APA referencing style, Q&A

Referencing guidelines may be confusing at times, but understanding why a certain rule exists could help. Just like in mathematics, where it's always easier to remember a formula that you understand.

How many academic referencing styles are there?

There are many different types of referencing styles, including Harvard, Chicago, Vancouver, and APA. Some differ greatly from one another, while others are rather similar. Some academic journals allow you to submit a manuscript with any format of referencing, providing it is consistent throughout the text – but most require a specific style of referencing.

Since I like to specialize in everything that I do, I only edit bibliography lists according to the American Psychological Association (APA) style. That way, my clients can rest assured that they are receiving quality editing services that meet specific guidelines.

Are you familiar with the latest APA guidelines?

Yes. Since the release of the new guidelines (late 2019), I have made great efforts to specialize in this style of citations and references in academic writing. However, I always keep my copy of the Publication manual of the American Psychological Association: The official guide to APA style (7th edition) on my desk beside me. Whenever I need to look something up, or even just double-check my work, I don’t have to go very far to do so.

From time to time, however, I come across something that is slightly confusing, especially regarding commas, ampersands, and initials. I’ll give you an example.

Are the initials placed before or after the last name?

One issue that seem especially confusing to me is why the initials of the author appear AFTER their last name (or “surname,” as they say in England):

Yohanan, B. A.

but the initials of the editor appear BEFORE their family name:

… In B. A., Yohanan (Ed.),

I wrote to the American Psychological Association

A few weeks ago, I decided to write to the APA with this query, and they very kindly and very quickly replied, providing the following answer:

Since the entire reference list must be alphabetized (from A to Z), placing the initials AFTER the author’s last name (at the beginning of the specific reference) makes alphabetizing much simpler. Well, that makes sense.


If you have any questions regarding your academic APA referencing list in English, please feel free to contact me.

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