34 posts categorized "Reference list"

October 04, 2012

Cite What You See, Cite What You Use


by David Becker

Cite What You See is the motto I used in my previous post about citing pseudonyms to explain that you should cite whatever author name you noted in the source you used, whether it’s a pseudonym or a real name. This motto can be applied to all the essential elements of a reference list entry. The information you need to properly cite a source should be found within the source itself.

Extend the Cite What You See motto to Cite What You Use, and you’ll find answers to some other common questions about creating reference list entries. Use only the information provided by the source you are citing—don’t include information from other sources or variants of your source.

Here are two common APA Style questions about citing sources and ways that the Cite What You See, Cite What You Use motto can address them.

"The book I’m citing has multiple editions. Which one do I cite?"

Cite whichever edition you used. For instance, even though there’s a more recent edition, if you consulted the fifth edition of the Publication Manual, then refer to the fifth edition in your reference list entry:

American Psychological Association. (2005). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

"I’m citing a video that’s located at multiple places on the Internet. Which source should I cite?"

Cite whichever source you used. If you’re citing a video podcast that you downloaded from iTunes, format your reference entry as in Example 50 from page 210, section 7.07, of the Publication Manual. But if you found the video on YouTube, cite it as you would any other YouTube video (see our post on how to create a reference for a YouTube video). Here’s an example of how to cite one video from two different sources:

Dunning, B. (Producer). (2011, January 12). inFact: Conspiracy theories [Video podcast]. Retrieved from http://itunes.apple.com/

Dunning, B. [volleybrian]. (2011, January 12). inFact: Conspiracy theories [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEijdTeBMRM&list=UUG9DGRmeyQZAlcCD4JGMilQ&index=5&feature= plcp

The bottom line is don’t be concerned that other versions of your source exist or that your source can be found in places other than where you found it. Just remember to Cite What You See, Cite What You Use!

September 27, 2012

How to Cite Course Packs, Custom Textbooks, and Other Classroom Compendiums

Jeffby Jeff Hume-Pratuch

If you’ve taken a college course in the last 20 years, you’ve probably used a course pack—a collection of information put together specifically for your class. Course packs can be as simple as a stapled packet or as fancy as a hardbound book with a four-color cover. They’re usually compiled by the instructor from relevant articles, chapters, and original material; they may be printed by the college print shop, outsourced to a local copy shop, or ordered through a custom textbook manufacturer. It’s increasingly common to provide all or part of the book in electronic form as well.

Course packs are seldom cited in journal articles, but students are often given the assignment of writing on a specific extract from the textbook. The plethora of sources in a course pack often creates a conundrum for students: Who’s the author? Who’s the publisher? Below I suggest a technique for handling the types of sources most commonly encountered in course packs.

Previously Published Articles or Chapters

Let’s say you’re working from a course pack for a neuropsychology class, and you need to cite a journal article included in it. The source should be clearly identified as part of the copyright/permissions statement, which is required by law.1  In this case, you can eliminate the middleman—just cite it as if you found it in the original source:

Wenner, A. M. (1962). Sound production during the waggle dance of the 
honey bee. Animal Behaviour, 10, 79–95. doi:10.1016/


Original or Unattributed Material

Instructors frequently include unpublished material in their course packs, particularly in rapidly developing areas of research. Since the only source for this material is the course pack itself, treat it as part of an anthology compiled by the instructor and published by the university. If authorship is not stated, treat it as an unauthored work. The title of the compilation is whatever is on the cover or title page—often (but not always) this consists of the course name and number, as in the first example below:

Diagram of the tibia–basitarsis joint in Apis melifera. (2011). In B. 
Haave (Comp.), NEU 451: Movement and perception (pp. 44–45).
Davenport, IA: St. Ambrose University.

MacGyver, A. (1990). Five steps to repelling an attack by killer bees.
In R. D. Anderson (Comp.), Selected readings in survival, escape,
and evasion
(pp. 31-34). Davenport, IA: St. Ambrose University.

