Many students use APA as their main citation style. This style is widely popular, especially in the social sciences, to cite sources within the academic and research community. You want to improve the credibility of your work? Let’s learn how to cite page numbers in APA, since one little mistake can throw off the whole thing.

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Citing page numbers accurately is necessary when you’re referring to specific information from a source, like a direct quote or a particular fact. It allows your readers to find the original source material easily, and verify the evidence for themselves, which is a cornerstone of academic honesty and integrity.

The basic components of an APA citation include the author’s name, the date of publication, the title of the work, and the publisher. When writing citations, it’s important to pay attention to these details to avoid confusion and make sure that readers can easily track down your sources.

When to Cite Page Numbers in APA

Now let’s focus on when it’s necessary to include page numbers in your APA citations. One of the most common scenarios is when you use direct quotes. Whenever you directly quote someone else’s work, whether it’s a sentence or a longer passage, you must include the page number to show exactly where the original text can be found. This helps anyone reading your paper see the context of the quote and verify it if needed.

Page numbers are also important when you mention specific data or statistics. Citing the exact page allows readers to refer back to the original source for more detailed information or for clarification. This is particularly important in academic and scientific writing where precision is key.

Even when you summarize or paraphrase someone’s ideas, it’s good practice to include page numbers if your summary or paraphrase is tied to specific information on particular pages. This adds an extra layer of transparency and accountability to your work. Remember, accurate citation not only supports your arguments but also respects the original authors’ contributions. It shows your dedication to detail and your commitment to the integrity of academic work.

How to Cite Page Numbers in APA

Citing page numbers correctly in your APA citations is not as hard as you might think. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do this for different sources, including books, journal articles, and online materials (as well as some more!).


When citing books, include the page number right after a direct quote within your text. For example:

How to Cite Page Numbers in APA

This simple notation tells your reader that the quote can be found on page 58 of Johnson’s book published in 2023.

Journal Articles

For journal articles, the process is similar. Make sure to cite the page number after the quote or specific information you mention. For instance:

How to Cite Page Numbers in APA

This citation directs readers to page 102 of the article by Harper and Wadia.

Online Sources

Citing online sources can be tricky, as they often don’t have traditional page numbers. If the online source includes visible page numbers or PDF pagination, cite it just as you would a print source. If not, use a paragraph number or section heading. Here’s how you could do it:

How to Cite Page Numbers in APA

This shows the reader that the information can be found in the fourth paragraph of Green’s online article.

When incorporating page numbers into your text, always use the abbreviation “p.” for a single page and “pp.” for a range of pages. Place these before the page number(s) and enclose them in parentheses after the quote or reference.

Formatting Page Numbers in the Reference List

In your reference list, page numbers are generally included in book citations to indicate the total number of pages in the book. For instance:

How to Cite Page Numbers in APA

Remember, detailed and accurate citations not only help your reader but the original source, if they might need it, but also improve your overall work.

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How to Cite Material Without Page Numbers

Sometimes, the sources you want to cite do not have page numbers, which is common in online articles and ebooks. In such cases, APA style provides alternative methods to help your readers find the exact information you are referencing.

Using Paragraph Numbers. If the document includes numbered paragraphs, use the abbreviation “para.” followed by the paragraph number. For instance:

How to Cite Page Numbers in APA

This example directs the reader to the sixth paragraph of Thompson’s online article.

Using Section Headings. When there are no paragraph numbers, you can cite the section heading and the number of the paragraph within that section. Here’s how:

How to Cite Page Numbers in APA

This tells the reader to look for the third paragraph under the section titled “Market Dynamics” in Green’s work.

Using Descriptive Locators. If the source lacks both page and paragraph numbers and doesn’t have clear section headings, you may use a descriptive locator that explains where the information can be found. For example:

How to Cite Page Numbers in APA

This citation indicates that the information is under a subheading about sustainability, helping the reader locate the specific part of the document more easily. Your citations will be helpful and precise after using these tips, even when traditional page numbers are absent.


How do I cite page numbers in APA format?

In APA format, include the page number in parentheses after the quote. Use “p.” before the number for a single page and “pp.” for multiple pages. For example, (Smith, 2020, p. 23).

Can I use just the page number in APA citations?

No, using just the page number is not sufficient in APA citations. You must typically include the author’s last name and the publication year along with the page number, like (Smith, 2020, p. 23).

Do I need to include the author’s name with the page number in APA citations?

Yes, you need to include the author’s last name along with the publication year when citing page numbers in APA format. This should precede the page number, for example (Smith, 2020, p. 23).

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