Authors

Authors are always formatted in the same way, regardless of the source type (website, book, video etc.). However, there are some slight changes to be aware of depending on the number of authors of a single source, and whether they are people or organizations.

Single Author

A single author is formatted in the following way:

Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial.

In practice, using Elon Reeve Musk as our example, this looks like:

Musk, E. R.

Two Authors

Two authors should be listed similarly to a single author, separated with a comma and an ampersand (an ampersand is the name of the squiggly ‘&’ symbol).

Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., & Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial.

In practice, using Elon Reeve Musk and Albert Einstein as our example, this looks like:

Musk, E. R., & Einstein, A.

Three to seven authors

Three to seven authors builds on two authors by separating each one with a comma, except for the last which is separated with an ampersand (&).

Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., & Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial.

With the following authors: Elon Reeve Musk, Albert Einstein, Marie Skłodowska Curie, and Isaac Newton, this should be formatted like so:

Musk, E. R., Einstein, A., Curie, M. S., & Newton, I.

More than seven authors

There should only ever be a maximum of seven authors displayed in a citation. If there are more than seven, then the first six should be displayed, followed by an ellipsis (…), and completed with the final author on the end. The order of the authors should be the same as the order they are listed on the source.

Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial., … Last name, First name initial. Middle name initial.

With the following nine authors: Elon Reeve Musk, Albert Einstein, Marie Skłodowska Curie, Isaac Newton, Charles Robert Darwin, Thomas Alva Edison, Stephen William Hawking, Rosalind Elsie Franklin, and Alexander Graham Bell, the formatting is like so:

Musk, E. R., Einstein, A., Curie, M. S., Newton, I., Darwin, C. R., Edison, T. A., … Bell, A. G.

If the author is a company, organization, or non-person

When the author is an entity rather than a person, you can simply list the full name of the entity. There’s no special abbreviations or formatting to do here.

If you’re citing an anonymous press release by the United States Government, you can write the following as the author:

United States Government.

There is no author

Quite often an article will not have a author listed, or is intentionally left anonymous. In these cases it is okay to use the name of the source in place of the author. For example, if an article on the BBC News website doesn’t have an author, you can write:

BBC News.

If an article has no author it could suggest the source might not be credible, so make sure you’re citing a reputable source if you can’t find an author.

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