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APA In-Text Citation: Additional Rules


We have covered the basics of in-text citation elsewhere. This page details some unusual cases and exceptions.

Additional Rules

Same Last Name

If you’re citing authors who share a last name, provide the first author’s initials in each citation:

The problem has been discussed by B. Frank (1992) and I. M. Frank (2008).

Bush, Goldstein, & Frank (1995) argue …

Notice that in the second example, Frank is not the first author listed, so there is no need to add initials. The reader can check the reference list to find out which Frank is meant.

No Author

If a source has no author, provide a short version of the title (or whatever else is the first information in the reference list):

(“Wimpy Kids,” 2005)

(Gender Euphoria, 2011)

Note that titles of short works (e.g., articles) are in quotation marks, whereas titles of longer works (e.g., books) are in italics.

In the rare instance where a work is actually signed “Anonymous,” you can use that as the name:

(Anonymous, 2015)

Multiple Works

When citing multiple works, organize them alphabetically by the name of the first contributor. In parenthetical citations they are separated by a semi-colon:

The size of a handbag contributes less to social status than the colour and materials (Johansen, 2009; Prude & Clasp, 2012).

If an item is in press, list it last:

(Vogelsang, 2010; Beard, in press)

When citing multiple works by the same author(s), give only the date for each item after the first:

(Jones, 2001, 2008, 2014; Peters, 2009)

If two or more dates are the same, use letters (a, b, c…) to distinguish them:

(Young, 2005a, 2005b; Zielinski, 2003)

Finally, if you want to emphasize one of your sources, you can place it first and introduce the other sources with a phrase such as see also:

(Ker, 2015; see also Bragg, 2016; Loreman et al., 2007)

In this example, Ker’s study is given priority (breaking the rule about alphabetization), and the other sources are treated as of secondary importance.

Second Hand Information

If one of your sources cites another source, one that you cannot access yourself, then you can cite the latter as follows:

Her last will and testament stated that “the black sheep will get nothing” (as cited in Smith, 2005).

Use this method only when you can’t look up the original source yourself.

Classical Sources

For older classical works that lack a date, provide the year of the translation or version, as follows:

(Flaubert, trans. 2004)

(Plato, 2006)

If the original date of publication is known, include it too:

(Carroll, 1865/2015)

Since your reference list does not need to include major classical works (Greek and Roman works, as well as religious texts), you may want to indicate what version you’ve used in your in-text citation:

John 1:8 (New International Version)

In general, try follow the numbering system of the classical work (books, chapters, pages, lines, cantos, acts, scenes, etc.).

Citing a Part of Source

Quotations should of course be cited by page number, but even when you’re not directly quoting you can cite a specific section of a source:

(Gibbet, 2008, pp. 23-24)

(Karpati, 2001, Table 3.1)

(Bronsman, 1962, Chapter 5)

In such citations, the word page is abbreviated and other descriptive words are capitalized.

Personal Communication

Any personal communication that is not accessible to your readers (i.e., is not recoverable) should be cited as follows:

E. G. Sand (personal communication, May 3, 2017)

(B. Sandwich, personal communication, December 22, 2014)

Make sure you provide the person’s initials and give the date in full. This is important because personal communication is not included in the final reference list.

Personal communication can include emails, letters, conversations, and so forth.

Citations in Parentheses

If some text in parentheses includes a citation, don’t use an extra set of parentheses to set it off:

Incorrect: (see Angstfreund (2008), Chapter 5, for a detailed discussion)

Correct: (see Angstfreund, 2008, Chapter 5, for a detailed discussion)

In such cases, commas will do.


For more information about APA in-text citation, please see pp. 174-79 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.).