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Number of authors

How many authors?

Consider how many authors are attributed to the work. In APA 7th Edition, there are specific rules that must be used depending on the number of authors. Click the tabs to see the differences. 

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


Zhang, Z., & Webb, S. (2019). The effects of reading bilingual books on vocabulary learning. Reading in a Foreign Language, 31(1), 109–139.

Narrative Citation Zhang and Webb (2019) noted that students who read bilingual books performed better in vocabulary tests.
Paranthetical citation  Students who read bilingual books may perform better in vocabulary tests (Zhang & Webb, 2019).


For 3 or more authors: use the first author's surname in text, and abbreviate the rest of the list with "et al." In your reference list, list all of the authors (up to 20).


Boers, F., Warren, P., He, L., & Deconinck, J. (2017). Does adding pictures to glosses enhance vocabulary uptake from reading? System, 66, 113-129. 10.1016/j.system.2017.03.017

Narrative Citation Boers et al.'s (2017) research into the use of pictures in glosses found they may decrease the amount of attention given to the words.
Parenthetical citation  Using pictures to illustrate glosses may, in fact, decrease the amount of attention given to the words (Boers et al., 2017).


For 3 or more authors: use the first author's surname in text, and abbreviate the rest of the list with "et al." In your reference list, list the first 19 authors and the last one using an ellipses (...) to show that authors have been omitted. 


Tobler, R., Rohrlach, A., Soubrier, J., Bover, P., Llamas, B., Tuke, J., Bean, N., Abdullah-Highfold, A., Agius, S., O'Donoghue, A., O'Loughlin, I., Sutton, P., Zilio, F., Walshe, K., Williams, A. N., Turney, C. S. M., Williams, M., Richards, S. M., Mitchell, N., ... Cooper, A. (2017). Aboriginal mitogenomes reveal 50,000 years of regionalism in Australia. Nature, 544(7649), 180-184.

Narrative Citation Tobler et al.'s (2017) research found genetic evidence that suggests Australian Aboriginal people have inhabited the Australian landmass for approximately 50,000 years.
Parenthetical Citation Genetic evidence suggests the Australian Aboriginal people have inhabited the Australian landmass for approximately 50,000 years (Tobler et al., 2017).


Format of authors

Only use initials for author's first or given names  Tolkien, J. R.
If the author's first name is hyphenated: first initial, full stop, hyphen, second initial  Cee-Lo Green is Green, C.-L.
Hyphenated surnames Jones-Smith, L. R.
Surnames with multiple parts that do not include a hyphen Martin Watson, E. M.
If the surname includes a particle (van, der, den, etc.) include the particle before the surname in the reference and in text citation  van der Griff, K. L.
If the author's name has a suffix, include the suffix after the second initial in the reference list. Do not include the suffix in the in text citation Jones, H. W., Jr.
Jones, H. W., Sr.

When the author isn't a person

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

First time in text:

Narrative  The American Psychological Association (APA, 2017) noted that...
Parenthetical The consumer price index is collated by using around a million pricing structures (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2018).

Subsequently in text:

Narrative As noted by the APA (2012)...
Parenthetical New weights were used to maximize transaction data (ABS, 2018).

No author/ anonymous

No author or anonymous
  • Sometimes newspaper articles and dictionary or encyclopedia entries don't have an author attributed. Editorials in peer reviewed journals may not have a byline. These works are unattributed, but they are not "anonymous".
  • 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.

In Text:

Narrative  In the Nature editorial, "On the March" (2017), it was suggested that crowds might be "painted as hostile" (p. 137) by the media.
Parenthetical During the 2017 presidential inauguration, there were some moments of awkwardness ("Mrs. Obama Says ‘Lovely Frame’", 2018)

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


On the march. (2017). Nature, 554, 137.
Mrs. Obama says ‘lovely frame’ in box during awkward handoff. (2018, February 1). AP News.

Who is the author? Different types of media

Media Type Author Media Type Author
Film Director Classical music album or song Composer
TV Series Executive producer(s) Modern music album or song Recording artist
TV series episode Writer and director  Artwork Artist
Podcast Host or executive producer Online streaming video Person or group who uploaded video
Photograph Photographer Webinar Instructor 


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