39 posts categorized "Reference list"

May 31, 2017

What’s in a Name? Names With Titles in Them

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on author names. Other posts in the series will be linked at the bottom of this post as they are published.

Typically APA Style reference list entries and in-text citations do not include the authors’ academic credentials or professional titles. For example, if a book is written by Samantha T. Smith, PhD, then the reference entry refers to Smith, S. T., and the in-text citation to Smith. Professional titles are also omitted from reference list entries and in-text citations. For example, for a Thomas the Train book written by the Reverend W. Awbry, the reference refers to Awbry, W., and the in-text citation will be to Awbry (1946).

Here are some common examples of academic credentials and professional titles to omit from references and citations (note this is not an exhaustive list—anything in a similar vein will count):

Academic degrees or
licenses to omit

Professional titles to omit

PhD, PsyD, EdD (any doctorate degree)

Reverend (Rev.)

MA, MS (any master’s degree)

Honorable (Hon.)

MD, RN, BSN (any medical degree or license)

President (or any governmental or administrative rank)

MBA (any business degree)

Dr. or Doctor

JD (any law degree)

Military ranks (General, Captain, Lieutenant, etc.)

MSW, LCSW, LPC (any social work or counseling degree or license)          


BA, BS (any bachelor’s degree)


Note that if you do want to mention an author’s academic credentials or professional title in the text because it is relevant to the discussion, you should use the format without periods (e.g., PhD, not Ph.D.; an exception is for abbreviations of a single word, such as Rev. for Reverend).

Exceptions for Religious Officials and Nobility

Exceptions to including the title in APA Style citations occur when the person’s title is in essence their name. For example, although Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he now writes using the name Pope Francis. Here is how to cite an encyclical letter by Pope Francis:

Pope Francis. (2013). Lumen fidei [The light of faith] [Encyclical letter]. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20130629_enciclica-lumen-fidei.html

In text: (Pope Francis, 2013)

You should not abbreviate the Pope's name to Francis, P., because this would render it unintelligible to the reader.

And here is an example of how to cite a book by Prince Charles of Wales:

The Prince of Wales (with Juniper, T., & Skelly, I). (2010). Harmony: A new way of looking at our world. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

In text: (The Prince of Wales, 2010)


Note that the two authors who are credited after “with” on the cover are listed in parentheses in the reference list entry and are not cited in the in-text citation. (For more information on “with” authors, see page 184 of the Publication Manual, sixth bullet.)

Other Questions

Do you have more questions on author names in APA Style? See these other posts, or leave a comment below:


May 24, 2017

What’s in a Name? Authors With Only One Name

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on author names. Other posts in the series will be linked at the bottom of this post as they are published.

This post addresses how to cite authors who have only one name. These people include celebrities (like Madonna or [the artist formerly known as] Prince) as well as many people from Indonesia. To cite works by these people, provide the full name without abbreviation, because abbreviating the given name would render the name unintelligible. So for example, a work by Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia, would be cited as such:

Reference list:

Sukarno. (1965). Sukarno: An autobiography (C. Adams, Trans.). Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.

In text: (Sukarno, 1965)

This category does not include people who are well-known by their first name alone but who actually publish under their full name—for example, although you might know who Oprah is from her first name alone, she has published books as Oprah Winfrey and so would be credited in the reference list as Winfrey, O., and would be credited as Winfrey (or Oprah Winfrey) in the text—but never as just “Oprah” unless she published under only that name with no surname. 

Other Questions

Do you have more questions on author names in APA Style? See these other posts, or leave a comment below:

Individuality-concept -birds-on-a-wire-503081960_1261x835

May 17, 2017

What’s in a Name? Cultural Variations in Name Order

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on author names. Other posts in the series will be linked at the bottom of this post as they are published.

Most people have one or more given names and a surname. However, the order of these names varies across cultures. This can create confusion when a writer is figuring out how to cite an author from a culture with different naming practices than the writer’s own.

To help you resolve questions regarding name order, do a little detective work.

