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APA Citation Style and Other Citation Styles Explained
In academia and other professional fields, much of the work that goes on is strictly intellectual. In such areas, ideas matter, and copying another’s ideas without acknowledging the source can land the practitioner in trouble. This has happened to many unsuspecting academics.
Sometimes, failure to use citations constitutes academic fraud. The consequences of academic fraud are dire, including academic sanctions, penalties, or worse. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Citation systems like the APA one or the Chicago style can help you easily bring your papers or professional writings up to standard.
Below, we explore the APA type of citation and other alternatives that you can use to make your work free of plagiarism.
What is APA Citation Style?
The APA citation style is one of three citation styles which are in wide use in universities and other professional communities. These three are:
- APA Style – A type of citations by the American Psychological Association
- Chicago Manual Style – Citation style from the Chicago University Press
- MLA Style – Citation guidelines by the Modern Language Association
APA Style contains guidelines for references to academic works, as well as stylistic idioms for the composition of academic work. The style began in the 1920s, and has since been adopted by leading academics in the social sciences.
Using APA Citations in the Body of a Text
Proper citation begins with in-text citations. These are references to source materials which you have chosen to include in the body of your paper or text.
In APA Style, you must reference the author’s last name and the source material’s publication year when making reference to a secondary source. Such a secondary source could be, for example, a book, guide, newspaper article, published report, or other publication.
References to earlier research, for example from academic journals, must use the past tense. For example, when referring to a work from 1960 by the psychologist Abraham Maslow, we would write:
Maslow (1960) found that “the highest stage of human psychological health occurs in the state of self-actualization” (p. 330).
As you can see, we also need to include a page number if directly quoting the work, otherwise, the author’s name and the work’s publication year suffice.
APA Reference List
At the end of an academic work, journal writing, or other such professional work, it is necessary to include a list of all works that have been referenced in the body.
The reference list must begin on a separate page from the body of your test. You should title it “References” so that it’s clear that the main arguments have ended and you are now listing references.
In the reference list, you should follow APA Style rules, including the following:
- Arrange author listings in alphabetical order
- Invert the authors’ names so that the last name is read first
- Titles for works cited should be given in full, whether books, journals, or other sources
- Specify the publisher and location where the work was published
Observing these rules, we can list a book by the social scientist Carl Jung as follows:
Jung, C. (1933). Modern Man in Search of a Soul . London: Trubner & Co.
Why APA Is Not Always the Right Citation Type
APA Style works well for the following disciplines:
Other, related, disciplines also use APA Style.
There are, however, disciplines where alternative citation styles are more appropriate. These include the Chicago Manual Style, and MLA Style. The exact citation style you need to use will depend on the field of study for which you are writing. If in doubt, you can check with the publisher or editor of the journal or other publication for which you are writing.
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Understanding APA Format
If you’re writing academically, chances are you’ve been tasked with writing a paper that follows APA style. Although there’s a learning curve involved with adhering to APA style, it’s possible to learn the basics so you can turn in your assignments.
What Is APA Style?
APA is the official academic style of the American Psychological Association. This style was created in 1929 when a group of professionals worked together to devise a set of style rules for scientific writing as a means of making these documents easier to read and understand.
If an assignment indicates APA style, you will need to adhere to these style rules. These guidelines ensure that your document is consistent and uniform with elements such as punctuation, headings and subheadings, abbreviations, numbers, tables and figures and citations.
Main Sections of a Document
APA style dictates the format of the main sections of a document.
The title page includes a running head, the author’s name and the school.
The abstract is a succinct summary of the document. APA style dictates that abstracts be no more than 250 words, although some instructors give leeway regarding the length.
The main body of the document is the text of the essay or report. Some reports are divided into separate sections.
Your reference section follows the body. It includes a list of references you cited in your document.
How to Reference APA Style
In-text citations appear within the text, identifying any information you cite. APA format for in-text citations includes the author’s name and the date of the publication.
The reference page always begins on a new page with the title “References” centered at the top. Include all entries in alphabetical order, and each entry’s first line begins at the left margin, and additional lines are indented. Place titles of newspapers, magazines, journals and books in italics, and double-space the reference section.
Double-check that all of your sources appear as both in-text citations and in the reference section.
Use an APA Sample Paper
An APA style example can be helpful if you’re learning this style and trying to apply it to a writing assignment. Many schools and universities maintain resource web pages with APA samples to show students how to follow this style.
More APA Tips
If you’re struggling with creating APA citations and references, use a citation machine to check your work. You simply fill in the citation and click a button, and the tool tells you if you made any errors.
Consider hiring an academic editor to check your work after you finish writing. The editor can find and correct errors to make sure your document adheres to APA.
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In-Text Citations: Author/Authors
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APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6 th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , (6 th ed., 2 nd printing).
Note: This page reflects APA 6, which is now out of date. It will remain online until 2021, but will not be updated. The equivalent APA 7 page can be found here .
APA style has a series of important rules on using author names as part of the author-date system. There are additional rules for citing indirect sources, electronic sources, and sources without page numbers.
Citing an Author or Authors
A Work by Two Authors: Name both authors in the signal phrase or in parentheses each time you cite the work. Use the word "and" between the authors' names within the text and use the ampersand in parentheses.
