APA style

APA Style is a writing style and format for academic documents such as scholarly journal articles and books. It is commonly used for citing sources within the field of behavioral and social sciences. It is described in the style guide of the American Psychological Association (APA), which is titled the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. The guidelines were developed to aid reading comprehension in the social and behavioral sciences, for clarity of communication, and for "word choice that best reduces bias in language".[1][2]

APA Style is widely used, either entirely or with modifications, by hundreds of other scientific journals (including medical and other public health journals), in many textbooks, and in academia (for papers written in classes). Along with AMA style and CSE style, it is one of the major styles for such work.



The APA got involved in journal publishing in 1923.[3] In 1929, an APA committee had a seven-page writer's guide published in the Psychological Bulletin.[4][5] In 1944, a 32-page guide appeared as an article in the same journal.[3] The first edition of the APA Publication Manual was published in 1952 as a 61-page supplement to the Psychological Bulletin,[6] marking the beginning of a recognized "APA style."[3] In response to the growing complexities of scientific reporting, subsequent editions were released in 1974, 1983, 1994, 2001, and 2009.

Primarily known for the simplicity of its reference citation style, the Manual also established standards for language use that had far-reaching effects. Particularly influential were the "Guidelines for Nonsexist Language in APA Journals," first published as a modification to the 1974 edition, which provided practical alternatives to "sexist" language then in common usage.[7][8] The guidelines for reducing bias in language have been updated over the years and presently provide practical guidance for writing about race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, and disability status (APA, 2009, pp. 70–77; see also APA, 2009b).[9]

Sixth edition of the Publication Manual

The sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is the most current. It was released in July 2009 after four years of development. The Publication Manual Revision Task Force of the American Psychological Association established parameters for the revision based on published critique; user comments; commissioned reviews; and input from psychologists, nurses, librarians, business leaders, publishing professionals, and APA governance groups (APA, 2007a, 2007b).[10][11] To accomplish these revisions, the Task Force appointed working groups of four to nine members in seven areas: bias-free language, ethics, graphics, Journal Article Reporting Standards,[12] references, statistics, and writing style (APA, 2009, pp. XVII–XVIII).

The APA explained the issuing of a new edition only eight years after the fifth edition by pointing to the increased use of online source or online access to academic journals (6th edition, p. XV). The sixth edition is accompanied by a style website, apastyle.org as well as the APA Style Blog, which answers many common questions from users.

Errors in the first printing

Sample papers in the first printing of the sixth edition contained errors. APA staff posted all of the corrections online for free in a single document on October 1, 2009, and shortly thereafter alerted users to the existence of the corrections in an APA blog entry.[13] These errors attracted significant attention from the scholarly community and nearly two weeks later, on October 13, 2009, the article "Correcting a Style Guide" was published in the online newspaper Inside Higher Ed that included interviews with several individuals, one of whom described the errors as "egregious".[14] All copies of the printing with errors were soon after recalled in 2009 (including those from major retailers such as Amazon.com) and all manuals currently in circulation are unaffected.

Characteristics of APA style citation

APA style is complex.[15][16] Only a sample of citation and reference formats can be listed here.

In-text citations

APA style uses an author-date reference citation system in the text with an accompanying reference list. That means that to cite any reference in a paper, the writer should cite the author and year of the work, either by putting both in parentheses separated by a comma (parenthetical citation) or by putting the author in the narrative of the sentence and the year in parentheses (narrative citation).

Example narrative citation: Schmidt and Oh (2016) described a fear among the public that the findings of science are not actually real.

Example parenthetical citation: In our postfactual era, many members of the public fear that the findings of science are not real (Schmidt & Oh, 2016).

Reference list

In the APA reference list, the writer should provide the author, year, title, and source of the cited work in an alphabetical list of references. If a reference is not cited in the text, it should not be included in the reference list. The reference format varies slightly depending on the document type (e.g., journal article, edited book chapter, blog post), but broadly speaking always follows the same pattern of author, date, title, source.

