Frequently asked questions about APA Style.

01 How do you refer to a source without an author?

If no author is given, list the name of the organization. When the organization is also unknown, place the title first, then the year of publication, followed by the rest of the reference list entry. Within the text itself, the title instead of the author is cited. In the reference list the source is listed by the first letter of the title.


  • American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th edition).
    Text: (American Psychological Association, 2020)
    or: American Psychological Association (2020)
  • Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Ministry of Justice and Security, & Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. (n.d.). Youth care and child protection. Government of the Netherlands. Retrieved August 18, 2021, from https://www.government.nl/topics/youth-policy/youth-care-and-child-protection
    Text: (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport et al., n.d.)
    or: Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport et al. (n.d.)
  • Collins COBUILD advanced dictionary. (2009). Heinle Cengage Learning.
    Text: (Collins COBUILD advanced dictionary, 2009)
    or: Collins COBUILD advanced dictionary (2009)


02 How do you refer to a source without a publication date?

If no date or year is available, use 'n.d.' (which stands for "no date").


  • Adams, M. (n.d.). Snow-White and the little bears: A fairy tale play in four scenes. Books for the Bairns.

    Text: (Adams, n.d.)
    or: Adams (n.d.)
  • World Health Organization. (n.d.). World Health Assembly. Retrieved August 18, 2021, from https://www.who.int/about/governance/world-health-assembly
    Text: (World Health Organization, n.d.)
    or: World Health Organization (n.d.)


03 How do you refer to a source with multiple publishers?

For publications with multiple publishers, all names are listed separated by a semicolon.


  • Scott, J. (2020). I talk a river. Neal Porter Books; Holiday House.
    Text: (Scott, 2020)
    or: Scott (2020)


04 How do you refer to a journal or newspaper article without a volume, publication date or page numbers?

Sometimes the volume or issue number and/or page numbers are not mentioned. When this information is not available, try to make the reference as possible, for instance by adding the month of publication or article number. A special edition, like a supplement, can be cited separately, using brackets.


  • Article number
    Atarodi, A., Hariri, N., & Babalhavaeji, F. (2019). Transforming knowledge into wisdom: A grounded theory approach. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal), Article 2955. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/2955
    Text: (Atarodi et al., 2019)
    or: Atarodi et al. (2019)
  • Supplement
    Gadsby, G., & Salt, E. (2019). Evaluation of a functional shoulder strengthening programme: A comparison of rehabilitation provided by a qualified physiotherapist versus physiotherapy assistant. Physiotherapy, 105(Supplement 1), e1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physio.2018.11.236
    Text: (Gadsby & Salt, 2019)
    or: Gadsby and Salt (2019)
  • Special section
    Hebl, M., & King, E. B. (2019). Advancing gender equality in the workplace [Special section]. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 7(1), 1-101.
    Text: (Hebl & King, 2019)
    or: Hebl and King (2019)


05 How do you refer to your own translation?

A quotation may be translated, for example to make the text easier to read. A translation of a quote is considered a paraphrase. It is not necessary to mention that it is a translation. In case of a translation of a quote, it is recommended to mention the page number.
For translated publications, see Do you include the isbn, translator or entitling in the reference list?

When mentioning a publication in a language unknown to the reader, put your own translation of the title in square brackets.


  • Laerdu Ensku: Fljotlegt / audvelt / skilvirkt [Learn English: Quick / easy / efficient]. (2017). Createspace Independent Publishing Platform.
    Text: (Laerdu Ensku, 2017)
    or: Laerdu Ensku (2017)


06 How do you refer to multiple works with the same author and the same year?

When you are using more than one publication by the same author or organization that are published in the same year, include the letter ‘a’ after the first year and the letter ‘b’ after the second year, both in the text and in the reference list.



07 How do you refer to in-text citation that refers to another source?

Include author(s) and year of publication for both publications, add "in" for a paraphrase and "as cited in" for a direct quotation. If the year of the primary source is unknown, include ony the author's name.

List only the secondary source - the one that you have used - in the reference list. It is advised to cite secondary sources sparingly.


