The American Psychological Association (APA) formatting style is common when citing sources in the social sciences, education, and psychology. This style came into effect in 1929 in an article published in the Psychology Bulletin stating the basic guidelines. The guidelines were later expanded to create the APA Publication Manual. When the APA style is used in psychology and other social sciences, students and researchers can communicate their experiments and ideas consistently. Writing in a consistent style enables readers to know what they should expect in a journal article and other types of psychological writing.
Apart from making things easier for editors when everyone uses the same format, using APA citation style makes it easy for readers to comprehend text as it is provided in a familiar structure. As a writer, following the APA referencing style will enable you to:
The APA formatting style provides guidelines for academic paper writing regardless of discipline or subject. However, customarily, the APA citation guide is frequently used by students and writers in:
The APA Publication Manual 7th Edition requires that the font used be accessible, legible, and used consistently in the entire paper. The publication manual acknowledges that there are many legitimate fonts but advises writers to check with their institutions, instructors, or publishers for guidance when in a dilemma.
Although the APA Manual has no preferred font for professional writing, it recommends several fonts that are easy to access. They include:
Your essay should contain four main sections, that is, Title Page, Abstract, Body, and References.
Please note that the APA Publication Manual 7th Edition has slightly different guidelines for formatting a professional paper’s title page, for example, student papers and those anticipated for scholarly publication.
The title page must include the paper’s title, author’s name, and institutional affiliation. When writing a professional paper, include the author’s note. A student paper contains the course name and number, instructor name, and assignment due date.
Write your title in upper and lowercase letters in boldface and center it at the upper half of your page.
APA recommends that the title should be brief and focused without words and abbreviations that have no purpose. The title should not take more than two lines. The text on the title page and the entire paper should be double-spaced. Under the title, write the author’s name in the format: first name, middle name, initial and last name with no titles such as Dr. The author’s name should be followed the institutional affiliation beneath it to indicate the location where the research was conducted.
Start a new page. The abstract page should also have the page header as described above. On the page’s first line, type the word “Abstract” at the center and bold it, do not underline; use italics or quotation marks.
Go to the next line and write a summary of the primary points of your research; do not indent the text. The abstract should contain your research topic, research questions, participants, methodology, results, data analysis, and conclusion. Your abstract should be in one paragraph and double-spaced; it should not exceed 250 words.
In APA writing format, headings are written in five levels, each different from the other.
The APA general formatting rules require all headings to be double-spaced with no extra spaces or lines between sections.
When directly quoting a source, include the author’s name, publication year, and the page number. Precede the page number by “p” for one page and “pp” for several pages and separate the page numbers by an en dash.
You can start the quotation with a phrase that has the last name of the author followed by the publication date in parentheses.
According to Brown (2017), “students using APA style for the first had difficulty” (p. 98).
Brown (2017) found “students had difficulty using APA style” (p. 98); how does this impact teachers?
If you do not place the author’s name within the text of a sentence, place the author’s last name, publication year, and page number after the quotation.
He stated, “Students had difficulty using APA style” (Brown, 2017, p. 98), but he did not give the reason.
Place direct quotation with 40 words or more in a single block of typed lines without quotation marks. Begin the quotation on a new line at a ½ inch indentation from the left margin, that is, just as you would start a new paragraph. Write the whole quotation on the new margin. Every first line of a subsequent paragraph in the quotation should be indented at a ½ inch margin. Ensure that you double-space the text and do not add blank line in-between. The citation should appear after the closing punctuation mark.
Direct quotations from a source that does not contain pages should not have a page number reference. In its place, reference another reasonable identifying element, such as a table number, a section number, a chapter number, or a paragraph. Older works, such as religious texts, can have special location identifiers like chapter and verse numbers. In other words, reference your source using a substitute that makes sense.
Brown (2017) found several reasons for students’ dissatisfaction with APA citation (paras. 2-3).
A meta-analysis of accessible literature (Brown, 2017) revealed irregularities across large-scale studies (Table 4).
If you are using another work to paraphrase an idea, you only have to reference the author and publication year within your in-text reference and leave the page numbers. However, APA guidelines encourage using a page range for a paraphrase or summary if it will assist the reader in locating the information in a broader text.
According to Brown (2017), the APA citation format is challenging to first-time learners.
APA citation format is challenging to first-time learners (Brown, 2017, p. 98).
A basic reference for a book should include:
Author or authors using the surname followed by first initials
Publication year (in round brackets)
Title of the book (in italics)
Edition number (in round brackets) if it’s not the first edition
DOI even if referencing a print book
Left align the first line of every citation and indent each subsequent line at 5-7 spaces.
Brown, F.T. (2017). The unspoken words (3rd ed.). Cengage Learning.
Some electronic citations require the use of brackets. The APA style recommends that the content be surrounded by brackets without spaces, for example, (bracketed content). When you can, include the date, month, and year in references. If the date and month are unavailable, use the publication year. Furthermore, with APA 7th edition, you no longer have to use “Retrieved from” before DOIs or URLs, but there are special exceptions for unarchived sources.
Note the following when you include tables or figures in your work:
Accompany each figure with a brief title that gives a concise but clear indication of its contents. Present this directly above the figure and below the figure number. Write the title in italics and Title Case.
Table or Figure Title
The actual format for a reference depends on what you are referencing, an electronic source, a journal article, a book, or an author or authors. Be observant of specific requirements for each reference type before formatting your sources. The following are useful tips when placing a reference page(s) in your paper.
Note: Any reference appearing in your text must be included on the references page. Any item that appears on your reference page should also be included somewhere in your text body.
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