Most of my life I've used the MLA citation format when writing any sort of essays or research papers about difference topics. However recently I've been exploring different types of citation formats, such as the APA and Chicago but I've run into a bit of a snafu. Let's say that I found the following few lines on a website:

"... 89.7% of cat lovers aren't inherently evil people just because of their preference towards cats rather than dogs."

Normally I would have a footnote in my essay, with the citation, where I reference the 89.7%. At the end of my paper in Bibliography section, I'd re-write the citation. However how could one do that in the APA format? Let's assume that the "89.%" came from the BBC and was written by B. Shaw in 2018. Could I write:

According to B. Shaw (BBC, 2018) 89.7% of people who like cats don't have anything against dogs.

I'd then follow this up with the proper citation in the references section.

  • Welcome to Writing.SE Ski Mask. Please check out our tour and help center. While I know you're making up silly examples (which is totally fine), I'll say that those two lines have very different meanings. So unless your version comes from Shaw's original write-up of her/his study, it would be a massive change. I'm putting this in comments because I'm not addressing your actual question of APA citations.
    – Cyn
    Jun 27, 2019 at 16:24
  • Hi. Yes I'm just trying to understand how the method works with a random example. So if I keep the meaning of the original source, would the format then be correct?
    – Ski Mask
    Jun 27, 2019 at 16:28
  • It's been cough years since I was in grad school, so I'm afraid I don't have a good handle on APA style.
    – Cyn
    Jun 27, 2019 at 16:28
  • Are you asking about the in-text citation or the works-cited reference? And what is the exact nature of the website reference? Is it an online blog post? Jun 27, 2019 at 17:25
  • @JasonBassford I'm talking about the in-text citation and let's say that it's in a CNN article.
    – Ski Mask
    Jun 27, 2019 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


First of all, APA only uses author and date for its in-text citations. It generally doesn't matter what other information you know about the source; it only uses those two pieces of information in the main text itself. The only complexities around this occur when there are multiple authors, the author or the date is unknown, it's coming from a secondary source, or something else unusual.

In this case, the author is B. Shaw and the date is 2018. All other information (such as the site from which it came) would only be mentioned in its entry in the reference list.

The basic entry from 6.11 will do in this case:

The author-date method of citation requires that the surname of the author (do not include suffixes such as Jr.) and the year of publication be inserted in the text at the appropriate point.

      Kessler (2003) found that among epidemiological samples
      Early onset results in a more persistent and severe course (Kessler, 2003).

If the name of the author appears as part of the narrative, as in the first example, cite only the year of the publication in parentheses. Otherwise, place both the name and the year, separated by a comma, in parentheses (as in the second example). Even if the reference includes month and year, include only the year in the text citation. In the rare case in which both the year and the author are given as part of the textual discussion, do not add parenthetical information.

Also note that while APA says to provide only the author's surname in parentheses (unless there is more than one author with the same surname, in which case you would use the first initial). But if you choose to provide more than just the surname in the text itself (outside of a parenthetical reference), that's fine.

So, in terms of the in-text citation in this example, it could be written in any of the following ways:

According to B. Shaw (2018), 89.7% of people who like cats don't have anything against dogs.

According to B. Shaw (2018) of CNN, 89.7% of people who like cats don't have anything against dogs.

According to a CNN article, 89.7% of people who like cats don't have anything against dogs (Shaw, 2018).

Or even:

According to a 2018 CNN article written by B. Shaw, 89.7% of people who like cats don't have anything against dogs.

The final example already provides the name and date of the reference, so no parenthetical in-text citation is required.

The rest of the information will be provided in the reference list entry. That format follows the general advice for online posts in 7.11 and also that of "How to Cite a Website in APA" at EasyBib.

In this case, it would be (I'll make up some additional information that wasn't provided):

Shaw, B. (2018, March 13). The morality of cat lovers. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/13/opinions/the-morality-of-cat-lovers/index.html

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