APA Authors In-Text Citations : The Proper Use of Et Al. in APA Style


In-Text Citations: Author/Authors

In-text citation of Authors or an author in APA formatting style has important rules that guide use of author names in author-date system. You have to observe additional rules when citing indirect sources, electronic works and sources that have no page numbers.

  • Citing an Author or Authors

A work written by two others requires that the two names have to be included in the parentheses whenever you cite their work. The word “and” is used between the author’s names in the in-text and ampersand when used in the parentheses

An example is here:

Studies done by Yin and Welbeck (2014) show that……

(Yin & Welbeck (2014)

  • A Work by Three to Five Authors

List all the authors in the signal phrase or in parentheses the first time you cite the source. Use the word “and” between the authors’ names within the text and use the ampersand in parentheses.

Three to five authors:  include all the authors in the first time you cite in a phase or in parentheses. Similarly, use the “and” is used between the author’s names in the in-text and ampersand when used in the parentheses.

An example is here:

(Kerry, Cornell, Yin, Perry, & Barren, 2003)

In the next citation, include only the first author name and follow it by “el al.” in the phrase or in parentheses.

An example is here:

(Kerry et al., 2003)

In et al., et is not be followed by a period.

  • Six or More Authors

Include only the first author’s name and follow up by et al. in the phrase or in parentheses.

An example is here:

Barren et al. (2009) underlined…

(Barren et al., 2009)

  • Anonymous author

Supposing the author of a source is not known, cite the source using the title in the phrase or you can use the first word in the parentheses.

Italicize the title of a book or a report. However, put into quotation marks titles of chapter, web pages and articles.

An example is here:

Another study was carried out on use of social media a learning tool (Social media, 2011)

In some cases “Anonymous” is used for works where the author is not known (Anonymous, 2011).  For the reference list use Anonymous.

  • Organization as an Author

Supposing the author is the source used is government agency or an organization, mention it the first phrase or parenthetical citation.

In case the organization has recognized abbreviation, you should include the in brackets when you first cite the work

An example is here:

First citation: (World Health Organization [WHO], 2010)

Second citation: (WHO, 2010)

  • Two or More sources in one Parenthesis

 when you cite more than two sources in the same parenthesis, arrange them alphabetically separating them with semi-colon.

An example is here:

(Amza, 2010; Camerron 2014)

  • Authors sharing the Same Last Name

To avoid confusion, include first initials together with the surname.

An example is here:

(E. Holmes, 2011; L. Holmes, 2008)

  • Two or More sources by the one Author in the Same Year

Supposing you cite two sources from one author written in the same year, then include lower-case letters together with the year when making the reference list.

Also include the lower case letters in the in-text.

An example is here:

Studies by Brown (2001a) demonstrated that…

  • Introductions, Forewords, Prefaces and Afterword

To cite an Introduction, Foreword, Afterword or Preface in-text, cite the correct author and year as normal.

An example is here:

(Brewton &Polln, 2002)

  • Personal Communication

To cite interviews, emails, letters and any other person-to person communication include the name of the communicator and the date when the communication happened.

However, this is not included in the reference list.

An example is here:

(E. Wobins, personal communication, March14, 2011).

  1. P. Wellington also asserted that many students in his classroom are using social media communicate (personal communication, April 13, 2012).
  • Citing Indirect Sources

When you include works cited in another source, you need to also cite the original author in the phrase or parentheses.

Include the secondary work in the reference list.

An example is here:

Clinton found that… (as cited in Abbot, 2013, p. 202).

N/B: try to get the original work and cite directly.

  • Electronic Sources

When possible, electronic documents should be cited in the similar way other works are cited using author-date system

An example is here:

Green (2010) explained…

  • Anonymous Author and Unknown Date

Where the name of the author and date of publication are not provided, cite the title in the phrase or the first/two word/s of the title in the parentheses and include the abbreviation n.d.(for “no date”).

An example is here:

Studies have revealed that students’ academic performance…. (“Students,” n.d.).

  • Works without page numbers

If you want to cite an electronic material that has no page numbers, attempt to put information that can assist readers to get the section/paragraph that is being cited.

Where the electronic source has numbered paragraphs include the abbreviation “para” and follow it with the paragraph number (Wallace, 2015, para. 6).

Supposing the paragraphs lacks numbers,but the work has heading include the matching heading together with the paragraph.

An example is here:

As observed by Wallace (2015)…… (Benefits of social media, para. 3)

N/B: Do not print a webpage and use its page numbers, different computer prints of the same webpage will give different pagination.

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