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How To Cite Quote In Essay Without Page Number

  by Chelsea Lee and Jeff Hume-Pratuch

In this post you will learn how to present data gathered during surveys or interviews with research participants that you conducted as part of your research. You may be surprised to learn that although you can discuss your interview and survey data in a paper, you should not cite them. Here’s why.

Retrievability Versus Confidentiality

In APA Style, all sources must provide retrievable data. Because one purpose of references is to lead the reader to the source, both the reference entry and the in-text citation begin with the name of the author. But rules for the ethical reporting of human research data prohibit researchers from revealing “confidential, personally identifiable information concerning their patients, . . . research participants, or other recipients of their services” (APA Publication Manual [PM]; 6th ed., § 1.11, p. 16; APA Ethics Code, Standard 4.07). In other words, you must prevent the reader from identifying the source of information.

In this clash of principles, which one should triumph? The value of protecting participants’ confidentiality must always win out. “Subject privacy . . . should never be sacrificed for clinical or scientific accuracy” (PM § 1.11)—not even for APA Style.

Strategies for the Discussion of Research Participant Data

Although you don’t cite data you gathered from research participants, you can discuss them, provided that you preserve the confidentiality you guaranteed the participants when they consented to participate in your study (see PM § 1.11). In practical terms, this means that “neither the subject nor third parties (e.g., family members, employers) are identifiable” (PM, p. 17) from the information presented.

Strategies for the ethical use of data from research participants include the following:

  • referring to participants by identifiers other than their names, such as
    • their roles (e.g., participant, doctor, patient),
    • pseudonyms or nicknames,
    • initials,
    • descriptive phrases,
    • case numbers, or
    • letters of the alphabet;
  • altering certain participant characteristics in your discussion of the participants (e.g., make the characteristics more general, such as saying “European” instead of “French”);
  • leaving out unimportant identifying details about the participant;
  • adding extraneous material to obscure case details; and
  • combining the statements of several participants into a “composite” participant.

Choose the strategy that makes sense given the degree of confidentiality of information you must maintain and what details are important to relate to the reader. Keep in mind that in employing these strategies it is essential that you not “change variables that would lead the reader to draw false conclusions related to the phenomena being described” (PM,p. 17). 

Examples of How to Discuss Research Participant Data

Here are a few examples of how participant data might be presented in the text. The most appropriate presentation will depend on context.

  • One respondent stated she had never experienced a level of destruction similar to that caused by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
  • “Madge,” a 45-year-old Red Cross social worker, was in Sichuan province when the earthquake struck. “It was unlike anything else I have experienced,” she said.
  • MJ, a European social worker, said the earthquake was “unlike anything else I have experienced.”
  • A non-Chinese social worker said the 2008 Sichuan earthquake “exceeded levels of devastation I have ever seen before.”
  • Case 24 was injured in the earthquake.
  • Participant M said she had never experienced anything like the earthquake or its level of devastation.
  • Several employees of a humanitarian aid organization said that they were emotionally distressed by the devastation the earthquake left behind.

Data can also be presented in a table or figure provided these same standards are abided by. 

Going on the Record

If the research participant is willing to go "on the record," or include his or her name in the paper, use a personal communication citation (see PM § 6.20). In that case, you should write up the material you intend to use, present it to the participant, and get his or her written permission before including it (see PM § 1.11). In your paper, the information might be presented as follows:

  • M. Johnson (personal communication, May 16, 2008), a Red Cross social worker who assisted in the Sichuan earthquake recovery efforts, stated that “the earthquake exceeded levels of devastation I have ever seen before.”

Further Reading

The issues surrounding participant privacy in research reporting are complex and exceed what can be presented in this post. For further reading, consult the APA Publication Manual (6th ed., § 1.11) as well as the APA Ethics Code. 

 by Chelsea Lee

All APA Style in-text citations have two parts: the author and the date. Some in-text citations also include page numbers (or other location information when page numbers are not available, as with some online materials). This post describes when and how to include page numbers in APA Style for different kinds of citations as well as how to include the appropriate location information in lieu of page numbers when page numbers are not available.

Direct Quotations

A direct quotation reproduces the words of another writer verbatim and is displayed in quotation marks (if the quotation is fewer than 40 words) or as a block quotation (if the quotation is 40 words or more). When you include a direct quotation in a paper, include the author, date, and page number on which the quotation can be found (or other location information) in the citation.

Research has found that “romantic partners maintain both biased and realistic views of a core relationship trait: physical attractiveness” (Solomon & Vazire, 2014, p. 524).

Solomon and Vazire (2014) found that “romantic partners maintain both biased and realistic views of a core relationship trait: physical attractiveness” (p. 524).

There are many ways to cite a direct quotation; see more examples here.


A paraphrase restates someone else’s words in a new way. For example, you might put a sentence into your own words, or you might summarize what another author or set of authors found. When you include a paraphrase in a paper, you are required to include only the author and date in the citation. You are encouraged (but not required) to also provide the page number (or other location information) for a paraphrased citation when it would help the reader locate the relevant passage in a long or complex text (such as when you use only a short part of a book). The examples below show a citation for a paraphrase that includes the page number.

Just as Sherlock Holmes investigates a case, psychologists must evaluate all the available data before making a deduction, lest they jump to an erroneous conclusion on the basis of insufficient evidence (Bram & Peebles, 2014, pp. 32–33).

Bram and Peebles (2014) advocated for psychologists to evaluate all the available data before making a deduction, just as Sherlock Holmes investigates a case, lest they jump to an erroneous conclusion on the basis of insufficient evidence (pp. 32–33).

There are many ways to paraphrase material; here are more examples and some advice.

How to Cite Material Without Page Numbers

If the cited material does not have page numbers (such as may occur with some e-books) and you need them for an in-text citation, use any of the following location information instead:

  • a paragraph number, if provided; alternatively, you can count paragraphs down from the beginning of the document;
  • an overarching heading plus a paragraph number within that section; or
  • an abbreviated heading (or the first few words of the heading) in quotation marks, in cases in which the heading is too unwieldy to cite in full, plus a paragraph number within that section.

People planning for retirement need more than just money—they also “need to stockpile their emotional reserves” to ensure they have adequate support from family and friends (Chamberlin, 2014, para. 1).

Chamberin (2014, para. 1) stated that people planning for retirement need more than just money—they also “need to stockpile their emotional reserves” to ensure they have adequate support from family and friends.

Learn More

For more on quoting and paraphrasing in APA Style, please see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed., §§ 6.03–6.09).


Bram, A. D., & Peebles, M. J. (2014). Psychological testing that matters: Creating a road map for effective treatment. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/14340-000

Chamberlin, J. (2014, January). Retiring minds want to know. Monitor on Psychology, 45(1). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/01/retiring-minds.aspx

Solomon, B. C., & Vazire, S. (2014). You are so beautiful . . . to me: Seeing beyond biases and achieving accuracy in romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107, 516–528. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0036899


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