Supplemental Material

Many custom textbook publishers offer supplemental materials such as CDs, DVDs, or online materials that are accessible only with the purchase of the text. Since these are essentially extensions of the course pack or text itself, it makes sense to cite them as supplemental materials:

“Varroa mite blues” and other songs of the honey bee [Supplemental 
material]. (2012). In B. Haave (Comp.), NEU 451: Movement and
(pp. 44–45). Davenport, IA: St. Ambrose University.

If you find other challenges in citing materials from course packs, please let us know in the comments below.

1 Prior to 1991, course packs were often reproduced without acknowledging or obtaining permission from copyright owner(s), under the assumption that all copying for educational purposes qualified as “fair use.” Two federal cases (Basic Books Inc. v. Kinko’s Graphics Corp, 1991, and Princeton Univ. v. Michigan Document Servs., 1996) established that there is no educational exception for course packs under U.S. copyright law. See http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyright_and_Fair_Use_Overview/chapter7/7-a.html for a good overview of this issue.

August 02, 2012

How to Cite Materials From Meetings and Symposia



by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

If you’re attending the APA Convention this week in Orlando, Florida, you’ll probably come away with some great new research to use. But how to cite it? Let’s dive right in with a few examples.

Papers and Poster Sessions

Adams-Labonte, S. K. (2012, August). Daytime impairment due to  
college students’ technology use during sleep: Similarities to
sleep apnea. Poster session presented at the meeting of the
American Psychological Association, Orlando, FL.
Nguyen, C. A. (2012, August). Humor and deception in advertising: When 
laughter may not be the best medicine. Paper presented at the
meeting of the American Psychological Association, Orlando, FL.

Notice that the date field contains not only the year but also the month of the conference.

A symposium is a bit like a live-action edited book: Several authors come together under the leadership of the chair to pool their knowledge about a topic.

Krinsky-McHale, S. J., Zigman, W. B., & Silverman, W. (2012, August). 
Are neuropsychiatric symptoms markers of prodromal Alzheimer’s
disease in adults with Down syndrome? In W. B. Zigman (Chair),
Predictors of mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and mortality in
adults with Down syndrome.
Symposium conducted at the meeting
of the American Psychological Association, Orlando, FL.

Convention Blogging
Leading up to the convention, APA staff have been blogging about featured speakers and presentations. Here’s how you would cite one of those blog posts.

Mills, K. I. (2012, July 25). Why do people hurt themselves? [Blog post]. 
Retrieved from http://apaconvention.com/2012/07/20/why-do-people-

Published Proceedings
APA generally does not publish proceedings of the annual convention (although selected abstracts are available in the online program). However, APA often publishes proceedings of more specialized meetings. Here’s an example:

Parsons, O. A., Pryzwansky, W. B., Weinstein, D. J., & Wiens, A. N. 
(1995). Taxonomy for psychology. In J. N. Reich, H. Sands, & A. N.
Wiens (Eds.), Education and training beyond the doctoral degree:
Proceedings of the American Psychological Association National
Conference on Postdoctoral Education and Training in Psychology

(pp. 45–50). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Increasingly, proceedings are being made available on CD to reduce publishing costs. If that’s the case with your source, just add [CD] after the title. If the proceedings are published online, substitute “Retrieved from URL” for the publisher and location.

If you’re attending the APA convention in Orlando this week, do stop by one of our publishing seminars (to find them, go to http://forms.apa.org/convention/index.cfm?convention=Division and search on “P&C - APA Publications and Communications Board”). See you next year at the APA convention in Hawaii!


June 14, 2012

How to Cite Multiple Works by the Same Author in a Compilation




by Tyler Krupa

This week, we address how to cite multiple works by the same author that appear in a compilation. As noted in a recent post to our blog, when constructing your reference list, you should cite the edition or volume that you read and are relying on for your information. Therefore, if you are writing a literature review and your source is an anthology, this is the source that you should include in the reference list and cite in the text (even if the works you are citing have been published previously or can be accessed online). For example, if you want to compare two different John Cheever stories from this anthology in your paper, then you need to include a separate reference for each one of them (even though they were obtained from the same source). The references would be formatted as follows:

Cheever, J. (1995a). The enormous radio. In R. V. Cassill (Ed.), The Norton anthology of short fiction (5th ed., pp. 182–191). New York, NY: Norton. (Original work published 1947)

Cheever, J. (1995b). The five-forty-eight. In R. V. Cassill (Ed.), The Norton anthology of short fiction (5th ed., pp. 191–202). New York, NY: Norton. (Original work published 1954)

Note that in both references, in addition to including the year that the anthology was published, you need to include the year that the original work was published in parentheses at the end of the reference. Also note that because you have two “Cheever, 1995” references, “a” and “b” are needed after the anthology’s publication date—the references are then ordered by alphabetizing the short story titles (“enormous” comes before “five,” so the first reference is “1995a” and the second one is “1995b”; for additional information, see p. 182 in the sixth edition of the Publication Manual).

