Last Updated: 11 Feb, 2022     Views: 73994

There are two main types of styles - author-based styles (like APA, MLA and Harvard) and number-based styles (like AMA and Vancouver).

If you are using a style in which the author's name goes in the text (like APA), then you put the reference list in alphabetical order.

If you are using numbered style (like AMA), then your references will be listed in the order in which they appear in text.

Other styles (like Chicago and AGLC) use footnotes, and may or may not have a reference list depending on the style. See the guides for more information.

Comments (16)

  1. How do you do APA reference lists in alphabetical order when there are multiple authors? For example would a book with the authors Arron James and Zac go before a book with the authors Ben Cameron and Dean?
    by Alex on 20 Apr, 2017
  2. Hi, Alex.

    In APA your reference list always goes in alphabetical order occording to the first piece of information that's different. If you have multiple authors, then look at the first author for each work you are citing. If you have one work where the first author's name is Kirk Alyn, and another work where the first author's name is Bud Collyer, then put them in alphabetical order by surname:

    Alyn, K., Reeve, C. & Cain, D.
    Collyer, B., Routh, B., & Cavill, H.

    If both works had the same first author (say, George Reeves), then you would put them in order by the second author:

    Reeves, G., & Alyn, K.
    Reeves, G., & Collyer, B.

    If they have the same first and second author, then you'd go by the third author... and so on.

    If all of the authors are the same, then look at the year (oldes to newest), and if it's the same year, order it by the title.

    Hope this helps.
    by Sharon Bryan on 21 Apr, 2017
  3. In referencing,and following an alphabetical order,do i reference a book before a journal even if the journal falls before the book in an alphabetical order?I need more light on this. Regards.
    by Adebola Sanyaolu on 23 Oct, 2019
  4. Hi Adebola, disregard the format (book or journal) and consider the author's (or organisations') surnames for the alphabetical order. Your reference list may have a mix of websites, journals, books, etc, but it will need to be listed in alphabetical order by author/creator/organisation name. Check out the APA guide online for some examples.
    by Alison Rogers on 25 Oct, 2019
  5. Which would be placed first in a harvard reference list: Huang, J. & Randall, M. or Huang, T.L.? And what is the rule that applies?
    by Joe Parker on 15 Apr, 2020
  6. Hi, Joe, this is a question worth answering in it's own FAQ, so we made one: https://libanswers.jcu.edu.au/264789
    by Sharon Bryan on 15 Apr, 2020
  7. Why do we put the reference list in alphabetized order?
    by Kels on 18 Jan, 2021
  8. Hi, Kels - that's a good question. Across all referencing styles, there are two basic ways to order your reference list. You can either put it in alphabetical order, or you can put your references in the order in which they were cited (this is always numbered - the first thing you cited is number 1, the second thing you cite is number 2, etc.). For an alphabetical style, the names of the authors will be used for your in-text citations. For a numbered style, you'll just see the number in text. This is to help whoever is reading your paper to easily find the details for the citation they are looking at. Each style will use one method. APA, for example, uses the alphabetical order, while AMA uses the numbered order. There are some lesser-used styles that do both, and run the referencing a bit backwards - they'll put the reference list in alphabetical order, then number it, and then use the number from the reference list in-text without regarding what order your in-text citations follow (so your first citation could very well be 5). None of the standard styles we use at JCU will do it this way, but your lecturer may ask you to follow a style that does (or to adapt a style to do this). Always follow your lecturers' preferences for referencing. Then you get styles like Chicago, which has two versions. What's often called Chicago A is a numbered style, while Chicago B is in alphabetical order. You always have to check which version of the style you are using, because you need to be consistent in following one version for your entire paper. Make sure you know which style you are using, and follow the rules for that style.
    by Sharon Bryan on 09 Feb, 2021
  9. If the names aren't in alphabetical order on the book, do we rearrange the names so they are for the reference list? Or do we just leave them how they are on the book? If the names on the book read "Lester, Apple, Fletcher" does that format stay the same or do I make it alphabetical?
    by Jax on 23 Feb, 2021
  10. Do we include or exclude 'the' from a reference list? Which of the below comes first? Appreciation :) The MET. (2021). Rembrandt; Aristotle with a Bust of Homer. metmuseum.org. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/437394. SCBD. (2010, April 6). What is Taxonomy? Convention on Biological Diversity. https://www.cbd.int/gti/taxonomy.shtml.
    by Joseph on 25 May, 2021
  11. Hi, Jax. Under no circumstances should you change the order of the authors. The order the authors names are in on the book/journal/whatever is something that was carefully decided by the authors (blood may have been shed in the fights to determine who was first), and people will only be able to find that source if the order of the authors remains the same (if Smith is the first author on the book, you won't easily find it by looking for Brown, who is the fifth author).
    by Sharon Bryan on 02 Jun, 2021
  12. Hi, Joseph. Whether you include the "the" depends on name in question. In most cases, the "the" is a "soft the" and isn't part of the author's official name, so you drop it. For example, "The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals" doesn't really have "the" as part of the name, so you'd drop it and start with "Royal", putting the reference in the "R" part of your list. But sometimes it's a "hard The", and is part of the official name - this is especially true of screen names and Twitter handles. "The Rural Juror" on Twitter, for example, would start with "The" and go in the "T" section of your reference list. It's also important to remember that you always use a corporate author's proper name in the reference list - never their acronym or nickname. "The MET" is actually "the Metropolitan Museum of Art", and you should write their name in full when referring to information on their website. That's a "soft the", and you would start with "Metropolitan" - "M" in your reference list. SCBD is "the Secretariat of Convention on Biological Diversity" - once again, you need to write it in full, and drop the "soft the" - "S" in your reference list. The only exception to this rule is when the acronym or nickname has *become* the official name of the organisation, and that is what they write as their name on all of their documents (NASA, for example). Unsure? Check their about page and see what their offical name is.
    by Sharon Bryan on 02 Jun, 2021
  13. If I have sources of different Latin languages should they all be in alphabetical order mixed up or should firstly come English sources and then others? (like German or Latin)
    by Alina on 28 Sep, 2021
  14. Hi, Alina, All of your sources go in together in the same list - unless you've been specifically asked to do other wise. So they would all be "mixed up" together, but ordered alphabetically.
    by Sharon Bryan on 06 Oct, 2021
  15. If I have some resources with an unknown author or copyright holder (in my case I have some online images cited) do I still place them in alphabetical order by title alongside my sources that have authors? Or would I do all the sources with authors in alphabetical order first and follow them with the sources without authors in alphabetical order by title? An example would be the author of my source being Esposti then alphabetically the title of my unknown author image starts with "Healthcare" if I place them alphabetically "H" follows "E" but it is not an author's name.
    by Jenna Becker on 28 Mar, 2022
  16. Hi, Jenna, Your reference list will always go in alphabetical order by the first piece of information in the reference,* so if it starts with a title, the tile is treated exactly like the name of the first author, and alphabetised accordingly. So, for example, if you had a work titled "Heather and the moors" and you had to start the reference with the title because there was no author, it would file between the authors "Heathcliff, L." and "Heathland, K." *Or the first unique piece of information, so if the first author is identical, you go with the second author, etc.
    by Sharon Bryan on 29 Mar, 2022