Dr Abel Scribe PhD

APA Lite for College Papers

APA Lite for College Papers is a concise guide to crafting research papers in the style of the American Psychological Association (APA). It is based on the current edition of the APA Publication Manual (corrected printing, 2009) while incorporating guidelines for "Material Other Than Journal Articles" found in the last edition. APA Lite succeeds the APA Crib Sheet developed by Professor Dewey in the 1990s and revised by the Abel Scribe collaboration in the current century. Doc Scribe is not affiliated in any way with the American Psychological Association--this style guide is free! © Copyright 2000-2012 by Dr. Abel Scribe, PhD

Arrow Special Links:  Doc's APA Guide Page  |  APA Style Lite PDF Version  |  APA Quick Study  |  Psych Web Resource

APA Lite Topics

Uncle Sam
FBI Warning?  You are welcome to print, link, or distribute APA Lite for not-for-profit educational purposes. Instructors are encouraged to use the guide in their classrooms. No additional permission is required. APA Lite is revised on a regular basis; you are invited to link directly to the document rather than post it to another site.

"Publication?" As in APA Publication Manual?
APA Manual
American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.  Link to the APA Manual at Amazon.com: Paperback $22.00. Doc's Review of this latest edition of the APA Manual.

Bargain Sixth Edition!  The latest edition of the APA Publication Manual has cut a total of 166 pages of text over to the last edition. Gone in the process is the old chapter 6, "Material Other Than Journal Articles," which was very useful to students. The rest is not much missed, a combination of 1960s era chapters and wasteful whitespace. It is crisp, new, and much easier to use as a result. It will guide you through the process of using Digital Object Identifiers in references and explain the new style of headings. The section on avoiding bias is still the best found anywhere. See what's changed at www.apastyle.org.

Pointer  The previous edition of the APA Manual advised students that "the Publication Manual is not intended to cover scientific writing at an undergraduate level" (APA, 2001, p. 322). They meant it! While the last edition devoted a chapter to "Material Other Than Journal Articles" for students (chapter 6), the current edition has eradicated all such guidance.

Final manuscripts. The APA calls papers written for publication copy manuscripts. They are formatted to aid the publication process, not the reader. When not writing for publication "the manuscript must be as readable as possible" (APA, 2001, p. 323). The APA calls these papers final manuscripts. There are minor differences:

  1. Organization. "In a manuscript submitted for publication, figures, tables, and footnotes are placed at the end of the manuscript; in theses and dissertations, such material is frequently incorporated at the appropriate point in text as a convenience to readers" (APA, 2001, p. 325).
  2. Line spacing. "Double-spacing is required throughout most of the manuscript. When single-spacing would improve readability, however, it is usually encouraged. Single-spacing can be used for table titles and headings, figure captions, references (but double-spacing is required between references), footnotes, and long quotations [this is sometimes referred to as block spacing]" (p. 326).
  3. Title page. The title and abstract pages of a copy manuscript are organized for anonymous review and typesetting. Elements that require separate pages are usefully combined on a single page: the title, author, abstract, and author note. The running head becomes the page header, as it does in published articles.

APA Lite is a guide to crafting final manuscripts. It incorporates these recommendations from the 2001 edition of the APA Publication Manual (5th ed.). For the rest, APA Lite follows the current sixth edition (2009).

Pointer  Read the "APA Lite Style Precis (PDF)" for a detailed explanation of how APA style is modified for college papers.

You cannot copyright a style. By law (17 U.S.C. 102(b)) "the original and creative word sequences in [a text] are protected by copyright, but a writing style itself is in the public domain, no matter how original it is" (The Copyright Handbook, 3rd. ed., by Stephen Fishman, 1998, Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press). You cannot copyright a research (or any) style, nor can you copyright a language, even a programming language. If for example, you could copyright all the works in the style of William Shakespeare, you would own everything published in that style. More recently the courts have denied copyright protection to programming languages, even those invented by Microsoft and IBM!

  "APA policy permits authors to use . . . a maximum of three figures or tables from a journal article or book chapter, single text extracts of fewer than 400 words, or a series of text extracts that total fewer than 800 words without requesting formal permission from APA" (APA, 2009, p. 173). APA Lite meets these fair use criteria.

1.0 General Features of APA Style (TOP)

The basic features of APA style for final manuscripts are illustrated in Figure 1, along with the corresponding section in APA Lite where they are explained. Click on the image to go to that section.

Fig 1. Basic Style
2.2 Margins 2.2 Typeface 2.3 Headings 2.3 Headings 2.2 Page Header 3.1 Acronyms 3.3 Italics 2.2 Ragged Margin 2.2 Indents 3.2 Heading Caps 3.4 Quotations 4.1 Percentages 6.2 Citations 4.1 Scales 2.3 Lists 4.3 Statistics 5.1 Tables 2.2 Block Spacing 4.2 Precise Numbers 4.1 Common Numbers 3.3 Italics
Figure 1. General features of APA style for final manuscripts. The figure follows the rules described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2009) as well as the suggestions found in chapter 6 of the previous fifth edition of the Publication Manual (2001), "Material Other Than Journal Articles." The numbers indicate the section in APA Lite where more information can be found.

1.1 Priorities & Strategy (TOP)

square What features are most important when using APA style? The question was asked in a research survey of more than 200 journal editors (Brewer, Scherzer, Van Raalte, Petitpas, & Andersen, 2001). They reported that problems with (a) documentation (references) were the most serious, followed closely by (b) tables and figures, then by (c) the presentation of mathematical formulas and statistics. The editors avowed that content was more important than style. Still, 39% reported rejecting a paper solely for failing to follow APA style. Publication in top journals is highly competitive. Only one paper in four is accepted for publication; the best journals accept one paper in twelve. Sloppy workmanship is a strategy for failure. The following conclusions can be drawn from this study:

  1. You must get your references right. A single reference that goes to the wrong source, or to no source, can discredit your entire paper. Style and form are important to assure a reference is complete.
  2. The style uses a simple format for tables that is widely shared by other styles. Many word processor can generate colorful and complex tables, but a simple and austere format is universally preferred in research writing. Graphs are less common than tables, and images are rare, but they are not difficult to present.
  3. The APA uses nonstandard symbols in presenting statistics--just a few of the more common symbols are presented in APA Lite. If you need to present your own mathematics refer to the APA Manual. Precise numbers follow the metric system and international conventions.
These are all major features of the style. The APA Manual shows how to format references to 96 different sources. The section on tables was so good in the last edition the Chicago Manual of Style referred readers to it (2003, p. 423). Mathematics and statistics are not covered as well as they could be in the APA Manual, but this shortcoming illustrates the importance of clarity and consistency. When instructions are ambiguous follow your best judgment to achieve a clear presentation and be consistent with that choice throughout your paper. Get the main features right; seek clarity and consistency with the rest. APA style is a bit silly at times, but it is not difficult to master.

1.2 APA Style: Page Formats, Text Rules, & Documentation (TOP)

square APA style is organized around three elements: (a) page formats, (b) text rules, and (c) documentation. Page formatting concerns not only margins, indents, and spacing, but also the presentation of tables and figures, as well as the organization of the paper. This is part of the final refinement of a manuscript. Text rules are at the heart of what the APA Manual refers to as "The Mechanics of Style" (2009, chap. 4). These include rules for using abbreviations, when to write numbers as words, and the presentation of quotations. For example, a sentence should never begin with an abbreviation, a rule this paragraph cheerfully ignores. Think of these rules as you write. Finally, the process of documentation refers to citations and references. Make this part of your research; take notes. Grammar and punctuation are largely conventional in APA style. Any standard reference will serve.

1.3 APA Style Notes: Recurring Features (TOP)

square Heading caps. A simple rule governs what words to capitalize in a heading or title, but when to apply the rule is more complex. Heading caps are used with the first two levels of headings in the text, but not for lower levels They are applied to the titles of books, chapters, and articles mentioned in the text, but all titles in references are set in sentence caps. Heading caps are used for the titles of tables, but sentence caps are used for the captions of figures. The required form is noted as needed throughout APA Lite. The term heading caps is an adaptation of headline caps, referring to a style of capitalization used by newspapers (CMS, 2003, pp. 366-367). The APA Manual calls this title case in a table note (p. 62). The Chicago Manual of Style makes no reference to this term.

