Nathan D.
Nathan D.

How to Cite Direct Quotes in APA Style

10 min read

Published on: Apr 19, 2024

Last updated on: May 21, 2024

How to Cite Direct Quotes APA

A direct quotation is when you use the exact words from someone else's work in your writing.

You can also quote directly from your own work that was published in the past. 

According to the APA style, you can quote words, sentences, or even entire paragraphs for quoting direct sources. Every direct quote requires an in-text citation to indicate the exact source. 

3 Main Rules for APA Direct Quotes

When quoting in APA Style, follow these three key guidelines:

  • For quotes under 40 words, enclose them in double quotation marks.
  • For quotes that are 40 words or longer, use block quote formatting.
  • Always include an in-text citation with the author's name, the year of publication, and the page number.

General Guidelines for Direct Quotation in APA Style 

Here are the main rules for formatting quotes in the APA format:

  • Always include the author’s last name, publication year, and page number within parentheses immediately after the quotation, just like: (Author, Year, p. PageNumber)
  • Place commas between the author's last name, year, and page number or the page range if the page number is unknown 
  • Use double quotation marks (“”) around the exact words of the quoted material if the quote is under 40 words 
  • For block quotes (40 or more words), do not use quotation marks
  • In case of parenthetical citation, place the complete citation just after the quote and before the period or punctuation mark
  • For narrative citations, you need to incorporate the author’s name naturally as a part of the sentence
  • Every in-text citation corresponds to a full APA reference in the reference list at the end of your paper 

In the later part of this guide, you will exactly understand these rules with the help of detailed APA 7th Edition direct quote examples.

Citing Short Quotations in APA Style 

As mentioned before, in the APA Style, quotations are considered short if their word count is less than 40. 

Here’s how you should cite a short quote:

  • Always include the author’s last name 
  • Year of source’s publication 
  • The page number “p.” for a single page and “pp.’ for page range 

Look at the below section, where you will find short APA direct quote examples in both parenthetical and narrative citation format.

Parenthetical Citation 

“In 2019, renewable energy accounted for 18% of the world's total energy consumption” (Williams, 2021, pp. 55-56).

If there are two authors, separate their names with the ampersand (&) operator. 

“Recent research indicates that over 80% of smartphone users check their devices within 15 minutes of waking up” (Lorenzo & Chang, 2020, p. 45).

Narrative Citation 

According to Williams's study (2021), “In 2019, renewable energy accounted for 18% of the world's total energy consumption” (pp. 55-56).

In case there is more than one author, separate their names with “and”. Here is an APA citation example of a short quote in the narrative format. 

According to Lorenzo and Chang (2020), “Over 80% of smartphone users check their devices within 15 minutes of waking up” (p. 45).

Long Quotations or Block Quotes 

Block quotes always exceed 40 words in length. Here is how you should format a block according to the APA format:

  • Begin the block quote on a new line without quotation marks
  • Indent the entire block by 0.5 inches from the left margin
  • Maintain the original formatting of the quoted text, including paragraphs and line breaks
  • Place the parenthetical citation after the period 
  • For a narrative citation, introduce the block quote with the author's name and provide the publication year and page number in parentheses
  • Use an ellipsis (…) to indicate omitted words within the block quote. For example, “The…study found groundbreaking results.”
  • Do not add extra indentation for ellipses within a block quote
  • Always preserve the punctuation of the quoted text and single-space the quote as well

Parenthetical Citation 

Organizational culture is not just a buzzword; it is the backbone of every successful company. It encompasses the values, beliefs, and assumptions that guide behavior and decision-making. According to our extensive research, a shared vision among employees fosters a sense of unity and purpose. This cohesion, in turn, positively impacts overall performance and innovation within the organization. (Magnus & Clara, 2016, p. 78).

Note: The quote is indented by 0.5 inches and is double-spaced.

Narrative Citation

Magnus and Clara (2016) explain the importance of organizational culture:

Organizational culture is not just a buzzword; it is the backbone of every successful company. It encompasses the values, beliefs, and assumptions that guide behavior and decision-making. According to our extensive research, a shared vision among employees fosters a sense of unity and purpose. This cohesion, in turn, positively impacts overall performance and innovation within the organization. (p. 78)

Block Quotations Having Multiple Paragraphs

There are situations when you would be required to cite block quotes that consist of more than a single paragraph. For such quotes, always indent the very first line of every single paragraph after the paragraph that precedes it. 

For example: 

Organizational culture is not just a buzzword; it is the backbone of every successful company. It encompasses the values, beliefs, and assumptions that guide behavior and decision-making. According to our extensive research, a shared vision among employees fosters a sense of unity and purpose. This cohesion, in turn, positively impacts overall performance and innovation within the organization.                  