A Work by Three to Five Authors: List all the authors in the signal phrase or in parentheses the first time you cite the source. Use the word "and" between the authors' names within the text and use the ampersand in parentheses.
In subsequent citations, only use the first author's last name followed by "et al." in the signal phrase or in parentheses.
Six or More Authors: Use the first author's name followed by et al. in the signal phrase or in parentheses.
Unknown Author: If the work does not have an author, cite the source by its title in the signal phrase or use the first word or two in the parentheses. Titles of books and reports are italicized; titles of articles, chapters, and web pages are in quotation marks. APA style calls for capitalizing important words in titles when they are written in the text (but not when they are written in reference lists).
Note : In the rare case the "Anonymous" is used for the author, treat it as the author's name (Anonymous, 2001). In the reference list, use the name Anonymous as the author.
Organization as an Author: If the author is an organization or a government agency, mention the organization in the signal phrase or in the parenthetical citation the first time you cite the source.
If the organization has a well-known abbreviation, include the abbreviation in brackets the first time the source is cited and then use only the abbreviation in later citations.
Two or More Works in the Same Parentheses: When your parenthetical citation includes two or more works, order them the same way they appear in the reference list (viz., alphabetically), separated by a semi-colon.
Two or More Works by the Same Author in the Same Parentheses: When your parenthetical citation includes two or more works from the same author, list the years of publication in sequence, with the earliest first. Provide in-press citations last. Only list authors' surnames once for each list of dates.
Following this pattern, multiple works from multiple authors can be contained within a single parenthetical. Separate authors' sources with a semicolon. Note, however, that the authors' names should be provided in the order they appear in the reference list regardless of when their sources were published.
Authors With the Same Last Name: To prevent confusion, use first initials with the last names.
Two or More Works by the Same Author in the Same Year: If you have two sources by the same author in the same year, use lower-case letters (a, b, c) with the year to order the entries in the reference list. Use the lower-case letters with the year in the in-text citation.
Introductions, Prefaces, Forewords, and Afterwords: When citing an Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword in-text, cite the appropriate author and year as usual.
(Funk & Kolln, 1992)
Personal Communication: For interviews, letters, e-mails, and other person-to-person communication, cite the communicator's name, the fact that it was personal communication, and the date of the communication. Do not include personal communication in the reference list.
Citing Indirect Sources
If you use a source that was cited in another source, name the original source in your signal phrase. List the secondary source in your reference list and include the secondary source in the parentheses.
Note: When citing material in parentheses, set off the citation with a comma, as above. Also, try to locate the original material and cite the original source.
If possible, cite an electronic document the same as any other document by using the author-date style.
Unknown Author and Unknown Date: If no author or date is given, use the title in your signal phrase or the first word or two of the title in the parentheses and use the abbreviation "n.d." (for "no date").
Sources Without Page Numbers
When an electronic source lacks page numbers, you should try to include information that will help readers find the passage being cited. When an electronic document has numbered paragraphs, use the abbreviation "para." followed by the paragraph number (Hall, 2001, para. 5). If the paragraphs are not numbered and the document includes headings, provide the appropriate heading and specify the paragraph under that heading. Note that in some electronic sources, like webpages, people can use the "find" function in their browser to locate any passages you cite.
Note: Never use the page numbers of webpages you print out; different computers print webpages with different pagination.
The APA Publication Manual describes how to cite many different kinds of authors and content creators. However, you may occasionally encounter a source or author category that the manual does not describe, making the best way to proceed can be unclear.
In these cases, it's typically acceptable to apply the general principles of APA citation to the new kind of source in a way that's consistent and sensible. A good way to do this is to simply use the standard APA directions for a type of source that resembles the source you want to cite. For example, a sensible way to cite a virtual reality program would be to mimic the APA's guidelines for ordinary computer software .
You may also want to investigate whether a third-party organization has provided directions for how to cite this kind of source. For example, Norquest College provides guidelines for citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers —an author category that does not appear in the APA Manual . In cases like this, it's a good idea to ask your instructor or supervisor whether using third-party citation guidelines might present problems.
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- APA Style 7th edition
- Beginner’s guide to APA in-text citation
APA In-Text Citations (7th Ed.) | Multiple Authors & Missing Info
Published on November 4, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on September 30, 2022.
In-text citations briefly identify the source of information in the body text. They correspond to a full reference entry at the end of your paper.
APA in-text citations consist of the author’s last name and publication year. When citing a specific part of a source, also include a page number or range, for example (Parker, 2020, p. 67) or (Johnson, 2017, pp. 39–41) .
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Table of contents
Apa in-text citations explained in 4 minutes, parenthetical vs. narrative citations, apa in-text citations with multiple authors, no author, date or page number, multiple sources in one parenthesis, avoiding ambiguity in apa in-text citations, citing indirect sources (“as cited in”), citing personal communication, general mentions of websites and software, example paragraph with in-text citations, frequently asked questions.
The in-text citation can be placed in parentheses or naturally integrated into a sentence.
- Parenthetical : There is a correlation between social media usage and anxiety symptoms in teenagers (Parker, 2019) .
- Narrative: Parker (2019) found a correlation between social media usage and anxiety symptoms in teenagers.
