What’s in a Name? Authors With the Same Surname

By: Chelsea Lee

Source: http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2018/02/whats-in-a-name-authors-with-the-same-surname.html

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, right? Readers often ask us questions about how to handle repeated surnames in references. For example, how do you cite a work where some or all of the authors have the same last name? What if you want to cite separate works by people who have the same last name—how do you avoid making it seem like they are the same person? Read on to find out these answers.

Same Surname Within a Reference

Nothing special is required when a surname is repeated within a reference. Write the in-text citation and reference list entry normally.

Reference list entry: 

Sue, D., Sue, D. W., Sue, D., & Sue, S. (2015). Understanding abnormal behavior (11th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.


In-text citation:

(Sue, Sue, Sue, & Sue, 2015)

Different First Authors Share a Surname But Have Different Initials

Now imagine a surname is repeated in different references. When the first authors of multiple references have the same surname but different initials, include initials for the first authors in the in-text citations. Never include initials for second or subsequent authors in in-text citations. The reference list entries are written normally.

In the example below, note that although all three examples have an author named Jackson, only D. Jackson and M. C. Jackson are cited with initials in the text because the other Jackson is not first author.

Reference list entries:

Jackson, D. (2018). Aesthetics and the psychotherapist’s office. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 74, 233–238. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.22576

Jackson, M. C., Counter, P., & Tree, J. J. (2017). Face working memory deficits in developmental prosopagnosia: Tests of encoding limits and updating processes. Neuropsychologia, 106, 60–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.09.003

Nelson, B. D., Jackson, F., Amir, N., & Hajcak, G. (2017). Attention bias modification reduces neural correlates of response monitoring. Biological Psychology, 129, 103–110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2017.08.059


In-text citations:

(D. Jackson, 2018)

(M. C. Jackson, Counter, & Tree, 2017)

(Nelson, Jackson, Amir, & Hajcak, 2017)

Note: Include initials in the in-text citations only to help the reader tell apart different people. If the name of one person is presented inconsistently across works (e.g., sometimes a middle initial is present, sometimes it is missing), then reproduce the name as shown on the work in the reference list and write normal in-text citations without initials. See this post on inconsistent name formats for more.

Different First Authors Share a Surname and Initials

When the first authors of multiple references have the same surname and the same initials—but they are different people—then adding initials to the in-text citations won’t help readers tell the authors apart. So in this case (as addressed previously on the blog), include these authors’ full first names in the in-text citations. In the reference list entries, also include the full first names in square brackets after the initials. Never include bracketed names for second or subsequent authors in in-text citations or reference list entries.

Reference list entries:

Green, L. [Laura]. (2009). Morphology and literacy: Getting our heads in the game. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40, 283–285. https://doi.org/10.1044/0161-1461(2009/08-0091)

Green, L. [Leonard], & Myerson, J. (2013). How many impulsivities? A discounting perspective. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 99, 3–13. https://doi.org/10.1002/jeab.1


In-text citations:

(Laura Green, 2009)

(Leonard Green & Myerson, 2013)

For more on this topic, see the Publication Manual sections 6.14 and 6.27

Jr., Sr., and other suffixes in APA Style

by Timothy McAdoo

Henry W. “Indiana” Jones Jr.: “I like Indiana.”
Henry W. Jones Sr.: “We named the dog Indiana.”

Much like the intrepid Dr. Jones, when writing a paper, you never know what riddles you’ll have to solve. (Unlike Indiana, you can always ask the APA Style team for help!) I hope to clear up one such riddle here: how to handle suffixes in author names.

Quick Summary (in case you need to make a dramatic exit before the end of this post!)*

“Jr.,” “III,” or other suffixes are not included with in-text citations, but they are included in the reference list entries.


In a reference, include the suffix, set off with commas, as shown here:

Jones, H. W., Jr., & Jones, H. W., Sr. (1941). My adventures in Alexandretta. The Journal of Fictional
 Archeology, 1, 1–19. doi:46.34262/56637

Belloq, R. (1926). Shiny things. In B. C. Explorateur Jr. (Ed.), Artifacts lost and found [E-reader 
     version] (pp. 210–223). Paris, France: Gaxotte Publishing.