  • Heading caps capitalize the first word, the first word after a colon; all words of four letters or more; and all adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and pronouns in a heading or title. Articles, conjunctions, and short prepositions are not capitalized. Capitalize all words of a hyphenated compound word.
  • Sentence caps capitalize a caption or heading as you would a sentence.
  • Full caps capitalize every letter. They are not used in APA final manuscripts, but are used for the running head in copy manuscripts. Small caps are not used.
Heading caps are also referred to as headline caps from their early usage in newspapers. An example of their use is the title of chapter 6 in the APA Manual (2001), "Material Other Than Journal Articles."

Bold fonts. APA Lite presents headings in a bold font, as specified by the APA Manual. It also places the title and page header in boldface type for consistency, though this is not called for in the Manual.

1.4 What's New in the New APA Manual (2009)? (TOP)

square Headings and DOIs. Headings and subheadings have a new format, far more sensible than the last (APA Lite, sec. 2.3). What's different is the confusion that's been eliminated. Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) must now be added to references when they are available, even when referencing print sources (APA Lite, sec. 6.4).
  • Space twice at the end of sentences (up from once). This is a recommendation (p. 88). Be consistent!
  • Use confidence intervals with statistics rather than the standard deviation.
  • Use exact probabilites to two or three decimal places when the statistic allows: write p = .042 not p < 0.05.
  • The plural of appendix is spelled appendices, NOT appendixes as before. Data is still the plural of datum!

2.0 Title & Text Page Format (TOP)

The title page is condensed in final manuscripts. Since the paper is to be read rather than typeset the title page should carry as much information about the content as possible. The title and author share the page as does the abstract and author note for conference papers. The date is added to a published article by the journal; here it must be added by the author.

Page Headers. Copy manuscripts carry a running head on every page. This becomes the page header in college papers. The running head for publication is an abbreviated short title header--no more than 50 characters--that will be placed at the top of each page when the paper is published in a journal. It is omitted from the title page of college papers where it is redundant, and set in heading caps to conform with other headings in the paper (it is placed in full caps when writing for publication).

Page Numbers. The APA Manual (2001) once noted that "the position of page numbers on the first pages . . . may differ from the position of numbers on other pages" (p. 326). On the title page of college papers the page number is relocated to the bottom center of the page.

  Note, every page is numbered consecutively through the paper whether the page number is shown on a page or not.

2.1 Title Page (APA Final Manuscripts) (TOP)

square The old APA Manual (2001) noted: "If the paper is to receive masked review, also place the author note on the title page, following the bylines and affiliations. The journal editor will remove the title page before sending the manuscript out to reviewers" (p. 296). For this reason, the abstract is placed on a separate page. Since final manuscripts are not intended for anonymous review, it is sensible to add the abstract to the title page along with the author note as a convenience to the reader.

Figure 2. Title Pages
Figure 2. Title pages for college and conference papers. The title pages shown differ significantly from that shown in the APA Manual for copy manuscripts. Block spacing is used (single space within blocks of text, double space between blocks); title, author, abstract, and author note are combined on a single page.

Abstract. An abstract should reveal in concise terms what you studied and why, how you went about it, what you found, and the relevance of those findings. "Type the abstract itself as a single paragraph without paragraph indentation (APA, 2009, p. 27). The maximum length varies by journal, usually 150 to 250 words. Keywords follow the abstract.

Author Note. There are four elements to the author note in copy manuscripts: (a) the author(s) name and affiliation (department and institution), (b) changes in affiliation since the paper was written, (c) acknowledgments, and (d) contact information. The author's name and current affiliation follow the title, so only acknowledgments and contact information appear on conference papers. Each element is presented as a separate indented paragraph.

  • Acknowledgment. This is a catch-all block of text where from a dissertation or other source, and any conflicts of interest. For example, if you are a paid consultant for a company providing a drug used in a study this must be disclosed.
  • Contact information. This is the person designated to respond to inquiries, followed by their complete mailing address and email address if appropriate.

2.2 First & Following Text Pages (APA Final Manuscripts) (TOP)

square Repeat the title on the first text page. "The introduction to a manuscript does not carry a heading that labels it as the introduction. (The first part of a manuscript is assumed to be the introduction)" (APA, 2009, p. 63).

Figure 3. Text Page
Figure 3. First and subsequent text pages. The previous edition of the APA Manual (2001) advocated block spacing to improve the readability of college and conference papers (p. 326). The text is double-spaced, but block quotes are single-spaced within while double-spaced from the text. The same line spacing is applied to headings, tables, references, and figure captions.

Page Format

  • Margins must be at least one inch on all four sides of the page, wider left if the paper is to be bound. For shorter papers do not use a binder, a single staple in the upper left corner makes the paper easier to read.
  • Page header & page number. The page header is an abbreviated title in heading caps (every major word is capitalized). This is the the revised running head found in copy manuscripts (APA, 2009, p. 229). The page header goes inside the top margin a half inch above the text, next to the left margin (new with the 6th edition). The page number aligns with the right margin; on the title page the number is centered at the bottom or omitted.
  Number all pages consecutively--starting with the title page--whether the page number is shown or not.

Text Format

  • Typeface. "The preferred typeface for APA publications is Times Roman, with a 12-point font size" (APA, 2009, p. 228). This is a serif typeface, a typeface with small cross bars on the letters—Times Roman and Courier are common examples.
  • Ragged right margin? An unjustified right margin is called a ragged right margin for its appearance on the page. Do not hyphenate words at the ends of lines, do not justify the right margin, leave it ragged.
  • Indent all text paragraphs--except the abstract and the first paragraph in a block quote--one-half inch. Hanging indents in references are also indented one-half inch. There are special rules for paragraphs in block quotes.
  • Block spacing? Double space the text, but single space "table titles and headings, figure captions, references (but double-spacing is required between references), footnotes, and long quotations" (p. 326). Long quotations--block quotes--are single spaced within and double spaced from the text. Titles, headings, and references also follow this format.
  • Space once after (most) punctuation? (New!) "Space twice after punctuation marks at the end of a sentence" (APA, 2009, p.88). Space once after initials--but not inside abbreviations--for example, the initials in Tolkein, J. R. R. are spaced, but the U. in U.S. is not (see p. 88).

2.3 Headings (New!) & Lists (Seriation) (TOP)

square Definitions.  Headings, subheadings, and lists are tools used to organize a manuscript. Lists come in two forms: sentence lists and paragraph lists, or more accurately, sentence seriation and paragraph seriation.

arrow Bullets are expressly acknowledged as an alternative to numbered lists (APA, 2009, p. 64).

arrow Do not begin a paper with the heading Introduction, this is understood (APA, 2009, p. 63). Repeat the title.

Figure 4. Headings & Lists
Figure 4. Revised APA headings (2009). Headings are used in descending order as needed, starting over with each section of the paper. The use of a bold font for the title and page header (running head) are an APA Lite modification.

Five levels of headings are available in APA style. They are used in the order shown. Most papers will need no more than three levels. If a fourth level is needed, repeat the third level run-in or paragraph style heading adding italics—Level 4 heading in bold italic font and sentence caps. If a fifth level is needed drop the bold font and repeat the fourth level run-in style heading—Level 5 heading in italic font and sentence caps. "Use at least two subsection headings within any given section, or use none" (APA, 2009, p. 62).

Seriation.  "Just as the heading structure alerts readers to the order of ideas within the paper, seriation helps the reader understand the organization of key points within sections, paragraphs, and sentences" (APA, 2009, p. 63). The elements in the list must be comparable and the construction parallel. Letters are used to identify the items in a sentence, numbers to list full sentences--each indented as a paragraph--or paragraphs. Note, though:

  • Numbered lists may imply an ordering or ranking of the items.
  • Use bullets to remove or reduce this implicit ranking (APA, 2009, p. 64).

3.0 Mechanics of Style (TOP)

This section explains what to keep in mind as you write: the use of abbreviations, required capitalization, adding emphasis to words and phrases, and presentation of quotations. APA Lite devotes a separate section to numbers.

3.1 Abbreviations (TOP)

square Pedantic professors (and the Chicago Manual of Style) will note that acronyms are abbreviations that are sounded as words (e.g., AIDS, NASA), while initialisms are abbreviations sounded as letters (e.g., ATM, FBI). The term acronym usually suffices for both. Use acronyms to avoid repeating long familiar terms (e.g., APA, MMPI), and use sparingly, only for terms frequently repeated throughout your text.

  • Explain what an acronym means the first time it occurs: American Psychological Association (APA).
  • If an abbreviation is commonly used as a word, it does not require explanation (IQ, LSD, REM, ESP).
  • To form plurals of abbreviations, add s alone, without an apostrophe (PhDs, IQs, vols., Eds).

Use periods when presenting an abbreviation within a reference (Vol. 3, p. 6, pp. 121-125, 2nd ed.)

