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APA Style: Basics

This guide is intended to help you cite sources in APA style, avoid plagiarism, learn what APA style is and includes, find examples of APA style, lead you to campus resources that can help you cite sources in APA, and more.

Author Format


In-Text Citations

One Author
  General Format For Example
Parenthetical (Author, Publication Date) (Smith, 2017)
Narrative Author (Publication Date) Smith (2017)
Two Authors
  General Format For Example
Parenthetical (Author & Author, Publication Date) (Johnson & Granger, 2018)
Narrative Author and Author (Publication Date) Johnson and Granger (2018)
Three or More Authors
  General Format For Example
Parenthetical (Author et al., Publication Date) (Maybell et al., 2013)
Narrative Author et al. (Publication Date) Maybell et al. (2013)
Two Sources in One Citation
  General Format For Example
Parenthetical (Author, Publication Date; Author & Author, Publication Date) (Foster, 2020; Chandler & Pearce, 2012)
Narrative Author (Publication Date) and Author and Author (Publication Date) Foster (2020) and Chandler and Pearce (2012)
Three Sources in One Citation
  General Format For Example
Parenthetical (Author, Publication Date; Author & Author, Publication Date; Author, Publication Date) (Foster, 2020; Chandler & Pearce, 2012; Patel, 2013)
Narrative Author (Publication Date), Author and Author (Publication Date), and Author (Publication Date) Foster (2020), Chandler and Pearce (2012), and Patel (2013)
Group Author
  General Format For Example
Parenthetical (Group Author, Publication Date) (Southern New Hampshire University, 2019)
Narrative Group Author (Publication Date) Southern New Hampshire University (2019)

If an author was the lead author for multiple publications that were published in the same year, the in-text citations would be identical. To address this, the APA indicates that you should include as many names as needed to distinguish the sources before using "et al.". For example, these are the authors of three studies you found in your research:

  • Smith, A. A., Lieth, B. B, Cleary, C. C., & Stevens, D. D. (2019)
  • Smith, A. A., Lieth, B. B, Johnson, C. C., & Tembly, D. D. (2019)
  • Smith, A. A., Gilbert, B. B, White, C. C., & Schmidt, D. D. (2019)

Normally each of these would be shortened to Smith et al. (2019). Instead you want to include several names until the reader can distinguish each of the sources:

Same Short Form
Authors In-Text Citation
Smith, A. A., Lieth, B. B, Cleary, C. C., & Stevens, D. D. (2019) Smith, Lieth, Cleary, et al. (2019)
Smith, A. A., Lieth, B. B, Johnson, C. C., & Tembly, D. D. (2019) Smith, Lieth, Johnson, et al. (2019)
Smith, A. A., Gilbert, B. B, White, C. C., & Schmidt, D. D. (2019) Smith, Gilbert, et al. (2019)

When an author or author(s) published multiple sources in the same year, include a lowercase letter immediately following the date. Begin this lettering with "a" and continue in alphabetical order.

Same Author and Date
  General Format For Example
Parenthetical

(Author, Publication Datea)

(Author, Publication Dateb)

(Author & Author, Publication Datea)

(Author & Author, Publication Dateb)

(Winston, 2017a)

(Winston, 2017b)

(Kelly & West, 2018a)

(Kelly & West, 2018b)

Narrative

Author (Publication Datea)

Author (Publication Dateb)

Author and Author (Publication Datea)

Author and Author (Publication Dateb)

Winston (2017a)

Winston (2017b)

Kelly and West (2018a)

Kelly and West (2018b)

If the first authors of multiple in-text references have the same last name, but not the same initials, include the first authors' initials in all in-text citations, even if the publication year is different. For example, the following are authors of sources you found for your paper:

  • Singh, J. M. (2013)
  • Singh, R. W. (2013)
  • Maybell, K. L., & Choudry, L. N (2015)
  • Maybell, E. N. (2020)
Same Surname - Parenthetical Citation
  Authors In-Text Citation
Parenthetical Example One

Singh, J. M. (2013)

Singh, R. W. (2013)

(J. M. Singh, 2013; R. W. Singh, 2013)

Parenthetical Example Two

(Maybell, K. L. & Choudry, L. N., 2015)

Maybell, E. N. (2020)

(K. L. Maybell & Choudry, 2013; E. N. Maybell, 2020)

Same Surname - Narrative Citation
  Authors In-Text Citation
Narrative Example One

Singh, J. M. (2013)

Singh, R. W. (2013)

J. M. Singh (2013) and R. W. Singh (2013)

Narrative Example Two

Maybell, K. L. and Choudry, L. N. (2015)

Maybell, E. N. (2020)

K. L. Maybell and Choudry (2013) and E. N. Maybell (2020)