When to Include Page Numbers in a Citation
  • 4-minute read
  • 15th July 2022

When to Include Page Numbers in a Citation

If you’re a student or researcher, you’ll need to learn how to use references in your academic work to distinguish between your own original ideas and those that are someone else’s. While some referencing styles can seem complicated or overwhelming, you can master them, one step at a time! In today’s post, we provide a guide on when to include page numbers in citations when following three common referencing styles: APA, Harvard, and MLA. Read on to learn more!

In-Text Citations vs. References

First, it helps to understand the function of in-text citations compared to reference lists.

●  In-text citations are placed in the main text of your work to document the source of your information. They point the reader to the exact location of quoted or paraphrased material from a particular source.

●  Reference lists are placed at the very end of your work. They provide comprehensive information for all cited sources so that your reader can easily locate them.

Many referencing styles require that in-text citations include page numbers when directly quoting or paraphrasing another author’s work, while reference lists only require page numbers for sources that are part of a larger work (e.g., a chapter from an edited book or an article from a journal).

1. American Psychological Association (APA)

The APA style guide directs writers to include the author, date, and page number(s) in an in-text citation for a direct quote:

The storm was so severe, it was “raining cats and dogs” (Smith, 2011, p. 12).

Smith (2011) claims that the storm was so severe, it was “raining cats and dogs” (p. 12).

However, if you’re paraphrasing the original author’s words (i.e., restating something in your own words or summarizing), page numbers are not required, but they are encouraged when the information comes from a long or complex work.

For an APA reference list, page numbers are only required for sources that are part of a larger work, such as an article from a journal:

Smith, A. (2011). The impact of raining house pets. Monthly Weather Review, 100(6), 5–13.

 2. Harvard

Meanwhile, the Harvard style guide requires writers to include the author, date, and page number(s) in in-text citations for both direct quotes and paraphrased text. Page numbers can be excluded when you refer to an entire work or a large section of it.

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

Fortunately, Harvard follows a similar author–date method to APA for in-text citations:

The storm was so severe, it was “raining cats and dogs” (Smith, 2011, p. 12).

Harvard is also similar in that page numbers are only required in reference lists for sources that are part of a larger work, such as a journal article:

Smith, A. (2011). The impact of raining house pets. Monthly Weather Review, 100(6), pp. 5–13.

Note that “pp.” is used to indicate a page range, which would include the first and last page that your source occupies in the original work.

3. Modern Language Association (MLA)

The MLA style guide follows an author–page method for in-text citations and instructs writers to include the author and page number(s) for both direct quotes and paraphrased text:

The storm was so severe, it was “raining cats and dogs” (Smith 12).

Smith claims that the storm was so severe, it was “raining cats and dogs” (12).

Note that unlike APA and Harvard, the MLA style does not use “p.” or “pp.” to indicate a page number or range for in-text citations.

The final reference list in MLA is called the works cited page, but it is similar to the other styles in that page numbers are only required for sources that are part of a larger work, such as a journal article:

Smith, Asher. “The impact of raining house pets.” Monthly Weather Review, vol. 100, no. 6, 2011, pp. 5–13.

Proofreading and Editing Services

Hopefully, this guide has provided you with a greater understanding of using page numbers in your citations. However, if you’re still learning or just need help checking your references for consistency, we have editors who are experts in several referencing styles! You can submit a free trial document today to learn more.

Comments (0)

Upload a document

Instant Quote

Need more help perfecting your writing?

Proofed has the perfect editor!

Instant Quote

Price

You can also upload a document to get an instant quote

Icon of cloud upload

Drag & drop your file

or browse your computer

Browse from your device

Icon of cloud upload

Drop your file here!

Icon of loading status

Your file is being
uploaded!

More Writing Tips?
Trusted by thousands of leading
institutions and businesses

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.