  • Use two-letter postal codes for U.S. states (e.g., GA for Georgia) in references (write the state name out in text).
  • Use the abbreviation pp. (plain text) in references to newspaper articles, chapters in edited volumes, and text citations only, not in references to articles in journals and magazines.
  • Use hr for hour or hours, min for minutes, s for seconds, m for meter or meters (all in plain text, no period, no bold font).
  • When using abbreviations for measurements (e.g., m for meter) do not add an s to make it plural (100 seconds is 100 s), do not add a period (see APA Lite, 2009, sec. 4.2).

Do not use Latin abbreviations in the text unless they are inside parentheses. An exception is made for et al. when citing a source. For example, "Smith et al. (2002) found monkeys measured higher in IQ tests than grad students." Instead, write out the equivalent word or phrase: cf. [use compare];   e.g. [use for example];   etc. [use and so forth];   i.e. [use that is];   viz. [use namely];   vs. [use versus].

  • Do not use the traditional abbreviations for subject, experimenter, and observer (S, E, O).
  • Do not use periods within degree titles and organization titles (PhD, APA).
  • Do not use periods within measurements (ft, s, kg, km, lb) except inches (in.).

3.2 Capitalization (TOP)

square The general rule is to capitalize terms if they are highly specific--in effect, used as proper nouns. For example, write the nineteen twenties (1920s), but also write the Roaring Twenties. Write the Great Plains, but also write the central plains, and the plains of Nebraska (but the Nebraska Plains).

  • Capitalize formal names of tests, conditions, groups, effects, and variables only when definite and specific (e.g., Stroop Color-Word Interference Test, Group A was the control group). But do not capitalize names of laws, theories, and hypotheses (e.g., the law of effect, the test groups). Capitalize nouns before numbers, but not before variables (Trial 2, trial x).
  • Capitalize nouns before numbers or letters that indicate a specific place in a numbered series, but not before variables (Chapet 4, Table 3, Trial 2, but not trial x).
  • Capitalize specific course and department titles (GSU Department of Psychology, Psych 150). But do not capitalize the term when referring to generalities (any department, any introductory course).
  • Capitalize the first word after colon in all titles in references and in the text and in headings. In the text, if the phrase following a colon is a complete sentence capitalize the first word.
  • When capitalizing a compound word capitalize all words in the compound (e.g., Double-Blind Trial).

Exception! "Do not capitalize nouns that denote common parts of books or tables followed by numerals or letters—page iv, row 3, column 5" (APA, 2009, p. 103).

Heading caps capitalize all major words and all words of four letters or more in headings, titles, and subtitles outside reference lists, for example, chapter 6 in the APA Manual (2001) is titled "Material Other Than Journal Articles."

Sentence caps capitalize the first word and the first word after a comma or colon when the phrase is a complete sentence. For example, "This is a complete sentence, so this is capitalized."

3.3 Italics (Emphasis) & Quotation Marks (TOP)

square Use italics (or underline) for the titles of books, species names, novel or technical terms and labels (the first time only), words and phrases used as linguistic examples, letters used as statistical symbols, and the volume numbers in references to journal articles.

  • Add emphasis to a word or short phrase by putting it in italics (the first time only). Use this sparingly!
  • Add emphasis to a word or phrase in a quotation with italics, followed by the note [italics added] in brackets.
  • Note a word used as a word, or a foreign term, with italics, for example, hutte means hut in German.
  • Introduce a keyword or technical term (the neoquasipsychoanalytic theory), or identify endpoints on a scale (poor to excellent) with italics.
  • Do not italicize foreign words that have entered common usage (e.g., et al., a priori, laissez-faire, arroyo).

Use quotation marks for:

  • odd or ironic usage the first time--the "outrageous" use of social security funds to finance the deficit. These are known as scare quotes.
  • article and chapter titles cited in the text but not in the reference list. For example, in Smith's (1992) article, "APA Style and Personal Computers," computers were described as "here to stay" (p. 311).

Do not use quotes to hedge, cast doubt, or apologize (e.g., he was "cured"). Leave off the quotes.

3.4 Quotations (TOP)

square Reproduce a quote exactly.  If there are errors, introduce the word sic italicized and bracketed—for example, "the speaker stttutured [sic] terribly"—immediately after the error to indicate it was in the original.

Figure 5. Quotations
Figure 5. Text and block quotations. Quotes 40 words or longer are formatted as block quotes.

Block quotes, quotations of 40 words or longer, double-spaced from the text, single-spaced within. Indent the entire block five spaces (one-half inch, 1.25 cm).

  • The first line of the first paragraph in a block quote is not additionally Indented; the first line of each paragraph after the first is indented (see Figure 5). Add the citation to the end of the block quote after the final punctuation.
  • Block quotes may be single-spaced in research papers, but must be double-spaced in copy manuscripts submitted for publication or review (see APA, 2001, p. 326).

Shorter quotes, less than 40 words, are placed in the text in quotation marks. Longer quotes, 40 words or more, are indented and single spaced as block quotes, without quotation marks.¶

  • Reproduce a quote exactly. If there are errors, introduce the word sic (thus) italicized and bracketed—for example, "the speaker stttutured [sic] terribly"—immediately after the error to indicate it was in the original.
  • When the author is introduced in the text the page number follows the quotation, but the date follows the author's name. Smith (1999) reported that "the creature walked like a duck and quacked like a duck" (p. 23). The abbreviation "p." for page ("pp." for pages) is lower cased.
  • Without an introductory phrase, the author, date, and page are placed together. For example, It was reported that "the creature walked like a duck and quacked like a duck" (Smith, 1999, p. 23).

Edit quotes. Effective writing seeks to merge quotations into the flow of the text. Edit a quotation according to the following rules (see APA, 2001, pp. 119–120):

  • Change case/punctuation. Double quotation marks may be changed to single quotes, and the reverse, without indicating the change. The case of the letter beginning the quote, and punctuation ending it, may be changed to fit the syntax. For example, drawing on a sentence above, write: "Merge quotations into the flow of the text!" Do Not write "[M]erge quotations . . . ." in APA style (but see Chicago Manual of Style, 2003, p.462).
  • Omit . . . Words. Words may be omitted from a quote as long as the original meaning is not altered. The omission is an ellipsis, and is indicated by inserting three ellipsis points, three periods with a space beforethe first, after the last, and between each period; between two sentences, four points are used. "Do not use ellipsis points at the beginning or end of any quotation unless, in order to prevent misinterpretation, you need to emphasize the quotation begins or ends in midsentence" (APA, 2009, p. 173).
  • [sic]. Obvious errors in a quotation may be corrected without making a special notation. But for an unusual word choice, concept, term, or spelling, it may be appropriate to emphasize that the original is being quoted faithfully by inserting the Latin term sic (thus), in italics or underlined, and in brackets, immediately following the term (see APA, 2009, p. 172). For example, "the hapless students in the study sttutttered [sic] unbearably."
  • [Add note]. A clarification may be inserted in a quote. This is added in brackets at the appropriate place. For example, the local authority reported "they [the Irish Republican Army] called for a cease-fire."
  • [Italics added]. Emphasis may be added to a quote with italics. When this is done a note must be appended to the quote in brackets immediately after the change [italics added] to the quotation.

4.0 Numbers & Statistics (TOP)

The English language is somewhat vague about the presentation of numbers. Therefore, most styles present rules for using even common numbers, such as when to write a number as a word and when to write it as a numeral. Precise measures are always presented as numerals in the metric system in APA style; nonstandard symbols are used for some of its statistics. See the APA Manual If you are presenting your own mathematical formulas.

4.1 Common Numbers (TOP)

square Spell out common numbers under 10. "Use figures to express numbers 10 and above and words to express numbers below 10" as long as the numbers below 10 do not express precise measurements and are not grouped with numbers above 10 (APA, 2009, p. 111).

  • Spell out common fractions, common expressions, and centruries (one-half, Fourth of July, twentieth century).
  • Spell out all numbers beginning sentences (Thirty days hath September . . .).
  • To make plurals out of numbers, add s only, with no apostrophe (the 1950s).
  • When numbers below 10 must be mixed with numbers above 10 in the same sentence they should be written as numerals. For example, write "the students trying out for the soccer team included 5 girls and 16 boys."
  • Use words and numerals with two numbers in series (five 4-point scales).
  • Use combinations of numerals and written numbers for large approximate sums (over 3 million people).

Use numerals for numbers 10 and above, for exact statistical references, scores, sample sizes, and sums (multiplied by 3, or 5% of the sample).