The publication year appears directly after the author’s name when using the narrative format. The parenthetical citation can be placed within or at the end of a sentence, just before the period. Check out a full example paragraph with in-text citations .
If a work has two authors, separate their names with an ampersand (&) in a parenthetical citation or “and” in a narrative citation. If there are three or more authors, only include the first author’s last name followed by “et al.”, meaning “and others”.
Group authors known by their abbreviations (e.g., CDC) are written in full the first time and are abbreviated in subsequent citations.
If the author of a source is unknown, try to determine if there is an organization or government responsible for creating the content. If so, include its name in the in-text citation (and reference entry).
Alternatively, use the source title in place of the author. Italicize the title if it’s italicized in the reference entry (except for court cases , which are italicized in the in-text citation but not the reference entry). Otherwise, enclose it in double quotation marks.
Apply title case capitalization, and shorten long titles. The first word of the title should always be included so readers can easily locate the corresponding reference entry.
- (“U.S. Flood Risk,” 2015)
- ( Thinking, Fast and Slow , 2017)
No publication date
If the publication date is unknown, write “n.d.” (no date) in the in-text citation.
No page number (alternative locators)
Page numbers are only required with direct quotes in APA . If you are quoting from a work that does not have page numbers (e.g., webpages or YouTube videos ), you can use an alternative locator, such as:
- (Liu, 2020, 03:26 )
- (Johnson, 2019, Chapter 3 )
- (McCombes, 2016, para. 4 )
- (Davis, 2016, Slide 15 )
- (Flores, 2020, Table 5 )
- (Streefkerk, 2020, “No page number” section )
Note that Bible citations always use chapter and verse numbers, even when page numbers are available:
If a statement is supported by multiple sources, the in-text citations can be combined in one parenthesis. Order the sources alphabetically, and separate them with a semicolon.
When citing multiple works from the same author, list the years of publication separated by a comma.
When in-text citations are ambiguous because they correspond to multiple reference entries, apply the solutions outlined in the table below.
If you want to refer to a source that you have found in another source, you should always try to access the original or primary source .
However, if you cannot find the original source , you should cite it through the secondary source that led you to it, using the phrase “as cited in”.
If the publication date of the primary source is unknown, include only the year of publication of the secondary source.
Only include a reference entry for the secondary source, not the primary source.
Personal communications , such as phone calls, emails, and interviews, are not included in the reference list because readers can’t access them. The in-text citation is also formatted slightly differently.
Include the initials and last name of the person you communicated with, the words “personal communication,” and the exact date in parentheses.
General mentions of a website or software don’t have to be cited with an in-text citation or entry in the reference list. Instead, incorporate relevant information into the running text.
- The website of Scribbr (www.scribbr.com) contains various useful resources.
- Statistical software SPSS (version 25) was used to analyze the data.
When citing a webpage or online article , the APA in-text citation consists of the author’s last name and year of publication. For example: (Worland & Williams, 2015). Note that the author can also be an organization. For example: (American Psychological Association, 2019).
If you’re quoting you should also include a locator. Since web pages don’t have page numbers, you can use one of the following options:
- Paragraph number: (Smith, 2018, para. 15).
- Heading or section name: ( CDC, 2020, Flu Season section)
- Abbreviated heading: ( CDC, 2020, “Key Facts” section)
Instead of the author’s name, include the first few words of the work’s title in the in-text citation. Enclose the title in double quotation marks when citing an article, web page or book chapter. Italicize the title of periodicals, books, and reports.
If the publication date is unknown , use “n.d.” (no date) instead. For example: (Johnson, n.d.).
The abbreviation “ et al. ” (meaning “and others”) is used to shorten APA in-text citations with three or more authors . Here’s how it works:
Only include the first author’s last name, followed by “et al.”, a comma and the year of publication, for example (Taylor et al., 2018).
Always include page numbers in the APA in-text citation when quoting a source . Don’t include page numbers when referring to a work as a whole – for example, an entire book or journal article.
If your source does not have page numbers, you can use an alternative locator such as a timestamp, chapter heading or paragraph number.
If you cite several sources by the same author or group of authors, you’ll distinguish between them in your APA in-text citations using the year of publication.
If you cite multiple sources by the same author(s) at the same point , you can just write the author name(s) once and separate the different years with commas, e.g., (Smith, 2020, 2021).
To distinguish between sources with the same author(s) and the same publication year, add a different lowercase letter after the year for each source, e.g., (Smith, 2020, 2021a, 2021b). Add the same letters to the corresponding reference entries .
In an APA in-text citation , you use the phrase “ as cited in ” if you want to cite a source indirectly (i.e., if you cannot find the original source).
Parenthetical citation: (Brown, 1829, as cited in Mahone, 2018) Narrative citation: Brown (1829, as cited in Mahone, 2018) states that…
On the reference page , you only include the secondary source (Mahone, 2018).
An APA in-text citation is placed before the final punctuation mark in a sentence.
- The company invested over 40,000 hours in optimizing its algorithm (Davis, 2011) .
- A recent poll suggests that EU membership “would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters” in a referendum (Levring, 2018) .
