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Citation Help for APA, 6th Edition: Variations

Help with common issues and questions with APA 6th ed. Citation Style.

No author?

The bluebook: A uniform system of citation (18th ed.). (2005). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Law Review Association.

When there is no author move the title to the author spot. Italicize title and end with a period. Follow title with publication date and publication information.

More information: See p. 184 in the APA Manual 6th Edition for further explanation.

Multiple Authors?

McGill, I., Glenn, J. K., & Brockbank, A. (2004). The action learning handbook: Powerful techniques for education, professional development and training. New York, NY: Routledge Falmer.

List each author last name first followed by the initials for the first and middle names followed by a comma. Insert an amperstand (&) before the last author.

Eight or More Authors?
List the first six authors' names, then insert three ellipses, and add the last author's name.

Gilbert, J. R., Smith, J. D., Johnson, R. S., Anderson, A., Plath, S., Martin, G., . . . White, N. (2004). Choosing a title (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Unnamed  Publishing.

Group Authors

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: Author.

This includes a name of a study group, government agency, association, corporation, etc. Put the name of the group author in the author position followed by a period.

More information: See p. 184 in the APA Manual 6th Edition for further explanation.

Question 1

Question: Do I double-space my reference list, and if I do, do I add an extra space between references?

Answer: According to p. 229 of the APA Manual, 6th edition "Double space between all text lines of the manuscript. Double-space after every link in the title, headings, footnotes, quotations, references, and figure captions. Although you may apply triple- or quadruple-spacing in special circumstances, such as immediately before and after a displayed equation, never use single-spacing or one-and-a-half spacing except in tables or figures." 

Question 2

Question: How do I cite an article which is cited in the article I am using?

Answer: According to page 178 of the APA Manual, 6th edition, citation of a work discussed in a secondary source (e.g., for a study by Seidenberg and McClelland cited in Coltheart et al.) should be used sparingly. Give the secondary source in the reference list; in text, name the original work, and give a citation for the secondary source.

For example:
You discovered a great source! An article written by Seidenberg and McClelland's work that is cited in Coltheart et al. that looks promising to include in your paper. But you could not locate Seidenberg and McClelland's original article.

Your In-Text Citation would like:
Seidenberg and McClelland's study ... (as cited in Coltheart, Curtis, Atkins, &

Haller, 1993).

Your Citation in Reference List would look like:
Coltheart, M., Curtis, B., Atkins, P., & Haller, M. (1993). Models of reading aloud:

     Dual-route and parallel-disturbed-processing approaches. Psychological Review,

     100, 589-608.

Question 3

Question: What is the proper use of the comma when I have a series of three of more words or phrases in a sentence?
Answer: According to p. 88 of the APA Manual, 6th edition -

Use a comma "between elements (including before and and or) in a series of three or more items."


  • the height, width, or depth
  • in a study by Stacy, Newcomb, and Bentler (1991)

Question 4

Question: If the author has a first and middle name, do I put a space between the initials?
Answer: According to p. 88 of the APA Manual, 6th edition, Yes - "[include a space] after the periods of the initials in personal names (e.g., J. R. Zhang)"

Question 5

How do I write an abstract?
Librarians are frequently asked questions from faculty and students about guidelines on writing abstracts (or annotations). For students the answer is easy, "Whatever your professor wants." For faculty.... Amazingly, the APA style manual does not specify.

This extract from Martha Davis, Scientific Papers and Presentations (Ref. T 11.D234 1997) may help; consult the original for about two pages of fuller description:

"For journal publications you will need the informative abstract.,,,[which] must be a short, concise, but completely self-explanatory report on a scientific investigation. Like the report itself, the abstract must include:

1. The research objectives and basic justification for conducting the investigation
2. The basic methods used
3. The results and significant conclusions that can be drawn
...omitted from the abstract are the literature review and discussion. ...[It] should not exceed 200 to 250 words." p. 101.
Davis also includes an appendix with four successively better versions of an abstract.

Also see pages 25-27 for a discussion about abstracts and the requirements for different types of journal articles in the APA 6th edition.

Question 6

Question: How do you cite two works by the same author published in the same year?
Answer: According to page 178 of the APA Manual, 6th edition

Lower case letters are added to the year. In the references list, it would look like this:

Dietrich, D. M. (2001a). Blah, blah, . . .

Dietrich, D. M. (2001b). More blah, more blah, . . .

In the narrative, it would be: "Dietrich (2001a) first found that . . . , but Dietrich (2001b) contradicted the earlier finding,"

Question 7

Question: How do I cite a class lecture?

Answer: Generally, this is considered non-recoverable forms of communication - similar to that of an email, phone conversation, or interview. Therefore, you would treat this as Personal Communication. What this means is that you will include the information about the lecture within the body of your paper, but you will not have a citation in your reference list.

An example with all information within the sentence could look like this:

During the class lecture on June 15, 2011, Dr. John Doe made reference to the variety of ways students study in the online environment.

OR another example:

During a recent class lecture, a variety of ways students study in the online environment was discussed (J. Doe, Class Lecture, June 15, 2011).

You will find more information in section 6.20 on page 179 of the APA Manual, 6th ed.


Gibbs, J. T., & Huang, L. N. (Eds.). (2007). Children of color: Psychological interventions with minority youth. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Place the word Eds. followed by a period in parentheses also followed by a period after the editor(s) name(s).

Only One Editor?
Instead of Eds., use Ed. follow-up with a period, place in parentheses, and end with a period after the editor's name.

Avery, E. F. (Ed.). (2003). Assessing student outcomes for information literacy instruction. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

More information: See p. 184 in the APA Manual 6th Edition for further explanation.


Smith, S. (2008). Clinical nursing skills: Basic to advanced skills (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Place the edition number in parentheses after the book title. Follow by ed. and a period outside the parentheses.

No Date of Publication?

Example: Fellows, S. (n.d.). Seeing the moon rise. New York: Paulson.

Explanation: If you cannot locate a date of publication or creation, use the abbreviation "n.d." in place of the date.