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Citing sources in APA style 6th ed.

Crediting sources and formatting references according to the style of the American Psychological Association (APA). Based on the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the APA.


A publication with one author

In the most simple case you cite publications with only one author. You can place these citations in your text in the following ways:

Jones (2012, p. 37) showed that . . .

In research on life styles (Jones, 2012, p. 37) . . .

In 2012, Jones (p. 37) stated that . . . 

The last manner is not used frequently.

A publication with two authors

Each time you cite, you mention both authors. You use "and" between the two names, if they are part of the narrative. If they are cited within parentheses, you use an ampersand ("&") between them.

Hogenaar and Van Dort (2007) published an advice . . .

In a recently published advice (Hogenaar & Van Dort, 2007) . . .

A publication with more than two and less than six authors

The first time you mention the source you cite all names, in subsequent citations cite only the name of the first author followed by et al. (this means et alii; et without period and al. with period).

First occurrence:

. . . was shown (Sattler, Brown, Evans, & Cohen, 2011, p. 123).

Next occurrences:

. . . these conclusions (Sattler et al., 2011, p. 123).

This must not lead to confusion with other sources. Should that be the case, mention as many names as is necessary to avoid confusion.


A publication with six or more authors

In the first citation and the subsequent ones only mention the first author followed by et al.

Brown et al. (2014, p. 7) . . .

This must not lead to confusion with other sources. Should that be the case, mention as many names as is necessary to avoid confusion.

In this case you keep mentioning the year, also when you repeat the citation within one paragraph.


A publication with an institutional author

Sometimes a publication has no personal author but an organization as author. Then you mention the organization as the author.

In the final report (Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, 2010, p. 37) . . .

You may use familiar abbreviations of organization names. The rule is: explain the abbreviation the first time you cite the publication of this organization, in subsequent citations you can use the abbreviation. In the list of references the complete name is used.

First time:

The Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid [WRR] (2010) published a study . . .

Subsequent mentions:

. . . as can be read in the report (WRR, 2010).


A publication without a personal or institutional author

If there is no personal or institutional author, you use the first three words of the title for in text citations. When you cite a journal article you put these words between quotation marks, in case of book titles you give them in italics.

("Use of information", 1987, p. 40)

(Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1980, p. 345)

Subsequent citations in one paragraph

If you cite the same publication several times within one paragraph, you can omit the year in the subsequent citations unless this leads to confusion with another publication. For example: Candor en Huges (2008) point out . . . . This implies according to Candor and Huges that honesty must be seen as an important condition.


  • if you place the first citation within parentheses, for example (Candor & Huges, 2008), you keep mentioning the year in subsequent citations.
  • mention the year in all subsequent citations that are placed within parentheses, even if in the first citation the name(s) are part of the narrative, for example: Candor and Huges (2008) state . . . . This implies that honesty must be seen as an important condition (Candor & Huges, 2008).

More than one citation within the same parentheses

When you cite more than one publication of the same author(s) within the same parentheses, the order is chronological (from old to new):

In further investigations (Jones & Watson, 2007, 2011) it was shown that . . .

When you cite more than one publication of different authors within the same parentheses, follow the order in which they appear in the reference list (alphabetically by first author):

. . . as is shown in several experiments (Adams & Fries, 2014; Schmidt & Kobler, 2008, 2009; Zen et al., 2012).

More than one publication of the same author(s) in the same year

If you cite more than one publication of the same author(s) of the same year, use the suffixes a, b, c etc. after the year of publication. Do this in the text and in the refernence list:

(Watts & Freeman, 2014a, p. 43)

(Watts & Freeman, 2014b, p. 178)

Which letters are used for these publications is determined in the reference list. There they are sorted alphabetically by title.

Personal communications (letters, lectures, (telephone) conversations, e-mail)

Mention initials, surname and provide as exact a date as possible.

(D. P. Lindstrom, personal communication, May 25, 2013)

Cite personal communications in text only (no entry in the reference list).

You use this way of citing for sources which do not provide recoverable data.

Cite a chapter (article) in an edited book

An edited book is a book with editors and chapters (articles) by different authors. You cite as specific as possible: if you use a chapter in an edited book, cite the chapter, not the book as a whole. In text use the author name(s) of the chapter and the year of the book. In the reference list you find in which book the chapter is published. 

  • If there are no page numbers, use the numbers of the chapters and paragraphs, for instance (Adams, 2015, Chapter 10, para. 10.3)

Secondary sources

If possible use and cite the original source. Sometimes however you learned about the work of an author via a secondary source and are not able to consult the original source. In that case you can cite the secondary source. Include the secondary source in the reference list. In the text you name the original work and give a citation for the secondary source:

(Brown, as cited in Watts, 2015, p. 45).

Brown (as cited in Watts, 2015, p. 45) pointed out . . .

In the reference list only the publication of Watts is included.


When you quote you always mention the page where the quotation can be found (and of course author(s) and year). Use quotation marks when you have a short quotation:

She concluded: "Although religion news no longer seems to be synonymous with local news, this study found it still means primarily news of Christians and Christian organizations" (Buddenbaum, 1986, p. 603).

Buddenbaum (1986) concluded: "Although religion news no longer seems to be synonymous with local news, this study found it still means primarily news of Christians and Christian organizations" (p. 603).

If you use a quotation of more than 40 words, display it as a freestanding  block of text without quotation marks. Start such a block quotation on a new line and indent about a half inch from the left margin.The citation at the end is placed after the final punctuation mark.

Strick, Stoeckart and Dijksterhuis (2015) conclude:

We found evidence that conscious thought increases the likelihood of biased memory representations of Black and White people, which in turn increases the likelihood of racially biased evaluative judgments of these people. Applying a period of unconscious thought to race-related decisions appears effective to overcome this problem, as the results suggested that this led to less biased memory representations than immediate decisions or conscious thought. (p. 217)

If the citation is not part of the narrative (as in the example above), the whole citation is placed at the end of the block quotation:

 . . . or conscious thought. (StrickStoeckart, & Dijksterhuis, 2015, p. 217)

You do not translate a quotation and only the following changes are allowed:

  • the first letter of the first word of a quotation may be changed to an uppercase or a lowercase letter;
  • you can omit material by using three or four spaced points to indicate the omission. Use three spaced points when omitting material within a sentence and four spaced points when omitting material between sentences;
  • the punctuation mark at the end of a sentence may be changed to fit the syntax;
  • single quotation marks may be changed to double quotation marks and vice versa;
  • you can insert material if you place it within brackets;
  • you can emphasize a word or words in a quotation by italicizing the word or words. Immediately after the emphasized word(s) you insert in brackets the words: [emphasis added].