When citing these references in the text, both years are needed, with the published date of the original work coming first (see pp. 203–204 in the Publication Manual). Examples of text citations are included below:

Cheever (1947/1995a) used foreshadowing to reveal . . .

The characters in Cheever’s (1954/1995b) story . . .

We hope that these examples help you understand how to properly cite multiple works from a compilation in APA Style. If you still have questions regarding this topic, feel free to leave a comment.

May 24, 2012

The Writing Dead: How to Cite a Deceased (Yet Strangely Prolific) Author

.rev3by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

Who is the author of Fowler’s Modern English Usage? (Go ahead and Google it; I’ll just wait here and hum the “Jeopardy” theme until you get back. . . .)

I’ll admit that it’s a bit of a trick question. The classic style guide was written by Henry W. Fowler and published in 1926 as A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. It quickly dwarfed most of the competition due to its pithy, antipedantic, and somewhat idiosyncratic advice.*

The name of Fowler became so closely tied to the notion of clear and correct writing that the second edition (1965) was published as Fowler’s Modern English Usage, even though its eponymous author had died in 1933. His presence continues to hover over the work as it approaches the century mark (Fowler’s Modern English Usage, 2004). The content has been almost completely rewritten, but it has never gone out of print.

Similarly, H. M. Robert’s Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies was first published in 1876 and is now in its 11th (highly revised) edition. When a work is in its third, fourth, or (in the case of Robert’s Rules of Order) 11th edition, there may not be much left that was actually written by the person who penned the first edition. How should these works be cited? Should we credit the dead hand of the original author or those who carry on the franchise?

The answer follows from one of our basic principles of citation: “Cite what you see.” Whose name is on the cover and/or title page? Unless another role is specified (e.g., editor, compiler), that person—dead or alive—is the author.  Fowler and Robert can rest in peace while their successors carry on.


Burchfield, R. W. (2004). Fowler’s modern English usage (3rd ed. rev.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Fowler, H. W. (1926). A dictionary of modern English usage. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Fowler, H. W., & Gowers, E. (Ed.). (1965). Fowler’s modern English usage (2nd ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Robert, H. M. (1876). Pocket manual of rules of order for deliberative assemblies. Chicago, IL: Griggs.

Robert, H. M., III, Honemann, D. H., & Balch, T. J. (2011). Robert’s rules of order newly revised (11th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Perseus Books.

*E.g., “To shrink with horror from ending [a sentence] with a preposition is no more than foolish superstition; but there are often particular reasons for not choosing that alternative” (Fowler, 1926, p. 635).

May 17, 2012

Missing Pieces: How to Write an APA Style Reference Even Without All the Information

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Most APA Style references are straightforward to write—the guidance and examples in Chapter 7 of the Publication Manual and on this blog make that possible. We’ve written a good deal about the architecture of a generic reference (the four basic pieces of author, date, title, and source). Sometimes, however, one or more of those pieces is missing, and writing the reference can get more difficult. This post will help you adapt the classic APA Style reference template to fit any situation where information might be missing, as well as show you how to create the corresponding in-text citations for those references. 

The table below shows how to write an APA Style reference when information is missing. It is also available for download as a PDF.

What’s missing?


Reference template

Position A

Position B

Position C

Position D

Nothing—all pieces are present

List information in the order of author, date, title (with description in square brackets if necessary for explanation of nonroutine information), and source

Author, A. A.


Title of document [Format].


Title of document [Format].

Retrieved from http://xxxxx


Retrieved Month Day, Year, from http://xxxxx


Location: Publisher.



