The basics

Whenever you use ideas and material that are not your own, you must provide an in-text citation. There are two parts – the author’s surname and the date of publication. This rule never changes, no matter what type of source you are using.

There are two ways to write an in-text citation:

  • Include it in a sentence.

Norman (2013) explains that we often need a manual or personal instruction to use a complex device.

  • Put the citation in brackets at the end of a sentence.

We often need a manual or personal instruction to use a complex device (Norman, 2013).

If you are using a direct quote i.e. the exact words of the author, then you also need to include a page number. For example:

The next materials revolution is unlikely to lead to the kind of visions we had in the 1950s, “with a Jetson’s-style future of pastel-coloured, aerodynamic vehicles flying about our heads” (Lefteri, 2014, p. 11).

If there is no page number provided (such as on a web site), then you’ll need to find another way to show where you got the quote from. Common solutions are to provide a paragraph number (count down from the beginning of the page if necessary), or a section title with a paragraph number within that section. For example:

The storyline is a vastly important process as it defines the main characters, plot, setting and overall theme (IGN, Phase 2: Pre-production, para. 5).

If a section heading is very long, it’s OK to abbreviate it to just a few words in speech marks e.g. “Wearable technology”. 

Common exceptions

There are some common situations you’ll come across that don’t fit neatly into the basic citation format. 

There is no author

  • If the material is published by an organization such as a company or government department, then name that entity as the author. For example:

Maori design professionals work in many fields, including architecture, commercial design and engineering (Nga Aho, 2016).

  • Look carefully. The author’s name may appear in small print or at the bottom of the page for a website. Remember, the publishing organization may be the author.
  • If you’re absolutely sure there is no author, then use the title of the work in place of the author. Use a short version of the title – say the first two or three words – in speech marks.  

There is no date

  • Check carefully. The date may appear in small print or at the bottom of the page for a website. Organisations often include a © symbol at the bottom of each page on their website with a date.
  • If you’re sure there is no date, then use ‘n.d.’ as an abbreviation. For example:

Practical craft training became a key aspect of Bauhaus teaching philosophy (Smith, n.d., p. 27).

I am using a chapter from an edited book

  • Use the author of the chapter and the year for your in-text citation.

There is more than one author

  • If there are two authors, you list them both in every in-text citation. You use “and” between authors in a sentence and “&” between authors in brackets. For example:

According to Shaw and Eichbaum (2008) …..


……. (Shaw & Eichbaum, 2008).

  • If there are three to five authors, you list all authors in your first in-text citation, with “and” before the final author in a sentence and “&” before the final author in brackets. In subsequent citations, you use the first author and “et al.”, a Latin abbreviation meaning “and others”. For example:

First citation

According to Alred, Brusaw, and Oliu (2009) …


…….. (Alred, Brusaw, & Oliu, 2009). 

Subsequent citations

According to Alred et al. (2009) …


…….. (Alred et al, 2009). 

  • If there are six or more authors, then you simply use the surname of the first author followed by “et al.” for every in-text citation. For example:

According to Watson et al. (2003) …..


……. (Watson et al., 2003).