56 posts categorized "In-text citations"

September 20, 2017

References Versus Citations

Timothy McAdooSlices-of-apples-juxtaposed-by-slices-of-oranges-183352038_997x1055by Timothy McAdoo

In the Publication Manual and in many, many blog posts here, we refer to both references and citations. If you are new to writing with APA Style, you might wonder “What’s the difference?” Like this apple and orange, they are created separately but work well together!



Small green apple onlyReferences appear at the end of a manuscript. They follow a whowhenwhatwhere format. For example:

McAdoo, T. (2017, September 20). References versus citations [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2017/09/References-versus-citations

They appear (a) so you can give credit to your sources and (b) to provide a path for your readers to retrieve those sources and read them firsthand.



Small orange onlyCitations appear in the body of your paper and point your reader to your references. For that reason, we sometimes call them in-text citations. They are also sometimes called simply cites. Citations can appear in a paper in two ways:


  • parenthetically: (Becker, 2012; Lee, 2016; McAdoo, 2017) and
  • narratively: Becker (2012), Lee (2016), and McAdoo (2017) wrote blog posts about APA Style.

Include them in a paper to support claims you have made and/or to provide the sources for paraphrases and direct quotations.

As shown in the examples above, citations are almost always composed of an author surname or surnames and a date. The surname(s) that appear in a citation must exactly match those used in the reference. Likewise, the year in the citation matches the year shown in the reference. When the reference has a more precise date, the in-text citation includes the year only. For example, compare the reference and the in-text citation for a tweet. For more about creating in-text citations, see Writing In-Text Citations in APA Style.

Citations versus references

As noted above, most citations include author names; but, because some references have no author, their citations also have no author: When the reference includes no author, the citation includes the title (or a short version of the title). Also, many types of legal references do not include author names. To learn more about legal references and citations, see Introduction to APA Style Legal References.


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:


January 04, 2017

How to Cite Quality Standards and Guidelines in APA Style

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

To cite a quality standard or guideline in APA Style, provide the author, date, title, and source of the work. After the title of the work, provide any number or identifier for the standard in parentheses without italics. Here is a template for citing a standard:


Reference list: Organization That Made the Standard. (year). Title of the standard (Standard No. 1234). Retrieved from http://xxxxx

In text: (Organization That Made the Standard, year).

The only exception is if the standard appears in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), because federal standards are considered legal references and follow legal style; directions for citing standards in the CFR are at the end of this post.

Here are some examples of typical standard citations and their corresponding in-text citations. Note that most of the organizations that publish standards commonly go by acronyms (e.g., OSHA for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration). The acronym is optional to use. If you do use the acronym, use it in the text only, not in the reference list entry. Spell out the name of the group the first time you cite the work and provide the acronym either in parentheses or brackets (depending on whether the written-out form is already in parentheses); for any subsequent citations or mentions, use the acronym. If you use multiple works by the same group, you only need to introduce the acronym once. How to introduce the acronym is also shown in the example citations below.

ISO Standards

International Organization for Standardization. (2016). Occupational health and safety management systems—Requirements with guidance for use (ISO/DIS Standard No. 45001). Retrieved from http://www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail?csnumber=63787

  • In text, first citation: (International Organization for Standardization [ISO], 2016) or International Organization for Standardization (ISO, 2016).
  • In text, subsequent citations: (ISO, 2016) or ISO (2016).

OSHA Standards

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (1970). Occupational safety and health standards: Occupational health and environmental control (Standard No. 1910.95). Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9735
  • In text, first citation: (Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], 1970) or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, 1970).
  • In text, subsequent citations: (OSHA, 1970) or OSHA (1970).
  • Note that the date for an OSHA standard should be the effective date; for most standards, this is 1970. If you are citing multiple OSHA standards, create separate reference list entries for each one and differentiate them by using lowercase letters after the year (e.g., OSHA, 1970a, 1970b), as described in this post on “reference twins.”

NICE Guidelines

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2013). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (NICE Quality Standard No. 39). Retrieved from https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs39
  • In text, first citation: (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE], 2013) or National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE, 2013).
  • In text, subsequent citations: (NICE, 2013) or NICE (2013).

