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In-Text Citations: Author/Authors
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Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style can be found here .
Though the APA's author-date system for citations is fairly straightforward, author categories can vary significantly from the standard "one author, one source" configuration. There are also additional rules for citing authors of indirect sources, electronic sources, and sources without page numbers.
A Work by One Author
The APA manual recommends the use of the author-date citation structure for in-text citation references. This structure requires that any in-text citation (i.e., within the body of the text) be accompanied by a corresponding reference list entry. In the in-text citation provide the surname of the author but do not include suffixes such as "Jr.".
Citing Non-Standard Author Categories
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 or More Authors
List only the first author’s name followed by “et al.” in every citation, even the first, unless doing so would create ambiguity between different sources.
In et al. , et should not be followed by a period. Only "al" should be followed by a period.
If you’re citing multiple works with similar groups of authors, and the shortened “et al” citation form of each source would be the same, you’ll need to avoid ambiguity by writing out more names. If you cited works with these authors:
They would be cited in-text as follows to avoid ambiguity:
Since et al. is plural, it should always be a substitute for more than one name. In the case that et al. would stand in for just one author, write the author’s name instead.
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 that "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, just as you would an individual person.
If the organization has a well-known abbreviation, you may include the abbreviation in brackets the first time the source is cited and then use only the abbreviation in later citations. However, if you cite work from multiple organizations whose abbreviations are the same, do not use abbreviations (to avoid ambiguity).
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.
If you cite multiple works by the same author in the same parenthetical citation, give the author’s name only once and follow with dates. No date citations go first, then years, then in-press citations.
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.
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.
If using a footnote to reference personal communication, handle citations the same way.
Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples
When citing information you learned from a conversation with an Indigenous person who was not your research participant, use a variation of the personal communication citation above. Include the person’s full name, nation or Indigenous group, location, and any other relevant details before the “personal communication, date” part of the citation.
Citing Indirect Sources
Generally, writers should endeavor to read primary sources (original sources) and cite those rather than secondary sources (works that report on original sources). Sometimes, however, this is impossible. 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. If you know the year of the original source, include it in the citation.
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. Use the heading or section name, an abbreviated heading or section name, a paragraph number (para. 1), or a combination of these.
Note: Never use the page numbers of webpages you print out; different computers print webpages with different pagination. Do not use Kindle location numbers; instead, use the page number (available in many Kindle books) or the method above.
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 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 computer software.
You may also want to investigate whether a third-party organization has provided directions for how to cite this kind of source.
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- Parenthetical Citation | APA, MLA & Chicago Examples
Parenthetical Citation | APA, MLA & Chicago Examples
Published on May 9, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on August 23, 2022.
A parenthetical citation gives credit in parentheses to a source that you’re quoting or paraphrasing . It contains information such as the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number(s) if relevant.
Parenthetical citations are used in many citation styles, including MLA , APA , and Chicago .
Parenthetical citations should be placed at the end of the sentence or clause that contains the cited material, and they must always correspond to a full entry in your reference list.
Table of contents
Parenthetical citations in mla, parenthetical citations in apa, parenthetical citations in chicago, frequently asked questions about parenthetical citations.
MLA in-text citations are described as author-page citations. This means that the parentheses contain the author’s last name and a page number or page range.
When a source has two authors , include both names and put “and” between them. For sources with more than two authors , include only the first author’s name, followed by “ et al. ”
Cite page numbers using a page range if you are citing multiple consecutive pages. If the pages are not consecutive, include all relevant page numbers, separated by commas.
APA in-text citations are described as author-date citations. This means that parenthetical citations should contain the author’s last name , the publication date , and, if applicable, a page number or page range. These elements should be separated by commas.
When a source has two authors , include both names and separate them using an ampersand (&). When a source has more than two authors , include only the first author’s name, followed by “et al.”
When citing specific pages, write “p.” before a single page number and “pp.” before a page range or series of nonconsecutive pages.
Narrative vs. parenthetical
APA also makes a distinction between parenthetical and narrative citations . You can use a mixture of the two in your text.
In a narrative citation, the author’s name appears as part of your sentence, introducing the cited information with a signal phrase. Only the publication date (and page numbers if included) appears in parentheses.
Both parenthetical and narrative citations are automatically generated when you cite a source using Scribbr’s Citation Generator .
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Chicago author-date style (not to be confused with Chicago notes and bibliography ) uses author-date citations.
These are parenthetical citations containing the author’s last name , the publication date , and, if applicable, a page number or page range. Include a comma after the year, but not after the author’s name.
When a source has two or three authors , include each of their names in your in-text citation. For more than four authors , include the name of the first author only, followed by “et al.”
A parenthetical citation gives credit in parentheses to a source that you’re quoting or paraphrasing . It provides relevant information such as the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number(s) cited.
How you use parenthetical citations will depend on your chosen citation style . It will also depend on the type of source you are citing and the number of authors.
In a parenthetical citation in MLA style , include the author’s last name and the relevant page number or range in parentheses .
For example: (Eliot 21)
APA Style distinguishes between parenthetical and narrative citations.
In parenthetical citations , you include all relevant source information in parentheses at the end of the sentence or clause: “Parts of the human body reflect the principles of tensegrity (Levin, 2002).”
In narrative citations , you include the author’s name in the text itself, followed by the publication date in parentheses: “Levin (2002) argues that parts of the human body reflect the principles of tensegrity.”
A parenthetical citation in Chicago author-date style includes the author’s last name, the publication date, and, if applicable, the relevant page number or page range in parentheses . Include a comma after the year, but not after the author’s name.
For example: (Swan 2003, 6)
To automatically generate accurate Chicago references, you can use Scribbr’s free Chicago reference generator .
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Ryan, E. (2022, August 23). Parenthetical Citation | APA, MLA & Chicago Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 27, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/citing-sources/parenthetical-citation/
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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
Other Citation Styles
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Citing authors with same last names Sometimes more information is necessary to identify the source from which a quotation is taken. For instance, if two or more authors have the same last name, provide both authors' first initials (or even the authors' full name if different authors share initials) in your citation. For example:
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. APA in-text citations with multiple authors If a work has two authors, separate their names with an ampersand (&) in a parenthetical citation or “and” in a narrative citation.
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. Research by Wegener and Petty (1994) supports... (Wegener & Petty, 1994) A Work by Three or More Authors
Two authors 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)