For a few documents I have to write during my internship I have been told to use APA notation for citing my sources and building the bibliography.

Now, my problem is that some of the quotes or information comes from multiple sources, so I'd like to use IEEE notation in-line with the text, for example:

A quote about principles concerning the hierarchy of an organisation. [1, 2]

instead of the APA style, which would look like this:

A quote about principles concerning the hierarchy of an organisation. (somesource, 2001, p. 22) (anothersource, 2005, p. 5)

Is this acceptable for a research paper (Bachelor level at a university of applied sciences) or should I just stick to APA notation for the entirety of the paper?

Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    Not really an answer to your question, but I think that APA style is much more reader-friendly, at least for readers who may know some of the cited papers. So my vote would be, use APA wherever you can (and of course consistently)! In my view people focus too much on "what is acceptable" or "what do I have to do", instead better focus on being nice to your readers! (Happier readers => better reviews.) Sep 3, 2019 at 11:18
  • @Lewian Thanks for your feedback, I agree that the APA style is more readable when actually going through a paper, however I find that it gets cluttered relatively easily when multiple sources are used for one citation or paraphrase. For now I'll do what you and en woke suggested and just consistently use APA throughout the paper! Sep 3, 2019 at 12:08
  • Also, with APA or similar citation style, multiple sources should also go into the same parentheses: (somesource, 2001, p. 22; anothersource, 2005, p. 5).
    – jnanin
    Sep 9, 2019 at 11:42

1 Answer 1


Stick to one citation-style throughout your paper.

Do not combine different citation styles!

The pros of being consistent:

  • Paper looks nicer and more professional, i. e. like a real scientific paper
  • It's easier to read, because the text is not interspersed with different kinds of foot- or endnotes (reduced cognitive load)
  • Makes checking your sources easier

Cons of being inconsistent:

  • Some professors are quite allergic to inconsistent notation (I know of fellow students who learned it the hard way).
  • It gives a very bad impression

    • It wasn't understood how citations work and what their purpose is.
    • Perhaps, at least some material was just lazily copied from different sources (each using different citation styles) and you didn't do it yourself. Not the case, for sure, but you don't want to create that impression and have to prove your innocence. And it really looks like a good explanation for the strange mixing of different citation styles.

In general, stick to one style. If you have been told which one to use, then use that one. Else, choose one you like (sometimes you are free to choose a style) or ask. But mixing them has no benefits, just downsides. In your case, use APA notation throughout your paper, just as you have been told.

  • Thank you very much for your answer, it makes quite a bit of sense. I'll wait to see if others wish to contribute differing views before marking an answer as 'accepted' :) Sep 3, 2019 at 7:32

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