107 posts categorized "References"

January 03, 2013

Alphabetizing “In Press” and “No Date” References




by Tyler Krupa

You may already know that references with the same authors in the same order are arranged by year of publication, the earliest first (see the sixth edition of the Publication Manual, p. 182):

Meints, K., Plunkett, K., & Harris, P. L. (2002).

Meints, K., Plunkett, K., & Harris, P. L. (2008).

But do you know what to do when a group of references with the same author(s) in the same author order contain “in press” and “no date” publication dates? Alphabetizing these references is easy as long as you remember the following two points:

1. An “in press” work has yet to be published, so if you have one or more references that contain a publication year, these references will always come before an “in press” reference because they’ve already been published.

2. When dealing with “no date” references, simply follow the same “nothing precedes something” guidance that the Publication Manual gives regarding alphabetizing author surnames in the reference list (see p. 181). Using this guideline, “no date” references should always precede references with “some date.” Also remember that “no date” is abbreviated as “n.d.” in both the reference list and the in-text citations (see p. 185).

Here are some examples that show the correct ways to alphabetize these types of references in the reference list:

Johnson, K., & Jones, B. B. (2012).

Johnson, K., & Jones, B. B. (in press).

Taylor, H., Carter, N., & Beckett, S. (n.d.).

Taylor, H., Carter, N., & Beckett, S. (2010).

Taylor, H., Carter, N., & Beckett, S. (in press).

University of Florida. (n.d.).

University of Florida. (2012).

Also remember that if you have two or more “in press” or “no date” references with the same authors in the same order, you should use lowercase letters—a, b, c, and so forth—after the publication date and alphabetize the references by their titles (excluding A, An, and The; see p. 182 in the Publication Manual). The only difference between these types of references and references with publication years is that “in press” and “no date” references contain a hyphen before the a, b, and so forth:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.-a). The knowledge . . .

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.-b). A strategy to . . .

Schafer, G., & Plunkett, K. (2011a). The power . . .

Schafer, G., & Plunkett, K. (2011b). Task complexity . . .

Schafer, G., & Plunkett, K. (in press-a). The rapid learning . . .

Schafer, G., & Plunkett, K. (in press-b). Sometimes a child . . .

We hope that these examples clear up this point of possible confusion.

December 20, 2012

A Stylish Guide to Holiday Viewing





by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

Winter Storm Draco is currently bringing a better-than-average chance of a white Christmas to the Midwest. Although it’s not slated to affect us here at APA Style HQ, I sort of envy you folks in Des Moines and Milwaukee—there’s nothing better on a snowy night than curling up with a warm drink and watching some holiday TV.

With that in mind, here are a few examples of how to cite the can’t-miss fare that’s streaming across the airwaves this weekend. Grab a seat by the fire and pass the cocoa!

Burton, T. (Producer), & Selick, H. (Director). (1993). The 
nightmare before Christmas
[Motion picture]. Burbank, CA:

Roman, P. (Producer & Director). (2000). Grandma got run over
by a reindeer
[Television special]. Atlanta, GA: Cartoon

Sager, T. (Writer), & Scardino, D. (Director). (2007).
Ludachristmas [Television series episode]. In T. Fey
(Executive producer), 30 Rock. New York, NY: National
Broadcasting Company.


Smith, G., & Hemion, D. (Executive producers), & Binder, S.
(Director). (1978). The Star Wars holiday special
[Television special]. New York, NY: CBS Broadcasting.

Stem, J. D., & Weiss, D. (Writers), & Muzquiz, R. (Director).
(1996). Chanukah [Television series episode]. In V. Coffey,
G. Csupo, & A. Klasky (Executive producers), Rugrats. New
York, NY: Nickelodeon.



The APA Style staff enjoys a warm beverage before our annual viewing of the Star Wars Holiday Special

Still feeling a bit "Bah, humbug!"-ish? Check out our APA Style holiday playlist: certified to banish dull care by the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future (and you know how grumpy he is). We’ll be back in January. Happy holidays from APA Style!




