How to Reference Authors in APA Format

Typing APA references with multiple authors
Eternity in an Instant / The Image Bank / Getty Images

APA format establishes a number of clear rules for how to list reference works using author information. How you reference different sources varies depending on the number of authors to whom the source is attributed. For example, the way that you reference a single author will differ somewhat from how you reference a source with multiple authors.

Before you create a reference section for a psychology paper, it is important to know how to properly list books, articles, and other sources as well as in-text citations in APA format. The following guidelines can help you prepare a reference section for your APA format paper.

No Author

Articles and other works that do not provide an author attribution should begin with the title of the work. If the title is a book, list the title in italics. The volume number, issue number (if available), and page numbers should follow journal titles, while book titles should be followed by the publisher's name.

For example:

  • A student guide to APA format. (1997). Psychology Weekly, 8, 13-27.
  • The ultimate APA format guidebook. (2006). Student Press.

For in-text citations, or those referenced within the body of the text, you will also use the title, either in italics (for books) or in quotation marks (for articles). For example: Using proper APA format ("A student guide to APA format," 1997).

One Author

Works by a single author should list the author's last name and initials. The date of publication should be enclosed in parentheses and followed by the title of the article or book. Books and journal titles should be listed in italics. The volume number, issue number, and page numbers of the article should follow journal titles, while book titles should be followed by the name of the publisher.

For example:

  • McCrae, R. R. (1993). Moderated analyses of longitudinal personality stability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(3), 577-585.
  • Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Prentice-Hall.

One-author in-text citations should include the surname without any suffixes (Jr.) and the date of publication in parenthesis. For example: As Bandura (1997) mentions... or (Bandura, 1977). If you are citing different authors with the same last name, include the first initial: (A. Alper, 2004) and (B. Alper, 2005).

Two Authors

Works by two authors should list the last names and first initials separated by an ampersand (&). These names should be followed by the date of publication enclosed in parentheses.

If the work is a journal article, the title of the article should immediately follow the publication date. Next, the title of the book or journal should be listed in italics. If the reference is a journal article, provide the volume number, issue number, and page numbers. For books, list the name of the publisher.

For example:

  • Kanfer, F. H., & Busemeyer, J. R. (1982). The use of problem-solving and decision-making in behavior therapy. Clinical Psychology Review, 2(2), 239-266.
  • Buss, A. H., & Pomin, R. (1975). A temperament theory of personality development. Erlbaum.

In-text citations of works by two authors should include the surnames of both authors separated by the word "and" or by an ampersand if using parenthesis. For example: Studies by Buss and Pomin (1975) support... or (Buss & Pomin, 1975).

Three to 20 Authors

Works by three to 20 authors should list the last names and first initials of each author separated by an ampersand. Author names should be followed by the date of publication enclosed in parentheses.

If the work is a journal article, include the title of the article immediately following the publication date. The title of the book or journal should then be listed in italics. If the reference is a journal article, provide the volume number, issue number, and page numbers. For books, list the name of the publisher.

For example:

  • Abma, J. C., Chandra, A., Mosher, W. D., Peterson, L. S., & Piccinino, L. J. (1997). Fertility, family planning, and women’s health: New data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. Vital and Health Statistics, 23(9), 1-67.
  • Alper, S., Schloss, P. J., Etscheidt, S. K., & Macfarlane, C. A. (1995). Inclusion: Are we abandoning or helping students? Corwin Press.

In-text citations for works by three or more authors should list the first author's name, followed by "et al." in every citation. For example: Alper, et al. (1995) supports...or (Alper, et al, 1995).

However, if you are citing multiple works by similar groups of authors, you may need to include multiple names to avoid confusion. For example: Alper, Schloss, Etscheidt, et al. (1995) discovered...or (Alper, Schloss, Etscheidt, et al., 1995).

More Than 20 Authors

When a work is credited to more than 20 authors, the reference is listed by providing the names of the first 19 authors followed by . . . and then the final author. The remainder of the reference follows the same format as that for 20 or fewer authors.

Author last names and initials are followed by the date of publication enclosed in parentheses. The name of the article is listed immediately after the publication date. The title of the journal or the book title should be provided in italics. The volume number, issue number, and page number should follow journal titles, while book titles should be followed by the publisher's name.

For example:

  • Pegion, K., Kirtman, B. P., Becker, E., Collins, D. C., LaJoie, E., Burgman, R., Bell, R., DelSole, R., Min, D., Zhu, Y., Li, W., Sinsky, E., Guan, H., Gottschalck, J., Metzger, E. J., Barton, N. P., Achuthavarier, D., Marshak, J., Koster, R., . . . Kim, H. (2019). The subseasonal experiment (SubX): A multimodel subseasonal prediction experiment. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society100(10), 2043-2061.
  • Arlo, A., Black, B., Clark, C., Davidson, D., Emerson, E., Fischer, F., Grahmann, G., Habib, H., Ianelli, I., Juarez, J., Kobayashi, K., Lee, L., Martin, M., Naim, N., Odelsson, O., Pierce, P., Qiang, Q., Reed, R., Scofield, S., . . . Thatcher, T. (2001). Instructive falsehoods: Examples and sources. Thommel-Reed.

In-text citations should list the first author's name, followed by "et al." in every citation. You can read more about a few different aspects of referencing sources in APA format if you have book references, article references, and electronic sources.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I cite a website with no author in APA format?

If a website has no author, cite the title (or first few words of the reference list entry) followed by the year. APA website citations will also include the website name and URL.

How do I cite a publication with no author in APA format?

If there's no author, the title of the work is listed first followed by the volume number, issue number (if available), and page numbers. If it's a book, the title should be in italics and followed by the publisher's name.

How do I cite an author with two last names?

Works by an author with two last names should list both names. If the name is hyphenated, include both names and the hyphen.

Was this page helpful?
0 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.