Author is missing

Substitute title for author; then provide date and source

Title of document [Format].


Title of document [Format].



Date is missing

Provide author, substitute n.d. for no date, and then give title and source

Author, A. A.


Title of document [Format].


Title of document [Format].

Title is missing

Provide author and date, describe document inside square brackets, and then give source

Author, A. A.


[Description of document].

Author and date are both missing

Substitute title for author and n.d. for no date; then give source

Title of document [Format].


Title of document [Format].



Author and title are both missing

Substitute description of document inside square brackets for author; then give date and source

[Description of document].



Date and title are both missing

Provide author, substitute n.d. for no date, describe document inside square brackets, and then give source

Author, A. A.


[Description of document].

Author, date, and title are all missing

Substitute description of document inside square brackets for author, substitute n.d. for no date, and then give source

[Description of document].



Source is missing

Cite as personal communication (see §6.20) or find a substitute





Title Variations

As shown in the table, the title of a document is only sometimes italicized, depending on the independence of the source. That is, do italicize the title of a document that stands alone (books, reports, etc.), but do not italicize the title of a document that is part of a greater whole (chapters, articles, etc., which are part of edited books or journals, respectively). Also do not italicize the titles of software, instruments, and apparatus (see §7.08 in the Publication Manual). If you have trouble determining whether something stands alone (such as for a document on a website), choose not to italicize. For examples and more explanation, see the blog post on capitalization and formatting of reference titles in the reference list.

Source Variations

As shown in the Position D column of the table, the source part of a reference list entry can vary as well. It should reflect either a retrieval URL (for online documents without DOIs), a publisher location and name (for print sources), or a DOI (for any document that has one, whether print or online). It is not usually necessary to include a retrieval date for online sources; one should be provided only if the source is likely to change over time, such as with an unarchived wiki page.

Sometimes source information is incomplete but with a little detective work you can find what you need; for example, if you know a publisher name but not its location, you can research the publisher to find the location. Even sources of limited availability can be cited in APA Style, including unpublished and informally published works (see §7.09) and archival documents and collections (see §7.10).

Note, however, that it is not possible to write a traditional APA Style reference if source information is truly missing. The purpose of an APA Style reference is to provide readers with information on how to locate the source that you used, and if you cannot tell them how to do so, you either have to find a substitute or cite the source as personal communication (see §6.20 in the Publication Manual).

Creating In-Text Citations

Create an in-text citation for any reference by using the pieces from Positions A and B in the table above. For most references, this will be the author and date (Author, date). For titles in Position A, use italics for works that stand alone (Title of Document, date) and quotation marks for works that are part of a greater whole (“Title of Document,” date). Retain square brackets for descriptions of documents in Position A ([Description of document], date). For examples and more explanation, see our post on formatting and capitalization of titles in the text.  

We hope this guide to missing pieces will help you as you create your APA Style references.

April 26, 2012

Reference Example Organization: How to Find the Example You Need in the Manual

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Consider the following questions that the APA Style team has received:

  • How do I cite a website?
  • How do I cite interlibrary loan?
  • How do I cite my Kindle?
  • How do I cite my iPhone?

What do they have in common? Well, in each case, the individual asking the question has been unable to find the appropriate reference example in the Publication Manual and has turned to the APA Style team for answers. However, don’t take the existence of these questions as evidence that the answers aren’t in the manual, because they usually are. But to find them, you have to understand how the manual is organized—that’s how you’ll get to the reference example you really need.

Document Type, Not Delivery Method or Format

Many readers may be surprised to realize that the reference examples in the Publication Manual are organized by document type (articles, books, reports, etc.), not by method of delivery (computers, interlibrary loan, e-readers, smartphones) or format (paper, HTML, DVD, etc.). So for every reader who writes to us to say, “I can’t believe out of 77 examples in the Publication Manual, not one is for a website,” we take this opportunity to point out that a full 47 examples—that’s 61%—refer to online resources you’d find on a website.

So, remember that for the purpose of citation (and of finding reference examples), it matters what's on the website, not that the document is on a website in and of itself. 