You may note that in the first example, because the names in the author portion of a reference are inverted, commas are needed before the suffix. In the second example, the suffix is in the editor name; because names are not inverted in the editor portion of the reference, the comma is not needed. More examples can be found in this post on citing book chapters in APA Style.

If the suffixes are numerals, alphabetize the entries by these numerals. For example,

Lucas, G., I. (2001). Tinkering with details (Vol. 1). Hollywood, CA: A.G.F.F.A. Publishing.

Lucas, G., II. (2012). You can always change it later. Hollywood, CA: A.G.F.F.A. Publishing.


For the citation in your text, do not include the suffix. Just use the author’s last name as you normally would:

…which would lead to a fear of snakes (Jones & Jones, 1941). Jones and Jones (1941) also found that…

Source: APA Style Blog


Citing an edition of a book in APA style

by Timothy McAdoo


When a book has multiple editions, which edition should I include in my reference list?


Your reference list should include the edition of the book that you read and are relying on for your information.

You need to include references to more than one edition only if you read two or more editions of the same book and are using information from each one in your paper.


So where does the edition information go? Here’s an example:

Smith, P. (2012). Cut to the chase: Online video editing and the Wadsworth constant (3rd ed.).       
      Washington, DC: E & K Publishing.

Note that because the edition information is not part of the title, it is not italicized.

Source: APA Style Blog

How to capitalize author names in APA style

by Chelsea Lee

As discussed in our post about the capitalization of specific words, author names are capitalized in APA Style because they are proper nouns. For most author names this poses no difficulty, because most names begin with capital letters anyway. However, some names begin with lowercase letters, such as lowercase prefixes like de, d’, van, or von.

Thus, a more specific guideline is that when writing author names, your first goal should be to write the name as the author him- or herself has presented it in scholarly work. (On a related note, if an author writes under a pseudonym, cite whatever name is used by the source.) Capitalize and spell the name just as you see it in the byline of the article you’re citing. If it starts with a lowercase letter, keep that presentation.

Here are two examples of how an author name beginning with a lowercase letter keeps that presentation when written within a sentence:

•To examine the impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting, de Haan, Deković, and Prinzie (2012) employed a longitudinal methodology.
•Parental and adolescent personality have significant effects on parenting (de Haan, Deković, & Prinzie, 2012).

Keep the author’s original capitalization even in reference list entries:

de Haan, A. D., Deković, M., & Prinzie, P. (2012). Longitudinal impact of parental and adolescent 
   personality on parenting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 189–199.

However, capitalize the name if it (a) begins a sentence or (b) is the first word after a colon when what follows the colon is an independent clause:

•De Haan, Deković, and Prinzie (2012) studied the impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting.
•Recently, researchers have explored the impact of personality on parenting: De Haan, Deković, and Prinzie (2012) used longitudinal analyses to untangle the effects.

You can read more about this method of capitalization in the Publication Manual in section 4.14 (p. 101). We also have advice in another blog post if you are having trouble determining who the author is to begin with.

Finally, be aware that some publishers apply idiosyncratic formatting to author names in the byline, such as using all capital letters to write full names or surnames. This is a stylistic choice on the part of the publisher as a way to set the byline and not something that you need to reproduce in your APA Style paper. So if you see an author’s name capitalized as “Thomas J. SMITH” in the byline of an article, you should write the name as “Smith” when citing it in your paper. If the byline capitalization obscures the regular capitalization an author would use, look for the author name in the text or elsewhere to see how it is normally formatted.

Source: APA Style Guide

How to capitalize and format reference titles in APA style

by Chelsea Lee

APA Style has special formatting rules for the titles of the sources you use in your paper, such as the titles of books, articles, book chapters, reports, and webpages. The different formats that might be applied are capitalization (see Publication Manual, pp. 101–102), italics (see pp. 104–105), and quotation marks (see p. 91), and they are used in different combinations for different kinds of sources in different contexts.

