• 3-minute read
  • 29th September 2018

8 Things You Need to Know About APA Citations

APA referencing is a widely used citation system in academic writing. But while the basics of APA citations are simple, there are many variations depending on the source type and situation.

To help ensure your referencing is error free, then, we’ve compiled this list of rules for using APA citations according to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition.

1. Basic APA Citations

To cite a source in APA referencing, simply give the author’s surname and the source’s year of publication in brackets, separated by a comma, at the end of the relevant clause. For example:

APA citations are simple (Jones, 2018).

If you have named the author in the text, however, give the year in brackets immediately afterwards:

According to Jones (2018), APA citations are simple.

2. Citing a Work with Multiple Authors

When a source has two named authors, they should be joined with an ampersand in the citation:

Too many cooks spoil the broth (Smith & Jones, 2015).

However, if the authors are named in the text, use the word ‘and’ instead:

Smith and Jones (2015) argue that too many cooks spoil the broth.

For sources with three or more authors, give just the first name plus ‘et al.’:

Two is company, three is a crowd (Smith et al., 1985).

You would then give the names of all authors in the reference list.

3. Quoting Sources

If you are quoting a source, make sure to include a page number in the citation after the quote:

The subject reported being ‘tired and confused’ (Smith, 1992, p. 248).

This format changes when the author is named in the text. In this case, you should give the year immediately after the author’s name and the page number(s) after the quotation:

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Smith (1992) says that the subject was ‘tired and confused’ (p. 248).

4. Organisational Authors

When a source does not seem to have a named author, you can usually use an organisational author. This refers to the company or organisation responsible for the document. For example:

Correct referencing is very important (ProofreadMyEssay, 2018).

If you cannot even find an organisational author, though, use the title of the source instead.

5. Two Works by the Same Author from the Same Year

Should you need to cite more than one source by the same author from the same year, add a letter after the year of publication for each (starting at ‘a’ with the first source in the reference list):

Smith (1986a) originally claimed success in her experiment. However, she was unable to replicate the results later the same year (Smith, 1986b).

6. Two Authors with the Same Surname

When citing two authors with the same surname in APA referencing, include a first initial in citations:

Common surnames can cause confusion when examining family histories (M. Smith, 1992). Consequently, tracing a family line involves anticipating such factors (R. Smith, 2001).

7. Audiovisual Citations

If you are quoting an audiovisual source (e.g. a video or sound recording), you will need to give a timestamp rather than page numbers in the citation:

The interviewee then declared that ‘print is dead’ (Smith, 2015, 15:41).

Here, the numbers indicate that the quote comes from 15 minutes and 41 seconds into the recording.

8. Citing More than One Source at Once

To cite more than one source in a single set of brackets, use a semicolon between each source:

Everybody agrees on this point (Fisher, 1998; Jones, 2001; Smith, 1986).

As shown above, APA referencing requires you to order sources within a citation alphabetically by author surname (i.e. the same order as they appear in the reference list at the end of your document).

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