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APA Citation Style, 7th edition: Two Authors or Editors
- General Style Guidelines
- One Author or Editor
- Two Authors or Editors
- Three to Five Authors or Editors
- Article or Chapter in an Edited Book
- Article in a Reference Book
- Edition other than the First
- Government Publication
- Journal Article with One Author
- Journal Article with 2 Authors
- Journal Article with 3-7 Authors
- Journal Article 7 or more Authors
- Magazine Article
- Newspaper Article
- Basic Web Page
- Web page from a University site
- Web Page with No Author
- Entry in a Reference Work
- Government Document
- Film and Television
- Youtube Video
- Audio Podcast
- Electronic Image
- Secondary Sources
- Citation Support
- Avoiding Plagiarism
- Formatting Your Paper
About Citing Books
For each type of source in this guide, both the general form and an example will be provided.
The following format will be used:
In-Text Citation (Paraphrase) - entry that appears in the body of your paper when you express the ideas of a researcher or author using your own words. For more tips on paraphrasing check out The OWL at Purdue .
In-Text Citation (Quotation) - entry that appears in the body of your paper after a direct quote.
References - entry that appears at the end of your paper.
Information on citing and several of the examples were drawn from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).
Book with Two Authors or Editors
The general format below refers to a book with two authors.
If you are dealing with two editors instead of two authors, you would simply insert the names of the editors into the place where the authors' names are now, followed by "(Eds.)" without the quotation marks (see the Example). The rest of the format would remain the same.
- << Previous: One Author or Editor
- Next: Three to Five Authors or Editors >>
- Last Updated: Jan 11, 2023 12:39 PM
- URL: https://guides.himmelfarb.gwu.edu/APA
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APA Citations (7th ed.): In-text Citation Author Rules
- General Formatting
- Professional Paper Elements - Title Page
- Student Paper Elements - Title Page
- In-text Citation Basics
- In-text Citation Author Rules
- Citing Multiple Works
- Personal Communications
- Classroom or Intranet Resources
- Secondary Sources
- Books and Reference Works
- Edited Book Chapters and Entries in Reference Works
- Reports and Gray Literature
- Conference Sessions and Presentations
- Dissertations and Theses
- Data Sets and Software
- Tests, Scales, & Inventories
- Audiovisual Works
- Audio Works
- Visual Works
- Social Media
- Webpages & Websites
- Basics & Formatting
- Avoiding Plagiarism
APA has different rules for in-text citations depending on:
- The number of authors of a work
- Whether you are citing a group author that has an abbreviation
- If an author is unknown or anonymous
- If more than one work has the same author and date
- If multiple authors share surnames
Look to the right to find rules about each of these circumstances.
Number of Authors to Include in In-text Citations
For a work with one or two authors, include the author name(s) in every citation.
(Moyer & Hendricks, 2014)
Thornton and Manning (2016)
For a work with three or more authors, include the name of only the first author plus "et al." in every citation, including the first citation, unless doing so would create ambiguity.
(Huerta et al., 2019)
Kapoor, Bloom, Montez, et al. (2017)
Kapoor, Bloom, Zucker, et al. (2017)
To learn more about avoiding ambiguity in in-text citations, see pp.266-267 of the manual.
Group Authors, With and Without Abbreviations
Authors may be groups. For example, you may cite a work written by the National Institute of Mental Health, or NIMH.
If a work is authored by one or two groups, include the group author name(s) in every citation.
(Morningside College, 2019)
(Harvard University & Cambridge College, 2018)
(U.S. Department of Agriculture et al., 2019)
If a group author has an abbreviation, introduce the abbreviation in the first citation. In subsequent citations, use the abbreviation in place of the full group name.
First citation: (Mothers Against Drunk Driving [MADD], 2015)
Subsequent citations: (MADD, 2015)
Unknown or Anonymous Author
For works with an unknown author, include the title and year of publication in the in-text citation.
If the title of the work is italicized in the reference list, also italicize the title in the in-text citation. If the title of the work is not italicized in the reference list, use double quotation marks around the title in the in-text citation.
Capitalize titles in in-text citations using title case, even though sentence case is used in the reference list entry.
Book with no author: ( The Future of Entrepreneurship , 2018)
Magazine article with no author: ("Towards a Psychology of Collective Memory," 2015)
When the author of a work is overtly designated as "Anonymous," this takes the place of the author name in the in-text citation.
See pp. 264-265 of the manual for more information.
Works With the Same Author and Same Date
When multiple references have an identical author (or no authors) and publication year, include a lowercase letter after the year. This lowercase letter is also included in the reference entry.
Use only the year with a letter in the in-text citation, even if the reference list entry contains a more specific date.
(LaBlanc & Ibarra, 2019a)
(LaBlanc & Ibarra, 2019b)
(Kirk, n.d.-a, n.d.-b)
Authors With the Same Surname
If the first authors of multiple references share the same surname but have different initials, include the first author's initials in all in-text citations, even if the year of publication differs.
(J. R. Stuart & Frey, 2016; M. Stuart, 2019)
If the first authors of multiple references share the same surname and the same initials, cite the works in the standard author-date format.
(Grant, 2019; Grant & Reese, 2017)
If multiple authors within a single reference share the same surname, the initials are not needed in the in-text citations.
(Chen & Chen, 2018)
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- Next: Citing Multiple Works >>
- Last Updated: Oct 26, 2022 10:46 AM
- URL: https://morningside.libguides.com/APA7
This page has been archived and is no longer being updated regularly.