Using the Manual to Find What You Need

The Publication Manual provides a wonderful index of document types in Chapter 7 prior to the reference examples themselves (see pp. 193–198). In addition to variations on document type (96 of them!), subvariations on author, title, and publication information are also provided. This list is an essential reference for users of the Publication Manual, and we hope you’ll take advantage of it now if you haven’t before.

Clarifying the Distinctions Among Delivery Method, Format, and Type

Additionally, we give to you the table below, which lists examples of different document delivery methods, formats, and types. The third column, for document type, also links to other APA Style Blog posts on the topic and lists relevant reference examples in the Publication Manual.

So when you ask an APA Style question—say, “How do I cite ‘X’?”—first try to find your “X” in the table below or in the index of document types in the manual. If you find it listed only in one of the first two columns of the table below, then you haven’t figured out the document type yet (that’s the third column), and you’re not quite ready to write the reference. Note that there are as many possible document types out there as the day is long, so for brevity’s sake, this table includes only the most common. Many more are in the Chapter 7 index.  

Document delivery method

 Finding - computer

Document format

Finding - film

Document type

Finding - book



Journal article (ex: 1–6)

Internet browser

HTML (as on a website)

Magazine or newspaper article (ex: 7–11)

Mobile phone (e.g., iPhone, Android phone)

PDF (as on a website)

Special section in a journal (ex: 12)

Tablet computer (e.g., iPad)

Digital audio file (e.g., mp3, mp4)

Monograph (ex: 13)

E-reader (e.g., Kindle, Nook)

Digital video file (e.g., flash video, streaming video, wmv, mp4)

Editorial (ex: 14)

Interlibrary loan (e.g., ILLiad)

DVD or Blu-ray

Abstract (ex: 16, 17)

Visit to a library in person


Book or book chapter (ex: 18–26)


CD, cassette, or record

Report (technical, government, etc.) (ex: 31–35)

Movie projector

Art materials (paint, clay, etc.)

Dictionary or encyclopedia, whole book or entry (ex: 27–30)

Stereo or other audio player


Wikipedia or wiki entry



Proceedings from a meeting or symposium (ex: 38, 39)



Dissertation or thesis (ex: 40–44)

Archival collection


Review (ex: 45–48)

Physical object (e.g., book)


Video (e.g., YouTube video, movie, TV show) (ex: 49, 51)



Podcast (ex: 50)



Music recording (ex: 52)



Software (ex: 56)



Unpublished, informally published, or self-published work (ex: 58–62)



Letter (ex: 63–65)



Interview (recorded or transcribed) (ex: 69, 70)



Pamphlet or brochure



Artwork or images



Photograph (ex: 73)



Blog post (ex: 76)



Press release






Facebook update



Information on a webpage



Personal communication (e-mail, phone call, unrecorded interview, etc.) (see section 6.20)

Trouble Finding “X”

If you have trouble nailing down exactly what “X” is, other than perhaps you know it is on a website, then read our blog post on discerning different kinds of website material for more help. If you know what “X” is but you can’t find an exact example in the manual, read our blog post on what to do when you can’t find the exact document type in the Publication Manual

We hope this post will help you to find the APA Style reference example that you’re looking for. 

March 01, 2012

How to Capitalize and Format Reference Titles in APA Style

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

APA Style has special formatting rules for the titles of the sources you use in your paper, such as the titles of books, articles, book chapters, reports, and webpages. The different formats that might be applied are capitalization (see Publication Manual, section 4.15), italics (see section 4.21), and quotation marks (see section 4.07), and they are used in different combinations for different kinds of sources in different contexts.

The formatting of the titles of sources you use in your paper depends on two factors: (a) the independence of the source (stands alone vs. part of a greater whole) and (b) the location of the title (in the text of the paper vs. in the reference list entry). The table below provides formatting directions and examples:

Independence of source


Reference list





Stands alone

(e.g., book, e-book, report [technical, government, etc.], dissertation, thesis, film, video, television series, podcast, YouTube video, artwork, map, music album, unpublished manuscript)

Italic, title case

Gone With the Wind

Italic, sentence case

Gone with the wind

Part of a greater whole

(e.g., journal article, book chapter, e-book chapter, newspaper article, magazine article, blog post, television episode, webisode, webpage, tweet, Facebook update, encyclopedia entry, Wikipedia entry, dictionary entry, song)