  • Use metric abbreviations with physical measure (4 km) but not when written out (many meters distant).
  • Use the percent symbol (%) only with figures (5%) not with written numbers (five percent).
  • Put a leading zero before decimal fractions less than one (e.g., 0.25 km), unless the fraction can never be greater than one, as with statistical probabilities (e.g., p < .01).
  • Ordinal numbers follow the same rules as other numbers. Spell out ordinals below 10: first, second, . . . ninth. Use numerals for ordinals 10 and above: 10th, 43rd, 99th, and so on. Exception—the twentieth century.

Use numerals for all numbers "that denote a specific place in a numbered series, parts of books and tables, and each number in a list of four or numbers" (APA, 2009, p. 115). Write Grade 6 (but sixth grade); Trial 5; Table 6; page 71 (do not cap page); chapter 8 (do not cap chapter); 2, 4, 6, and 8 words in a series.

Use numerals for all "numbers that represent time; dates; ages; sample, subsample, or population size; specific numbers of subjects or participants in an experiment; scores and points on a scale; exact sums of money; and numerals as numerals" (APA, p. 124). But, spell out approximate days, months, years (new). "She has about fifteen years remaining on her jail sentence."

4.2 Precise Numbers (TOP)

square The APA requires the use of the metric system in its journals. This is formally known as the International System of Units, or SI (from the French Le Système International d'Unités). The lead authority on the SI in the United States is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (free guide: http://physics.nist.gov/Document/sp811.pdf). The APA would prefer you to visit their webstie, www.apastyle.org.

SI Graph SI numbers have three parts: the numerical value, the prefix (multiplier), and the unit symbol (abbreviation). Each of these parts is strictly defined. The number 25.3 kg is an SI number. Numbers are always formatted in plain text (no italics), there is always a space after the numerical value (never a hyphen or other character), there is never a period after the units (except at the end of a sentence).

Numerical values are presented without commas in SI notation. For example, the distance between Chicago and Denver is 1600 km (not 1,600 km). The km stands for kilo-meters. The prefix kilo indicates the units are multiplied by 1000. There are about 1.6 km to a mile. If it is important for clarity you can note the conventional U.S. measure in parentheses after the SI number: 1600 km (1000 miles).

  • There is always a space after the numerical value, and only a space. This can look awkward. For example, the temperature at the beach was 25 °C, or about 77 °F today. There is a space after the numerical value before the degree symbol and temperature abbreviation. Conventional notation, 77° F, is not an acceptable SI number.
  • Common prefixes are k (kilo-, multiply by one thousand), M (mega-, multiply by one million), and m (milli-, multiply by one-one thousandth [0.001]). For example, KVOD broadcasts at 88.1 MHz. A Hertz is a measure of frequency, after a man by that name, so the abbreviation is capitalized Hz. A complete listing of prefixes is found in the APA Manual (2001, Table 3.5), and the NIST Guide (1995, Table 5).
  • Units of measure are always abbreviated when presented with numerical values, but written out when noted in the text without a numerical value. For example, a liter is about a quart; "It took 22 L to top off the gas tank."
  • Units of measure never take periods or other punctuation except at the end of a sentence.
  • Numerical values less than one are preceded by a zero. For example, one yard is 0.91 m, or about three inches short of a meter. An exception is made for statistical values that by definition cannot be greater than one, for example the probability, p < .05.

No hyphens, no periods! The SI is not subject to rules for compound adjectives. For example, it is proper to write: "She won the 50-yard dash." It is NOT correct to write: "He was prescribed a 50-mg dose." A 50-mg dose could be interpreted as a 50/mg dose (i.e., 50 -mg in SI notation); 50 units of something per milligram of body weight. A mouse weighing 30 g (about an ounce) would require a 1,500,000 unit dose! Nothing but a space is ever inserted between a number and unit of measure.

Exception. When an instrument is calibrated in U. S. conventional units these may be presented followed by the SI measure in parentheses. For example, the thermometer at the beach read 77 ºF (25 ºC); the maze was laid out with a tape measure on a 3 ft by 3 ft (0.91 m x 0.91 m) grid pattern.

4.3 Statistics (TOP)

square Most symbols for statistics are placed in italics (exceptions are very rare). Nonstandard symbols are used for some common statistics (check the APA Manual, Table 3.9, for a complete list of accepted symbols):

TabM  = mean ( X-bar ), SD  = standard deviation ( sigma ), Mdn  = median, SS  = sum of squares ( summationX 2 ).

Descriptive statistics give summary information about a sample or population, such as the average (mean) or standard deviation of some characteristic. For example, "Abigail Scribe has a GPA of 3.65, which is below the average for students accepted at Ivy and Oak University (M = 3.85, SD = 0.21)." Descriptive statistics may be presented in the text with the appropriate syntax (e.g., "a GPA of 3.85"). When referred to indirectly they are set in parentheses, as with (M = 3.85, SD = 0.21).

Inferential statistics reason from a sample to the characteristics of a population, often expressed as a probability. For example, "Abby Scribe has a chance of being accepted at Ivy and Oak University (p < .15), but counselors advise her that her odds are not great based on last year's applicants, X2(2, N = 2247) = 2.81, p < .15 (one-tailed)." Inferential statistics are presented in the text (no parentheses) with "sufficient information to allow the reader to fully understand the results of the analysis conducted" (APA, 2009, p.116). The following examples from the APA Manual (p, 117 ):

Tabt(117) = 3.51, p < .001, d = 0.65, 95% CI [0.35, 0.95]

The first number in parentheses is degrees of freedom of the analysis; "95% CI" stands for 95% confidence interval.

Pointer  "Space mathematical copy as you would words: a+b=c is as difficult to read as wordswithoutspacing" (APA, 2009, p. 118). Place a space before and after all arithmetic operators and signs ( = , < , > , - , + , etc.);  a +  b  =  c.

5.0 Tables & Figures (TOP)

"Any type of illustration other than a table is referred to as a figure" (APA, 2009, p. 125).. Word processors offer an array of elaborate table styles, but APA style requires an austere format following a template or canonical form featured in the APA Manual. Figures include graphs as well as photo images. Their use is discouraged in copy manuscripts because they are expensive to publish. This is not a problem with college papers.

Pointer  When presenting data in a table or figure drawn from another source that source must be referenced in the table note or figure caption. The reference follows a special format that is undocumented in the APA Manual (2009) but observed in examples of tables (pp. 129-149). Titles are presented in heading caps, authors names go in their normal order and follow the title. Note the page number after the title in the reference to the book, and the use of the pp. abbreviation in the journal reference.

Journal Article (from Figure 6)
Adapted from "The Elements of (APA) Style: A Survey of Psychology Journal Editors," by B. W. Brewer et al., 2001, American Psychologist, 56, p. 266.

Book (Monograph)
Note: From The Analysis of the Self: A Systematic Approach to the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders (p. 123), by H. Kohut, 1971, New York: International Universities Press.

5.1 Tables (TOP)

square Figure 6 presents the same statistics, first in the text, then in a table. Which is easier to interpret? Note, it is APA policy to replace the standard deviation (SD) with confidence intervals in current publications.

Figure 6. Tables
Figure 6. Statistics from a survey of problem areas in using APA style. The same statistics are presented in the text and in the table according to APA style.

The information in the table in Figure 6 presents a fairly clear ranking of the means of problem areas reported: References 3.23, Tables and figures 3.00, and Math and statistics 2.81. The difference from highest to lowest is 0.42 points, almost half a standard deviation, which ranges from 0.98 to 1.07. This reflects a measure of agreement among the editors.

The influence these problem areas have is less evident. The range of means from highest to lowest is just 0.08 (2.31 to 2.23), a trivial distinction when the standard deviation ranges from 1.27 to 1.39. Try to derive the same interpretation from the data presented in the text. Tables are more expensive to render in print than text, so the authors or editors of this published article likely opted to present the statistics in text format for that reason.

Table Manners

  • Place tables close to where they are first mentioned in your text, but do not split a table across pages. (Tables in papers submitted for review or publication are placed on separate pages at the end of the paper.)
  • Label each table beginning with the table number followed by a description of the contents in italics.
  • Horizontal rules (lines) should be typed into tables; do not draw them in by hand.
  • New! "Tables may be submitted either single- or double-spaced" (APA, 2009, p. 141).
  • Each row and column must have a heading. Abbreviations and symbols (e.g., "%" or "nos.") may be used in headings.
  • Do not change the number of decimal places or units of measurement within a column. "Use a zero before the decimal point when numbers are less than 1" (APA, 200, p. 113). Write "0.23" not ".23" unless the number is a statistic that cannot be larger than one, for example a correlation r = .55, or a probability p < .01.
  • New! Report exact probabilities to two or three decimal places in preference to the p < .xx model when possible (APA, 2009, p. 139). Write p = .035 in preference to p < .05.
  • Add notes to explain the table. These may be general notes, footnotes, or probability notes.
  • General notes follow the word Note: (in italics) and are used to explain general information about the table, such as the source.
  • Footnotes are labeled "a, b, c, etc." set in supercript. They explain specific details.
  • Probability notes follow footnotes. They are used when the p < .xx format is required by the nature of the statistic "assign the same number of asterisks from table to table within your paper, such as *p < .05 and **p < .01" (APA, 2009, p. 139).

