APA Format and Abbreviations in Citations
APA citations are used at the sentence and paragraph level of an APA formatted document to provide readers with information about the date, author and page number of a referenced citation. Dates are especially important in the APA citation style because recent scientific research findings are often more useful than older scientific research findings. Understanding how to complete in-text and parenthetical citations of references in the APA style is an essential writing skill.
APA Citation Basics
The most basic APA parenthetical in-text citation should include the last name of the author, the date of the publication and the reference page number. Lead the reference with the author's last name and the date of the reference in parentheses.
For example, "Smith (2013) writes" indicates the author "Smith" wrote the article in 2013. After providing a quote or reference of the author's work, provide the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence or paragraph. For example, writing "(p. 21)" at the end of the sentence indicates the reference can be found on page 21 of Smith's 2013 article.
Citing Multiple Authors in APA
Cite an article with multiple authors by providing both last names separated by the word "and." For example, writing "Smith and Jones explain" indicates both authors contributed to the article. List all authors of an article up to five authors the first time that reference is used.
For example, write "(Smith, Close, Jones, Clive, and Johnson 2013)" to reference an article written by all of these authors.
After the first reference, use the Latin phrase "et al.," which means "and other authors," to indicate other authors.
For example, write "Smith et al. (2013)" if you already listed the many authors in Smith's 2013 study.
Citing Multiple Author Works
Cite multiple studies by the same author using the year of the study only. For example, writing "Smith (2011) and Smith (2013)" indicates your are referencing both of Smith's studies. Attach a letter to the end of an article year reference when referencing multiple works by the same author in the same year.
For example, writing "Smith (2013a) and Smith (2013b)" references two works by Smith that were published in 2013.
Citing Organizations in APA
Cite government or organizational authors by placing the organization's full name in parentheses the first time the work is referenced. For example, write "(Adults with Developmental Disabilities [ADD], 2012, p. 2)" to reference this organization the first time the work is presented. In later references, any provided acronyms can be used in parentheses.
For example, write "(ADD, 2012)" if referencing this organization later in your writing.
- American Psychological Association; Publication Manual, 6th Ed; American Psychological Association
Justin King is a writer and scholar of environmental and public rhetoric. He holds a Master of Arts in writing studies from Saint Joseph's University and a Ph.D. from Purdue University. King has been contributing to online publications and print journals since 2004, as well as delivering talks on science writing and environmental theory throughout the United States.