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APA Style Guidelines for Multiple Authors


Figuring out how to format your work with just one author was hard enough. Now, you have a book that has three different authors and one with eleven different authors. You know all those names are just going to clutter up your APA essay. Learn the right way to source multiple authors in the APA style.

Student citing multiple authors in bibliography

Creating a Parenthetical Citation

Whether you have a book or magazine with multiple sources, the way that you cite them in your essay in an in-text or parenthetical citation is the same.  The only thing you really need to know is how many authors there are. Examine how APA breaks multiple authors down.

Two Authors

A source with only two authors will list both sources last names in the text. You’ll also list them every time you discuss the source. For example:

  • Beetle & Bard (2010) stated…

Five or Fewer Authors

You have more than two but fewer than five authors. This case follows a different format for the first time and every subsequent it’s discussed in the source. You’ll list all the last names the first time, and the first author followed by et al. (which means ‘and others’ in Latin) every time after. The best way to understand is to see it.

  • Beetle, Bard, Beatty, & Chen (2010) discussed…
  • Again, it was found by Beetle et al. (2010) that…

Authors of Six or More

Now things are getting crazy. You’ve found yourself with a book that has 11 authors. Just because the book is getting complicated doesn’t mean your citation needs to. Use the first authors last name followed by et al. from the beginning to the end.

  • Johnson et al. (2010) stated …

Two of the Same

In the instance that two different sources with more than six authors shorten to the same parenthetical citation, you’ll need to differentiate. To do this, you can add a, b, c, etc.

  • Johnson et al. (2010a) once described…
  • Johnson et al. (2010b) showed…

Getting It Right in the Reference List

Now comes the time for creating your References page. Reference citation a bit different than the parenthetical citations. You can list all the authors unless you have more than seven. In addition to the last name, you’ll include the first and middle initial and separate the names by commas.

Fewer Than Seven Authors

If you have fewer than seven authors, add the names with a comma before the ampersand (&). This will look like:

Bard T. S., & Petty, R. S. (2010). Mood management. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1034-1048.


Bard T. S., Turner R. V., Kelly S. Q., & Petty, R. S. (2010). Mood management. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1034-1048.

More Than Seven Authors

It might not seem possible, but some large studies or scholarly books can have 15 different authors. Listing all of them would take up your entire reference page. Instead of spending 20 minutes typing out all those names, APA has simplified it for you. You’ll follow the same format as seven or less but after the sixth name you include ellipses then list the last author’s name, like so:

Beetle, F. H., Choi, M. J., Bard, L. L., Harland, A. A., Stanley, J. A., Tipman, S. T., . . . Rubin, L. H. (2017). Technical issues for MP software. Technical Communication, 51, 210-223.


Note: The names are all that change. The rest of the formatting will be the same as usual.


A Multitude of Writers

Trying to remember all the rules for citing one author can make your eyes cross, but now there are two or six. Citing those authors doesn’t need to induce panic. Just count them up and follow the rules. And if you have no author, you’re covered there too.

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About the author

Jennifer Betts

Jennifer Betts is a diverse educational writer who has been published in multiple online forums. She also works part time as a substitute teacher with seven different school districts. Building on skills gained from a brother and son with learning disabilities, she has been a tutor and mentor for disadvantaged children for more than 20 years. Interested in learning more about Jennifer Betts, just ask.

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