  1. Look at how the author has been cited in other works and follow that presentation of the name.
  2. Authors usually use the default name order for the language in which they are publishing, so take your cues for name order from the language in which the article is written. For example, Yi-Chun Chang may publish as Yi-Chun Chang in an English journal but as Chang Yi-Chun in a Chinese journal. In either case, the APA Style format for the name is Chang, Y.-C., in the reference list entry and Chang (2016) in the in-text citation.
  3. Sometimes the surname is presented in all-capital letters on the source to distinguish it from the given name(s), for example, CHANG Yi-Chun or Yi-Chun CHANG. Do not retain the all-caps style for the reference; still write this name as Chang, Y.-C., in the reference list entry and as Chang (2016) in the text citation.

Other Questions

Do you have more questions on author names in APA Style? See these other posts, or leave a comment below:


May 10, 2017

What’s in a Name? Inconsistent Formats and Name Changes

Chelsea blog 2  by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on author names. Other posts in the series will be linked at the bottom of this post as they are published.

Although APA encourages authors to use one format for their name throughout their publishing career, inconsistencies do arise, and some authors choose to change their name for professional publication. This post addresses how to cite works in each of these circumstances.

Inconsistent Presentation

Sometimes names are presented inconsistently across publications. If the author has used different forms of the same name on different works, then your reference list entries should match the form of the name on the work being cited for reasons of retrievability. For example, sometimes the author may use a middle initial and sometimes not (e.g., perhaps Jacob T. Baker sometimes publishes as Jacob Baker).

Because both names refer to the same person and the differences between names are minor (namely, a missing initial), it is not necessary to adjust the order of the works in the reference list to account for the missing initial or to put the author’s initials in the text citations to distinguish the references. (Read more about the order of works in the reference list and see examples.)

Name Changes

Another case is when an author has changed names, such as a surname change after marriage or divorce or a name change for a transgender author. Do not change the name on a work if an author has published under different names; cite the work using the name shown on the publication you read. In most cases, it is not necessary to note for the reader that two different names refer to the same person; just cite each work normally.

  • Example change of surname: If Morgan J. McDonald now publishes as Morgan J. Williams, then cite the works in the text as McDonald (2005) and Williams (2017), respectively; in the reference list, the works should be alphabetized under M and W, respectively.
  • Example change to a hyphenated or two-part surname: If Taylor T. Hartley now publishes as Taylor T. Hartley-Jones, then cite the works in the text as Hartley (2010) and Hartley-Jones (2017), respectively; in the reference list, all works by Hartley come before those published by Hartley-Jones because of the rules of alphabetizing the reference list. (The same principle applies if Taylor had decided to use no hyphen between the surnames, for example, Taylor T. Hartley Jones.) See this blog post on two-part surnames for more.
  • Example first name change for a transgender author (different initials): If John J. Smith now publishes under the name Rebecca L. Smith, and if you cite works published under both names in your paper, then cite the works in the text as J. J. Smith (2001) and R. L. Smith (2015), respectively; in the reference list, take the initials into account and put works by Smith, J. J., before works by Smith, R. L. Note: If you cite only works published as John or only works published as Rebecca, then no initials in the text or description of the author’s name change are necessary; just cite the works normally.
  • Example first name change for a transgender author (same initials): If Alicia K. Johnson now publishes under the name Adam K. Johnson, and if you cite works published under both names in your paper, then cite the works in the text as Alicia K. Johnson (2004) and Adam K. Johnson (2017), respectively—including the full name of the author because the initials are the same but the names themselves are different. In the reference list, put the author’s first name in brackets to alert the reader that the first names are different. The entries would be as follows:
    • Johnson, A. [Adam] K. (2017). ...
    • Johnson, A. [Alicia] K. (2004). ...

Note that if you cite only works published as Alicia or only works published as Adam, then no full names in the text and reference list or description of the author’s name change are necessary.

Making Note of a Name Change

Although in most cases it is not necessary to note that two different names refer to the same person, there are cases when it would be relevant or useful to do so.  For example, if you are reviewing multiple works by an author to describe the history of their research and a difference in name might confuse the reader, explain in the text that the two different names refer to the same person. Be warned; this might require some finesse to straighten out the citations. For example, you might write,

Smith-Hartman (publishing as Smith, 2010) pioneered treatment for depression and anxiety. In particular, she discovered a novel therapy involving the use of animals (Smith-Hartman, 2016).

Other Questions

Do you have more questions on author names in APA Style? See these other posts, or leave a comment below:


May 04, 2017

What’s in a Name? Two-Part Surnames in APA Style

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on author namesOther posts in the series will be linked at the bottom of this post as they are published.

