Ask Ediqo: How to cite in APA Style and when to use “et al.”?
(Please refer to the citation table at the end of the article or download the APA Style citation table as a PDF file if you are in a hurry).
The APA Style ® (formally Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association) is one of the widely used standards for publication in social and behavioral sciences. In this article we show you how to become a pro in citing your sources according to the latest edition of the APA Style.
As a basic rule of thumb, when citing according to the APA Style, the authors’ surnames are cited followed by the year of publication. Additionally, the following points should be considered:
- What type of citation is it?
- How many authors does the source document have?
- Is it the first citation or a subsequent citation of the same source within the document?
- Is the source written by an unknown author?
- Is the source written by a corporate author?
What type of citation is it?
APA differentiates between two types of citations: text citations and parenthetical citations.
Watson (2017) developed a theory that …
A recent theory suggests that … (Watson, 2017).
How many authors does the source have?
Citations in APA style differ depending on the number of authors. Typically, the surnames of the first five authors are given. Surnames are separated by a comma. The last author’s surname is connected with „and“ for text citations, respectively „&“ for parenthetical citations. If the cited source has exactly two authors, the comma separating the surnames is omitted. For sources with more than six authors, only the first author‘s surname is given, followed by „et al.“.
Is it the first citation or a subsequent citation of the same source within the document?
For sources with more than two authors, only cite the first author’s surname followed by „et al.“ for subsequent citations (starting the second time the same source is cited within your document).
Is the source written by an unknown author?
For sources with unknown authors, cite the first few words from the document (typically the title) followed by the year of publication, as in: (“Ask Ediqo”, 2017).
Special case: if the author is designated as «Anonymous», cite as: (Anonymous, 2017).
Is the source written by a corporate author?
Corporate authors include corporations, technical standards bodies, government bodies, universities, etc. For documents written by corporate authors that are already abbreviated, you can cite the abbreviated name in subsequent citations. For instance, the National Institute of Health can be cited as «NIH» in subsequent citations.
APA Style Citation Table
|Number of authors||Text citation||Parenthetical citation|
|First citation||Subsequent citation||First citation||Subsequent citation|
|One author||Watson (2017)||Watson (2017)||(Watson, 2017)||(Watson, 2017)|
|Two authors||Watson and Bear (2017)||Watson and Bear (2017)||(Watson & Bear, 2017)||(Watson & Bear, 2017)|
|Three authors||Watson, Bear, and Schmidt (2017)||Watson et al. (2017)||(Watson, Bear, & Schmidt, 2017)||(Watson et al., 2017)|
|Four authors||Watson, Bear, Schmidt, and Wang (2017)||Watson et al. (2017)||(Watson, Bear, Schmidt, & Wang, 2017)||(Watson et al., 2017)|
|Five authors||Watson, Bear, Schmidt, Wang, and Song (2017)||Watson et al. (2017)||(Watson, Bear, Schmidt, Wang, & Song, 2017)||(Watson et al., 2017)|
|Six or more authors||Watson et al. (2017)||Watson et al. (2017)||(Watson et al., 2017)||(Watson et al., 2017)|
|Corporate author with abbreviation||National Institute of Health (NIH, 2017)||NIH (2017)||(National Institutes of Health [NIH], 2017)||(NIH, 2017)|
|Corporate author without abbreviation||University of California (2017)||University of California (2017)||(University of California, 2017)||(University of California, 2017)|
Important: citations of sources with exactly two authors do not contain a comma to separate the authors’ surnames.
For more information on the APA Style ® or to purchase access to the style guide, visit http://www.apastyle.org/.