  • Text
    It is important to be open about each other's roles, as well as relationships and the timeframe (Nind, 2014, in Sergeant, 2021).
    According to Nind (2014, in Sergeant, 2021) it is important to be open about each other's roles.
    Nind (2014, as cited in Sergeant, 2021, p. 95) says "openness and clarity about each other’s roles, about relationships and the timeframe are important".
    Reference list
    Sergeant, S. (2021). Working together, learning together: Towards universal design for research [Dissertation, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam]. Gompel&Svacina Uitgevers.


08 How do you refer to sources that are only accessible after logging in, for example OnderwijsOnline or the intranet of an internship institution?

For HAN learning environments (OnderwijsOnline, Teams, HAN Video), the same rules apply as for webpages that are freely accessible.

Documents from an internship institution behind a login are referred to as personal communication.


09 How do you refer and do an in-text citation for a source with multiple authors?

See the table above.
One or two authors are always listed, in-text as well as in your reference list. Use an ampersand (&) instead of “and”.
With three or more authors list only the first author, followed by et al. (Latin abbrivation for "and others") In the reference list every author is listed, up to 20 names. When there are 21 or more authors, only list the first 19 authors, then use ellipsis points (. . . ), followed by the final author, without an ampersand.


10 Do you include a lecture in the reference list?

Classes, lectures, workshops, presentations, etc. are not listed in a reference list because the reader cannot retrieve the information. Refer to a lecture as a personal communication. You can refer to a class by using and in-text citation and include the name of the teacher, personal communication and the date.
Note: when you want to refer to, for instance, a PowerPoint-presentation that is also available online, use the same rules as for an internet source.


  • …according to Professor Johnson (personal communication, October 14, 2020) in his lecture on youth at risk this is not true…
  • …but this not true (M. Johnson, personal communication, October 14, 2020) and will…
  • …M. Johnson (personal communication, October 14, 2020) stated during his lecture on youth at risk that this is not true and… 


11 Do you include the ISBN, translator or forms of address in the reference list?

ISBN, names of translators and forms of address are not included in a reference list. Include the original year of publication if available.
For own translations, see How do you refer to your own translation?


  • Piaget, J. (1969). The psychology of the child (H. Weaver, Trans.). Basic Books.
    Text: (Piaget, 1969)
    or: Piaget (1969)
  • Plato. (1961). Meno (R. S. Bluck, Trans.). Cambridge University Press. (Original work published ca. 380 B.C.)
    Text: (Plato, ca. 380 B.C./1961)
    or: Plato (ca. 380 B.C./1961)


12 Do you include the complete URL, even when it is very long?

To be able to retrieve the webpage you have used, include the entire link. 

Online magazine articles often contain a DOI ("digital object identifier"). This is an unique number which provides a long-lasting link for online articles. If you use DOI do not include the retrieval date of consultation or downloading.

  • Poorjavad, M., Derakhshandeh, F., Etemadifar, M., Soleymani, B., Minagar, A., & Maghzi, A. H. (2010). Oropharyngeal dysphagia in multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerose Journal, 16(3), 362-365. https://doi.org/10.1177/1352458509358089

For other webpages it is allowed to replace a long URL by using an URL-shortener.


13 Does APA Style use end- or footnotes?

APA Style does not use footnotes or endnotes for references. However, end- and footnotes permitted for a brief explanation of the text.
The reason for this is economic: it saves paper.


14 Is it possible to check the correct spelling of names, titles, etc.?

The right spelling of the names of authors, publishers, etc. can be checked in the HAN Study Centre Catalogue and WorldCat.


15 Where can I find additional information regarding the APA guidelines?

You can find the APA guidelines in the following publication, which is available at the HAN Study Centres in Arnhem and Nijmegen, see the catalogue:

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th edition).

See also the official blog of the APA Style experts: https://apastyle.apa.org/blog.

Looking for an example not listed? Let us know, mail to auteursrecht@han.nl.

When in doubt, try to be as complete as possible. Remember that a reference list is compiled to enable people to trace back the sources that you have listed.

Last update: August 20, 2021