December 13, 2012

How to Cite Different Groups of Authors With the Same Lead Author and Publication Date




by Tyler Krupa

What’s in a name? Properly citing different groups of authors with the same lead author and publication date can make a big difference. When you have two or more references of more than three surnames with the same year and they shorten to the same form (e.g., both Smith, Jones, Young, Brown, & Stanley, 2001, and Smith, Jones, Ward, Lee, & Stanley, 2001, shorten to Smith et al., 2001), clarify which one you are citing each time. On the second and all subsequent citations, cite the surnames of the first two authors and of as many of the next authors as necessary to distinguish the two references, followed by a comma and et al. (see the sixth edition of the Publication Manual, p. 175).

Smith, Jones, Young, et al., 2001

Smith, Jones, Ward, et al., 2001

Are you tempted to use an a or b to designate which is which? This is a common error—placing lowercase letters (a, b, c, etc.) after the publication date instead of citing the necessary surnames. Lowercase letters are used after the publication date only for references with the same author (or with the same two or more authors in the same order) with the same publication date (in which case the references are arranged alphabetically by title; see p. 182 in the Publication Manual). So, using a or b is not appropriate when you have different groups of authors with the same lead author and publication date. Here are some examples that show the correct and incorrect ways to format these types of references in your reference list and in your text citations:


McGregor, I., Nash, K., Mann, N., & Phills, C. E. (2010). Anxious uncertainty and reactive approach motivation (RAM). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 133–147. doi:10.1037/a0019701

McGregor, I., Nash, K., & Prentice, M. (2010). Reactive approach motivation (RAM) for religion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 148–161. doi:10.1037/a0019702


McGregor, I., Nash, K., Mann, N., & Phills, C. E. (2010a). Anxious uncertainty and reactive approach motivation (RAM). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 133–147. doi:10.1037/a0019701

McGregor, I., Nash, K., & Prentice, M. (2010b). Reactive approach motivation (RAM) for religion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 148–161. doi:10.1037/a0019702

In the examples above, the authors are not the same, and therefore a and b should not be used after the publication date.

When citing these references in the text, cite the necessary number of surnames to distinguish between the references. In these two references, this distinction is not reached until the third author. Here’s how these reference should be cited in text:


First citations:

(McGregor, Nash, Mann, & Phills, 2010)

(McGregor, Nash, & Prentice, 2010)

Second and subsequent citations:

(McGregor, Nash, Mann, & Phills, 2010)

(McGregor, Nash, & Prentice, 2010)


First citations:

(McGregor, Nash, Mann, & Phills, 2010a)

(McGregor, Nash, & Prentice, 2010b)

Second and subsequent citations:

(McGregor et al., 2010a)

(McGregor et al., 2010b)

Note that in the first reference example above, you should use the four surnames “McGregor, Nash, Mann, and Phills” instead of “McGregor, Nash, Mann, et al.” in the second and subsequent citations. The reason for this is that et al. means “and others,” so if there is just one more surname remaining after distinguishing between the two references, just list the final name instead of using et al. (For more examples on how to correctly use et al., see a recent post to our blog.)

Now you know how to properly cite different groups of authors with the same lead author and publication date. Questions? Leave us a comment.

October 25, 2012

How to Cite a Podcast

Timothy.mcadooby Timothy McAdoo

Podcasts are new—okay podcasts were new about 10 years ago—but the reference format will look familiar. As with other retrievable documents, just follow the basic guidelines for creating a reference: Tell the reader who, when, what, and where. When in doubt, this post on citing something you found on a website always helps me!

For a podcast, the “who” might be a producer, a writer, or a speaker. You can use parentheses to identify the contribution of the person in the "who" position—when you know it.

