I have a question with regards to APA in-text citations. I wanted to cite 2 studies (with 3 authors for each article) that are of the same first author and same year. I have no problem with the initial in-text citation but the issue arise when I am using subsequent citations for both of these studies.

For example, 1. I have a study by John, Tom, and Harry (2014), 2. as well as another study by John, Gary, and Frod (2014).

Now, since there are 3 authors, subsequent citation for 1. should be John et. al (2014). However, for 2., the subsequent citation will also be John et. al (2014). Therefore, I am quite confused about what I should do in this situation. Any help is appreciated. Thank you in advance!

1 Answer 1


This page from the APA says to just write them out with the number of authors necessary to distinguish them on the second and subsequent citations. So, for yours, I think you would do: (John, Tom, and Harry, 2014) and (John, Gary, and Frod, 2014). Since the second name is enough to distinguish, you could stop there, but "et al." and just listing the third name are equivalent, so you list the name.

  • Hi Bill, thanks for your response. I am aware of the use of alphabets in citations but they are mainly used for differentiating studies of the same year by the exact same author. The references for the study will also match the citations used with the respective alphabets next to the year. However, I am uncertain if it is also applicable for this situation since the 2nd and 3rd authors are different and I do not think that the references for the two study should include alphabets beside the year since the 2nd and 3rd authors are not the same.
    – Karen
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 16:23
  • See edits after some additional web searching.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 16:32

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