Reference type Template Example
Journal article Author, A., & Author, B. (year). Title of article. Journal Title, Volume, page range. DOI Schmidt, F. L., & Oh, I.-S. (2016). The crisis of confidence in research findings in psychology: Is lack of replication the real problem? Or is it something else? Archives of Scientific Psychology, 4, 32–37. https://doi.org/10.1037/arc0000029
Whole book Author, A., & Author, B. (year). Title of book. DOI/URL/Publisher location: Publisher Name. Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, MN: Hazelden.
Edited book chapter Author, A., & Author, B. (year). Title of chapter. In E. Editor & A. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pp. xx-xx). DOI/URL/Publisher location: Publisher Name. Singh, A. A., Hwahng, S. J., Chang, S. C., White, B. (2017). Affirmative counseling with trans/gender-variant people of color. In A. Singh & L. M. Dickey (Eds.), Affirmative counseling and psychological practice with transgender and gender nonconforming clients (pp. 41–68). https://doi.org/10.1037/14957-003
Website Author. (year). Title of page. Retrieved Date, from http://xxxxxxx American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Divisions. Retrieved October 28, 2018, from http://www.apa.org/about/division/
  • For book and book chapter references, only one "locator" (DOI, URL, or Publisher) should be provided. If a DOI is assigned to the work, give the DOI. If the item is available online but does not have a DOI, give the URL. Otherwise, give the publisher and publisher location.
  • Note that the title of a work may be italic or not italic. If the work stands alone, italicize the title; if it is part of a greater whole, do not italicize the title.

See also


  1. ^ The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 2010. ISBN 978-1-4338-0562-2.
  2. ^ "APA Style". Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c VandenBos, Gary R. (1992). "The APA Knowledge Dissemination Program: An overview of 100 years". In Rand B. Evans, Virginia Staudt Sexton, Thomas C. Cadwallader (eds.). The American Psychological Association: A Historical Perspective. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. pp. 347–390. ISBN 978-1-55798-136-3.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Bentley, M.; Peerenboom, C.A.; Hodge, F.W.; Passano, Edward B.; Warren, H.C.; Washburn, M.F (February 1929). "Instructions in regard to preparation of manuscript". Psychological Bulletin. 26 (2): 57–63. doi:10.1037/h0071487. ISSN 0033-2909.
  5. ^ "APA Style Blog: The Origins of APA Style". blog.apastyle.org. Retrieved 2016-12-14.
  6. ^ APA Publications and Communications Board Working Group on Journal Article Reporting Standards (December 2008). "Reporting Standards for Research in Psychology: Why Do We Need Them? What Might They Be?" (PDF). American Psychologist. 63 (9): 839–851. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.63.9.839. PMC 2957094.
  7. ^ APA Task Force on Issues of Sexual Bias in Graduate Education (June 1975). "Guidelines for nonsexist use of language". American Psychologist. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 32 (6): 487–494. doi:10.1037/h0076869. ISSN 0003-066X. OCLC 696450842. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  8. ^ APA Publication Manual Task Force (June 1977). "Guidelines for nonsexist language in APA journals [Change Sheet 2]". American Psychologist. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 30 (6): 682–684. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.32.6.487. ISSN 0003-066X. OCLC 696450842. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  9. ^ "Supplemental materials: Chapter 3: Writing Clearly and Concisely". Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  10. ^ American Psychological Association (April 13–14, 2007). Meeting of the Council of Editors (Agenda book). Washington, D.C.: APA Archives.
  11. ^ American Psychological Association (May 18–20, 2007). Meeting of the Publications and Communications Board (Agenda book). Washington, D.C.: APA Archives.
  12. ^ APA Publications and Communications Board Working Group on Journal Article Reporting Standards (2008). "Reporting Standards for Research in Psychology: Why Do We Need Them? What Might They Be?" (PDF). American Psychologist. 63 (9): 839–851. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.63.9.839. PMC 2957094.
  13. ^ Skutley, Mary Lynn (October 8, 2009). "Note to APA Style Community: Sixth Edition Corrections". APA blog.
  14. ^ Epstein, Jennifer (October 13, 2009). Jaschik, Scott; Lederman, Doug, eds. "Correcting a Style Guide". Inside Higher Ed. Washington, DC. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  15. ^ Swidrak, Carolyn (27 August 2018). "APA - How to Cite Your Sources". Overview & Citation Guide Portal. Regis. Retrieved 6 October 2018. APA format is complex and takes time to learn.
  16. ^ Endnote X, Thomson, 2006, The APA style is a very complex style.


External links

AMA Manual of Style

AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors is the style guide of the American Medical Association. It is written by the editors of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) and the Archives journals and is most recently published by Oxford University Press. It specifies the writing and citation styles for use in the journals published by the American Medical Association. The manual was first published in 1962, and its current edition, the 10th, came out in 2007. It covers a breadth of topics for authors and editors in medicine and related health fields. The online edition also has updates (style points that have changed since the last print edition), a blog, monthly tips from the editors, quizzes, and an SI unit conversion calculator.

