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.

If two co-authors share a last name, then you don’t have to use initials:

(Jones & Jones, 2020)

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)

If the title lacks italics in the reference list, then place it between quotation marks. Capitalize important words in the title.

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

(Anonymous, 2015)

Multiple Works

If you’re citing multiple works in the course of a sentence (and not in the final parentheses), then you can use any order you want:

Wiener (2012), Mayer (2009), and Franks (2001) all argued that the name Hotdog Syndrome might sound catchy, but would never pass muster as an official diagnosis.

By contrast, when citing multiple works in final parentheses, organize them alphabetically by the name of the first contributor. Use semi-colons to separate the sources:

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.

Multiple Dates of Publication

Sometimes you might want to provide two dates of publication. This is useful for reprints, translations, and so on. Separate the dates with a slash:

(Pavlov, 1933/2009)

Adler (1929/2015)

Second Hand Information

If one of your sources cites another source, one that you cannot access yourself, then you can use the phrase “as cited in”:

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

The ascent of Mount Sinister took four weeks and claimed the lives of two mountaineers (Sharp, 1999, as cited in Fillmore, 2011).

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

Citing a Part of Source

Quotations are generally cited by page number, but there are other ways cite a specific section of a source. These include tables, paragraphs, chapters, theatrical references, Bible verses, and much more:

(Gibbet, 2008, pp. 23-24)

(Karpati, 2001, Table 3.1)

(Felicity, 2003, paras. 5-6)

(Bronsman, 1962, Chapter 5)

(Newly Revised Still Standard Bible, 2019, Rom. 4:1)

(Shakespeare, 1623/2009, 2.4.12-14)

(Fillmore, 2018, “Methodology” section, para. 2)

When citing a heading or section of a longer work, you can abbreviate the title.

In all such citations, the words page(s) and paragraph(s) are abbreviated, and most other descriptive words are capitalized (though not section).

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, lectures, text messages, conversations, and so forth. Such sources are only cited in the text of your essay, and not in the reference list.

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 chapter 8 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).