Writing / January 10, 2024/

How to Create an APA Citation for an Essay – All You Need to Know

Imagine yourself finishing writing an insightful and well-researched essay for your psychology class. As you review your work, you realize that you need to include proper citations to acknowledge the sources you used and avoid plagiarism.

However, you’re unsure about how to cite your essay in APA format, the preferred style in the social sciences.

Don’t worry! This blog post aims to provide you with a comprehensive guide to citing essays in APA format. By mastering the skills of APA citation, you will enhance your ability to give credit to sources and maintain academic integrity in your writing.

Understanding APA Format:

Before delving into the specifics of citing essays, it is essential to have a basic understanding of APA format.

APA style emphasizes clarity and conciseness, allowing readers to easily locate and retrieve the sources you have referenced. The format comprises two main components: in-text citations and the reference list.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations are used within the body of your essay to attribute information or ideas to their original sources. There are two main methods for incorporating in-text citations in APA format: parenthetical citations and narrative citations.

1.                   Parenthetical Citations:

Parenthetical citations include the author’s last name and the year of publication enclosed in parentheses. For example: (Smith, 2020). If you directly quote the source, include the page number as well, like this: (Smith, 2020, p. 45). Parenthetical citations are convenient when you want to provide a concise reference to a source.

2.                   Narrative Citations:

Narrative citations involve integrating the author’s name within the sentence itself, followed by the year of publication in parentheses. For example: According to Smith (2020). Narrative citations are useful when you want to incorporate the author’s name as part of your sentence, providing a smoother flow of information.

Reference List

The reference list is a separate page at the end of your essay that provides detailed information about the sources you have cited. Each entry in the reference list follows a specific format, including the author’s name, publication year, title of the work, and publication information.

Here is an example of an APA reference list entry for a book:

Smith, J. (2020). The Art of Academic Writing. New York, NY: Publishing House.

Citing an Essay

When citing an essay, whether it is from a book, a journal, or an online source, the basic format remains consistent.

Citing an Essay from a Book:

If the essay is part of a larger work, such as an anthology or a textbook, include the essay author’s name, publication year, essay title, book editor’s name, book title, page range of the essay, and publication information of the book.


Smith, J. (2020). The Power of Words. In K. Johnson (Ed.), Essays on Language and Literature (pp. 56-78). New York, NY: Publishing House.

Citing an Essay from a Journal:

When citing an essay from a journal, include the essay author’s name, publication year, essay title, journal title, volume number, issue number (in parentheses), page range of the essay, and DOI or URL (if available).


Smith, J. (2020). Exploring Cultural Identity through Literature. Journal of Social Sciences, 10(2), 45-67.

Citing an Essay from an Online Source:

For essays obtained from an online source, provide the essay author’s name, publication year, essay title, website or database name, URL, and the date of access (if the content is subject to change).


Smith, J. (2020). The Influence of Technology on Education. Retrieved from (URL of the Website)

Additional Tips and Considerations

In addition to the core elements of citing essays in APA format, there are several additional tips and considerations to keep in mind:

Multiple Authors:

When citing an essay with multiple authors, list their names in the same order as they appear on the source. Use an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name.


Smith, J., Johnson, A., & Thompson, L. (2021). Essay Title. Journal of Research, 15(3), 78-91.

Secondary Sources:

If you are citing an essay that you have not read directly but found cited in another source, it is considered a secondary source. In such cases, cite the original source and include “as cited in” followed by the secondary source.


Smith, J. (2019). Original Essay Title. Journal of Writing, 10(2), 34-49. as cited in Johnson, A. (2020).

Essay Title. Journal of Research, 15(3), 78-91.

Online Essays without an Author:

If the online essay does not have an identified author, start the citation with the essay title.


“Understanding Climate Change.” (2022). Retrieved from (URL of the Website)

The Final Words

Mastering the art of citing essays in APA format is essential for academic success. By understanding the principles of in-text citations and constructing accurate reference list entries, you can demonstrate your credibility as a researcher and uphold academic integrity.

Remember to consult the APA Publication Manual or reputable online resources for further guidance, as the rules and examples provided in this blog post serve as a starting point in your journey toward becoming an adept APA-style writer.

With diligent practice and attention to detail, you will become proficient in citing essays and ensuring that your work is properly attributed.

So, don’t let the complexities of the APA format deter you. Embrace the guidelines, enhance your writing, and showcase your research skills with confidence!

By accurately citing essays, you contribute to the scholarly conversation and uphold the integrity of the academic community. Till then, good luck!