The formatting of the titles of sources you use in your paper depends on two factors: (a) the independence of the source (stands alone vs. part of a greater whole) and (b) the location of the title (in the text of the paper vs. in the reference list entry). The table below provides formatting directions and examples:

Independence of source


Reference list





Stands alone

(e.g., book, e-book, report [technical, government, etc.], dissertation, thesis, film, video, television series, podcast, YouTube video, artwork, map, music album, unpublished manuscript)

Italic, title case

Gone With the Wind

Italic, sentence case

Gone with the wind

Part of a greater whole

(e.g., journal article, book chapter, e-book chapter, newspaper article, magazine article, blog post, television episode, webisode, webpage, tweet, Facebook update, encyclopedia entry, Wikipedia entry, dictionary entry, song)

Inside double quotation marks, title case

“Longitudinal Impact of Parental and Adolescent Personality on Parenting”

Not inside any quotation marks, sentence case

Longitudinal impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting

More on Italics Versus Nonitalics

As you can see in the table above, the titles of works that stand alone (such as a book or a report) are italicized in both the text and the reference list. In contrast, the titles of works that are part of a greater whole (such as an article, which is part of a journal, or a book chapter, which is part of a book) are not italicized in either place, and only in the text are they put inside quotation marks. If you are having difficulty determining whether something stands alone (such as a webpage that may or may not be part of a greater website), choose not to italicize.

More on Capitalization: Title Case Versus Sentence Case

APA Style uses two kinds of capitalization to format reference titles, which are also mentioned in the table above: title case and sentence case. APA’s title case refers to a capitalization style in which most words are capitalized, and sentence case refers to a capitalization style in which most words are lowercased. In both cases, proper nouns and certain other types of words are always capitalized. More detailed directions for implementing title case and sentence case will be provided in next week’s post.

Text Examples

As shown in the table above, title case is used for the titles of references when they appear in the text of an APA Style paper. Here are some examples of titles written in title case (of an article and a book, respectively), as they might appear in a sentence in the text of a paper:

The article “Psychological Distress, Acculturation, and Mental Health-Seeking Attitudes Among People of African Descent in the United States: A Preliminary Investigation” (Obasi & Leong, 2009) makes an important contribution to the mental health and acculturation literature. 

Students read stories of visual agnosia in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales (Sacks, 1985). 

Reference List Entry Examples

In contrast, sentence case is used for titles of references when they appear in reference list entries. See how the book and article titles look when capitalized in sentence case in these example reference list entries:

Obasi, E. M., & Leong, F. T. L. (2009). Psychological distress, acculturation, and mental health-seeking 
     attitudes among people of African descent in the United States: A preliminary investigation. Journal  
     of Counseling Psychology,
56, 227–238. doi:10.1037/a0014865

Sacks, O. (1985). The man who mistook his wife for a hat and other clinical tales. New York, NY: 
     Harper & Row.


Source: APA Style Guide

The proper use of et al. in APA Style

by Chelsea Lee

Academic writing is full of little conventions that may seem opaque to the uninitiated. One of these is the Latin phrase et al., an abbreviation meaning “and others.” It is used to shorten lists of author names in text citations to make repeated referencing shorter and simpler. Note that et al. is italicized in this post when I am using it as a linguistic example, but it should not be italicized when you are using it as part of a reference citation.

General Use of Et Al.

Below is a chart showing when to use et al., which is determined by the number of authors and whether it is the first time a reference has been cited in the paper. Specifically, articles with one or two authors include all names in every in-text citation; articles with three, four, or five authors include all names in the first in-text citation but are abbreviated to the first author name plus et al. upon subsequent citations; and articles with six or more authors are abbreviated to the first author name plus et al. for all in-text citations.


Avoiding Ambiguity

However, sometimes abbreviating to the first author name plus et al. can create ambiguity. Here are two example references, as also discussed in a previous post about reference twins.

Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2010). Good judgments do not require
     complex cognition. Cognitive Processing, 11, 103–121. doi:10.1007/s10339-009-0337-0

Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., Schooler, L. J., Goldstein, D. G., & Gigerenzer, G. (2010).
     From recognition to decisions: Extending and testing recognition-based models for multi-
     alternative inference. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 287–309. doi:10.3758/PBR.17.3.287

The first in-text citations to each of these would be as follows:

  • (Marewski, Gaissmaier, & Gigerenzer, 2010)
  • (Marewski, Gaissmaier, Schooler, Goldstein, & Gigerenzer, 2010)

For the subsequent in-text citations we would usually abbreviate these studies to the first author name plus et al.; however, doing so here would produce two Marewski et al. (2010) citations, leaving the reader unable to tell which one you mean (if the citations were from different years we would not have this problem, because the years would tell them apart). The solution here is to spell out as many names as necessary (here, to the third name) upon subsequent citations to tell the two apart: 

  • (Marewski, Gaissmaier, & Gigerenzer, 2010)
  • (Marewski, Gaissmaier, Schooler, et al., 2010)

Notice that for the first reference, this means that all citations to this source include all three names. For the second reference, the two remaining names can be abbreviated to et al.