AMA style is widely used, either entirely or with modifications, by hundreds of other scientific journals (including medical and other public health journals), in many textbooks, and in academia (for papers written in classes). Along with APA style and CSE style, it is one of the major style regimes for such work. Many publications have small local style guides that cascade over AMA, APA, or CSE style (for example, "follow AMA style unless otherwise specified herein" or "for issues not addressed herein, follow AMA style").

ASA style

ASA style is a widely accepted format for writing university research papers in the field of sociology. It specifies the arrangement and punctuation of footnotes and bibliographies. Standards for ASA style are specified in the ASA Style Guide, which is published by the American Sociological Association, the main scholarly organization for academic sociologists in the United States. The ASA Style Guide, published by the American Sociological Association, is designed to aid authors preparing manuscripts for ASA journals and publications.

American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States, with around 118,000 members including scientists, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students. The APA has an annual budget of around $115m. There are 54 divisions of the APA—interest groups covering different subspecialties of psychology or topical areas.

Bible citation

A citation from the Bible is usually referenced with the book name, chapter number and verse number. Sometimes, the name of the Bible translation is also included. There are several formats for doing so.

Bibliography of the War of 1812

The War of 1812 bibliography is a selective, annotated bibliography using APA style citations of the many books related to the War of 1812. There are thousands of books and articles written about this topic. Only the most useful are presented.


The abbreviation cf. (short for the Latin: confer/conferatur, both meaning "compare") is used in writing to refer the reader to other material to make a comparison with the topic being discussed. It is used to form a contrast, for example: "Abbott (2010) found supportive results in her memory experiment, unlike those of previous work (cf. Zeller & Williams, 2007)." It is recommended that "cf." be used only to suggest a comparison, and the word "see" be used to point to a source of information.


A citation is a reference to a published or unpublished source. More precisely, a citation is an abbreviated alphanumeric expression embedded in the body of an intellectual work that denotes an entry in the bibliographic references section of the work for the purpose of acknowledging the relevance of the works of others to the topic of discussion at the spot where the citation appears.

Generally the combination of both the in-body citation and the bibliographic entry constitutes what is commonly thought of as a citation (whereas bibliographic entries by themselves are not). References to single, machine-readable assertions in electronic scientific articles are known as nanopublications, a form of microattribution.

Citations have several important purposes: to uphold intellectual honesty (or avoiding plagiarism), to attribute prior or unoriginal work and ideas to the correct sources, to allow the reader to determine independently whether the referenced material supports the author's argument in the claimed way, and to help the reader gauge the strength and validity of the material the author has used.As Roark and Emerson have argued, citations relate to the way authors perceive the substance of their work, their position in the academic system, and the moral equivalency of their place, substance, and words. Despite these attributes, many drawbacks and shortcoming of citation practices have been reported, including for example honorary citations, circumstantial citations, discriminatory citations, selective and arbitrary citations.The forms of citations generally subscribe to one of the generally accepted citations systems, such as the Oxford, Harvard, MLA, American Sociological Association (ASA), American Psychological Association (APA), and other citations systems, because their syntactic conventions are widely known and easily interpreted by readers. Each of these citation systems has its advantages and disadvantages. Editors often specify the citation system to use.

Bibliographies, and other list-like compilations of references, are generally not considered citations because they do not fulfill the true spirit of the term: deliberate acknowledgement by other authors of the priority of one's ideas.

Council of Science Editors

The Council of Science Editors (CSE) is a United States-based nonprofit organization that supports editorial practice among scientific writers. In 2008, the CSE adopted the slogan "CSE: Education, Ethics, and Evidence for Editors (E4)".

A volunteer Board of Directors leads the Council, with the assistance of several committees. CSE is managed by Kellen Company, located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

Inclusive language

Inclusive language aims to avoid offense and fulfill the ideals of egalitarianism by avoiding expressions that express or imply ideas that are sexist, racist, or otherwise biased, prejudiced, or denigrating to any particular group of people (and sometimes animals as well). It is often advocated by proponents of liberalism. Use of inclusive language might be considered a form of political correctness; often the term "political correctness" is used to refer to this practice, either as a neutral description by supporters or commentators in general or with negative connotations among its opponents.


