quoting is the best choice:
- To analyze the author’s language (e.g., in a literary analysis essay)
- To give evidence from primary sources
- To accurately present a precise definition or argument
Don’t overuse quotes; your own voice should be dominant. If you just want to provide information from a source, it’s usually better to paraphrase or summarize.
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