How do you cite two or more references within the same parentheses?
Go to 7th edition guidelines
Order the citations of two or more works by different authors within the same parentheses alphabetically in the same order in which they appear in the reference list (including citations that would otherwise shorten to et al. ). Separate the citations with semicolons.
Example: Several studies (Miller, 1999; Shafranske & Mahoney, 1998)
Arrange two or more works by the same authors (in the same order) by year of publication. Place in-press citations last. Give the authors' surnames once; for each subsequent work, give only the date.
Example: Past research (Gogel, 1990, 2006, in press)
Identify works by the same author (or by the same two or more authors in the same order) with the same publication date by the suffixes a, b, c, and so forth, after the year; repeat the year. The suffixes are assigned in the reference list, where these kinds of references are ordered alphabetically by title (of the article, chapter, or complete work).
Example: Several studies (Derryberry & Reed, 2005a, 2005b, in press-a; Rothbart, 2003a, 2003b)
Exception: You may separate a major citation from other citations within parentheses by inserting a phrase such as see also , before the first of the remaining citations, which should be in alphabetical order.
Example: (Minor, 2001; see also Adams, 1999; Storandt, 2007)
(adapted from the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual , © 2010)
APA Style Contacts
APA Style (7th ed.)
- Cite: Why? When?
- Book, eBook, Dissertation
- Article or Report
- Business Sources
- Format Your Paper
Prefer a video tutorial?
Click below to watch: .
When you use others' ideas (paraphrases) and direct quotes, you must cite your source by including:
Author's last name, publication year, (only for direct quotes) page number of the quote.
The purpose of in-text citation is to direct the reader to the full citation on the References list , which will have the full publication details.
You are encouraged to write your in-text citations in several ways:
Author's last name and publication year in parentheses at the end of the sentence.
Ex. There is not a strong correlation between a high GPA and students who began reading at an early age (Kahneman & Klein, 2009).
Author's name in the text with the publication year in parentheses after it.
Ex. Kahneman and Klein (2009) found that there is not a strong correlation between a high GPA and early readers.
Jump to more specific examples by using the table below:
One or Two Authors: Direct Quotes
Include the author's last name(s), with an ampersand if needed between the two; publication date; and page number(s).
Ex. Although businesses collect a lot of information on their customers' buying patterns, "it is not enough to know how customers behave, you also need to know why" (Kahneman & Baudin, 2009, p. 522).
One or Two Authors: Paraphrasing
Cite the author, publication year, and page numbers if needed.
Ex. Many insects and animals have a larger spectrum of color vision than humans, including ultraviolet and infrared (Gadhavi & Krupin, 2009).
Three or More Authors (see p. 266-267 in Manual)
In every citation, cite only the first author followed by "et al."
Ex. A study by Alloy et al. (2009) examines the relationship between bipolar personality and substance abuse.
No Author (see p. 264-265 in Manual)
Cite the first few words of the source's entry in the Reference list, which is usually the title. The title will be italicized if it's italicized in the References list, or if it's not italicized, put it in "quotation marks" to identify it as the title here.
Article or Website
Ex. From 2010 to 2022, the U.S. Mint will issue quarters featuring United States National Parks ("Quarter to Feature Smokies," 2009).
Book or Report
Ex. Getting plenty of sleep is essential to academic success ( College Bound Seniors , 2008).
Quoting a Quote (see p. 277 in Manual)
If at all possible, APA tells you to find the original source and cite that source directly.
However, if you cannot find the original source, you can cite the quote as a secondary source . Cite the quoted author in the text and the author of the article at the end. In this example, Jonsen and Willse are the authors of the source that you cannot retrieve (i.e. the secondary source), and Kosek is the author of the source that you have in-hand.
Ex. Jonsen and Willse concluded "there was no direct correlation between the two factors" (Kosek, 2011).
Authors with Acronym Name (see p. 268+ in Manual)
For short names where the abbreviation would not be readily understandable, write out the name each time. For long names where the abbreviation is familiar, write out the name with the acronym in brackets for the first reference, then use just the acronym.
Ex. In 2012, approximately 1 in 68 children were diagnosed with a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2016).
However, the entry in the References list should still spell out the full name.
Two Citations in One Sentence (see p. 263 in the Manual)
Order the citations alphabetically by the first author's last name.
Ex. Several studies (Nakano et al., 1999; Gadhavi & Krupin, 2009; Walker et al., 2008) cite the need for more replication studies.
For works by the same author, order them by publication year: give the last name once and then the dates.
Personal Interviews (see p. 259 in Manual)
Only cite interviews in-text, not on the references list.
Ex. Individual researchers are not eligible for many private foundation grants, because often those funds are only given to nonprofit organizations (P. Karga, personal communication, May 3, 2019).
More questions? Check out the authoritative source: APA style blog
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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format / How to cite in APA when there are multiple authors
How to cite in APA when there are multiple authors
This article covers how to cite a reference in APA style (7th ed.) when there are multiple authors. Broadly speaking, in an APA style “the author” refers to the person(s) or group(s) who should be given credit for the work being referenced.
Here’s a run-through of everything this page includes:
In-text citations when there are multiple authors
Reference list entries when there are multiple authors, troubleshooting.
