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February 27, 2018

What’s in a Name? Authors With the Same Surname

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, right? Readers often ask us questions about how to handle repeated surnames in references. For example, how do you cite a work where some or all of the authors have the same last name? What if you want to cite separate works by people who have the same last name—how do you avoid making it seem like they are the same person? Read on to find out these answers.

Same Surname Within a Reference

Nothing special is required when a surname is repeated within a reference. Write the in-text citation and reference list entry normally.

Reference list entry: 

Sue, D., Sue, D. W., Sue, D., & Sue, S. (2015). Understanding abnormal behavior (11th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.


In-text citation:

(Sue, Sue, Sue, & Sue, 2015)

Different First Authors Share a Surname But Have Different Initials

Now imagine a surname is repeated in different references. When the first authors of multiple references have the same surname but different initials, include initials for the first authors in the in-text citations. Never include initials for second or subsequent authors in in-text citations. The reference list entries are written normally.

In the example below, note that although all three examples have an author named Jackson, only D. Jackson and M. C. Jackson are cited with initials in the text because the other Jackson is not first author. 

Reference list entries:

Jackson, D. (2018). Aesthetics and the psychotherapist's office. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 74, 233–238. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.22576

Jackson, M. C., Counter, P., & Tree, J. J. (2017). Face working memory deficits in developmental prosopagnosia: Tests of encoding limits and updating processes. Neuropsychologia, 106, 60–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.09.003

Nelson, B. D., Jackson, F., Amir, N., & Hajcak, G. (2017). Attention bias modification reduces neural correlates of response monitoring. Biological Psychology, 129, 103–110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2017.08.059


In-text citations:

(D. Jackson, 2018)

(M. C. Jackson, Counter, & Tree, 2017)

(Nelson, Jackson, Amir, & Hajcak, 2017)

Note: Include initials in the in-text citations only to help the reader tell apart different people. If the name of one person is presented inconsistently across works (e.g., sometimes a middle initial is present, sometimes it is missing), then reproduce the name as shown on the work in the reference list and write normal in-text citations without initials. See this post on inconsistent name formats for more.

Different First Authors Share a Surname and Initials

When the first authors of multiple references have the same surname and the same initials—but they are different people—then adding initials to the in-text citations won’t help readers tell the authors apart. So in this case (as addressed previously on the blog), include these authors’ full first names in the in-text citations. In the reference list entries, also include the full first names in square brackets after the initials. Never include bracketed names for second or subsequent authors in in-text citations or reference list entries.

Reference list entries:

Green, L. [Laura]. (2009). Morphology and literacy: Getting our heads in the game. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40, 283–285. https://doi.org/10.1044/0161-1461(2009/08-0091)

Green, L. [Leonard], & Myerson, J. (2013). How many impulsivities? A discounting perspective. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 99, 3–13. https://doi.org/10.1002/jeab.1


In-text citations:

(Laura Green, 2009)

(Leonard Green & Myerson, 2013)

For more on this topic, see the Publication Manual sections 6.14 and 6.27. Got more questions? Leave a comment below.




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