Skip to main content

APA (6th Edition) Referencing Guide

Referencing Guide based on the 6th Edition of APA style

Number of Authors

How many authors?

APA has strict rules for how to show the author's names in the text of your assignment and in your reference list. You need to check the number of authors you have for your work, and then format your references accordingly:

  • 1-2 authors
  • 3-5 authors
  • 6 or more authors

See the tabs on this box for details.

Things to Note:

Pay attention to the use of commas, the ampersand (&), and the word "and".

  • You use the word "and" when you are using the author's names as part of your sentence, but an "&" when the names are in the brackets or the reference list.
  • In text, you will always use a comma after each author (except the last one) when you have more than two names. In your reference list, you put a comma after each author (except the last one).

You always put a full stop after the al. in et al., because it is short for "et alia" ("and others").

For one or two authors, always mention the names of all authors

In Text:

Smith and Brown (2016) noted the prevalence of mice was a direct result of the drought.

The increased number of mice might have been a direct result of the drought (Smith & Brown, 2016).

In Your Reference List:

Smith, A., & Brown, B. (2016). The impact of human settlement on the eating habits of Australian tawny frogmouths. Journal of Comparative Ecology, 26(5), 45-52.

When you have 3-5 authors, you must list all of your authors the first time you mention them.  Then you can shorten the list using et al.

In your reference list, you list all of the authors.

In Text:

The first time:

Borran, Collins, and Ellenbogen (2015) noted that there was more than one kind of digital divide.

It has been argued that multiple digital divides exist (Borran, Collins, & Ellenbogen, 2015).

For all other citations in text:

Borran et al. (2015) described the issue as being "deceptively clear cut" (p. 70).

It is important to realise that the situation is complicated and nuanced, even if it appears "deceptively clear cut" (Borran et al., 2015, p. 70).

In Your Reference List:

Borran, S., Collins, R., & Ellenbogen, K. (2015). How many bridges should we be building? Challenging the concept of a single digital divide. International Journal of Education Transitions, 15(5), 64-75.

When you have 6 or more authors, you only use the first author's surname in text, and abbreviate the rest of the list with "et al.". In your reference list, you list the first six authors and the last author.

In Text:

As Ling et al.'s (2016) research found, the behavior of the birds changed remarkably once the cats moved into the neighbourhood.

Birds change their behaviour noticeably in the presence of a cat (Ling et al., 2016).

In Your Reference List:

For up to 7 authors include all authors:

Ling, X., Smith, A., Green, K. M., Reeves, G., Cain, D., & Brown, B. (2016). Native birds in urban environments: Australian fauna in the Australian dream. Brisbane, Australia: Mason Bright Publishing.

For 8 or more authors include the first 6 authors and the last author:

Ling, X., Smith, A., Green, K. M., Reeves, G., Cain, D., Brown, B., ... Wu, H. (2016). Native birds in urban environments: Australian fauna in the Australian dream. Brisbane, Australia: Mason Bright Publishing.

Loading ...

Order of authors

Some points to remember about authors:

  • Do not alter the order of the authors within a citation. You should leave them in the order they appear on the work.
  • Your reference list will be placed in alphabetical order based on the name of the first author for each reference. See the page on Reference list structure for more information about the order of your references.
  • If you cite more than one work in the same set of brackets in text, your citations will go in the same order in which they will appear in your reference lis (i.e. alphabetical order, then oldest to newest for works by the same author) and be separated by a semi-colon. E.g.:
    • (Corbin, 2015; James & Waterson, 2017; Smith et al., 2016).
    • (Corbin, 2015; 2018)
    • (Queensland Health, 2017a; 2017b)
  • Use only the surnames of your authors in text (e.g., Smith & Brown, 2014) - however, if you have two authors with the same surname who have published in the same year, then you will need to use their initials to distinguish between the two of them (e.g., K. Smith, 2014; N. Smith, 2014). Otherwise, do not use initials in text.

When the Author Isn't a Person

Sometimes you might have difficulty finding the name of a person to use as your author.

Is the author a company or organisation?

  • Government bodies (such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics or the Department of Education and Training) are often the official "author" of the works they publish.
  • Companies are usually the authors of their web pages

Write the company's name in full, the first time you use them, in text, then you can use an acronym. Always write the name in full in the reference list.

For example:

In text, the first time:

The American Psychological Association ([APA], 2012) noted that...

The consumer price index is collated by using around a million pricing structures (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2018).

In text, subsequent times:

As noted by the APA (2012)...

New weights were used to maximise transaction data (ABS, 2018).

In the reference list:

American Psychiatric Association. (2012). How to write an APA style reference when information is missing. Retrieved from http://blog.apastyle.org/files/missing-pieces---apa-style-reference-table.pdf

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2018). Consumer price index, Australia, Dec 2017 (No. 6410.0). Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au

Is the work anonymous, or without a byline?

  • Sometimes newspaper articles and dictionary or encyclopedia entries don't have an author attributed.
  • Only list the author as "anonymous" if the article/work has been attributed to "Anonymous" or "Anon". If there is no attribution, follow the advice below.

When there is no attributed author, move the title of the article (or encyclopedia entry, etc) to the first position in the reference list. In text, use the title of the document in "quotation marks" where you would use the author's name. For long titles, it is okay to use only the first few words.

For example:

In text:

During the 2017 presidential inauguration, there were some moments of awkwardness ("Mrs. Obama Says ‘Lovely Frame’", 2018).

The perception of soccer as a male sport has created an image of soccer as unfeminine ("Soccer, Women's", 2015)

Please note: In text, the title of the article is given title case - that is, major words are capitalised. You do not use title case in the reference list.

In the reference list:

Mrs. Obama says ‘lovely frame’ in box during awkward handoff. (2018, February 1). AP News. Retrieved from https://www.apnews.com/31f3520500c94a6ebfdbd2a0db5f4b60

Soccer, women's. (2015). In E. G. Nichols, & T. R. Robbins (Eds.), Entertainment and society around the world: Pop culture in Latin America and the Caribbean. Retrieved from https://search.credoreference.com

 

No author or anonymous

Is there a corporate body (like a government department or a company) who is responsible for the work? They're probably your author. Take a look at "When the Author isn't a person" above.

Is the work anonymous, or without a byline?

  • Sometimes newspaper articles and dictionary or encyclopedia entries don't have an author attributed.
  • Only list the author as "anonymous" if the article/work has been attributed to "Anonymous" or "Anon". If there is no attribution, follow the advice below.

When there is no attributed author, move the title of the article (or encyclopedia entry, etc) to the first position in the reference list. In text, use the title of the document in "quotation marks" where you would use the author's name. For long titles, it is okay to use only the first few words.

For example:

In text:

During the 2017 presidential inauguration, there were some moments of awkwardness ("Mrs. Obama Says ‘Lovely Frame’", 2018).

The perception of soccer as a male sport has created an image of soccer as unfeminine ("Soccer, Women's", 2015)

Please note: In text, the title of the article is given title case - that is, major words are capitalised. You do not use title case in the reference list.

In the reference list:

Mrs. Obama says ‘lovely frame’ in box during awkward handoff. (2018, February 1). AP News. Retrieved from https://www.apnews.com/31f3520500c94a6ebfdbd2a0db5f4b60

Soccer, women's. (2015). In E. G. Nichols, & T. R. Robbins (Eds.), Entertainment and society around the world: Pop culture in Latin America and the Caribbean. Retrieved from https://search.credoreference.com

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country