Standard Published as a Federal Regulation

Designation of Uses for the Establishment of Water Quality Standards, 40 C.F.R. § 131.10 (2015).
  • In text: (Designation of Uses for the Establishment of Water Quality Standards, 2015) or Designation of Uses for the Establishment of Water Quality Standards (2015).
  • For more information on citing federal regulations, see Section A7.06 of the Publication Manual (p. 223).

The template shown at the beginning of this post should cover all types of quality standards you might want to cite in APA Style, but if you have further questions, leave a comment below!


November 30, 2016

Writing Website In-Text Citations and References

Dear Style Expert,

I found a very useful website and cited a lot of information from it in my paper. But how do I write an in-text citation for content I found on a website? Do I just put the URL in the sentence where I cite the information?




Dear Wallace,

This is a tricky question, but we can help! The short answer is that in most cases no, you do not put the URL in the text of the paper. In fact, the only time you would put a URL in the text would be to simply mention a website in passing. Because you’re citing specific information, you will need to write a regular APA Style author–date citation. Luckily, writing the in-text citation for a website or webpage is easy: Simply include the author and year of publication. The URL goes in the corresponding reference list entry (and yes, you can leave the links live).

Website Example 

In-text citation:

The American Nurses Association (2006) issued a position statement insisting that pharmaceutical companies immediately cease using thimerosal as a vaccine preservative.


Reference list:

American Nurses Association. (2006). Mercury in vaccines [Position statement]. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/Positions-and-Resolutions/ANAPositionStatements/Archives/Mercury-in-Vaccines.html

Note that the title of the website or webpage should be italicized in the reference list if the work on the page stands alone but not italicized if it is part of a greater whole (if this is ambiguous on the source, just choose what you think makes the most sense for the situation). In deciding how to categorize material on a website for a reference, it may be helpful to consider whether what is on the website is similar to an existing category of document type—for example, this reference is a position statement, which is similar to a press release, white paper, or report; hence the italic title. To clarify the document type, you can also specify the format in brackets after the title. 

Determining Website Authors

It can be confusing to determine who the author of a website or webpage is. Often, the author is a group or agency rather than a particular individual. For example, the author of the position statement cited above is the American Nurses Association. If the website or webpage truly does not have an author, substitute the title of the page for the author in the in-text citation and reference list entry (see this post on missing reference pieces for examples of how to do this).

Determining Website Dates

A second source of confusion is that many websites or webpages do not include publication dates. If no date of publication is provided, use the letters n.d. (which stand for “no date”). The copyright date on the website itself should not be used as the publication date for particular content on that site.

If multiple dates are provided, use the most recent date on which the content was changed. For example, if the site says the content was first published in 2010 and last updated on August 6, 2016, then use the date 2016 in the in-text citation and reference list. However, if the site says it was first published in 2010 and last reviewed in July 2016, then use the date 2010 because a review does not imply that any information was changed.

Multiple Website Citations

If you use information from multiple pages on a website, create a separate reference list entry for each page, with in-text citations that correspond to the appropriate reference list entry. It is common for writers to have multiple entries with the same author and year, so to differentiate these entries, use a letter after the year (e.g., 2016a) or after n.d. (e.g., n.d.-a; more examples here), assigning the letter by putting the references in alphabetical order by title in the reference list. Put references with no date before references with dates, and put in-press references last.

Multiple reference list entries:

American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Know your disaster. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/WorkplaceSafety/Healthy-Work-Environment/DPR/KnowYourDisaster  

American Nurses Association. (1991a). Equipment/safety procedures to prevent transmission of bloodborne diseases [Position statement]. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/Positions-and-Resolutions/ANAPositionStatements/Position-Statements-Alphabetically/EquipmentSafety-Procedures-to-Prevent-Transmission-of-Bloodborne-Diseases.html

American Nurses Association. (1991b). Post-exposure programs in the event of occupational exposure to HIV/HBV [Position statement]. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/Positions-and-Resolutions/ANAPositionStatements/Position-Statements-Alphabetically/Post-Exposure-Programs-in-the-Event-of-Occupational-Exposure-to-HIVHBV.html

American Nurses Association. (2015). Academic progression to meet the needs of the registered nurse, the health care consumer, and the U.S. health care system [Position statement]. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/Positions-and-Resolutions/ANAPositionStatements/Position-Statements-Alphabetically/Academic-Progression-to-Meet-Needs-of-RN.html

In text, you can cite these references separately as usual (e.g., American Nurses Association, 1991b), or you can combine citations with the same author if desired. Simply state the author once and then provide the years of the applicable references in chronological order, separated by commas. 