Inside double quotation marks, title case

“Longitudinal Impact of Parental and Adolescent Personality on Parenting”

Not inside any quotation marks, sentence case

Longitudinal impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting

More on Italics Versus Nonitalics

As you can see in the table above, the titles of works that stand alone (such as a book or a report) are italicized in both the text and the reference list. In contrast, the titles of works that are part of a greater whole (such as an article, which is part of a journal, or a book chapter, which is part of a book) are not italicized in either place, and only in the text are they put inside quotation marks. If you are having difficulty determining whether something stands alone (such as a webpage that may or may not be part of a greater website), choose not to italicize.

More on Capitalization: Title Case Versus Sentence Case

APA Style uses two kinds of capitalization to format reference titles, which are also mentioned in the table above: title case and sentence case. APA’s title case refers to a capitalization style in which most words are capitalized, and sentence case refers to a capitalization style in which most words are lowercased. In both cases, proper nouns and certain other types of words are always capitalized. Here are more detailed directions for implementing title case and sentence case.

Text Examples

As shown in the table above, title case is used for the titles of references when they appear in the text of an APA Style paper. Here are some examples of titles written in title case (of an article and a book, respectively), as they might appear in a sentence in the text of a paper:

The article “Psychological Distress, Acculturation, and Mental Health-Seeking Attitudes Among People of African Descent in the United States: A Preliminary Investigation” (Obasi & Leong, 2009) makes an important contribution to the mental health and acculturation literature. 
Students read stories of visual agnosia in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales (Sacks, 1985). 

Reference List Entry Examples

In contrast, sentence case is used for titles of references when they appear in reference list entries. See how the book and article titles look when capitalized in sentence case in these example reference list entries:

Obasi, E. M., & Leong, F. T. L. (2009). Psychological distress, acculturation, and mental health-seeking attitudes among people of African descent in the United States: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56, 227–238. doi:10.1037/a0014865
Sacks, O. (1985). The man who mistook his wife for a hat and other clinical tales. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

We hope this helps you understand how to capitalize and format reference titles in APA Style. 

More Posts on Capitalization

February 02, 2012

How to Cite Pseudonyms

DBby David Becker

“Whom do I cite: Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens?”

In this post, I provide some basic guidelines and suggestions for citing pseudonyms. There’s no official APA Style rule on this, but a few criteria can help you decide how to present the information.  I use republished books as examples here—to learn more about citing republished works, see a recent post on citing sheet music.

Citing pseudonyms can seem tricky at first, but it becomes much simpler when you take into account one of APA Style’s key mottos: Cite what you see.  When it comes to citing an author, cite whatever name is used by the source, whether it be a real name or a pseudonym.  For example, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer lists Mark Twain as its author, not Samuel Clemens, so you should cite the author’s pseudonym rather than his real name: 

Twain, M. (2010). The adventures of Tom Sawyer. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Original work published 1876)

In-text citation: (Twain, 1876/2010)

However, some pseudonyms can still be difficult to cite.  What if you’re citing a work by the Dalai Lama, for example?  Do you cite him as “Lama, D.” in the reference list and as just “Lama” in an in-text citation?  Well, the “Dalai” cannot be removed from “Lama” without losing meaning, so the author’s name should be spelled out in full as “Dalai Lama.”  Also, “Dalai Lama” is a title, so spelling it out in full makes that especially clear:

Dalai Lama. (1991). Freedom in exile: The autobiography of the Dalai Lama. New York, NY: HarperPerennial.

In-text citation: (Dalai Lama, 1991)

This same rule applies to Dr. Seuss, where the “Dr.” and the “Seuss” cannot be separated from one another without creating some confusion:

Dr. Seuss. (1985). The cat in the hat. New York, NY: Random House. (Original work published 1957)

In-text citation: (Dr. Seuss, 1957/1985)

You might have noticed that in both of the above reference list examples, there is a period after the author’s name.  If you’re wondering why that is, then read this post about punctuating reference list entries.