The APA Style format for author names in reference list entries is to provide the author’s surname(s) followed by the initials of their given name(s). 

  • Example: Lee, C. L. (2017).

In the in-text citation, provide only the surname(s) along with the year. (Note: The author's full name can be included in the in-text citation in limited circumstances, such as if the author is famous or if the whole purpose of the paper is to give an in-depth discussion of an author's work.)

  • Example: (Lee, 2017) or Lee (2017)

Many different name formats are possible; for example, authors might have two surnames (with or without a hyphen), names with particles, and names with suffixes. Sometimes it might be difficult to determine whether a name is a given name or a surname.

However, in all cases, the name in the reference list entry and in-text citation should match the name on the work being cited. Your task now is just a matter of figuring out the proper format. 


Formatting Names With Multiple Parts

  • If the surname is hyphenated, include both names and the hyphen in the reference list entry and in-text citation.
  • If the surname has two parts separated by a space and no hyphen, include both names in the reference list entry and in-text citation. Many Spanish names follow this format. 
  • If the surname includes a particle (e.g., de, de la, der, van, von), include the particle before the surname in the reference list entry and in-text citation.*
  • If the surname includes a suffix (e.g., Jr., Sr., III), include the suffix after the initials in the reference list entry but do not include it in the in-text citation.

Here are some examples:

Full Name

Name in Reference List

Name in In-Text Citation

Diego J. Rivera-Gutierrez

Rivera-Gutierrez, D. J. (2016).

(Rivera-Gutierrez, 2016)

Rena Torres Cacoullos

Torres Cacoullos, R. (2012).

(Torres Cacoullos, 2012)

Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz

von Thiele Schwarz, U. (2015).

(von Thiele Schwarz, 2015)

Simone de Beauvoir

de Beauvoir, S. (1944).

(de Beauvoir, 1944)

Ashley M. St. John

St. John, A. M. (2016).

(St. John, 2016)

Herbert M. Turner III

Turner, H. M., III. (2013).

(Turner, 2013)


*Note: In German and Portuguese, the particle is usually dropped when only the surname is used; for example, Ludwig van Beethoven is usually referred to in English as Beethoven and so would be credited as Beethoven, L. van, in the reference list entry and as Beethoven in the text. If you are writing in English, include the particle as part of the surname unless you know that the name is one of the famous German or Portuguese exceptions like Beethoven.


Is the Middle Name a Surname or a Given Name?

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether an author has two surnames without a hyphen or two given names and one surname—for example, is Maria Perez Garcia cited as Garcia (2017) or Perez Garcia (2017)? Here are some techniques to help you determine what name format to use:

  • Follow the format shown in the database bibliographic record for the work you are citing.
  • If the author has cited their own work in their own reference list, follow the same format they have used.
  • Look at how other authors have cited the author’s name and follow the most common presentation.
  • Look at your article to see if the surname is written in a distinguishing font (e.g., all-capital letters). If the surname is in all caps, convert it to title case for your reference (e.g., Peter Chen WANG becomes Wang, P. C., not WANG, P. C.).
  • Search for the author’s website or curriculum vita (CV) and follow the format they have used there.

Other Questions

Do you have more questions on author names in APA Style? See these other posts, or leave a comment below:


April 12, 2017

How to Alphabetize a Number

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

If a reference list entry begins with a number (as might be the case for a reference with no author), you should alphabetize the entry in the reference list as though the number were spelled out. So in the following example, the reference that begins with 50 would be alphabetized as though 50 were written fifty.

Farthing, T., & Oates, P. P. (2010). The compendium of kittens (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cat Press.

50 ways to improve your life with cats. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.catimprovement.com/50ways

French, J. S. (2015). Purr-fect: A book about cats. New York, NY: Cat Press.

For numbers that represent years, use the way the year is commonly said to alphabetize the reference. For example, a reference beginning with 1984 would be alphabetized as though it were written nineteen eighty-four, not one thousand nine hundred eighty-four.

In the text, cite references beginning with a number with the first two pieces of the reference list entry: here, that's the title and the year because the reference has no author. If the title in the reference list is nonitalic, put the title in double quotation marks in the in-text citation and captialize it using title case; if the title in the reference list is italic, keep the title in italics in the in-text citation and capitalize it using title case. If the title is long, you can use just the first few words.