For example, here’s a reference for an audio podcast:

Rissian, L. C. (Producer). (2012, May 4). Twelve parsecs [Audio podcast].
    Retrieved from http://itunes.apple.com

Notice that the “Retrieved from” line includes the homepage URL, not the full URL, of where you found the podcast. (In this example, it was an iTunes page, but it could be an organization's webpage or even a website devoted solely to the podcast.) A full URL might feel more direct, but the homepage URL is more likely to be correct as the days, months, and years pass between when you create your reference and when a reader sees your work and wants to find the podcast.

Video podcasts are also new—okay video podcasts were also new about 5 years ago—but you can cite them in the same fashion. In an earlier post, you’ll find an excellent sample reference to a video podcast.

October 11, 2012

British Spellings

Timothy.mcadooby Timothy McAdooUnion Jack

This week, I look at another frequently asked APA Style question! Though the answer is true for other languages, too, the question is most often framed around British spellings.


When an article or book title includes British spellings, should I “fix” them in my reference list? Also, what if I include a direct quote? Should I change spellings or use [sic]? I read somewhere that APA Style requires spellings to match those in the APA Dictionary of Psychology or Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.


The Publication Manual’s spelling guidelines apply only to the original writing in your paper.

For references, keep the spelling in titles and other elements exactly as they appeared in the original. That is, cite what you see.

For instance, if you cite this scholarly tome, keep that u in colour!

Trooping, T. C. (2012). Who rotated my colour wheel? London, England:
    Neal’s Yard Publishing.

Likewise, if you quote from the text, keep the original spellings. There’s no need to use [sic], as these are not errors.

    Trooping (2012) said, “only when you allow your colour wheel to turn will you recognise the aesthetic ‘complements’ you’ve received” (p. 10).

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 20, 2012

Citing a Whole Periodical

Dear Style Experts,

I consulted a newspaper, a magazine, and a journal for my research. How can I create a citation for the whole issue of each of these periodicals?


Nancy in Newcastle    

Dear Nancy,

Actually, you don’t usually need to cite a whole issue of a periodical. For readers unfamiliar with the term, a periodical is any publication that is released at regular intervals, or “periods”—typically, journals, magazines, and newspapers.  Rather than make a citation for the whole periodical, you can just mention its name and the relevant volume and issue information in the text, for example, “I surveyed an issue of The Washington Post from September 15, 2012.” Then, for each individual article that you use as a source in the paper, create individual citations. Formats for periodical article citations can be found in the Publication Manual (§7.01).

You can find examples of this technique in a meta-analysis. In a meta-analysis, authors typically survey various databases and journals for articles relevant to their research question. In the text they might state something like, “We searched the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology for articles on major depression published between 1991 and 2011.” The reference list would not contain a citation for each issue of the journal that the authors examined. Instead, it would contain citations only for the articles that the authors actually used in their research.

The only exception to this pattern is that you can create a citation for a whole special issue of a periodical (click the link for example citations)—precisely by virtue of its specialness. A special issue has a narrow focus to which all the articles pertain (say, the self and social identity), unlike a typical issue, which has a broader focus (personality and social psychology in general). In that way, a special issue functions sort of like an edited book, and the reader can be referred to the issue as a whole in a citation. Thanks for this interesting question.

Best regards,

Chelsea Lee 



August 17, 2012

Almost Published

Daisiesby Stefanie

Imagine you are writing a paper on a cutting-edge topic. A friend in the field passes along a manuscript on which she is working that is relevant to your work. Your advisor, on reading your draft, hands you his own manuscript, which takes a different approach to the material. He informs you that yesterday he submitted this very manuscript to a journal for publication. Then, on your favorite journal’s website, you stumble across a bunch of articles that will be published in a future issue but have yet to appear in print, all of which you would like to cite in your article. None of these sources have been published in physical books or journals, complete with page numbers, at least not yet; how do you create references for them?

Manuscript in Preparation
A manuscript for an article that is not yet finished, or that is in preparation, can be cited and referenced using the year the draft of the manuscript you read was written.

Kirk, J. T. (2011). Reprogramming the Kobayashi Maru test: 
     A tale of an inside job and the genius behind it. 
     Manuscript in preparation.

