by Melody Pickle, Kaplan University Writing Center
There are many things that APA requires. But, there are many more things that are left up to the judgment of the writer. Including a page or paragraph number with a paraphrase is one of these judgment calls.
The point of an in-text citation is so readers know whose ideas and words belong to whom at all times in the text. In-text citations allow readers to easily flip or scroll to the reference list and locate the author’s last name and the full citation information.
Principle: Provide information that makes it easy for a reader to locate the source.
According to the APA Manual (2009), “When paraphrasing or referring to an idea contained in another work, you are encouraged to provide page or paragraph numbers, especially when it would help an interested reader locate the relevant passage in a long or complex text” (p. 171).
All of the following are acceptable in-text citation examples for paraphrasing:
(Pickle, 2013, p. 97)
(Pickle, 2013, para. 4)
According to Pickle (2013), APA is a useful tool when teaching research writing (p. 97).
According to Pickle (2013), APA is a useful tool when teaching research writing.
Note: Use a paragraph number to help a reader locate your references in texts without page numbers such as a webpage.
It is even okay to include a heading along with the paragraph number to direct a reader to material.
Students are often concerned with doing APA right because they don’t want to lose points on an assignment. But, including a page or paragraph number with a paraphrase is not something that should be considered “wrong.” On the contrary, it is highly encouraged by the APA Manual.
It is not wrong to include the page or paragraph number with a paraphrase.
It is not wrong to leave off the page or paragraph number with a paraphrase.
It is wrong to not cite the source at all.
A page or paragraph number is required for direct quotations.