A Quirk of Et Al.

Finally, be careful of a quirk of et al., which is that it is plural—that is, it must replace at least two names (or, put another way, it cannot stand for only one name). So, if you have worked through a reference and only one name is left to abbreviate, you must spell out all the names every time to tell the two apart.  Here is an example with three authors, although the principle holds no matter how many total authors there are:

Berry, C. J., Henson, R. N. A., & Shanks, D. R. (2006). On the relationship between  
 priming and recognition memory: Insights from a computational model. Journal of  
    Memory and Language
, 55, 515–533. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2006.08.008 

Berry, C. J., Shanks, D. R., & Henson, R. N. A. (2006). On the status of unconscious memory:
     Merikle and Reingold (1991) revisited. Journal of Psychology: Learning, Memory,and Cognition,
     32, 925-934. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.32.4.925

The correct in-text citations would be written as follows for all citations of these two references:

  • (Berry, Henson, & Shanks, 2006)
  • (Berry, Shanks, & Henson, 2006)

Avoid the following common incorrect ways of citing these references in text:

  • (Berry, Henson, et al., 2006), (Berry et al., 2006a)
  • (Berry, Shanks, et al., 2006), (Berry et al., 2006b)

A Final Note

If it happens that all the author names are exactly the same and the studies were published in the same year as well, the method of citation described in the reference twins post applies. Namely, use et al. as usual but also include lowercase letters after the year (2010a, 2010b, etc.) to tell the references apart.

Source: APA Style Blog

How to create a reference for a YouTube video

by Stefanie

Halloween is coming! What better time of year to track down some of your favorite scary YouTube videos to frighten your friends or prove your position on the existence of ghosts? If you spin your YouTube search into research (“The Startle Reflex: Can You Use It to Identify Individuals With Antisocial Personality Disorder?”), here is how to create a reference for your stimulus. (By the way, none of the sample videos given below include something that jumps out at you. Experimentation has proved that my startle reflex is just fine, thanks.)

The general format is as follows:

Author, A. A. [Screen name]. (year, month day). Title of video [Video file]. Retrieved from http://xxxxx

For retrievability, the person who posted the video is put in the author position. You might have noticed that the template shows both a typically formatted author name and a place for a screen name, and here’s why: On YouTube and many other video-posting websites, users must post under a screen name. This screen name is integral to finding the video on YouTube, so including it in the reference is important. Sometimes, however, the real name of the individual who posted the video is also known. The individual’s real name likely better connects him or her to the real world as well as to any other sources he or she may have provided for your paper (e.g., an author who wrote an article and also produced a YouTube video). Providing the real name, when available, aids the reader by highlighting these interconnections and also makes it possible to alphabetize the reference among any other references by that same author in the reference list. Thus, the reference format for a YouTube video includes both elements when both elements are available.


Apsolon, M. [markapsolon]. (2011, September 9). Real ghost girl caught on Video Tape 14 [Video file].
     Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nyGCbxD848

(The capitalization [or lack thereof] in the screen name is in keeping with how it appears online.)

On YouTube, the screen name is most prominent. If the user’s real name is not available, include only the screen name, without brackets:

Screen name. (year, month day). Title of video [Video file]. Retrieved from http://xxxxx


Bellofolletti. (2009, April 8). Ghost caught on surveillance camera [Video file]. Retrieved from 

In text, cite by the author name that appears outside of brackets, whichever one that may be. For example, the two example references provided above would be cited as follows: (Apsolon, 2011; Bellofolletti, 2009).