5.2 Graphs (TOP)

square "A figure may be a chart, drawing, graph, map, or photograph. The APA Manual is circumspect in encouraging the use of graphs since they are costly to produce in print. Figures are appropriate when they complement the text and eliminate a lengthy discussion. There are additional instructions for biological data and scans.

Figure 7. HPS Cases

Figure 7. Cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) confirmed in the Four Corners states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah) from 1993 through 2002 by quarter of onset of symptoms. From "Hantavirus in Indian Country: The First Decade in Review," by R. Pottinger, 2005, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 29(2), p. 42. Used with permission of the author.

The bar graph illustrates quantitatively the episodic character of this very lethal disease (the mortality rate is about 40%). The outbreaks are contrasted with the low endemic or background rate in a manner that would be difficult to describe in the text since the time scales and severity vary (the peaks always occur in the second or third quarters).

Labels (axes). The graph meets APA standards for presentation and labeling the axes. The Y-axis, the vertical axis on the left side of the graph, is labeled with the text in heading caps parallel to the axis (readable when the graph is rotated 90 degrees clockwise). These are APA requirements. The X-axis, the horizontal axis, is self explanatory and needs no additional label.

Legend. The legend of a graph identifies what each line or segment indicates. In this case there is only one metric, HPS cases, but the legend identifies periods of outbreak of the disease in contrast with periods when few cases are reported. Legends must be presented within the dimensions of the graph, never outside it.

Caption. Figures (graphs and images combined) are numbered like tables, starting with 1 and continuing in whole numbers through the text, with the word Figure and number in italics. The caption explains enough about the content so the reader need not refer to the text.

pointer  "A sans serif type (e.g., Arial, Futura, or Helvetica) may be used in figures [and tables] . . . to provide a clean and simple line that enhances the visual presentation" (APA, 2009, p. 228; see also APA, 2001, p. 191).

5.3 Images (TOP)

square A picture is worth a thousand words. Illustrations, pictures, are expensive to print, especially color pictures, but that is not a limitation with the word processors and inkjet printers used for final manuscripts. If it makes sense to use a picture, do so. The picture in Figure 8 would be difficult to describe in the text, and would likely require a specialized language to do so (cornice, fall line, glissade, grade, talus, tarn) that would also have to be explained.

Andrews Glacier, RMNP

Figure 8. Andrews Glacier, Rocky Mountain National Park. The small dot above the solid bold line is a party starting the 150 m vertical descent. Right (north) of the crest of the glacier the slope drops dangerously into rocks. "Bum sliding" (sitting glissade) is the favored mode of descent on this popular outing. Andrews Tarn is in the foreground. Doc Scribe photos.

Legend. A legend explains the symbols added to an image or provides a scale. This picture has been edited to show a safe descent line (bold), the crest of the glacier (thin gray line), and the dangerous north side of the glacier marked with the universal no-go sign. All of these markings show up well against their respective backgrounds; important when labeling images. They need no further explanation beyond the caption. The legend should be within the boundaries of the image.

Caption. The caption goes below the images as it does with a graph. The caption begins with the figure number (graphs and images are both figures and numbered in the same sequence), followed by the title, a "brief descriptive phrase" (APA, 2001, p.199). Additional information should explain the image. "A reader should not have to refer to the text to decipher the figure's message" (APA, p. 200). Finally, an acknowledgment of the source is required. This may be dispensed with if you are the source, but adding that fact will dispel doubt.

The captions in APA Lite show the title in a bold font, a useful touch though not part of the APA instructions. Most journals (outside medicine) publish only halftone images (grayscale). Capitalize Figure in references to an image or graph in the text.

pointer  Graphs and images are presented in a dramatically different manner in copy manuscripts for publication., and are subject to complex requirements. They come at the end of the manuscript; figures and their captions go on separate pages. If writing for publication avoid images if possible, and consult the APA Manual.

5.4 Flow Charts (TOP)

Flow chart

Figure 9. Clinical trial of St. John's Wort for treating ADHD. Flow chart of participants in the randomized double-blind controlled trial of the effectiveness of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) in alleviating the symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adapted from "Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents," by W. Weber, A. Vander Stoep, R. L. McCarty, N. S. Weiss, J. Biederman, and J. McClellan, 2008, JAMA, 299, p. 2636.

Mapping the research design. Flow charts have been a required part of clinical research reports in medical journals for several years. The APA Publication Manual (2009) features several examples of flow charts including one for a clinical trial (fig. 5.3, p. 154) and one for a survey study (fig. 5.4, p. 155). Expect the APA to require these charts for empirical studies in the future. They are a great addition to a theses or dissertation.

FYI:  Matching Text from the Article

Of the 146 screened potential participants, 104 met eligibility criteria, and of those, 59 agreed to participate in the study. A total of 59 participants were enrolled in the trial, and 54 (27 per group) were randomized (Figure 9). Six participants had a large response during the placebo-run-in period and should have been dropped from the study prior to randomization; however, they were erroneously randomized, 2 to study medication and 4 to placebo. Because they had been randomized, these participants were allowed to remain in the trial and are included in the intention-to-treat analysis. (Weber et al., 2008, p. 2636)

FYI:  Reported Results

To our knowledge, this is the first placebo-controlled trial of H perforatum in children and adolescents. The results of this study suggest that administration of H perforatum has no additional benefit beyond that of placebo for treating symptoms of child and adolescent ADHD. In our study, those in the H perforatum group experienced neither more nor fewer adverse events than the placebo group. (Weber et al., 2008, pp. 2638-2639)

6.0 Citations & References (TOP)

Every time you make use of the work of another a citation is called for. This may be a reference to an idea or concept, a specific finding, or a direct quote. The citation and reference not only give credit where it is due, but also locate your work within intellectual community--making it a part of the dialogue of discovery. "Each reference cited in text must appear in the reference list; and each entry in the reference list must be cited in text" (APA, 2009, p. 174). A reference list is not a bibliography; only those works cited may appear in the reference list. The term citation refers to the notation of a source in the text, a reference is the corresponding entry in the reference list.

pointer  "Two kinds of material are cited only in the text: references to classical works such as the Bible and Qur'an, . . . and references to personal communications" (APA, 2009, p. 174).

Quality of Sources. Information comes in a variety of guises. Only that information that has been subjected to peer review is considered the highest quality in scientific and scholarly research. A magazine becomes a research journal by virtue of publishing material that has been favorably evaluated by a panel of independent experts. This screening in top medical journals is fierce, fewer than one article in ten submitted survives to print. Government agencies and private research groups are other useful sources of information. This information may be highly credible but without peer review is of unknown quality. These sources are sometimes referred to as "gray literature" (APA, 2009, p. 205). Everything else is, at most, data. For it to have scientific significance it must be analyzed, reported, and subjected to peer review. The Internet is a great source of data.

Version of Record. For a very long time this issue was mute. The hardcopy print version was the version of record, and for many this standard still applies. Now however, articles can be updated and corrected in their online representation, or published electronically in advance of the print or the formal electronic version. When citing other than the print version or its electronic facsimile (pdf file) or Web (html) counterpart this must be noted in the reference.

6.1 Basic Forms & Format (TOP)

square Almost all sources fit one of three basic reference formats--as periodicals, as books, or as edited volumes (which are an amalgam of article and book formats). The exceptions to this are software manuals, data sets, instruments and apparatus which fit neither format (why is a Great APA Mystery?). Technical reports in APA style are referenced as books, a practice somewhat unique to this style.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier). The DOI system was developed to permanently mark and identify digital documents. It is not unlike a library call number and URL (Internet Uniform Resource Locator) combined in its application. Publishers are increasingly assigning DOIs to journal articles whether online or in print.

pointer  "We recommend that when DOIs are available, you include them for both print [italics added] and electronic sources" (APA, 2009, p. 189). If the DOI is not available for documents retrieved online use the URL. If it is available for a print article include it in the reference. The DOI indicates an elecronic copy is available somewhere.

pointer  "Test the URLs in your references . . . . If the content is no longer available, substitute another source . . . or drop it from the paper altogether" (APA, 2009, p. 192). Journal editors do check references, instructors may as well. If the document cannot be found it is not a source.

