If a reference has a group author, the name of the group can sometimes be abbreviated—for example, “American Psychological Association” can be abbreviated to “APA.” You are not obligated to abbreviate the name of a group author, but you can if the abbreviation is well-known, will help avoid cumbersome repetition, or will appear at least three times in the paper. For example, many professional organizations use an abbreviation for their name, and it would be appropriate to use the abbreviation in your paper as well.

Group author abbreviations are covered in Section 8.21 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

  • As with other abbreviations, provide the full name of the group on first mention in the text, followed by the abbreviation.

  • If the group name first appears in a narrative citation, include the abbreviation before the year in parentheses, separated with a comma.

The American Psychological Association (APA, 2017) provided information on overcoming opioid abuse.
  • If the group name first appears in a parenthetical citation, include the abbreviation in square brackets, followed by a comma and the year.

People can overcome opioid abuse through residential treatment (American Psychological Association [APA], 2017).
  • In the reference list entry, do not abbreviate the group author name. Instead, spell out the full name of the group as presented in the source.

American Psychological Association. (2017, January). Understanding and overcoming opioid abuse. https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/opioid-abuse.aspx
  • If several references have the same group author, introduce the abbreviation only once in the text.

  • In the rare case that two different groups abbreviate to the same form (e.g., both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association abbreviate to “APA”) and you cite both groups in your paper, spell out each name every time. Do not use the abbreviation because it would be unclear which APA you meant within the context of your paper.