I am taking a psychology class. The professor wants us to use APA format for citations. I have read that if I am not quoting material directly, then the page numbers are not required.

However, I think its bad practice not to cite page numbers. For example, when I cite my textbook, if I don't give a page number, the person would have to go through the entire book to find the passages I am talking about. And that just seems stupid when I could simple add the page number. But I am not quoting directly, so I'm not sure if it customary to incorporate page numbers like that.

My Question:

Any suggestions for what to do? I'm sure my professor is trying to get us to practice using APA style correctly, so I'm really just trying to find out if I incorporate page numbers for everything would that be outside the norm.

  • $\begingroup$ que? do you mean citing page numbers in text, or in your references list at the end? the more pertinent question is why are you citing a textbook? no really -- it's bad form. $\endgroup$
    – faustus
    Apr 25, 2015 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ they told us to use the book. I think its idiotic personally. I am just asking if I need to cite specific pages in the in text citations. I am also using sources not in the book. $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2015 at 17:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ then no, unless it's a direct quote, you don't. yes, the need to "flick through the entire book" is silly, but this is occurring with all other citations within the text. to make things less silly, in your references, you would cite the chapter and its author (in the case of a textbook with editors and contributing authors). $\endgroup$
    – faustus
    Apr 25, 2015 at 17:31

3 Answers 3


In APA style, when you cite a work, you add an in-text citation in the body of the work and you add the full reference to the reference list at the end of the work.

  • End of text references for book chapters, journal articles, and similar works include the page range of the work in the reference. This refers to the start and end page of the cited work (and not to the particular pages that contain the content most relevant to your citation).
  • In-text citations need to include page numbers when you are quoting a passage of text.
  • APA stye encourages but does not require the use of page numbers in in-text citations where you are paraphrasing a specific passage of text (i.e., putting a passage of text in your own words). That said, I rarely see this practice in journals, and don't be surprised if someone marking your paper is unaware of this rule.
  • The more common rule is that if it is not a quote, then you don't use page numbers in in-text citations.


As @Josh points out, most citations in psychology refer to overall works. For example, a journal article may present the results of an experiment, and these results and communicated and discussed in multiple points in the article. Thus, you are citing the work as a whole, and it does not make sense to refer to specific page numbers.

That said, I think there are times where authors cite an entire book written by one author for a reference, and some form of page reference would make the citation more useful for the reader (e.g., a particular chapter might be most relevant).



Page numbers aren't required in APA style because in a typical journal article a citation doesn't refer to a specific part of the work being cited. For example, if I make the claim that dogs are better than cats then I might reference an experiment that tested this claim. I'm not referring to any specific passage in the journal article, I'm referring to the whole article and what they found.


Yes, page numbers should generally be included. (As Josh notes in his answer, periodical articles need only cite the pages of the article as a whole, rather than the specific claim.)

The spirit of a citation is to allow the reader to quickly and conveniently locate what you're citing, and especially citations of extensive books can be difficult to pin down without knowing the pages that include the relevant information. (However, when making a reference to a book or its themes more generally, I think it is not strictly necessary.)

You can find more information in the APA style manual, but a great online resource is the Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab's APA formatting guide. All citations need to follow some basic guidelines, but the APA style manual has explicit standards for how to cite different sources―periodical articles, books, and so forth.

How to cite periodical articles and books


Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages. ttp://dx.doi.org/xx.xxx/yyyyy

Article or Chapter in an Edited Book

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. In A. A. Editor & B. B. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pages of chapter). Location: Publisher.

Google Scholar, most reference managers (such as Mendeley) and some periodical websites will also allow you to automatically export an APA-style citation.


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