Periodical Format

Author, F. M., Coauthor, F. M., & Collaborator, F. M. (Date). Title of the article in sentence caps without quotation marks.
Name of the Journal, Newspaper, or Other Periodical in Heading Caps and Italics, Volume in Italics(issue number), [pp.] page numbers. doi:12.3456/abcd.123.45.6789

Barry, J. M. (2004). The site of origin of the 1918 influenza pandemic and its public health implications [Commentary].
Journal of Translational Medicine, 2(3), 1-4. Retrieved January 15, 2005 from http://www.translational-medicine.com/content/2/1/3

Brewer, B. W., Scherzer, C. B., Van Raalte, J. L., Petipas, A. J., & Andersen, M. B. (2001). The elements of (APA) style:
A survey of psychology journal editors. American Psychologist, 56, 266-267.

Weber, W., Vander Stoep, A., McCarty, R. L., Weiss, N. S., Biederman, J., & McClellan, J. (2008). Hypericum perforatum
(St. John's Wort) for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. JAMA, 299, 2633-2641. doi:10.1001/jama.299.22.2633

  The volume number (but not number of the issue in the volume) is placed in italics, an APA trademark. Page numbers of articles in newspapers or magazines take the abbreviation pp. (but not pages for journal articles).

Book Format

Author, F. M., & Coauthor, F. M. (Date). Title of the book or report in sentence caps and italics (xth ed.). Place of
publication, State: Publisher.

Beers, M. H., & Berkow, R. (Eds). (1999). The Merck manual of diagnosis and therapy (17th ed.). Retrieved from

Strunk, W., Jr., & White, E. B. (1979). The elements of style (3rd ed.). New York: MacMillan Publishing Co.

Edited Book Format

Author, F. M., & Coauthor, F. M. (Date). Title of the chapter or article in sentence caps. In Title of the
book in sentence caps and italics (Xth ed.). Place of publication, State: Publisher or DOI/URL

Beers, M. H., & Berkow, R. (1999). Mood disorders. In The Merck manual of diagnosis and therapy (17th ed., sec. 15, chap. 18).
Retrieved from http://www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual/section15/ chapter189/189a.htm

It is typical to cite the specific content being referenced in an edited book or compilation, the article or chapter, not the entire volume. This is formated like the title of a journal article. The page numbers are noted in parentheses after the volume title which is formatted as a like that for any book. The rest of the reference follows the book format.

6.2 Text Citations (TOP)

square APA style uses the author-date or parenthetical system of citation . These have been used throughout APA Lite. They take the form (Author, Date, Page [if relevant]). This must agree with the author and date in the corresponding reference.

Placement. Citations to references follow their referral in the text. For example, American Psychological Association journals use the author-date style of citation (APA, 2009, p. 174).

  • Text citations do not repeat information. If an author's name is mentioned in the text, it is not repeated in the citation. If no specific page is cited, none is noted. For example, the APA Publication Manual (2009) is largely focused on preparing manuscripts for publication. The citation immediately follows the author's name.
  • Page numbers are required with all direct quotations. The citation comes immediately after the quote, even when it is not at the end of the sentence. For example, changes to APA style "are not only permissible but also desireable" (APA, 2001, p. 322) when preparing college papers.
  • When the author's name and the quote are separated, the citation is also separated. For example, the APA Manual (2001) advises that changes to the style "are not only permissible but also desireable" (p. 322) when preparing college papers.

Pointer   Do not drop digits from (elide) inclusive pages numbers, do not write pp. 1234-38, write pp. 1234-1238.

APACite Table

Rules for Citations

  • Three to five authors list all authors in the first citation; the lead author et al. (and others) in subsequent citations: first, (Smith, Jones, Andrews, Baker, & Charles, 2001); next, (Smith et al., 2001).
  • Six or more authors list the lead author et al. in all citations.
  • Corporate author. If a group is readily identified by an acronym, spell it out only the first time. For example, "As reported in a government study (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 1991) . . . ." The next citation gives just the initials and year, (NIMH, 1991).
  • No author. If the author is unknown, use the first few words of the reference list entry (usually the title), for example: ("Study Finds," 1992). Use heading caps in the text when noting a title (sentence caps in references)!
  • Anonymous. If the work specifically carries the designation "Anonymous" in place of an author's name, use Anonymous as the author. Otherwise, the work has no author.
  • Reprints cite the original publication date and reprint date if both are known, for example: (James, 1890/1983). Translations of classics note the date of the translation: (Aristotle, trans. 1931).
  • Personal communication. E-mail and other "unrecoverable data" are cited as personal communications, for example: (C. G. Jung, personal communication, September 28, 1933). These sources do not appear in the reference list.
  • Always cite page numbers after quotations. For example, the author noted, "The rats fell asleep within minutes" (Jones, 2003, p. 76). Or, Jones (1993) found "the rats fell asleep within minutes" (p. 76).
  • E-documents. When quoting electronic documents without page numbers, cite paragraph numbers if given, after the paragraph symbol or abbreviation para. (e.g., Smith, 2000, ¶ 17). If there are no paragraph numbers, cite the nearest preceding section heading and count paragraphs from there (e.g., Smith, 2000, Method section, para. 4).
  • If the citation is repeated in the same paragraph, the year may be omitted. For example (Smith et al., 2002, p. 22), then (Smith et al., p. 23).
  • Use an ampersand (&) in references and parenthetical citations only; write and in plain text, for example, Smith and Sarason (1990) explained . . . . Or write: (Smith & Sarason, 1990).
  • If there are two or more citations that shorten to the same lead author and date, give as many additional names as needed to identify them, e.g., (Smith, Jones, et al., 1991) and (Smith, Burke, et al., 1991).
  • When citing multiple works by the same author, arrange dates in order. Use letters after years to distinguish multiple publications by the same author in the same year, e.g., (Johnson, 1988, 1990a, 1990b).

6.3 Reference Lists (TOP)

square List references alphabetically by author. Spaces or punctuation precede letters after last names, Smith comes before Smithson, but note 2 below. Use first initials as appropriate, Smith, A. comes before Smith, B. When there are multiple works by the same author, list references by date, the most recent last.

  • Use prefixes if they are commonly part of the surname (e.g., de Chardin comes before Decker, MacGill comes before McGill. But do not use von (e.g,, write: Helmholtz, H. L. F. von).
  • Disregard apostrophes, spaces, and capitals in alphabetizing; D'Arcy comes after Daagwood, Decker comes after de Chardin. Single-author citations precede multiple-author citations (Zev, 1990 then Zev et al., 1990).
  • Alphabetize corporate authors by first significant word. Do not use abbreviations in corporate names.

Figure 10. References
Figure 10. List of references in block format. References are arranged alphabetically by author. Block spacing single-spaces within references, but double-spaces between references (see APA, 2001, p. 326).

Rules for References

  1. Authors & editors. (New!). List up to seven authors to a work; if there are more than seven list the first six, insert an elipsis, then the last author. Invert all authors' names, using first & middle initials. With two or more authors place an ampersand> & < before the final name. Note, unless they are serving in place of authors in a reference, editors' names go in their normal order (First. M. Last).
  2. Character Spacing. Space once after all punctuation except inside abbreviations, ratios, and URLs where no space is required (APA, 2009, p. 87). Space once after the periods in references and initials.
  3. City, State. (New!). City and state, province, or country are now required for all cities. Write: Baltimore, MD; New York, NY; Boston, MA; London, England; Paris, France. Use postal abbreviations for states, provinces.
  4. Date. Use the month-day-year format for full dates, but see the sample references for newspapers.
  5. E-mail and other "unrecoverable data" are cited as a personal communication, for example: (A. B. Carter, personal communication, April 1, 2005). These do not appear in the reference list.
  6. Titles of Works. All titles require sentence caps (all words lowercase except for the first word, first word after a colon, and proper nouns). Article titles are not placed in quotes in references (they are when mentioned in the text). Italicize titles of books, reports, working and conference papers, dissertations, and similar documents.

Pointer  Do not drop digits from (elide) inclusive pages numbers, do not write pp. 1234-38, write pp. 1234-1238. The volume number in references to periodicals is placed in italics (but not the issue number, if any).

Title notations. A note is added to a reference to help identify a source when it is not a conventional article or book. This follows the title after any material in parentheses, in brackets, with the first word capitalized in plain text (APA, 2009, p. 186).

