How do you find who are the lead authors if there's more than one?

I was looking at the above paper, and I was trying to know who are the lead author so I can cite them.

Smith, Jones, Young, et al., 2001

APA tells us to cite the lead author and then add et al. if there are other authors than the lead authors, but most papers don't seem to carry the information on who is or are the lead author of a paper.

1 Answer 1


For your paper, "Song et al. (2022)" or "(Song et al., 2022)". APA 7th Edition has pretty clear rules:

  • For a work with one or two authors, include the author name(s) in every citation.
  • For a work with three or more authors, include the name of only the first author plus "et al." in every citation (even the first citation).

(There are exceptions, but they only show up to disambiguate otherwise identical citations for different works, such as when the same authors publish multiple works in the same year.)

When it says "first author", this means the first name in the list.

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