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March 21, 2016

How to Cite a Chapter Written by Someone Other Than the Book’s Authors

David Becker



By David Becker

Dear APA Style Experts,

I want to cite a chapter from Theoretical Basis for Nursing, 4th Edition, which is an authored textbook. However, the author of this chapter is not one of the authors listed on the front cover. What should I do?

—Frustrated Nursing Student

Dear FNS,

When referring to a chapter in an authored book, usually you would not cite that chapter in the reference list. Instead, you would cite the whole book and, if necessary, cite the chapter in text. This rule applies whether the chapter is written by one of the book’s primary authors or by a separate contributor.

Nursing Student

Even though it might seem sensible to cite that chapter as one would cite a chapter from an edited book, doing so could cause confusion. If you were to cite a chapter from an authored book in this manner, most of the information from the book reference templates at the bottom of page 202 in the Publication Manual would be maintained, with the names of the book's primary authors in the editor position. However, because you would be crediting them as authors and not as editors, you would need to delete the Eds. in parentheses. Authored books that contain chapters written by other contributors are relatively uncommon, and APA Style users are so accustomed to the format for citing a chapter in an edited book that this slight change might lead your readers to assume that you are incorrectly citing an edited book by accidentally leaving out the Eds. component. Although this may not seem like such a big deal, it could cost a student a few points for not following proper APA Style format. Or, if you're publishing your paper in a journal, you could find yourself battling with a prickly copyeditor.

To avoid all of this mess, the simplest solution is to just cite the entire book like you would do with any other authored volume:

McEwen, M., & Wills, E. M. (2014). Theoretical basis for nursing (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

In doing so, you are presenting readers with a reference format that they can immediately recognize as representing an authored book, which will help them retrieve your source. Then, you can clarify the unique nature of your source by simply crediting the chapter author in your narrative and identifying the chapter number as part of your in-text citation:

According to Melinda Oberleitner, "The hallmark of the transformational leader is vision and the ability to communicate that vision to others so that it becomes a shared vision" (McEwen & Wills, 2014, Chapter 16, p. 363).

This method also works when citing a foreword written by someone other than the book’s authors, which is a bit more common. However, foreword authors are sometimes given cover credit through a "with" statement—as in, "With a foreword by Charles Todd." In this case, it would be appropriate to cite the foreword author parenthetically in your reference, as described on page 184 in the Publication Manual. Here's an example of how such a reference would look:

Christie, A. (with Todd, C.). (2013). Hercule Poirot: The complete short stories. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Your in-text citation would only include the name of the book's primary author. The author of the foreword would simply be named in your narrative in the same way that you would credit the author of any other chapter not written by the book's main author:

In his foreword, Charles Todd described the characteristics of the famous detective Hercule Poirot (Christie, 2013).

If you come across any other complications when citing a book, feel free to leave a comment below or contact us.

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