Title notes

Abbreviations  Use the abbreviation p. (pp.) before page numbers in encyclopedia entries, newspaper articles, chapters or articles in edited books, but not in journal or magazine article citations, where numbers alone are used. The following abbreviations are commonly used in APA references:

  • cap. for chapter
  • ed. for edition
  • rev. ed. for revised edition
  • 2nd ed. for second edition
  • Ed. for Edited by
  • (Eds.) for multiple editors
  • Trans. for Translated by
  • p. for page number, with a space after the period
  • pp. for page numbers (plural)
  • para. paragraph (also use ¶)
  • Vol. for a specific Volume
  • vols. for a work with xx volumes
  • No. for Number
  • Pt. for Part
  • Suppl. for Supplement,
  • Tech. Rep. for Technical Report

6.4-6.9 Sample References Index(TOP)

6.4.  Articles in Research Journals:  Annual Reviews, Electronic Formats, Pages by Issue.

6.5.  Articles in Newspapers & Magazines:  Book Review, Magazine.

6.6.  Books & Chapters:  Group Author, Chapter, Edited Book, Reprint.

6.7.  Monographs, Reports, & Theses: Conference Paper, Technical Report, Thesis.

6.8.  Reference Works:  Dictionary, Encyclopedia.

6.9.  Web Pages:  www.docstyles.com.

6.4 Articles in Research Journals (TOP | INDEX)

Annual Review:

Andresen, E. M., Diehr, P. H., & Luke, D. A. (2004). Public health surveillance of low-frequency populations.
Annual Review of Public Health, 25, 25-52. doi:[add if available]

Anonymous or unknown author:

Annual smoking attributable mortality, years of potential life lost and economic costs: United States 1995-1999. (2002).
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 51, 300-303. doi:[add if available]

Citation: ("Annual Smoking," 2002). Use heading caps when citing parts of titles in text citations. Do not use
"Anonymous" for the author unless that is the designated author expressly given in the source.

One author:

Abelson, R. P. (1997). On the surprising longevity of flogged horses: Why there is a case for the significance test.
Psychological Science, 8, 12-15. doi:[add if available]

Citation: (Abelson, 1997). APA style places the volume (but not the issue number in a volume) in italics.

Two authors:

McGlynn, E. A., & Brook, R. H. (2001). Keeping quality on the policy agenda. Health Affairs (Millwood), 20(3), 82-90.
doi:[add if available]

Citation: (McGlynn & Brook, 2001).

Three to five authors:

Miller, F. G., Emanuel, E. J., Rosenstein, D. L., & Straus, S. E. (2004). Ethical issues concerning research in complementary
and alternative medicine. JAMA, 291, 599-604. doi:[add if available]

First Citation: (Miller, Emanuel, Rosenstein, & Straus, 2004); next citations: (Miller et al., 2004).

Six authors:

Mokdad, A. H., Bowman, B. A., Ford, E. S., Vinicor, F., Marks, J. S., & Koplan, J. P. (2001). The continuing epidemics of
obesity and diabetes in the U.S. JAMA, 286, 1195-1200. doi:[add if available]

All citations: (Mokdad et al., 2001).

Seven authors:

McGlynn, E. A., Asch, S. M., Adams, J., Keesey, J., Hicks, J., & DeCristofaro. A., & Kerr, E. A. (2003). The quality of health care
delivered to adults in the United States. New England Journal of Medicine, 348, 2635-2645. doi:[add if available]

All citations: (McGlynn et al., 2003). In the reference list all seven authors.

More than seven authors:

Heshka, S., Anderson, J. W., Atkinson, R. L., Greenway, F. L., Hill, J. O., Phinney, S. D., . . . Pi-Sunyer, F. X. (2003). Weight loss with
self-help compared with a structured commercial program: A randomized trial. JAMA, 289, 1792-1798. doi:[add if available]

All citations: (Heshka et al., 2003).

Ahead of print:

Han, K., Zhu, X., He, F., Liu, L., Zhang, L., Ma, H., . . . Zhu, B-P. (2009). Lack of airborne transmission during outbreak of pandemic
(H1N1) 2009 among tour group members, China, June 2009. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 15(10). Advance online publication. doi:10.3201/eid1510.091013

All citations: (Han et al., 2009, . . .). Page numbers may not yet be assigned to these works. Use whatever information is available:
(Han et al., 2009, p. 3 of 9), (Han et al., 2009, Results section, para. 2) (see APA, 2009, p. 172).

Pointer  "Update your references close to the publication date of your work, and refer to the final version of your sources, if possible"
(APA, 2009, p. 199).

Group author: Print, DOI, Internet references:

Hypericum Depression Trial Study Group. (2002a). Effect of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) in major depressive disorder:
A randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 287, 1807–1814.

Hypericum Depression Trial Study Group. (2002b). Effect of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) in major depressive disorder:
A randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 287, 1807–1814. doi:10.1001/jama.287.14.1807

Hypericum Depression Trial Study Group. (2002c). Effect of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) in major depressive disorder:
A randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 287, 1807–1814. Retrieved [retrieval date] from http://www.jama.org/articles.html

Citation: (Hypericum Depression Trial Study Group, 2002). Cite the full name of a corporate author. The print original does not
have a DOI, it was added through an online cover sheet later.

The DOI (Digital Object Identifier) should be added to a reference whether you use a digital version of the article or not.
The DOI, when it is available, takes precedence over the URL when referencing a source found online.

Reference the URL of the home page of the journal, not that of the specific document (APA, 2009, p. 198). The retrieval date
should be added when referencing other than the version of record, such as an updated copy after publication.

Journals paged by issue (online):

Barry, J. M. (2004). The site of origin of the 1918 influenza pandemic and its public health implications [Commentary].
Journal of Translational Medicine, 2(3), 1-4. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from

Conway, L. G., III. (2001). Number and age of citations in social-personality psychology over the lifespan of the field:
Older and wiser? Dialogue, 16(2), 14-15. doi:[add if available]

Add the issue in the volume (in parentheses in plain text) to these reference after the volume number.

Regular column:

Coyle, J. T. (2003). Use it or lose it--do effortful mental activities protect against dementia? [Perspective].
New England Journal of Medicine, 348, 2489-2490. doi:[add if available]

A title notation in brackets, [Perspective], follows the title to indicate this is a regular feature of the journal, and an
opinion or observational comment rather than an empirical study.

Special issue or supplement:

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (Eds.). (2000). Positive psychology [Special issue]. American Psychologist, 55(1).
doi:[add if available]

Troiano, R. P., & Flegal, K. M. (1998). Overweight children and adolescents: Description, epidemiology, and
demographics. Journal of Pediatrics, 101(Suppl. 2), 497-504. doi:[add if available]

6.5 Articles in Newspapers & Magazines (TOP | INDEX)

Book review:

Camhi, L. (1999, June 15). Art of the city [Review of the book New York modern: The arts and the city]. Village Voice, p. 154.

Magazine article:

Wilson, E. O. (1998, March). Back from chaos. Atlantic Monthly, 281, 41–62.

Newspaper articles (online):

Rundle, R. (2002, May 1). Obesity's hidden costs. Wall Street Journal, pp. B1-B4.

Bradsher, K. (2005, November 3). Poverty and superstition hinder drive to block bird flu at source. New York Times.
Retrieved November 3, 2005, from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/03/international/ asia/03bird.html?th&emc=th

6.6 Books and Chapters (TOP | INDEX)

Group author:

American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.).
Washington, DC: Author.

Citation: (American Psychological Association [APA], 2001); next citation (APA, 2001). Note: "Author" is used for the
publisher's name above when the author and publisher are identical, an APA quirk.

Three to five authors:

Booth, W. C., Colomb, G. G., & Williams, J. M. (1995). The craft of research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Citation: (Booth, Colomb, & Williams, 1995); next citation (Booth et al., 1995).

Chapter or section in a book (online & print):

Beers, M. H., & Berkow, R. (1999). Mood disorders. In The Merck manual of diagnosis and therapy (17th ed., sec. 15,
chap. 189). Retrieved January 17, 2003, from http://www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual/ section15/chapter189/189a.htm

Stephan, W. G. (1985). Intergroup relations. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (3rd ed.,
Vol. 2, pp. 599–658). New York: Random House.

Citations: (Beers & Berkow, 1999, chap. 189); (Stephan, 1985).

Edited book (two or more editors):

Friedman, H. S. (Ed.). (1990). Personality and disease. New York: Wiley.