Example in-text citation: ("50 Ways," 2017)

 Got other numerical alphabetization questions? Ask away in the comments section.


August 15, 2016

Periods in Reference List Entries

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

APA Style references have four parts: author, date, title, and source, and these parts are separated by periods. This example of a book reference shows the pattern (the periods are highlighted to help you see them):

Author, A. (2017). Title of book. Publisher Location: Publisher Name.

Some cases can cause some confusion, however, such as group authors, screen names, and titles ending in punctuation such as question marks. Read on to learn how to handle reference punctuation in those cases.

Group Authors

When the author of a work is a group, add a period after the group name to end the author portion of the reference.

Community Preventive Services Task Force. (2015). Clinical decision support systems recommended to prevent cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 49, 796–799. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2015.03.041

Screen Names

When a user has a screen name as well as a real name (as with many social media references), put a period after the closing brackets that enclose the screen name (but do not put a period between the real name and the screen name).

Stanford Medicine [SUMedicine]. (2012, October 9). Animal study shows sleeping brain behaves as if it's remembering: http://stan.md/RrqyEt #sleep #neuroscience #research [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/SUMedicine/status/255644688630046720

Titles Ending in Punctuation

When the title of a work ends with a punctuation mark, such as a question mark or exclamation point, this punctuation mark takes the place of the period that would otherwise be added at the end of the title.

Millon, T. (2016). What is a personality disorder? Journal of Personality Disorders, 30, 289–306. http://dx.doi.org/10.1521/pedi.2016.30.3.289

References Ending in a DOI or URL

One case where you should never add a period is after a DOI or URL. This is to prevent the impression that the period is part of the DOI or URL (which would then prevent it from working).

Do you have other reference-punctuation questions? Leave them as a comment below.

Puzzle pieces

October 05, 2015

The Myth of the Off-Limits Source

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Proper citation is an important component of any APA Style paper. However, many readers believe certain sources aren’t allowed in APA Style, and they write to us looking for a definitive list of what is off limits. Two of the most common questions are about whether it’s okay to cite websites and whether sources have to have been published within a certain time frame to be cited, such as the last 5 or 10 years.

Do not write sign

Let’s set the record straight: Anything that a reader can retrieve, you can cite as a source in an APA Style reference list. Things the reader can’t retrieve (like a conversation, an unrecorded webinar, or a personal e-mail) can be cited as personal communications (see PM § 6.20). And there are no limits on the age of sources.

But just because you can cite anything as a source doesn’t mean you should. Rather, APA recommends that sources be reliable, primary accounts that represent the most up-to-date information wherever possible. Let’s look at each of these aspects in more detail.

Reliable Sources

A reliable source is one you can trust. Two indicators of reliability are the expertise of the author and the vetting standards of the place of publication. For example, an article written by a researcher and published in a peer-reviewed journal is likely to contain reliable information and thus would make a good source. On the other hand, a random website written by an unknown person, for example, is less likely to be reliable, and thus we would not recommend you cite this source unless you have a good reason (e.g., to talk about the source’s unreliability) or you verify the information yourself using other reliable sources.

However, the mere fact that information is published online is not reason to dismiss it as unreliable. Many scientific, medical, and governmental organizations—such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health, U.S. Census Bureau, and even the APA—publish reliable information on their websites and social media sites. Scientists and research organizations might publish blogs or YouTube videos that are worth citing. Evaluate each source on its own merits for reliability when determining whether to cite it in a paper.

Primary Sources

A primary source presents information gathered firsthand, such as the results of an experiment or data from a survey. Secondary sources present information secondhand—an example would be a textbook summary of a topic or a Wikipedia article. APA recommends citing primary sources whenever possible, because this allows you to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information yourself rather than rely on someone else to do this for you. Secondary sources can be reliable, but it is a best practice of scholarly writing to investigate for yourself if you can. See here and here for more information on primary and secondary sources.

