How To Do In-Text Citations with Multiple Authors in APA Format

Last updated May 1, 2024

APA (or American Psychological Association) Style  was introduced in 1929 to establish a consistent style guide for scientific writing. It sought to make scientific works easier to read and understand. However, the style guidelines have expanded to include many disciplines, such as the humanities and health care.

The APA’s Publication Manual does not cover the general writing style rules in other editorial style guides, such as the MLA Handbook. APA Style seeks to create uniformity of common writing styles relevant to behavior and social sciences primarily.

Consistent formatting allows the reader to engage with the presented ideas rather than be distracted by the author’s personal formatting preferences. It also helps readers quickly review the document for references and sources to aid their research. Using APA Style keeps authors transparent by providing rules about citing their sources and giving credit for others’ ideas.

How to do in-text citations in APA

APA Style allows writers to credit and cite other works appropriately and avoid plagiarism through in-text citations. APA Style uses the author–date citation system, which requires notations to be included within the document to reference ideas, paraphrases and quotations from other bodies of work. Each in-text citation within the paper (or chart, footnote or figure) briefly identifies the cited work and guides the reader to a longer list of cited sources at the end of the document, called the reference list.

In-text citations can be written within a paper parenthetically or narratively. Both include the same information: the author’s last name and the publication date.

  • Parenthetical citation: Great falls can be caused by sitting on tall walls (Dumpty, 1797).
  • Narrative citation: Dumpty (1797) claims that great falls can be caused by sitting on tall walls.
  • Reference list entry: Dumpty, Humpty (1797). Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall. Nursery Rhymes, 100.

APA Style requires citations to conform to a set of guidelines, which includes proper spelling of author names, consistency between the in-text citation information and its reference list entry and rules about crediting all facts and figures mentioned – especially those which are not common knowledge.

Understanding “et al.” usage in APA

Et al. is an abbreviation used to indicate multiple people. It’s the abbreviated version of “et alia,” a neutral plural version of “and others.” Most commonly, et al. indicates more than one contributor, such as multiple authors or editors, in a work.

In APA Style citations, et al. is used to indicate a cited work with three or more authors and serves as a way to condense the in-text citation to avoid confusion and unnecessary length. An APA in-text citation with three or more authors will include only the first author’s name plus “et al.” in every citation.

Citing multiple authors in APA

Citing multiple authors in APA Style is similar to MLA Style. For one or two authors, list the last name(s) followed by the year of publication. 

  • One author: (Beyonce, 1997)
  • Two authors: (Hall & Oates, 1967)
    • Contributors: Daryl Hall and John Oates

To cite three or more authors using APA Style, use only the first author’s last name listed, plus “et al.” 

  • Three or more authors: (Earth et al., 1978)
    • Contributors: Earth, Wind and Fire

When two separate sources have the same abbreviated et al. form, spell out as many last names as needed to distinguish the sources from each other. It may include two last names followed by et al.

Similarly, when the first authors of separate sources share the same last name but have different initials, use their first initials in the in-text citations.

  • Authors with same last name: (B. Knowles, 1997) vs. (S. Knowles, 1997)
    • Beyonce Knowles & Solange Knowles

In-text citation for various author types in APA

You may face a challenging situation where you must cite a group author, such as an institution or university, rather than a list of authors’ names. In this instance, you’ll list the group or organization.

  • Group author: (Furman University, 2020)

If the group also has an abbreviation to its name, you may note the first and subsequent citations differently to be as concise as possible.

  • Group author with abbreviation – 1st citation: (American Psychological Association [APA], 2024)
  • Group author with abbreviation – 2nd citation: (APA, 2024)

Best practices and common mistakes

The most common mistake when citing sources is forgetting to cite a source. One way to ensure you include all required sources is to document and manage your sources as you use their ideas within the document. This may mean you create the citations as you conduct your research, create your outline or type the final paper.

Some applications exist to help you manage and document citations, including EasyBib, Mendeley, EndNote and Zotero. Depending on your writing style, these applications can help you create citations, save your research sources, annotate documents and format references. 

Regarding best practices for in-text citations in APA Style, it’s good practice to proofread your citations and reference list together. When citing multiple authors, ensure all spellings are accurate and consistent throughout the document and reference list. Refer to the APA Style Publication Manual and other guideline reference documents to confirm your citing within the latest citation guidelines.

Giving credit to other authors who have shaped your research and ideas is incredibly important. You can do so without risking plagiarism accusations through in-text citations that are marked and referenced. Not only does it provide you with an honest and accurate reputation, but it also helps your readers gain more valuable knowledge from other sources.

Citing sources should not discourage you from sharing your knowledge within academic writing. Sooner or later, you’ll become a pro at in-text citations in APA style! The more you write, the more familiar you’ll become with the guidelines; you’ll no longer need to reference the style guides for help.

The perspectives and thoughts shared in the Furman Blog belong solely to the author and may not align with the official stance or policies of Furman University. All referenced sources were accurate as of the date of publication.