Source: APA Style Blog


Reference twins: Or, how to cite articles with the same authors and same year

by Chelsea Lee

Have you ever been friends with a pair of identical twins? Twins who looked so alike that, at first, telling them apart all hinged on finding that distinguishing freckle, or hoping someone else would call them by their names so you could memorize what clothes each was wearing that day? In the social sciences, there is a longstanding tradition of twin research, but this post refers to twins of another kind: reference twins. Specifically, this post addresses how to cite multiple articles by the same authors that were published in the same year so that everyone can easily tell them apart.

A Solution for Identical Twins

In essence, the solution to the reference twin problem is not much different from how twins are told apart at birth: Just as twins are referred to as “Baby A” and “Baby B,” “twin references” are also given letters to tell them apart. Specifically, lowercase letters are added after the year (2011a, 2011b, etc.), and the references are alphabetized by title to determine which is “a” and which is “b.” Here is an example:

Koriat, A. (2008a). Easy comes, easy goes? The link between learning and remembering   
    and its exploitation in metacognition. Memory & Cognition, 36, 416–428.  

Koriat, A. (2008b). Subjective confidence in one’s answers: The consensuality principle. 
    Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 34, 945–959. 

In the text, citations would be styled as follows: (Koriat, 2008a) and (Koriat, 2008b).

For references that are in press or that have no date (signified by n.d., which stands for “no date”), use the following forms for the date: (in press-a), (in press-b), (n.d.-a), and (n.d.-b), and so forth.

A Solution for Not-Quite Twins

However, be careful that your references are true identical twins. That is, the method described above applies only when all author names are the same and appear in the same order. If any of the names or the order is different, then the references are distinguished in a different way: by spelling out as many author names as necessary to tell them apart.  Let’s use the following two references as an example:

Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., & Gigerenzer, G. (2010). Good judgments do not require 
    complex cognition. Cognitive Processing, 11, 103–121. doi:10.1007/s10339-009-0337-0

Marewski, J. N., Gaissmaier, W., Schooler, L. J., Goldstein, D. G., & Gigerenzer, G. 
    (2010).  From recognition to decisions: Extending and testing recognition-based models 
    for multi-alternative inference. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 287–309. 

The first in-text citations to each of these articles would be as follows:

•(Marewski, Gaissmaier, & Gigerenzer, 2010)
•(Marewski, Gaissmaier, Schooler, Goldstein, & Gigerenzer, 2010)

Now, what about subsequent in-text citations? Usually we would abbreviate studies with three or more authors to the first author name plus et al. (Latin for “and others”); however, doing so here would produce two Marewski et al. (2010) citations, leaving the reader unable to tell which one you mean. The solution is to spell out as many names as necessary (here, to the third name) upon subsequent citations to tell the two apart:

•(Marewski, Gaissmaier, & Gigerenzer, 2010)
•(Marewski, Gaissmaier, Schooler, et al., 2010)

Notice that for the first reference, this means that all citations to this source will include all three names. For the second reference, the two remaining names can be abbreviated to et al. (Note, however, that if only one name remains to distinguish the references, that name must be spelled out with all the rest because et al. is plural—it cannot stand for only one name. This topic will be elaborated upon in an upcoming post.)

Source: APA Style Blog


How do you cite e-mail communications from individuals?

E-mail communications from individuals should be cited as personal communications. Because they do not provide recoverable data, personal communications are not included in the reference list.

Cite personal communications in text only. Give the initials as well as the surname of the communicator, and provide as exact a date as possible.


  • T. K. Lutes (personal communication, April 18, 2001)
  • (V.-G. Nguyen, personal communication, September 28, 1998)

It is possible to send an e-mail note disguised as someone else. Authors—not journal editors or copy editors—are responsible for the accuracy of all references, which includes verifying the source of e-mail communications before citing them as personal communications in manuscripts.

(adapted from the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual, © 2010)

Source: http://www.apastyle.org/learn/faqs/cite-individual-email.aspx

How do you cite a source that you found in another source?

Use secondary sources sparingly, for instance, when the original work is out of print, unavailable through usual sources, or not available in English. Give the secondary source in the reference list; in text, name the original work and give a citation for the secondary source.

For example, if Allport’s work is cited in Nicholson and you did not read Allport’s work, list the Nicholson reference in the reference list. In the text, use the following citation:

Allport’s diary (as cited in Nicholson, 2003).

(adapted from the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual, © 2010)

Source: http://www.apastyle.org/learn/faqs/cite-another-source.aspx