Combined in-text citations:

American Nurses Association (n.d., 1991a, 1991b, 2015)

(American Nurses Association, n.d., 1991a, 1991b, 2015)

Do you have more questions about how to create in-text citations for content from websites or webpages? Leave a comment below.


—Chelsea Lee

September 21, 2016

How to Cite a YouTube Comment

David Becker

By David Becker

When researching a topic for your paper or manuscript, you may come across a few relevant YouTube videos—perhaps a TED Talk or two—that you would like to cite. Being the intrepid explorer of the Internet that you are, you may even brave those videos’ comment threads, desperately searching for some faint glint of rational discourse hidden within the dark, troll-infested depths. Or maybe you’re intentionally seeking out vile and offensive comments if you are writing about the psychology of Internet trolls. Whatever your reasons, you have found a YouTube comment that you would like to cite, but you don’t know how.

Some of the same principles for citing a blog comment also apply to citing a YouTube comment. For instance, list the commenter’s user name if their real name isn’t listed and add “Re:” followed by a space before the title of the video. Also, as with some blog comments, clicking on a YouTube comment’s time stamp will lead to a page with a unique URL that features that comment at the top of the comment thread. Include this unique URL in the “Retrieved from” portion of your reference.

YouTube Comments

There are, however, some important differences between citing blog comments and YouTube comments that are worth noting. Let’s first look at the publication date.

As with citing a blog comment, cite the date that the YouTube comment was posted, not the date that the video was uploaded. YouTube comments present a somewhat unique challenge in that they do not display precise publication dates. Rather, they indicate how long ago a comment was posted (e.g., “3 hours ago,” “2 weeks ago,” “10 months ago,” “4 years ago,” etc.). With such imprecision, there’s no sense in citing a day or a month, as you would do when citing a blog comment, so just cite the publication year.

The year that the comment was posted is easy to figure out using simple math. However, in the unlikely situation where there might be some ambiguity about what year a comment was posted, you can include “ca.” for circa after the publication date, much like when citing approximate dates for social media sources. This should be done as sparingly as possible.

Another difference between citing a YouTube comment and a blog comment is the formatting of the title. Whereas the title of a blog post is not italicized, the title of a video is italicized. However, the “Re:” is technically not part of the video title and therefore is not italicized.

Taking all this into consideration, here is a sample reference to a YouTube comment:

49metal. (2016). Re: Are you dating a psychopath? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP5HIjA9hh4&lc=z13bu5ghznaawh0ez23ajz0gnquidx1z004

And here is a sample text citation for that comment:

Some do not see the value in these sorts of informal, self-diagnosis measures: “This invitation for lay people to diagnose a rare psychological disorder… is profoundly irresponsible” (49metal, 2016).

Keep in mind the reliability of your source within the context your paper’s topic when deciding what to cite. A random comment from an unidentified YouTube user, such as the one above, is likely not appropriate in a research paper that coalesces expert opinions on a scholarly topic. However, this type of informal source could be more appropriate in a different kind of paper, such as one about how people interact with each other on social media.

June 22, 2016

Navigating Copyright: How to Cite Sources in a Table

David Becker

By David Becker

Dear Style Experts,

I am creating a table that presents information from multiple sources, and I can't figure out how to cite these sources within the table. What should I do?

—Vera K.

Dear Vera,

How you cite your sources depends on the context. If you are reproducing or adapting an existing table, you will need to seek permission and cite the source in a credit line beneath the table. Note that this credit line can identify particular sets of data in your table (e.g., “The data in column 1 are from…”). Thus, if you are adapting material from multiple sources—that is, extracting rows or columns from previously published tables and integrating them into a single table—you might need to include multiple permission statements, one for each source.


