How do I cite in APA format for an author who uses only a first name?

  • The type of work being cited will affect the citation, so it's impossible to answer based on the information given. Does your style guide really not give any example of this? Historically authors often had only a single name, e.g. Homer, more recently pseudonyms are not uncommon e.g. Voltaire, and organizations also have only a single name. In fact, the First Name/Last Name pattern can be assumed only for modern Western cultures. – Ben Voigt Mar 31 '16 at 2:38
  • Have you looked into the APA Publication Manual? – Stephan Kolassa Mar 31 '16 at 6:20

When there is only one name, simply use that name.

The guiding principal of citation is to give a clear and unambiguous pointer for finding the work in question and related works. Thus, when dealing with a mononym, the general APA dictum of "author's last name" (which is quite culturally narrow in any case) maps cleanly to "author's only name."

Examples can easily be found for famous ancient authors such as Plato, e.g.:

Plato. (1961). Meno (R. S. Bluck, Trans.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. (Original work published ca. 380 B.C.)

The same principles can be applied for modern mononymous authors.

  • I would suggest converting this to comment. – Aleksandr Blekh Mar 31 '16 at 2:50
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    @AleksandrBlekh Short though it may be, I think it may be sufficient answer. – jakebeal Mar 31 '16 at 2:54
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    I have no problem with very brief, but to the point, answers, even though I personally prefer to post somewhat more comprehensive write-ups as answers, even when it is not required for answering question. Like context, relevant references, adjacent domain knowledge... But I realize that this is too simple of a question for any expansion. – Aleksandr Blekh Mar 31 '16 at 3:02
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    Do you have any evidence for this answer? I don't have my style guide handy, but I am not sure it is covered. – StrongBad Mar 31 '16 at 3:33
  • @StrongBad AleksandrBlekh OK, I'll expand and explain. – jakebeal Mar 31 '16 at 3:55

According to the APA Style Blog you should cite what you see. While it does not specifically cover people/references with one name, it does cover the Dalai Lama (a single title) and Dr Suess (a pseudonym that cannot be separated). Based on the cite what you see principal, just treat the name as a last name.

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