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APA Publication Manual 7th ed.

Parts of a Citation

There are 4 basic parts of a citation:

  • Author/Creator
  • Date of publication
  • Title of the item
  • Source information

A citation or reference includes all the information needed for someone to identify and find the resource. It's like an address for the item. Citations may include any of the following: title, author, date, page numbers, publisher, place of publication, DOI, URL,  etc.  However, elements change to reflect what the resource is.  So for example, if you are using a source from the open web, there will be an URL.  If you are using a print book, well, there would be no URL. 

Citations with the Same Author

One-author entries are

  • arranged by year
  • the earliest first.
  • No-date (n.d.) references precede references with dates
  • in-press references are listed last.

So it would look like this:

  • Patel, S. N. (n.d.).
  • Patel, S. N. (2016).
  • Patel, S. N. (2020a).
  • Patel, S. N. (2020b, April).
  • Patel, S. N. (in press).

One author entries precede multiple author entries beginning with the same first name author, even if the multiple-author work was published earlier.

  • Davison, T. E. (2019).
  • Davison, T. E. & McCabe, M. P. (2015).

Multiple-author entries in which all authors appear in the same order should then be arranged by the year of publication. Multiple-author entries with the same first author and different subsequent authors are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the second author, then third, and so forth. Check out the examples below. 

  • Costa, P. T., Jr., Bradley, D., & McCrae, R. R. (2018).
  • Costa, P. T., Jr., & Davis, B. (2018).
  • Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (2013).
  • Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (2014).

Confusion may arise for works with the same author(s) and dates.  To distinguish between these works, put a lowercase letter after the year in both the in-text citation and the reference list.

  • Letter format for references with years is "2020a," "2020b."
  • Letter format for references with no date is "n.d.-a," "n.d.-b."
  • Letter format for references in-press is "in press-a," "in press-b."

Assigning letters is a two-step process. First, compare dates. References with only a year precede those with more specific dates, and specific dates are placed in chronological order.

  • Azikiwe, H., & Bello, A. (2020a).
  • Azikiwe, H., & Bello, A. (2020b). March 26.
  • Azikiwe, H., & Bello, A. (2020c). April 2.

Second, if the references have identical dates, alphabetize the references by title (disregarding the words "A," An," & "The" that may appear at the beginning of the reference title).

  • Parker, R. (2020a). Nursing research in dementia patients.
  • Parker, R. (2020b). Nursing research in psychiatric patients.

Basic In-Text Citation Styles


Author type

Parenthetical citation

Narrative citation

One author (Luna, 2020) Luna (2020)
Two authors (Salas & D'Agostino, 2020) Salas and D'Agnostino (2020)
Three or more authors (Martin et al., 2020) Martin et al. (2020)

Group author with abbreviation

First citation*

Subsequent citations


(National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2020)

(NIMH, 2020)


National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2020)

NIMH (2020)

Group author without abbreviation (Stanford University, 2020) Stanford University (2020)

(American Psychological Association [APA], 2020)

*Note: Define the abbreviation for a group author only once in the text, choosing either the parenthetical or the narrative format. Thereafter, use the abbreviation for all mentions of the group in the text.