APA 7th ed. uses the author-date citation system for citing references in text. Unless you are citing a source with no author in APA , the structure in parenthetical citations includes placing the author’s last name/surname, followed by a comma, and the publication year in parentheses. In narrative citations, this information is incorporated into the sentence.
Parenthetical citation for one author:
(Author Last Name, Year Published)
Narrative citation for one author:
Author Last Name (Year Published)
For a work with two authors, include both authors’ last names in every in-text citation, whether narrative or parenthetical. In parenthetical citations, use an ampersand (&) between the authors’ last names.
Parenthetical citation for two authors:
(1st Author & 2nd Author, Year Published)
(Curtis & Williams, 2020)
Narrative citation for two authors:
1st Author & 2nd Author (Year Published)
Curtis & Williams (2020)
Three or more authors
When citing a journal paper in APA with three or more authors, only enter the last name of the first author listed and add “et al.” after it. “Et al.” is Latin for the phrase “and others,” which is why it is used as a substitute for two or more authors’ last names.
Parenthetical citation for three or more authors:
(1st Author et al., Year Published)
(Harris et al., 2020)
Narrative citation for three or more authors:
1st Author et al. (Year Published)
Harris et al. (2020)
Here is a page with more information on when to use “et al.” in APA style .
The same guidelines for in-text citations apply when the authors of a source are a distinct group or organization such as a government agency, association, nonprofit organization, business, hospital, task force, or study group. To confirm whether a reference was written by individual author(s) or a group, check the cover or title page.
Hint: for an online resource, the author could be the name of the organization hosting the webpage or website, rather than the name of just one content contributor.
Before using an abbreviated group name as the author of your citation, spell out the abbreviation and define the group one time first in the text. Afterward, use the abbreviation of the group name throughout the rest of the paper.
Group author in-text citation examples:
First parenthetical citation with group abbreviation included: (Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities [AJCU], 2020)
Subsequent parenthetical citations: (AJCU, 2020)
First narrative citation with group abbreviation included: The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities [AJCU] (2020)
Subsequent narrative citations: The AJCU (2020)
Avoiding ambiguity in in-text citations
Sometimes, in-text citations that have three or more authors, some of whom have the same last name, and the same publication year can look like they are the same reference when using the et al. abbreviation. For example, Curtis et al. (2020) could refer to
Curtis, Acres, Thomas, Henderson, and Tyler (2020)
Curtis, Acres, Thomas, Henderson, Maxey, Key, Smith, and Esparza (2020)
To avoid this ambiguity and confusion for the reader, write out as many names as possible for the in-text citation until the references are distinguished, and then add “et. al” to abbreviate the other authors’ names.
Curtis, Acres, Thomas, Henderson, et al. (2020)
Curtis, Acres, Thomas, Henderson, Maxey, et al. (2020)
When only the final author is different, list all of the names in every citation to avoid any confusion.
Curtis, Acres, Thomas, Henderson, and Esparza (2020)
APA has slightly different reference structures for different source types (e.g., book, website, journal article, etc.), but each structure generally includes the following:
Author last name, Author initials. (Date Published). Title. URL or DOI if available .
Need more help with citing a particular source? Find further guidance in this APA citations guide.
One or two authors
For references with one or two authors, cite using the four-part structure.
Two individual authors example:
Smith, J., & Jones, S. (1994). Making a movie star. Behind the Scenes Stories: A Journal of Celebrity Life, 44 (2), 192–200. https://doi.org/l4nds0r
One group author example:
The American Marine Society. (2003). Whale mating patterns in the new millennium. The American Marine Society Magazine , 17-20 . https://fams.gov/article/2003/whale-mating-patterns-in-the-new-millennium
2 – 20 authors
In APA 7th ed., up to 20 authors should be included in a reference list entry. Write out the last name and first initial(s) for each contributor.
2–20 authors example:
Wright, A., Komal, G., Siddharth, D., Boyd, G., Cayson, N., Beverley, K., Travers, K., Begum, A., Redmond, M., Mills, M., Cherry, D., Finley, B., Fox, M., Ferry, F., Almond, B., Howell, E., Gould, T., Berger, B., Bostock, T., Fountain, A. (2020). Styling royalty. London Bridge Press.
For references with more than 20 authors, after listing the 19th author replace any additional author names with an ellipsis ( … ) followed by the final listed author’s last name and first initial(s).
21+ authors example:
Wright, A., Komal, G., Siddharth, D., Boyd, G., Cayson, N., Beverley, K., Travers, K., Begum, A., Redmond, M., Mills, M., Cherry, D., Finley, B., Fox, M., Ferry, F., Almond, B., Howell, E., Gould, T., Berger, B., Bostock, T., . . . Booker, T. (2020). Eating well: Tips from 23 lifestyle authors. Food Magazine. https://foodmag.com/article/2020/tips-from-22-lifestyle-authors
Solution #1: How to order the names of multiple authors in an APA reference
Authors should be cited in the exact order that they are listed by the source, even if they have not been listed alphabetically.
Solution #2: How to cite an article with more than 20 authors in APA style
If an article has more than 20 authors, all authors do not need to be listed in the reference. Instead, name the first 19, then use an ellipsis (…), then add the name of the final author listed. The ellipsis acts as a substitute for all the names between the first 19 and the final authors. No ampersand (&) is needed before the final name.