                  Moreover, a strong organizational culture is linked to employee satisfaction and productivity. When employees resonate with the company's core values, it enhances motivation, collaboration, and overall job satisfaction. This alignment not only attracts top talent but also contributes to long-term employee retention, creating a positive cycle for organizational success. (Magnus & Clara, 2016, p. 78).

Citing a Quote Without Page Numbers 

There are certain sources that may not have page numbers. Some examples are:

  • Webpages 
  • Social media posts
  • Online articles 

In such instances, you should utilize an alternative method to cite the sources, such as:

  • Section heading
  • Paragraph numbers
  • Section and paragraph 
  • Timestamp (for videos)

Here are examples for each instance: 

Section Heading

While technology has revolutionized communication, its excessive use can have detrimental effects: “Constant connectivity can lead to burnout and hinder genuine human interactions.” (Phillips, 2020, Technological Section).

Paragraph Numbers 

While technology has revolutionized communication, its excessive use can have detrimental effects: “Constant connectivity can lead to burnout and hinder genuine human interactions.” (Phillips, 2020, para. 3).

Section and Paragraph 

While technology has revolutionized communication, its excessive use can have detrimental effects: “Constant connectivity can lead to burnout and hinder genuine human interactions.” (Phillips, 2020, Technological Section, para. 3).

Timestamp 

While technology has revolutionized communication, its excessive use can have detrimental effects: “Constant connectivity can lead to burnout and hinder genuine human interactions.” (Phillips, 2020, 2:45).

How to Make Changes to Direct Quotes in APA? 

When you use someone else's words in your paper, it's important to know how to make changes to those quotes properly. Here's how you can do it in APA style:

Shortening Quotes 

Sometimes, you might need to shorten a quote to fit your paper. Use an ellipsis (...) to show where you've left out words. If you skip a whole sentence, add a period before the ellipsis to show the sentence break.

Example: According to Smith (2020), "block quoting is useful...However, it's important not to rely on long quotes" (p. 45).

Clarifying Quotes

If a quote needs more explanation, you can add words in square brackets to clarify it. This helps readers understand better.

Example: In the view of Johnson (2018), "the results [of the survey] were surprising" (p. 22).

Adding Emphasis 

When you want to emphasize a word or phrase in a quote, italicize it and add “emphasis added” in square brackets.

Example: According to Brown (2019), "the findings [emphasis added] were consistent" (p. 30).

Correcting Errors 

If a quote has a mistake, you can show it's from the original by using "sic" in square brackets after the error.

Example: In the study by Garcia (2017), "the data reflected the trend [sic]" (p. 15).

When Should You Use Direct Quotes? 

You should always employ direct quotes strategically in your writing to enhance credibility, support arguments, or convey a particular tone. Here are instances when using direct quotes is appropriate:

  • Expert Authority:

Use direct quotes when you want to incorporate the expertise or authoritative perspective of a recognized figure in your field.

Example: Including a direct quote from a renowned scientist to reinforce a scientific argument.

  • Emphasizing Specific Language:

Make use of direct quotes when the exact wording of a statement is important for your analysis, or when specific language adds significant value.

Example: Quoting a legal document or policy to precisely convey the intended meaning.

  • Firsthand Experiences:

Direct quotes are needed when you want to relay firsthand experiences, personal narratives, or testimonials to add authenticity and emotional impact.

Example: Sharing a direct quote from an interviewee in a qualitative research study.

  • Statistical Information:

You can also use direct quotations when presenting statistical data or numerical information that requires precision.

Example: Quoting survey responses or research findings for accuracy in conveying quantitative results.

  • Unique Phrasing or Terminology:

Use them when the original phrasing or terminology is distinctive and contributes to the uniqueness of your discussion.

Example: Using a direct quote to capture a poet's unique expression or a specific terminology from a scholarly article.

  • Historical Significance:

When referencing historical documents, speeches, or texts to preserve the authenticity of the original context.

Example: Incorporating a direct quote from a historical figure to illustrate a cultural or political point.

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Nathan D.

WRITTEN BY

Nathan D. (Educational Theories)

Introducing Nathan D., PhD, an esteemed author on PerfectEssayWriter.ai. With a profound background in Literary Analysis and expertise in Educational Theories, Nathan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to his writings. His passion for dissecting literature and exploring educational concepts shines through in his meticulously crafted essays and analyses. As a seasoned academic, Nathan's contributions enrich our platform, offering valuable perspectives and engaging content for our readers.

Introducing Nathan D., PhD, an esteemed author on PerfectEssayWriter.ai. With a profound background in Literary Analysis and expertise in Educational Theories, Nathan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to his writings. His passion for dissecting literature and exploring educational concepts shines through in his meticulously crafted essays and analyses. As a seasoned academic, Nathan's contributions enrich our platform, offering valuable perspectives and engaging content for our readers.

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