Manuscript Submitted for Publication
If the manuscript has been submitted for publication, again use the year the manuscript was written (not the year it was submitted) as your date. Also, do not provide the name of the journal or publisher to which the manuscript was submitted. If the manuscript is rejected on first submission, the author is free to submit the article elsewhere, where it could be accepted. If this happens while your own article is in preparation and if your reference names the first journal or publisher to which the material was submitted, your reference is not only out of date but misleading.

Castle, R. (2012). Shadowing a police officer: How to be unobtrusive
     while solving cases in spectacular fashion. Manuscript submitted 
     for publication.

As soon as that article is accepted for publication, the status changes to in press and you can include the name of the journal in the reference.

Castle, R. (in press). Shadowing a police officer: How to be unobtrusive
    while solving cases in spectacular fashion. Professional Writers’

Advance Online Publication
Now, onward into the brave new world of articles being available before they are available—in specific issues of print or online-only journals, that is. Definitions of advance online publication vary among journal publishers. Sometimes articles appearing in advance online publication databases have been edited, sometimes they have not. They may or may not have a DOI assigned. For many publishers, these articles are the version of record and thus are, technically, published, belying the title of this post.

Yet the question remains: How does one create references for advance online publication articles? Provide the author(s), year of posting, title of the article, name of the journal, the notation Advance online publication, and the DOI or the URL of the journal’s home page.

Muldoon, K., Towse, J., Simms, V., Perra, O., & Menzies, V. (2012). A
     longitudinal analysis of estimation, counting skills, and 
     mathematical ability across the first school year. Developmental 
     Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/a0028240

As your article is heading toward submission and publication, keep following up on your references that are moving through their own publication processes, and update them as you are able. If possible, refer to the final versions of your sources.

Have other questions about preprint publication sources? Comment here or e-mail styleexpert@apastyle.org!


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 31, 2012

A Prescription for Success: How to Cite Product Information in APA Style

Jeffby Jeff Hume-Pratuch

Dear Style Experts,

I am writing a paper on the use of certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs. I took some of my information from those little package inserts that come in the box or bag when you get a prescription. I’m not sure how to cite it. Help!

—A Frustrated Pharmacologist in Philly

Dear Frustrated,

Fear not! We can solve this citation conundrum with our four favorite questions: Who? When? What? Where?

Let’s say you’re exploring treatments for head lice and need to cite the pharmaceutical insert for Ulesfia lotion.

  • Who is responsible for the content of the package insert? The distributor is listed on the insert as Shionogi Pharma, so we’ll put that in the author position (in accordance with our principle of “cite what you see”).
  • When was it made? The date on the insert is 2010, so that goes in the date position.
  • What is the document called? The title at the top of the insert (Highlights of Prescribing Information) is not too informative, but together with the name of the product, it should do the trick.
  • Where did it come from? The publisher and author of the package insert are the same, so we’ll use the author’s info in the publisher position.

And here is your reference:

Shionogi Pharma. (2010). Ulesfia lotion: Highlights of prescribing 
    information. Atlanta, GA: Author.

Text citation: (Shionogi Pharma, 2010)

If you retrieved the prescribing information from the manufacturer’s website (which also provides printable coloring pages of “Louie the Louse” to keep your kids occupied during the 10-min application process), you would cite it like this:

Shionogi Pharma. (2010). Ulesfia lotion: Highlights of prescribing 
    information. Retrieved from http://www.ulesfialotion.com/pdf/     Ulesfia_Prescribing_Information.pdf

Text citation: (Shionogi Pharma, 2010)

However, if your interest in pediculicides were purely academic, you might have downloaded the product insert from the FDA website, in which case you would cite it like this:

Shionogi Pharma. (2010). Ulesfia lotion: Highlights of prescribing 
    information. Retrieved from http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/     cder/drugsatfda/index.cfm

This technique can be applied to citations for any kind of product information, including package inserts for small appliances, hand tools, and adhesive tiles.


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