Up-to-Date Sources

APA recommends that you use the most up-to-date research you can find on your topic. However, the meaning of up-to-date will vary depending on the field. Some fields develop faster than others, and even within a field, some information will remain relevant for a long time, whereas other information will become outdated. For example, foundational works may be quite old but still worth citing when you are establishing the context for your own work. There is no year-related cutoff where sources must be published within the past x number of years to be used in a paper. Each source must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the information in it is timely and relevant.

If you have further questions about choosing sources for an APA Style paper, leave a comment below. 

November 20, 2014

How to Cite Multiple Pages From the Same Website

Timothy McAdoo

by Timothy McAdoo

Sometimes one's research relies on a very narrow thread of the World Wide Web.

What do I mean? We are sometimes asked how to cite multiple web pages from the same website. “Can’t I just cite the entire website?” our efficiency-minded readers ask. If you merely mention a website, yes.

But, if you quote or paraphrase information from individual pages on a website, create a unique reference for each one. This allows your reader to find your exact source. This may mean your reference list contains a number of references with similar, but distinct, URLs. That’s okay!

Laptop-filesLet’s look at an example:

Say you are writing a paper about Division 47 (Exercise and Sport Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA). In your paper, you begin by providing some background information about APA and about APA’s divisions, and then you provide more detailed information about Division 47 itself. In the process, you might quote or paraphrase from a number of pages on the APA website, and your reference list would include a unique reference for each.

American Psychological Association. (n.d.-a). Divisions. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/division/
American Psychological Association. (n.d.-b). Exercise and Sport Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/division/div47.aspx
American Psychological Association. (n.d.-c). For division leaders. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/division/officers/index.aspx
American Psychological Association. (n.d.-d). For division members. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/division/activities/index.aspx
American Psychological Association. (n.d.-e). Sample articles. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/spy/sample.aspx

It may seems a little unusual to have so many similar references, but in the context of this research topic, it makes perfect sense.

In-Text Citations

When you quote directly from a web page, be sure to include the paragraph number, in lieu of a page number, with the in-text citation. You may also include a paragraph number when paraphrasing. This will help readers locate the part of the page you are relying on.

Related Readings

May 15, 2014

Comparing MLA and APA: The Reference List

David Becker

By David Becker

Today, we continue with our series of posts highlighting some differences between APA and MLA reference styles. Last week, I outlined how the two styles handle in-text citations. Today’s post focuses on the reference list (or the “Works Cited” list as it is called in MLA Style). Below are examples of how each style would handle two common sources—a print book and a journal article from a research database. I have color coded the text to help you better visualize the differences in the basic elements of a generic reference. The who is in red, the when is in blue, the what is in yellow, and the where is in purple, all of which can be mixed and matched to form the Frankenreference.

Let’s begin with a print book, one of the simplest sources to cite:


Gordin, Michael D. The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe. Chicago: U Chicago P, 2012. Print.


Gordin, M. D. (2012). The pseudoscience wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the birth of the modern fringe. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

The two styles vary in a number of ways, including punctuation, capitalization, and placement of the date. Also, unlike APA Style, MLA Style includes the format of the source—either “Print” or “Web”—as an extra piece of “where” information, and it often requires writers to abbreviate publisher names.

Now let’s take a look at something a bit more complicated, a journal article from a research database:


Shafron, Gavin Ryan, and Mitchell P. Karno. “Heavy Metal Music and Emotional Dysphoria Among Listeners.” Psychology of Popular Media Culture 2.2 (2013): 74-85. PsycNET. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.


Shafron, G. R., & Karno, M. P. (2013). Heavy metal music and emotional dysphoria among listeners. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2, 74–85. doi:10.1037/a0031722

The most substantive difference is that MLA Style requires the name of the database from which you retrieved the article and the date of retrieval as well; it does not use the DOI. In contrast, APA Style requires a DOI (when there is one), but doesn’t require the date of access (see p. 198 of the Publication Manual for more detail). In most cases, the name of the database is not used in an APA Style reference, although a few exceptions are outlined in Chapter 7.

Understanding Style

I hope this comparison of MLA and APA styles is helpful to those of you who find yourself transitioning from one to the other. If you are a student switching from MLA to APA, your most important resources will be the Publication Manual and this blog. I also recommend that you try our free tutorial on the basics of APA Style and visit our FAQ page, in addition to our pages on quick answers for citing sources and formatting your research paper. If you have any questions after checking those resources, you can contact APA Style directly or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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