APA style

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This page provides a starting resource to learn about writing in APA style.

APA style is a widely-used, professional writing style for academic work in the social sciences and is endorsed by the American Psychological Association.

Unfortunately, the full APA style manual is only available by purchasing a hard-copy. As a result, there are many unofficial APA style guides on the web, so if you can't find what you're looking for here, try the external links.

Subject classification: this is a psychology resource.
The Wikipedia article on APA style.
Completion status: this resource is ~25% complete.

Abbreviations[edit | edit source]

  1. Are they kept to a minimum? (Avoid overusing abbreviations. In general, a reader will find your work easier to read if you don't use abbreviations. Abbreviate judiciously.)
  2. Are all non-conventional abbreviations fully expanded when first used? (e.g., Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS))
  3. Are conventional abbreviations used? For example, ANOVA.
  4. Symbols (such as =) used as replacements for words (e.g., equals) should be treated as words in terms of punctuation. Therefore, = should always have a space before and after. Example (p = .31 is correct; p=.31 is not correct). Other examples of symbols include > and <.

Capitalisation[edit | edit source]

  1. Where referring to measured constructs within the study, use first-letter capitalisation (e.g., Self Confidence)
  2. Where referring the theoretical constructs, do not use capitalisation (e.g., self confidence).
  3. APA Style is a "down" style - more info.

Citations[edit | edit source]

For further reading on this topic, see the 6th edition Publication Manual section “Citing References in Text” (pp. 174–179).

  1. Only cite resources which you have directly consulted, otherwise secondary citations should be used.
  2. Citations involve author and year, with the full details provided in the reference list.
  3. Citations in brackets should be in alphabetical order, e.g., (Ashton, Numena, & Kelly, 2000; Donohue & Wong, 1997; Klein, 1990)
  4. When citing a source with six or more authors, use first author et al. (e.g., Smith et al., 2009)
  5. For a more detailed set of examples, see [1], [2], [3], [4]

Subsequent citations[edit | edit source]

  1. If a reference is cited more than once in a paragraph, the subsequent citations should not include the year. e.g., "...race, religion, sexuality, gender and age (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). This concept refers to an us versus them, or alternatively the in-group versus the out-group mentality (Baumeister & Bushman)..."
  2. et al. should be used for the initial and subsequent citations within a paper when there are six or more authors.
  3. Is "et al." used for second and subsequent citations which have three or more authors?

Formatting[edit | edit source]

  1. Use Times New Roman 12 point font throughout.
  2. The first line of each paragraph should be indented.
  3. Do not use underline.
  4. Use italics for emphasis.
  5. Italicise statistical symbols which use the normal alphabet.

Grammar[edit | edit source]

  1. Comma usage (a common issue is incorrectly leaving out commas before "and" when listing three of more items) - See more details about comma punctuation rules: [5] - [6]
  2. Be clear and consistent about the use of "grammatical person". Third person is most common, followed by first person.

Numbers and statistics[edit | edit source]

  1. "The general rule governing APA style on the use of numbers is to use figures to express numbers 10 and above and words to express numbers below 10" (APA, 2001, p. 122).
  2. Test statistics and p values should generally be rounded to two decimal places.
  3. All statistical symbols that are not Greek letters should be italicised (M, SD, t, p, etc.).
  4. Where a number could be above or below one (in theory), also include the preceding 0 (e.g., skewness = 0.71).
  5. Be wary of making causal claims based on cross-sectional data.