JASP is a free and open-source graphical program for statistical analysis, designed to be easy to use, and familiar to users of SPSS. Additionally, it provides many Bayesian statistical methods. JASP generally produces APA style results tables and plots to ease publication. It promotes open science by integration with the Open Science Framework and reproducibility by integrating the analysis settings into the results. The development of JASP is financially supported by several universities and research funds.

List of books about the Troubles

List of books about the Troubles are works of literature cited using APA style citations.

List of books and documentaries by or about Bobby Fischer

This list of books and documentaries by or about Bobby Fischer is a bibliography using APA style citations.

Op. cit.

Op. cit. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase opus citatum, meaning "the work cited".


In statistical hypothesis testing, the p-value or probability value or asymptotic significance is the probability for a given statistical model that, when the null hypothesis is true, the statistical summary (such as the sample mean difference between two compared groups) would be greater than or equal to the actual observed results. The use of p-values in statistical hypothesis testing is common in many fields of research such as physics, economics, finance, political science, psychology, biology, criminal justice, criminology, and sociology. Their misuse has been a matter of considerable controversy.

Italicisation, capitalisation and hyphenation of the term varies. For example, AMA style uses "P value," APA style uses "p value," and the American Statistical Association uses "p-value."

Sentence spacing in language and style guides

Sentence spacing guidance is provided in many language and style guides.

The majority of style guides that use a Latin-derived alphabet as a language base now prescribe or recommend the use of a single space after the concluding punctuation of a sentence.

Serial comma

In English language punctuation, a serial comma or series comma (also called an Oxford comma or a Harvard comma) is a comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually and or or) in a series of three or more terms. For example, a list of three countries might be punctuated either as "France, Italy, and Spain" (with the serial comma), or as "France, Italy and Spain" (without the serial comma).Opinions among writers and editors differ on whether to use the serial comma, and usage also differs somewhat between regional varieties of English. Generally (with few exceptions), British English does not make use of this comma, while on the other hand it is common and even mandatory in American English. A majority of American style guides mandate use of the serial comma, including APA style, The Chicago Manual of Style, The MLA Style Manual, Strunk and White's Elements of Style, and the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual. In contrast, the Associated Press Stylebook advises against it. In Canada, the stylebook published by The Canadian Press advises against it. It is used less often in British English, but a few British style guides require it, notably The Oxford Style Manual. According to The Oxford Companion to the English Language, "Commas are used to separate items in a list or sequence … Usage varies as to the inclusion of a comma before and in the last item … This practice is controversial and is known as the serial comma or Oxford comma, because it is part of the house style of Oxford University Press." Some use it only where necessary to avoid ambiguity, in contrast to such guides as Garner's Modern American Usage, which advocate its routine use to avoid ambiguity.

Style guide

A style guide or manual of style is a set of standards for the writing, formatting and design of documents. It is often called a style sheet, although that term may have other meanings. These standards can be applied either for general use, or be required usage for an individual publication, a particular organization, or a specific field.

A style guide establishes standard style requirements to improve communication by ensuring consistency both within a document, and across multiple documents. Because practices vary, a style guide may set out standards to be used in areas such as punctuation, capitalization, citing sources, formatting of numbers and dates, table appearance and other areas. The style guide may require certain best practices in usage, language composition, visual composition, orthography and typography. For academic and technical documents, a guide may also enforce the best practice in ethics (such as authorship, research ethics, and disclosure), pedagogy (such as exposition and clarity), and compliance (technical and regulatory).

Style guides are specialized in a variey of ways, from the general use of a broad public audience, to a wide variety of specialized uses, such as for students and scholars of various academic disciplines, medicine, journalism, the law, government, business in general, and specific industries. The term house style refers to the individual style manual of a particular publisher or organization.

The Chicago Manual of Style

The Chicago Manual of Style (abbreviated in writing as CMOS or CMS, or sometimes as Chicago) is a style guide for American English published since 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. Its seventeen editions have prescribed writing and citation styles widely used in publishing. It is "one of the most widely used and respected style guides in the United States". The guide specifically focuses on American English and deals with aspects of editorial practice, including grammar and usage, as well as document preparation and formatting. It is available in print as a hardcover book, and by subscription as a searchable website as The Chicago Manual of Style Online. The online version provides some free resources, primarily aimed at teachers, students, and libraries.

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