APA referencing elements
This page describes what to do when there are multiple or missing parts (elements) of an APA reference list or in-text citation:
- Reference within a source (secondary source)
- 2+ authors
- No author / group author
- Identical author and publisher
- Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
- No year of publication
- City of publication
- 2+ cities of publication
- No city of publication
- No page numbers
- No volume number
New to referencing? See the introduction to referencing.
Create customised interactive examples of APA references and in-text citations with this online tool.
Reference within a source (secondary source)
Many academic books and journal articles quote earlier books or articles on the same topic. If you cannot access the original source (it is out of print, or unavailable through the library), you can cite the secondary source instead. See secondary sources for the correct method to cite this.
When there are 2+ authors, ‘and’ or ‘&’ is used before the final author's name. If the authors' names are part of a sentence, the word ‘and’ is used:
According to Samson and Daft (2005), the …
If the authors' names are in brackets or the reference list, the symbol ‘&’ is used instead:
… from the influence of pressure groups (Samson & Daft, 2005).
If there are 3 or more authors, some of their names are replaced by ‘et al.’ (an abbreviation of the Latin et alii, meaning “and others”).
3-5 authors: all the authors are used in the first in-text citation of a document. For each in-text citation after the first, the first author and ‘et al.’ is used. All authors are listed in the reference list.
6-7 authors: the first author and ‘et al.’ is used in both the first and subsequent citations. All authors are used in the reference list.
8+ authors: the first author and ‘et al.’ is used in both the first and subsequent citations. The first six authors and the final author and used in the reference list, with an ellipsis (. . .) between them.
Note: APA uses serial commas. This means with a list of three or more items, commas are used between each item, not just the first two items. This applies to the reference list, all in-text citations, and text. E.g.: Smith, Jones, and Brown (2010) suggest that….OR (Smith, Jones, & Brown, 2010).
The earlier (5th) edition of APA formats this differently. See 5th vs. 6th for details.
|Authors||First citation||Later citations||Reference list|
|1-2||All authors||All authors||All authors|
|3-5||All authors||First author and ‘et al.’||All authors|
|6-7||First author and ‘et al.’||First author and ‘et al.’||All authors|
|8+||First author and ‘et al.’||First author and ‘et al.’||First six authors, an ellipsis (. . .), and the final author.|
For example, Cunningham, Nikolai, and Bazley (2004) would be referenced as follows.
First in-text citation:
(Cunningham, Nikolai, & Bazley, 2004)
later in-text citations:
(Cunningham et al., 2004)
In the reference list:
Cunningham, B. M., Nikolia, L. A., & Bazley, J. D. (2004). Accounting: Information for business decisions (2nd ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western.
If two different sources would become identical because the list of authors has been shortened with ‘et al.’ (i.e. they have the same year and the same first author), enough authors are added to the in-text citation to differentiate them.
If no author is named, the source may be written by a group or organisation. This is often true for collaborative or official works from government departments, corporations, or other organisations.
In this case, use the group in the author position, both in the in-text citation and in the reference list:
…matching New Zealand's curriculum documents (Ministry of Education, 1996).
Ministry of Education. (1996). Te Whāriki: Early childhood curriculum. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.
Sometimes the group author is also the publisher. See identical publisher and author below for details.
If there is no group author, the title should be moved to the author position. This method is often used for newspaper / magazine articles and encyclopædia entries with no identified author.
The first few words of the title are used in the in-text citation. If it is a book or web page title, put it in italics. If it is an article or chapter title, or an entry title in an encyclopædia, put it between quotation marks:
(“Beehive updating job,” 2007)
The full title is used in the reference list:
Beehive updating job wins award. (2007, October 29). Dominion Post, p. A5.
EndNote fields: If you are using Endnote, insert a comma at the end of group/corporate authors in the Endnote library to ensure it is displayed correctly.
For information on and help with Endnote see:
When citing a group author, the publisher and author's names are often identical. In these cases, put ‘Author’ as the publisher's name, to avoid repetition.
Radio New Zealand. (2005). Annual report 2004/2005. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
The Digital Object Identifier is a unique number allocated to an online publication. It is often used to identify online journal articles and other online documents.
If an online document has a DOI, use it instead of the URL address:
Gelkopf, M., Ryan, P., Cotton, S., & Berger, R. (2008). The impact of “training the trainers” for helping tsunami-survivor children on Sri Lankan disaster volunteer workers. International Journal of Stress Management, 15(2), 117–135.
The DOI will usually appear as part of the source's copyright information or online citation. You can also look up a DOI at http://www.crossref.org/guestquery/
No year of publication
Years of publication can be found in many places.
- For books and other print publications, use the copyright date if possible.
- Massey Library's catalogue lists a year of publication for each book in its collection.
- Web pages sometimes display a “last updated” date; the year can be used for the year of publication.
If no year is available, use ‘n.d.’ (meaning “no date”), both in the in-text citation:
The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage (n.d.) defines …
…to hold in awe (New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage, n.d.).
and in the reference list:
New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. (n.d.). 100 Maori words every New Zealander should know. Retrieved from http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/tereo-100words
City of publication
If the city is not in the United States, the country is also written here, after a comma:
Palmerston North, New Zealand:
For cities in the United States, use the two-letter postal code abbreviation for the state instead of the country:
You can find the two-letter state abbreviations at https://www.bls.gov/cew/cewedr10.htm
The earlier (5th) edition of APA formats this differently. See 5th vs. 6th for details.
2+ cities of publication
If more than one city of publication is listed, use the first one mentioned. Alternatively, if the source identifies a home office, use that city.
No city of publication
Cities of publication are usually found on the copyright page of a book (one of the first pages inside the front cover). Massey Library's catalogue lists cities of publication for each book in its collection.
The APA style guide does not specify what should be done if no city of publication is available. We suggest that you provide as much location information as you can - the country of publication, for example.
The publisher's name does not include legal or superfluous terms such as “inc.”, “& co.”, “pty.”, and “publishers”. You should, however, keep “press” and “books”.
No page numbers
Some sources, particularly web pages, do not have page numbers indicated. Most of the time, it is enough just to cite the author and the year of publication.
If you have to cite a particular part of an unpaginated source, use ‘para’ or ‘¶’ to indicate which paragraph is being cited:
(Benson, 2006, para. 2)
If you are citing a longer source with chapters or sections, use the section title before the paragraph number:
(Benson, 2006, Discussion section, para. 2)
No volume number
If a journal does not use volume numbers, the month, month and day, or season of publication is inserted after the year of publication, within the same brackets:
Chen, W. (2006, July). The discovery of…
The month etc. is not included in the in-text citation, only in the reference list entry.
References and further reading
American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. [Massey Library link]
These pages are provided as a guide to proper referencing. Your course, department, school, or institute may prescribe specific conventions, and their recommendations supersede these instructions. If you have questions not covered here, check in the style guide listed above, ask your course coordinator, or ask at Academic Q+A.