You may have also noticed in a previous post about citing recorded music in APA Style that Dr. Seuss is cited as “Geisel, T.” in a sample reference list entry for the song “Welcome Christmas!” from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Why was he cited by his real name, Theodor Geisel, for this song but by his pseudonym for the book The Cat in the Hat?  This is where the “cite what you see” motto comes into play again.  “Dr. Seuss” is listed as the author of The Cat in the Hat, whereas the lyricist for “Welcome Christmas!” is listed as “Theodor Geisel.”  In each case, you use whatever name was provided by the source you’re citing as the author in your citations.  This rule also applies to the Dalai Lama who occasionally goes by his birth name, Tenzin Gyatso, when authoring some books.

The “cite what you see” motto helps to keep your citations simple and uncomplicated without struggling to find extraneous information, yet it still provides readers with enough information to follow your sources.  It is an important rule of thumb to keep in mind when you are citing any source.

See sections 6.11–6.15 and 6.27 in the Publication Manual for more information about citing authors in in-text citations and reference lists.

October 20, 2011

Reference Twins: Or, How to Cite Articles With the Same Authors and Same Year

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

Have you ever been friends with a pair of identical twins? Twins who looked so alike that, at first, telling them apart all hinged on finding that distinguishing freckle, or hoping someone else would call them by their names so you could memorize what clothes each was wearing that day? In the social sciences, there is a longstanding tradition of twin research, but this post refers to twins of another kind: reference twins. Specifically, this post addresses how to cite multiple articles by the same authors that were published in the same year so that everyone can easily tell them apart.

A Solution for Identical Twins

In essence, the solution to the reference twin problem is not much different from how twins are told apart at birth: Just as twins are referred to as “Baby A” and “Baby B,” “twin references” are also given letters to tell them apart. Specifically, lowercase letters are added after the year (2011a, 2011b, etc.), and the references are alphabetized by title to determine which is “a” and which is “b.” Here is an example:

Koriat, A. (2008a). Easy comes, easy goes? The link between learning and remembering and its exploitation in metacognition. Memory & Cognition, 36, 416–428. doi:10.3758/MC.36.2.416
Koriat, A. (2008b). Subjective confidence in one’s answers: The consensuality principle. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 34, 945–959. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.34.4.945

In the text, citations would be styled as follows: (Koriat, 2008a) and (Koriat, 2008b).

For references that are in press or that have no date (signified by n.d., which stands for “no date”), use the following forms for the date: (in press-a), (in press-b), (n.d.-a), and (n.d.-b), and so forth.

A Solution for Not-Quite Twins

However, be careful that your references are true identical twins. That is, the method described above applies only when all author names are the same and appear in the same order. If any of the names or the order is different, then the references are distinguished in a different way: by spelling out as many author names as necessary to tell them apart.  Let’s use the following two references as an example:

Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2010). Good judgments do not require complex cognition. Cognitive Processing, 11, 103–121. doi:10.1007/s10339-009-0337-0
Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., Schooler, L. J., Goldstein, D. G., & Gigerenzer, G. (2010). From recognition to decisions: Extending and testing recognition-based models for multi-alternative inference. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 287–309. doi:10.3758/PBR.17.3.287

The first in-text citations to each of these articles would be as follows:

  • (Marewski, Gaissmaier, & Gigerenzer, 2010)
  • (Marewski, Gaissmaier, Schooler, Goldstein, & Gigerenzer, 2010)

Now, what about subsequent in-text citations? Usually we would abbreviate studies with three or more authors to the first author name plus et al. (Latin for “and others”); however, doing so here would produce two Marewski et al. (2010) citations, leaving the reader unable to tell which one you mean. The solution is to spell out as many names as necessary (here, to the third name) upon subsequent citations to tell the two apart: 

  • (Marewski, Gaissmaier, & Gigerenzer, 2010)
  • (Marewski, Gaissmaier, Schooler, et al., 2010)

Notice that for the first reference, this means that all citations to this source will include all three names. For the second reference, the two remaining names can be abbreviated to et al. (Note, however, that if only one name remains to distinguish the references, that name must be spelled out with all the rest because et al. is plural—it cannot stand for only one name. This topic will be elaborated upon in an upcoming post.)

For more information and examples of citing references in text, see Chapter 6 of our sixth edition Publication Manual (pp. 174–179). You may also be interested in our primer on how in-text citations work.

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