Parts of a manuscript[edit | edit source]

For research-based articles and reports, the following are the typically recommended parts:

Running head[edit | edit source]

  1. Appears in the header on each page.

Page number[edit | edit source]

  1. Appears in the top-right of the header on each page.

Title page[edit | edit source]

Abstract[edit | edit source]

  1. Maximum length tends to vary between ~150 and ~250 words depending on publisher requirements. Thesis abstracts are often longer e.g., up to ~500 words.
  2. Not indented
  3. Starts at the top of the page

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Method[edit | edit source]

Participants[edit | edit source]

Materials/Instrumentation/Apparatus[edit | edit source]

Procedure[edit | edit source]

Design[edit | edit source]

  1. Optional; usually only for complex designs

Analysis[edit | edit source]

  1. Optional; usually only for complex or unusual analyses

Results[edit | edit source]

  1. Data is plural; datum is singular.

Discussion[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Journals[edit | edit source]

  1. Issue numbers should not be cited for journal with consecutively numbered issues (i.e., most of them).
Generic referencing style for a journal article

(do not include the material in brackets - its just for explanation):
Author, A. B., & Author, B. C. (2008). Article title. Journal Name, 72 (volume number), 101-127 (page numbers). Retrieved month day, year, from x database or URL.

Electronic references[edit | edit source]

Basic example:
Author, B. C. (2008). Title of document. Retrieved from URL

More info:

  1. APA style: Electronic sources (Wikipedia)
  2. APA List of references (see last section for electronic referencing; dianahacker.com)
  3. How to reference electronic resources (apastyle.org)
  4. APA style with electronic references (Northern Michigan University)

Multimedia[edit | edit source]

  1. http://www.cod.edu/library/research/cite/apa/multimedia.htm

Book[edit | edit source]

Basic example:
Okuda, M., & Okuda, D. (1993). Star trek chronology: The history of the future. New York: Pocket Books.

Book article or chapter[edit | edit source]

Basic example:
James, N. E. (1988). Two sides of paradise: The Eden myth according to Kirk and Spock. In D. Palumbo (Ed.), Spectrum of the fantastic (pp. 219-223). Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Almost published[edit | edit source]

Appendices[edit | edit source]

  • Optional

Quality of expression[edit | edit source]

  • Avoid one sentence paragraphs.

Quotations[edit | edit source]

From sections 3.34 - 3.41:

  1. Direct quotes less than 40 words should be enclosed in double-quotation marks.
  2. Page number(s) should be included for direct quotations.
  3. Quotes > 40 words should be put on a new line and inset left and right, without quotation marks.
  4. Do not put "..." at the start or end of quotes, but "..." can be used in the middle of quotes to indicate that some content is missing.

For more detailed summaries see: Quotation marks and Handling Quoted Material

Tables and Figures[edit | edit source]

Both[edit | edit source]

  1. Centre on page horizontally.
  2. Avoid breaking tables and figures across pages.

Tables[edit | edit source]

  1. Centre horizontally on the page
  2. Right align statistics presented in tables.
  3. Left align text presented in tables.
  4. Caption goes above, like this:
    Table 1
    Average Ages Sexual Information was Acquired Compared with the Youngest and Oldest Ages Subjects Believed the Information Should be Acquired
  5. Example Table (Plonsky, Appendix 4)

Figures[edit | edit source]

  1. Centre horizontally on the page
  2. Caption goes below, like this:
    Figure 2. Number of people arrested for drunken driving as related to the day of the week.
  3. Example Figure caption (Plonsky, Appendix 5)

Headings[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Burton, L. J. (2009). An interactive approach to writing essays and research reports in psychology (3rd ed.). Milton, Qld, Australia: John Wiley & Sons. BF76.7.B87 2010
  2. Smyth, T. R. (2004). The principles of writing in psychology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.  BF76.7.S678 2004

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Online guides[edit | edit source]

  1. APA style referencing - Quick visual summary (apastyle.org)
  2. A Guide for Writing Research Papers based on Styles Recommended by the APA
  3. APA Cheat Sheet
  4. APA style (University of Canberra; to be transferred here)
  5. APA Style Asylum
  6. APA Style Essentials (Degelman & Lorenzo, 2007), Vanguard University of Southern California
  7. Preparing your lab report (Note the checklist for Tables and Figures at the end)
  8. Psychology with style: A hypertext writing guide (Plonsky)
  9. Research and documentation online
  10. How To Properly Write Citations In APA Format
  11. Writing an APA Lab Report (University of Washington; pdf)
  12. How to Cite Papers in APA?

Bookmarks[edit | edit source]

Quizzes[edit | edit source]