Dealing with numbers in papers and numbers of authors Uncategorized / Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

There are a few things that are difficult for students who are writing essays: what to do about numbers and how to cite multiple authors. This blog will shed some light on the topic, using the 6th edition of the APA Style Manual.

If you have a number (no matter how large) that begins a sentence, you MUST spell it out. For example, here is a sentence that begins with the number six:

1600 children are coming. (This is incorrect.)

Sixteen hundred children are coming. (This is right.)

If you have a number in the body of your paper (but that does not start a sentence) and it is less than ten, spell it out. For example:

We hope that six children will be in attendance.

If it is more than ten, use the number. For example:

We hope that 121 children will attend our party. (With that number, I’m glad the party isn’t at my house!)

Let’s move on to citing authors in your essay. If you have one or two authors, use both names every time you mention the authors in your paper. For example:

Beebe and Masterson (2019) state that…..

The authors of our textbook state that “here is your direct quote” (Beebe & Masterson, 2019, p. 123). [Note that the “and” changes into an “&” when you move the names into the parenthetical citation.]

Please note that you do NOT use the first initials of the authors in your in-text citation unless you have more than one author with the same last name.

If you have three to five authors, use all of the names the first time you mention the authors. After that, use the first name of the first author and the words et al. following the first in-text citation. For example:

Smith, Jones, Brown, and Dean (2005) argue that……

Smith et al. (2005) argue that…..

If you have six or more authors, you may just write Smith et al. (2005)….

When you are writing your References page, you need to spell out all of the authors, if there are less than seven. To stay in line with APA formatting, you will also include their initials. For example:

Smith, E.T., Jones, D.B., Brown, W.T., Dean, S.D., Hannity, S., & Limbaugh, D.

(2019). and finish the citation

Hope this helps! Please post a comment if you have any questions or comments.


Dr. Sheri


Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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