Anything that is quoted, paraphrased, or summarized from someone else's work needs proper citation. In addition, graphics, illustrations, charts, and tables also need to be cited. There are  two common pitfalls that can occur when an author does not fully understand when it is appropriate to cite.​


One e​​rror that may occur in a document is that there is a large amount of undercitation, which makes it unclear who gets credit for the information being presented. Undercitation is highly problematic and should be avoided. However, out of fear of under​citing, many authors shift to another extreme.​​


On the opposite end of the spectrum, overcitation may occur within a document when the author cites the same source repeatedly when it is not needed. Overcitation is defined in S​ection 8.1 of the APA Manual (2020) which states that

it is considered overcitation to repeat the same citation in every sentence when the source and topic have not changed. Instead, when paraphrasing a key point in more than one sentence within a paragraph, cite the source in the first sentence in which it is relevant and do not repeat the citation in subsequent sentences as long as the source remains clear and unchanged [emphasis added] (see Section 8.24). When the author's name appears in the narrative, the year can be omitted in repeated citations under certain circumstances (see Section 8.16).

Did you catch that? The APA Manual says that you do not need to repeat the citation "as long as the source remains clear and unchanged." This  may seem to be subjecti​ve, but there are several basic rules outlined in S​ection 8.24 of the APA Manual that will help keep you on track. They are:

  1. If the whole paragraph comes from the same source, likely only one citation is needed at the start of the paragraph. 
  2. If you have multiple paragraphs citing the same source, the source must be introduced at the start of each paragraph. 
  3. If you are incorporating multiple sources into one paragraph, each time you switch sources, the citation needs to be reintroduced.

​Additional Resources​​

​Want to learn more about formatting citations? Consult Section 8 of the APA Manual (2020) or our page “In-text Citations" for guidelines on how to format in-text citations. For information on reference entries, review S​ection 9 for guidelines on generating a reference list or view our page “Reference List." In addition, consult the Saybrook Handbook of Format and Style (2020) when required.