Richards, B.A., Lillicrap, T. P., Beaudoin, P., Bengio, Y., Bogacz, R., Christensen, A., Clopath, C.
Costa, R. P., de Berker, A., Ganguli, S., Gillon, C. J., Hafner, D., Kepecs, A., Kriegeskorte,
N., Latham, P., Lindsay, G. W., Miller, K. D., Naud, R., Pack, C. C., … Kording, K. P. (2019). A deep learning framework for neuroscience. Nature Neuroscience , 22 (11), 1761–1770. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-019-0520-2
When making an in-text citation, only write the first author’s last name followed by “et. al.” This applies to both parenthetical and narrative citations.
(Richard et al., 2019)
Richard et al. (2019)
Solution #3: How to cite an article written by an organization in APA style
- Organization as author
When an article is written by an organization, use the typical four-part APA structure (author, date, title, publisher) and cite the organization as the author.
American Nurses Association. (2019). 2018 Annual Report, American Nurse Today, 14 (6), 29-36.
- Organization as author and publisher
If the organization that authored an article is also its publisher , omit the publisher’s name in the citation.
- In-text citation when an organization is an author
Use the organization’s name as the author. For example:
American Nurses Association [ANA] (2019)
If an organization’s name is long, abbreviate it by doing the following:
- First, write the organization’s name in full the first time, followed by the abbreviation in parenthesis.
- After this, you may use the abbreviation without including the complete name.
1 st in-text narrative citation: American Nurses Association [ANA] (2019)
1 st in-text parenthetical citation: (American Nurses Association [ANA] (2019)
After this distinction is made, abbreviations in-text can be used as demonstrated below:
Narrative citations: The ANA (2019)
Parenthetical citations: (ANA, 2019)
Published October 28, 2020.
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To cite a source with multiple authors and an edition number in APA style, you need to know the names of the authors, title of the book, edition number, and publisher. The in-text citation of a book with multiple authors and an edition number is similar to citing a journal or a book reference with multiple authors. An example of a book reference with three authors and an edition number, along with a template, is given below:
In-text citation template and example:
Author Surname et al. (Publication Year)
LeBuffe et al. (2012)
(Author Surname et al., Publication Year)
(LeBuffe et al., 2012)
Reference list entry template and example:
Author Surname, F. M., Author Surname, F. M., & Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Book title (edition number). Publisher
LeBuffe, P. A., Naglieri, J. A., & Manderth, A. (2012). Devereux early childhood assessment for preschoolers (2nd ed.). Kaplan Early Learning Company.
Use numerals to indicate an edition number. The word “edition” is abbreviated as “ed.” Italicize the book title and follow sentence case for capitalization.
Citing a source that has multiple authors with the same last name and same initials is the same as citing a source with different authors. There is no need to add the initials of the authors in in-text citations as all surnames (although the same) appear in a single source. Examples of a book reference with three authors with the same last name and initials and their templates are given below:
Dunn et al. (2007)
(Dunn et al., 2007)
Author Surname, F. & Author Surname, F. (Publication Year). Book title. Publisher.
Dunn, L. M., Dunn, L. M., & Dunn, L. M. (2007). Peabody picture vocabulary test-IV. American Guidance Service.
APA Citation Examples
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- Bipolar Disorder
- Race and Identity
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- History and Biographies
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How to Reference Authors in APA Format
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.
Three to 20 authors, more than 20 authors, frequently asked questions.
APA format establishes a number of clear rules for how to list reference works using author information. How you reference different sources varies depending on the number of authors to whom the source is attributed. For example, the way that you reference a single author will differ somewhat from how you reference a source with multiple authors.
Before you create a reference section for a psychology paper, it is important to know how to properly list books, articles, and other sources as well as in-text citations in APA format. The following guidelines can help you prepare a reference section for your APA format paper.
Articles and other works that do not provide an author attribution should begin with the title of the work . If the title is a book, list the title in italics. The volume number, issue number (if available), and page numbers should follow journal titles, while book titles should be followed by the publisher's name.
- A student guide to APA format. (1997). Psychology Weekly, 8, 13-27.
- The ultimate APA format guidebook. (2006). Student Press.
For in-text citations, or those referenced within the body of the text, you will also use the title, either in italics (for books) or in quotation marks (for articles). For example: Using proper APA format ("A student guide to APA format," 1997).
Works by a single author should list the author's last name and initials. The date of publication should be enclosed in parentheses and followed by the title of the article or book. Books and journal titles should be listed in italics. The volume number, issue number, and page numbers of the article should follow journal titles, while book titles should be followed by the name of the publisher.
- McCrae, R. R. (1993). Moderated analyses of longitudinal personality stability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65 (3), 577-585.
- Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Prentice-Hall.
One-author in-text citations should include the surname without any suffixes (Jr.) and the date of publication in parenthesis. For example: As Bandura (1997) mentions... or (Bandura, 1977). If you are citing different authors with the same last name, include the first initial: (A. Alper, 2004) and (B. Alper, 2005).
Works by two authors should list the last names and first initials separated by an ampersand (&). These names should be followed by the date of publication enclosed in parentheses.
