Methods to the Madness: Authors in a Reference Entry

Last updated 5/6/2020


Visual: Screen opens to a background image with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The title Walden University Writing Center and tagline “Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears on the screen. The screen changes to show the series title “Methods to the APA Madness” and the video title “Authors in a Reference Entry.”

Audio: Guitar music


Visual: Slide changes to image of a citation style in a blue text box that reads:

Oyo, B., & Kalema, B. M. (2014). Massive open online courses for Africa by Africa. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 15(6), 1-13.

Below the blue box are three points written on the white background outside of the box that read:

  • Author’s (or authors’) last name(s), comma, and first initial
  • References are alphabetized by author last name
  • Author’s name sticks out from rest of reference (hanging intend)

Audio:  Let’s first look at the author element in a reference entry. To list authors, you’ll include the authors’ last names followed by a comma and the initials. Sometimes students will ask if they need to include two initials or just one. It really depends on what the author has listed on the source itself. If the author in the original article is listing just the first initial, just list the first initial. If the author, like this second author, lists the first initial and the middle initial, then you’ll list both, separated by a period and a space. Then note that when you have more than one author, you’ll separate them with an ampersand instead of writing out the word and.

The other note to make about authors is that the authors will determine the order entries appear in the reference list, as entries are organized alphabetically by the first author’s last name.

I also wanted to note here that in our entry we’ll use what’s called a hanging indent. This means that this first line of the entry is flush left on the page, but the rest of the lines are indented .5 inches.  

Finally, I wanted to mention that students will sometimes ask which order they should list authors within the entry itself. For example, in this entry, should Kalema be listed as the first author instead of Oyo? The answer is no: Always list authors in the order they are listed in the article itself. Particularly in the social sciences, the order authors are listed in publications has meaning for their contributions to the research, so it’s important we maintain the order authors are listed in the source. The first author usually has had the most influence or done the most work for that particular publication, so we want to honor that authorial placement in our reference entry as well.


Visual: The screen changes to an ending slide with a background image with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The email address [email protected] appears on the screen.