If you are simply pulling data from multiple sources, rather than repurposing columns or rows from preexisting tables (the data are not subject to copyright, but their presentation is), then it may be appropriate to just include standard author–date text citations within the table. This type of table is often used to summarize the results of multiple studies, which makes it easier for readers to digest the information, and is commonly used in meta-analyses. Below is a sample table in which each row represents a different study:

Table 1

Summary of Studies Included in Meta-Analysis on the Effectiveness of Rocking Out Like No One’s Watching (ROLNOW)



Cohen’s d


Atashin (2013)




Dumile & Jackson (2015)




Garcia, Homme, Oliveri, & Bjork (2014)




Iyer, Lehman, & Sorey (2014)




Onuki, Agata, & Hamamoto (2014)




Although studies are usually cited in the first column of a summary table, I’ve come across tables that list the citations in one of the middle columns or across the first row. Some tables might include multiple citations in a single column or row if these studies share similar features. How you choose to organize the contents of your table will depend on context and how you want readers to process the information.

It’s worth noting that the order of the rows in Table 1 reflects the alphabetical order of the citations as they would appear in the reference list. Even though APA Style does not address this directly, organizing the rows or columns of a table in this manner is a standard convention for summary tables. It also follows the general APA Style guideline about alphabetizing multiple sources within the same parenthetical citation to match how they are ordered in the reference list (see pp. 177—178 in the Publication Manual). If it makes more sense to organize the rows and columns in your table using a different standard—again, depending on the context—feel free to do so. Just make sure that readers can easily follow the flow of information!

In some cases, you may not want to devote an entire row or column to citing resources. Or, perhaps your citations apply to just a few cells or particular pieces of data. If so, it may be appropriate to cite your sources, using the author–date format, in one of two ways. First, you could include parenthetical citations within the table itself next to the relevant information, just as you would do with a standard text citation. Another approach would be to cite your sources below the table in a general note—as demonstrated in the Table 1 note from Sample Paper 1 on page 52 of the Publication Manual—or in multiple specific notes that connect your citations to particular cells via superscript, lowercase letters (see pp. 138–139 in the Publication Manual for more details). This latter method can be handy if one source applies to more than one cell and is used in the example table below, but parenthetical citations within the cells would be equally acceptable.

Table 2

Sample Responses to the ROLNOW Survey



Sample responses


How cool did you feel?

“Cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce.”a

“Not at all cool. I actually felt kind of dorky.”b


How motivated and energized did you feel?

“I felt ready to take on the world!”c

“Not very. I almost fell asleep!”b


How happy were you?

“I was completely elated and filled with positive thoughts!”d

“I was pretty happy, but I don’t think rocking out had anything to do with it.”a


How physically attractive did you feel?

“I felt pretty, oh so pretty!”e

“I was a gyrating mess of flailing limbs, so I probably didn’t look all that attractive.”c

aDumile and Jackson (2015, p. 31). bIyer, Lehman, and Sorey (2014, p. 79). cOnuki, Agata, and Hamamoto (2014, p. 101). dGarcia, Homme, Oliveri, and Bjork (2014, p. 47). eAtashin (2013, p. 56).

You may have noticed a few differences between the citations in Tables 1 and 2. One is that the Table 2 notes—unlike the rows in Table 1—are not alphabetized. Specific notes are organized according to where the superscripts appear in the table, following the left-to-right and top-to-bottom order described on page 138 in the Publication Manual. Another difference is that Table 1 includes ampersands, whereas Table 2 spells out and. Although and is usually written instead of & when the authors are listed before the parenthetical citation, page 175 in the Publication Manual states that ampersands should be used within the body of the table (and should still be used outside of parentheses in table notes, as shown in the Table 1 note from Sample Paper 1). This helps save space because two fewer characters can sometimes make all the difference in such tight quarters. Finally, direct quotations are presented in Table 2, so the citations in the table note include page numbers. However, you do not need to include page numbers when citing numerical data, as in Table 1.

The example tables in this post offer a very limited scope when considering the many different types of tables that can be found in the wilds of academic publishing—and they are admittedly a tad sillier than is typical. However, the general citation guidelines they present can be easily adapted to just about any kind of table you might need to create. To find example tables that are more relevant to your needs, I recommend combing through journals that follow APA Style.

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