How to Write in APA Style: The Basics
I will assume that you are already sufficiently familiar with the writing process: prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing/proofreading. Now letâ€™s delve into what to do once you have prepared the bulk of your paper.
Who uses APA (American Psychological Association)?
APA is the documentation style most frequently recommended by Scientists and Health Professionals. Less is more.
The APA style basic components include: Title page, an Abstract, the body of the paper, a â€œReferencesâ€ page, and any appendixes, tables, or charts.
I will preface the succeeding discussion with the fact that all APA style documents must be double-spaced between lines throughout, including the â€œreferences page,â€ and single spaced between words and punctuation marks.
Creating a Title page
Every APA document requires a title page.
1. In the top right hand corner of each page, type your â€œrunning headâ€ (usually the first two or three words of your title) first, followed by 5 spaces, concluded with the page number.
Example: How to write [5 spaces] 1
2. Hit enter twice, left justify your text, and state your abbreviated title in all upper case letters (this is the only time), preceded by the term â€œRunning head,â€ and a colon.
Example: Running Head: HOW TO WRITE
3. About 2/3 of the way down the page, you then center the title, tiered in the following order: Title, Author(s), and either school name, or organization you are affiliated with.
How to write in APA style:
Bob Smith and John Johnson
College of Hard Knocks
Writing an Abstract
An abstract is a summary of your paper that should take up between 100 and 150 words. Make sure to include your main idea, major points, and potential ramifications of your findings.
Though you should probably include an abstract, check with your school or organization to confirm that you need one. After your page number, center the word â€œAbstractâ€ at the top of the page, space down, and type your concise abstract.
Parenthetical references (In text citations)
While writing the body of your paper or article, you should ensure that your contentions and/or findings are well supported by professionals in your field. Be sure to give credit where credit is due; if you borrow it, then attribute it to its originator.
The basic example of an in text citation is parenthesis, last name, comma, space, year of publication, parenthesis, or (Johnson, 2007). Please note the following examples.
1. Add a page number only if you are quoting a portion of an author(s) work.
(Johnson, 2007, p. 58)
2. For five or fewer authors, you include each authorâ€™s last name the first time; then, each time after that you cite only the first authorâ€™s surname followed by â€œet al.â€, Latin for â€œand others.â€ There should be no period after â€œetâ€ in the phrase â€œet al.â€
(Johnson, Michaels & Hunter, 1999) the first time you cite
(Johnson et al., 1999) each additional time
*Between the last names of the final two authors there is always an ampersand (&).
3. Six or more authors, you simply cite the last name of the first author, followed by et al., comma, and the year of publication.
Example: (Madsen et al., 1994)
*Each authorâ€™s last name must be included in the closing â€œReferencesâ€ portion.
4. Citing an anonymous selection, you substitute the first two or three words of the title for the authorâ€™s last name.
Itâ€™s either (â€œHow to write,â€ 2007) or (How to write, 2007)
*Use quotation marks for titles of articles or chapters. Underline titles of books, newspapers, magazines, brochures, and reports.
You must set up an alphabetized â€œReferencesâ€ section at the end of your paper to list all in-text citations or parenthetical references in your paper.
â€œReferencesâ€ should be centered at the top of your references list. Remember that each line must be double-spaced.
Single line entries must be flush to the left margin. Any additional lines should be indented 5 spaces to the right.
The basic single author entry:
Wordsman, J. S. (2007). How to write a boring novel. Millville, NJ: Ransom Press.
*Note that only the first letter is capitalized.
The basic periodical entry:
Jenkins, R. (2007, September 12). Write for your life. Writers Centenary, 50.
Book entry with two or more authors:
Sebranek, P., Meyer, V., & Kemper, D. (1997). Write for college: A student Handbook.
Wilmington, Massachusetts: Houghton.
Write for college: A student handbook. (4th ed.). (1997). Wilmington, Massachusetts:
*For review and additional samples go to: References: The basics
Other Considerations [first level heading]
Quotations-under 40 words get included in the text, while ones over 40 should be typed in block style 5 spaces fr-om the left margin.
Headingsâ€”should be used to show your paperâ€™s structure. Iâ€™ve used first and second level headings to demarcate the major points throughout this paper.
Additions Web Sites [second level heading]
Further Reading and Additional Resources