APA Style Refresh: Citing Multiple Sources to a Single Point -->

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APA Style Refresh: Citing Multiple Sources to a Single Point

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Join us for a new blog feature where we give our readers, students, and scholarly writers an APA Refresh. These posts will help you to understand the common (and some not-so-common) APA rules, guidelines, and style considerations. We hope you find them informative and helpful. Just like a cold beverage on a hot, hot day, you'll definitely enjoy this APA Refresh
A refreshing beverage to help you refresh you APA skills!


The more sources students read in their field of study, the more it becomes apparent that some scholars advance similar claims and or argue similar points. In fact, you might have even noticed that some scholars, in their work, attribute more than one source for a point to reflect this. As well, the further along you are in your studies, such as working on a literature review, a thesis, or a doctoral capstone study or dissertation, the more likely it will be that you will attribute more than one source to a point. So, how do you do this per APA style? In this post, I will provide an overview of how to attribute multiple sources to a single point.

Citation Basics
First, let's begin with some citation basics. If I want to attribute several authors to the same point, I have two choices, right? I can either use a narrative citation, where the sources are part of the grammatical structure of the sentence, or I can cite them parenthetically, where the sources are in parenthesis at the end of the sentence. When I read a work that attributes several different authors to the same point using a narrative citation format, I tend to find it more difficult to focus on the point of the sentence since more focus is placed on attributing different authors to the point.

Here is an example of a narrative citation that attributes several authors to the same point:

Philbrook (2018), Read (2018), Sharpe (2018), and Townsend (2018) noted that citing several authors in a parenthetical citation can complicate the clarity of a point.

While this is correct APA format, I find reading this sentence somewhat hard because there are so many authors listed that the point itself seems drowned out. If you do want to include the authors as part of a narrative citation, though, you can see that the basic format would be the same as other narrative citations except for each source is separated by a comma.

Use Parenthetical Citations to Cite Multiple Sources
That said, let’s look as some examples of how to parenthetically attribute more than one source to a point. Let’s say that the authors Steve Adams, Annika Jones, and Raul Smith all made the point that spicy food is healthy and should be consumed regularly (I agree!).

The basic format for parenthetically citing more than one source for a point is to separate the sources by semi-colons. Here is an example of the basic format for attributing more than one author to a single (paraphrased) point:

Spicy food is healthy and should be consumed regularly (Adams, 2016; Jones, 2011; Smith, 2018).

Seems fairly easy, right? Here, I included semi-colons to separate the sources—other than this, the citation format is the same as basic parenthetical citation format.

However, there are some variations for attributing more than one source to a point depending on the sources you are working with.

Variations for Citing Two or More Source for a Single Point
When there are two or more sources included by the same author, the sources would be listed by the order of the publication date with the author’s name included only once and the dates separated by a comma.

Example: Spicy food is healthy and should be consumed regularly (Adams, 2016, 2018; Jones, 2011, 2014; Smith, 2018).

In this example, Adams and Jones made this same point in two of their separate works, so the early dates of publication are included before the later dates. For instance, Adams’ 2016 work comes before Adams’ 2018 work, but I don’t need to include “Adams” twice; I just need to separate this author’s two sources by a comma.

Yet another format variation for attributing more than one source to a point is when there are two or more works included by the same author with the same date of publication. In this case, sources would be included in alphabetical order according to the lettered suffix (a, b, c, etc.).

Example: Spicy food is healthy and should be consumed regularly (Adams, 2016, 2018; Jones, 2011, 2014; Smith, 2018a, 2018b).

So here, Smith made the point in two separate works, both published in 2018. I included a lower-case letter, beginning with “a,” to differentiate these two sources with the same date of publication.

Learn more about citation variations on our website. Let us know, too, what citation variations you find difficult, confusing, or are just not sure about—we’re happy to help.


Veronica Oliver author pic

Veronica Oliver is a Writing Instructor in the Walden Writing Center. In her spare time she writes fiction, binge watches Netflix, and occasionally makes it to a 6am Bikram Yoga class.

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