Answered By: Jonathan Faerber
Last Updated: Nov 04, 2021     Views: 5

If you're writing for an academic audience, you're probably aiming for a specific word count. According to the American Psychological Association (APA, 2020),

to determine word count, count every word from beginning to end, including all in-text citations, reference entries, tables, figures (other than words in a figure image, which may not be captured by word count), and appendices. The default settings of the word-count function of your word-processing program are acceptable for determining the word count. (p. 46)

Since in-text citations are essential in academic writing to acknowledge sources of information and prevent plagiarism, including them in the word count aligns them at the same level of importance as the rest of the information in the work. If you are unsure of the expectations for your work, please check with your instructor or publishing editor for direction. 

Whether you're submitting an assignment or a manuscript for publication, adhering to the word limit is one of your responsibilities as an author. You can assume that you should include your in-text citations in your word count; however, if you're unsure of what's expected of you, please check with your instructor or publishing editor for clarification.


American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).