Guyatt, G., & Rennie, D. (Eds.). (2002). Users' guides to the medical literature: A manual for evidence-based clinical practice.
Chicago: American Medical Association.

Edition other than the first (two authors):

Strunk, W., Jr., & White, E. B. (1979). The elements of style (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan.

Reprint/translation (one author & editors):

Ebbinghaus, H. (1913). Memory (H. A. Rueger & C. E. Bussenius, Trans.). New York: Teachers College. (Original
work published 1885)

Citation: (Ebbinghaus, 1885/1913).

6.7 Monographs, Reports, & Theses (TOP | INDEX)

Conference paper (published as a chapter in an edited book):

Christensen, S., & Oppacher, F. (2002). An analysis of Koza's computational effort statistic for genetic programming.
In: J. A. Foster, E. Lutton, J. Miller, C. Ryan, & A. G. Tettamanzi (Eds.), Genetic programming (pp. 182-91).
EuroGP 2002: Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Genetic Programming; Kinsdale, Ireland, April 3-5, 2002.
Berlin: Springer.

Conference paper (unpublished , more than six authors):

Shrout, P. E. (Chair), Hunter, J. E., Harris, R. J., Wilkinson, L., Strouss, M. E., Applebaum, M. I., et al. (1996, August).
Significance tests—Should they be banned from APA journals? Symposium conducted at the 104th Annual
Convention of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Government report online accessed through GPO database:

National Institute of Mental Health. (2002). Breaking ground, breaking through: The strategic plan for mood disorders
research of the National Institute of Mental Health (Publication No. 0507-B-05). Retrieved January 19, 2003, from
NIMH Web site via GPO Access: http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS20906

Citation: (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2002); next citation (NIMH, 2002).

Monograph online:

Foley, K. M., & Gelband, H. (Eds.). (2001). Improving palliative care for cancer [Monograph]. Retrieved July 9, 2002,
from the National Academy Press Web site: http://www.nap.edu/books/ 0309074029/html/

Homeland Security Council. (2005, November 1). National strategy for pandemic influenza [Monograph]. Washington, DC:
The Whitehouse. Retrieved November 2, 2005, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/ homeland/pandemic-influenza.html


Research and Training Center on Independent Living. (1993). Guidelines for reporting and writing about people with disabilities
(4th ed.) [Brochure]. Lawrence, KS: Author.


Dr. Abel Scribe PhD. (2006). AScribe! APA reference manager (Version 6.0) [Computer software]. Available from Doc's Web site:

Technical report (print/online versions):

Taylor, B. N. (1995a, April). Guide for the use of the International System of Units (SI) (NIST Special Publication 811, 1995 Edition).
Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Taylor, B. N. (1995b, April). Guide for the use of the International System of Units (SI) (NIST Special Publication 811, 1995 Edition).
Retrieved June 25, 2003, from National Institute of Standards and Technology Web site: http://physics.nist.gov/Document/sp811.pdf

Theses or dissertation:

Downey, D. B. (1992). Family structure, parental resources, and educational outcomes. PhD dissertation, Department of Sociology,
Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.

6.8 Reference Works (TOP | INDEX)

Alderson, A. S., & Corsaro, W. A. (2000). Cross-cultural analysis. In E. F. Borgatta (Editor-in-Chief) & R. J. V. Montomery (Managing
Editor), Encyclopedia of sociology (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 546-553). New York: Macmillan Reference USA.

Bergman, P. G. (1998). Relativity. In Encyclopedia Britannica (15th ed., Vol. 26, pp. 501-508). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.

Croatia. (1991). In The new encyclopedia Britannica: Micropaedia. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.

Merriam-Webster collegiate dictionary (10th ed.). (1993). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2004). OECD health data 2004 [CD-ROM]. Paris, France: Author.

Multivolume references:

Kotz, S., Johnson, N. L., & Read, C. B. (1982–1988). Encyclopedia of statistical sciences (10 vols.). New York: Wiley.

Middleton, J., & Rassam, A. (Eds.). (1995). Encyclopedia of world cultures: Vol. IX. Africa and the Middle East. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co.

Statistical abstract:

Bureau of the Census. (1993). Higher education price indexes: 1965–1991. In Statistical abstract of the United States: 1993
(113th ed., Table 277). Washington, DC: US GPO.

6.9 Web Pages (TOP | INDEX)

Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (n.d.). St. John's Wort
and the treatment of depression. Retrieved January 19, 2003, from National Institutes of Health Web site:

Dewey, R. A. (2002). Psych Web. Retrieved January 25, 2003 from http://www.psywww.com/

Purdue University Online Writing Lab. (2003). Using American Psychological Association (APA) format (Updated to 5th edition).
Retrieved February 18, 2003 from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/print/research/r_apa.html

Appendix. Respectful & Neutral Language (TOP)

Sensitivity to labels. A person in a clinical study should be called a "patient," not a "case." Avoid equating people with their conditions, for example, do not say "schizophrenics," say "people diagnosed with schizophrenia." Use the term "sexual orientation," not "sexual preference." The phrase "gay men and lesbians" is currently preferred to the term "homosexuals." To refer to all people who are not heterosexual, the manual suggests "lesbians, gay men, and bisexual women and men" (see APA, 2001, p. 67).

Do not characterize people as victims (e.g., a "stroke victim"), use a descriptive term such as "people who have had a stroke." Avoid the terms "challenged" and "special" unless the population referred to prefers this terminology (e.g., Special Olympics). As a rule, use the phrase "people with _______" (for example, "people with AIDS," not AIDS "sufferers" or "victims").

Avoid gender stereotypes. For example, the manual suggests replacing "An American boy's infatuation with football" with "An American child's infatuation with football" (see APA, p. 66).

  • The term "gender" refers to culture and should be used when referring to men and women as social groups, as in this example from the Publication Manual: "sexual orientation rather than gender accounted for most of the variance in the results; most gay men and lesbians were for it, most heterosexual men and women were against it" (APA, 2001, p. 63).
  • The term "sex" refers to biology and should be used when biological distinctions are emphasized, for example, "sex differences in hormone production."
An ethnic label can be perceived as a slur if not managed correctly. For example, persons of acknowledged Spanish heritage in the New World may prefer Chicano (Chicana), Hispanic, Latino, Mexican, Mexican American, and so on. Historically, there are no "American Indians," only members of specific nations, tribes, villages, and bands. The term Native American is inclusive of American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and Alaskan Natives. Specific group names are more informative, such as Hopi or Lakota.
  • Color. Capitalize Black and White when the words are used as proper nouns to refer to social groups. Do not use color words for other ethnic groups. In racial references, the manual simply recommends that we respect current usage. Currently both the terms "Black" and "African American" are widely accepted, while "Negro" and "Afro-American" are not. These things change, so use common sense.
  • Hispanic. The terms Hispanic, Latino, and Chicano are preferred by different groups. The safest procedure is use geographical references; use "Cuban American" if referring to people from Cuba.
  • Asian. The term Asian American is preferable to Oriental, and again the manual recommends being specific about country of origin, when this is known (for example, Chinese or Vietnamese). The manual specifies that hyphens should not be used in multiword names such as Asian American or African American.
  • Indigenous. Some people from northern Canada, Alaska, eastern Siberia, and Greenland often (but not always!) prefer Inuk (singular) and Inuit (plural) to "Eskimo." But some Alaska natives are non-Inuit people who prefer to be called Eskimo, while others are Athabaskans of an entirely different heritage. Difficulty may be avoided by using geographical references. For example, in place of "Eskimo" or "Inuit" one could use "indigenous people from northern Canada, northern Alaska, eastern Siberia, and Greenland."

Age. In referring to age, be specific about age ranges; avoid open-ended definitions like "under 16" or "over 65." Avoid the term elderly. Older person is preferred. The AMA (American Medical Association) Manual of Style (1997, p. 263) uses these definitions:

  • Neonates or newborns are persons from birth to 1 month of age.
  • Infants are children [sic] aged 1 month to 1 year.
  • Children are persons aged 1 to 12 years. . . . They may also be referred to as boys or girls.
  • Adolescents are persons aged 13 through 17 years; also teenagers, adolescent boys, or adolescent girls.
  • Adults are persons over 18 years and are referred to as men or women.
DO NOT use . . .
  ethnic labels (e.g., Hispanic)
 "men" (referring to all adults)
When you can use . . .
  geographical labels (e.g., Mexican Americans if from Mexico)
 "men and women"
 "gay men and lesbians"
 "people with depression"

  In general, call people what they want to be called, and do not contrast one group of people with another group called "normal." Write "we compared people with autism to people without autism" not "we contrasted autistics to normals."

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