If the work is a journal article, the title of the article should immediately follow the publication date. Next, the title of the book or journal should be listed in italics. If the reference is a journal article, provide the volume number, issue number, and page numbers. For books, list the name of the publisher.
- Kanfer, F. H., & Busemeyer, J. R. (1982). The use of problem-solving and decision-making in behavior therapy . Clinical Psychology Review, 2 (2) , 239-266.
- Buss, A. H., & Pomin, R. (1975). A temperament theory of personality development . Erlbaum.
In-text citations of works by two authors should include the surnames of both authors separated by the word "and" or by an ampersand if using parenthesis. For example: Studies by Buss and Pomin (1975) support... or (Buss & Pomin, 1975).
Works by three to 20 authors should list the last names and first initials of each author separated by an ampersand. Author names should be followed by the date of publication enclosed in parentheses.
If the work is a journal article, include the title of the article immediately following the publication date. The title of the book or journal should then be listed in italics. If the reference is a journal article, provide the volume number, issue number, and page numbers. For books, list the name of the publisher.
- Abma, J. C., Chandra, A., Mosher, W. D., Peterson, L. S., & Piccinino, L. J. (1997). Fertility, family planning, and women’s health: New data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. Vital and Health Statistics, 23 (9), 1-67.
- Alper, S., Schloss, P. J., Etscheidt, S. K., & Macfarlane, C. A. (1995). Inclusion: Are we abandoning or helping students? Corwin Press.
In-text citations for works by three or more authors should list the first author's name, followed by "et al." in every citation. For example: Alper, et al. (1995) supports...or (Alper, et al, 1995).
However, if you are citing multiple works by similar groups of authors, you may need to include multiple names to avoid confusion. For example: Alper, Schloss, Etscheidt, et al. (1995) discovered...or (Alper, Schloss, Etscheidt, et al., 1995).
When a work is credited to more than 20 authors, the reference is listed by providing the names of the first 19 authors followed by . . . and then the final author. The remainder of the reference follows the same format as that for 20 or fewer authors.
Author last names and initials are followed by the date of publication enclosed in parentheses. The name of the article is listed immediately after the publication date. The title of the journal or the book title should be provided in italics. The volume number, issue number, and page number should follow journal titles, while book titles should be followed by the publisher's name.
- Pegion, K., Kirtman, B. P., Becker, E., Collins, D. C., LaJoie, E., Burgman, R., Bell, R., DelSole, R., Min, D., Zhu, Y., Li, W., Sinsky, E., Guan, H., Gottschalck, J., Metzger, E. J., Barton, N. P., Achuthavarier, D., Marshak, J., Koster, R., . . . Kim, H. (2019). The subseasonal experiment (SubX): A multimodel subseasonal prediction experiment. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society , 100 (10), 2043-2061.
- Arlo, A., Black, B., Clark, C., Davidson, D., Emerson, E., Fischer, F., Grahmann, G., Habib, H., Ianelli, I., Juarez, J., Kobayashi, K., Lee, L., Martin, M., Naim, N., Odelsson, O., Pierce, P., Qiang, Q., Reed, R., Scofield, S., . . . Thatcher, T. (2001). Instructive falsehoods: Examples and sources . Thommel-Reed.
In-text citations should list the first author's name, followed by "et al." in every citation. You can read more about a few different aspects of referencing sources in APA format if you have book references , article references , and electronic sources .
How do I cite a website with no author in APA format?
If a website has no author, cite the title (or first few words of the reference list entry) followed by the year. APA website citations will also include the website name and URL.
How do I cite a publication with no author in APA format?
If there's no author, the title of the work is listed first followed by the volume number, issue number (if available), and page numbers. If it's a book, the title should be in italics and followed by the publisher's name.
How do I cite an author with two last names?
Works by an author with two last names should list both names. If the name is hyphenated, include both names and the hyphen.
American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2019.
Purdue Online Writing Lab. In-text citations: Author/authors .
Purdue Online Writing Lab. Reference list: Author/authors .
By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
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Name both authors in the signal phrase or in parentheses each time you cite the work. Use the word "and" between the authors' names
A Work by Two Authors: Name both authors in the signal phrase or in parentheses each time you cite the work. Use the word "and" between the authors' names
APA in-text citations with multiple authors ... If a work has two authors, separate their names with an ampersand (&) in a parenthetical citation
Book with Two Authors or Editors ; In-Text Citation (Paraphrase):: (Author Surname & Author Surname, Year) ; In-Text Citation (Direct Quote):: (
As of the 7th edition of the APA Handbook, citation rules change at 3 or more authors. For all in-text citations with more than 2 authors, utilize “et al.”
For a work with one or two authors, include the author name(s) in every citation. ... For a work with three or more authors, include the name of
In parenthetical citations, use an ampersand (&) between names for a work with two authors or before the last author when all names must be included to avoid
Arrange two or more works by the same authors (in the same order) by year of publication. Place in-press citations last. Give the authors' surnames once; for
Include the author's last name(s), with an ampersand if needed between the two; publication date; and page number(s). Ex. Although businesses
For a work with two authors, include both authors' last names in every in-text citation, whether narrative or parenthetical. In parenthetical
Works by two authors should list the last names and first initials separated by an ampersand (&). These names should be followed by the date of