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APA Format: General Guidelines

Overall Format

• Use 1-inch margins all around

• Double-space all text

• Use 12-point Serif type, e.g., Times or Times New Roman

• Use italics only when specifically called for. See Publication Manual of the American

Psychological Association [APA] (5th ed.), pp. 100-103, for specific guidelines.

• Boldfaced type is used for the statistical notation only; there should be no reason to use

boldfaced type in this class.

Title Page (See samples following)

Running Head

• Use 1-inch margins, top and left

• Type the words: “Running head” followed by a colon

• Follow the colon with the title or part of the title up to 50 characters, including spaces,

uppercase

Page Header

• Include a few key words from the title, uppercase and lowercase, and the page number (with

approximately 5 spaces in between)

• Use header function on the computer

• Use right tab to place the page number at the right-hand margin

Title, Byline (Your Name), Institutional Affiliation

• Center vertically and horizontally

• Format uppercase and lowercase; double space

Excerpted and adapted from American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American
Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Basic Requirements 1

Running head: BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL

Basic Requirements of American Psychological Association Writing Format

Betty J. Skaggs, Alice Redland, and Leslie Kronz

University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing


Body of Paper (See sample following)

• Format the body of the paper flush left; ragged right

• Include the title, uppercase and lowercase, centered, at the top of the first page of text (Level 1

heading, see below)

• Include page header on every page of the paper, including the title and reference pages (see

above for specifics regarding page headers)

• Indent first line of each paragraph 1/2 inch


Basic Requirements 2

Basic Requirements of American Psychological Association Writing Format

Citation of the source of information and ideas is an integral part of any scholarly paper.

When the work of another person is quoted directly, paraphrased, or used as a source for

thoughts and opinions, the use of that person’s literary and scientific efforts must be

acknowledged. Because citation formats vary, neophytes often have difficulty in selecting and

consistently following one citation format. Consequently, the School of Nursing has selected a

format widely used for scientific writing, one that will be most useful to you at this time and in

the future. The official writing format for all work at the UT School of Nursing is the Publication

Manual of the American Psychological Association (2001), hereafter called the APA Manual. All

papers written for course work in the School must follow these guidelines.

The American Psychological Association (APA) writing style was devised to promote

clear communication between an author (student) and her/his publisher (faculty). Requirements

such as specifications for margins, line spacing, and headers, serve a purpose. For instance, the

large margins and double spacing provide ample space for the editor to make notes on the paper

and the typesetter to read the editing marks. Headers serve to get lost pages back with the right

document. Therefore, using APA guidelines correctly will benefit students by facilitating clear

communication with faculty, meeting the objectives of the assignment, producing better grades,

and preparing students for future professional tasks.

This paper demonstrates APA formatting and presents some common problem areas,

such as citations, direct quote references, plagiarism, and formatting techniques. Study the form

and content of this paper, and consult the APA Manual, available in the Learning Center. Of

course, faculty and/or the teaching assistant have the final word on the requirements of the paper

you are to submit—they may decide to adjust some requirements to meet the objectives of the
Levels of Heading

• Use headings to establish via format the hierarchy of sections to orient the reader (similar to

the levels in an outline).

• Use at least two subsection headings within any given section, or use none.

• Start each section with the highest level of heading, even if one section may have fewer levels

of subheading than another section.

• Do NOT label the introduction as such. It is assumed to be the introduction.

Examples

APA allows for as many as five levels of heading to be used, depending on the complexity of the

paper. This document shows the format for use of one and two levels of heading below. For

additional information, consult APA, pp. 111 - 115.

One Level. For a short article, one level of heading may be sufficient. In such cases, use only

centered uppercase and lowercase headings (Level 1 headings). Do NOT bold headings.

Basic Requirements of American Psychological Association Writing Format

Two Levels. For many articles in APA journals, two levels of heading meet the requirements.

Use Level 1 and Level 3 headings. Level 1 is centered, uppercase and lowercase. Level 3 is flush

left, italicized, uppercase and lowercase.

Method

Procedure
Seriation

• Enumerate elements in a series to prevent misreading or to clarify the sequence or relationship

between elements.

• Make sure items in a series are syntactically and conceptually parallel.

Within a paragraph or sentence

Within a sentence when elements do not have internal commas

The participant’s three choices were (a) working with another participant, (b) working

with a team, and (c) working alone.

Within a sentence when elements have internal commas

We tested three groups: (a) low scorers, who scored fewer than 20 points; (b) moderate

scorers, who scored between 20 and 50 points; and (c) high scorers, who scored more than 50

points.

If the elements of a series within a paragraph constitute a compound sentence and are preceded

by a colon.

The experiments on which we report were designed to address two such findings: (a)

Only a limited class of patterned stimuli, when paired with color, subsequently contingently

elicit after-effects, and (b) decreasing the correlation between grid and color does not degrade the

McCollough effect.
Separate paragraphs in a series

Using the learned helplessness theory, we predicted that the depressed and nondepressed

participants would make the following judgments of control:

1. Begin with paragraph indent. Type second and succeeding lines flush left.

2. The second item begins a new paragraph.


Citations

Using another author’s words or ideas necessitates giving that person or persons credit.

Quoting: Using the exact words of another. Requires quotation marks and citation.

Paraphrasing: Using another’s ideas stated in your own words. Requires citation.

Plagiarism: Using someone else’s words or ideas without attribution. Constitutes academic

dishonesty.

Guidelines for Citing works In Text

• Use author–date format in text. This abbreviated citation refers the reader to the complete

citation listed on the reference page.

• When using a direct quotation, cite author, year and page number(s) (paragraph numbers

should be used when citing text from on-line documents in which there is no pagination or the

pagination is not consistent with that of the print version of a given work).

• When paraphrasing an author’s words, cite the author and year of publication. It is not

necessary to use page numbers in the citation, although APA encourages you to do so when it

would help your reader find a passage in a particularly long or difficult text.

• In all instances, use only the surname(s) of the author(s) in text.

• When a work has two authors, always use both authors’ surnames.

• When a work has three to five authors, use all authors’ surnames the first time you cite the

work. In subsequent citations use the first author’s surname followed by the words “et al.”

(Note: et al. is NOT italicized and a period follows the word “al.”)

• When a work has six or more authors, use only the first author’s surname followed by the

words “et al.”


• When two or more works shorten to the same form (that is, they shorten to a form that has the

same author’s surname and the same year), cite as many authors as necessary to distinguish the

two works from one another and then use the words “et al.”

• When surnames are used as part of the prose, separate the last two names by using the word

“and”: Jones, Martin, and Richardson (1998) state…

• When surnames are used in parentheses, separate the last two names by using an ampersand

(&): (Edge & Groves, 1999).

Examples

Direct quotation of fewer than forty words, institutional author

“If and only if, the work is signed ‘Anonymous,’ the entry begins with the word

Anonymous spelled out, and the entry is alphabetized as if Anonymous were a true name”

(American Psychological Association [APA], 2001, p. 221).

Direct quotation of fewer than forty words, falling mid-sentence

She stated, “The ‘placebo effect’… disappeared when behaviors were studied in this

manner” (Miele, 1993, p. 276), but she did not clarify which behaviors were studied.

Direct quotation of forty or more words

Extended quotations of 40 or more words are block indented approximately 1/2 inch (or five

spaces) and double-spaced as in the following example. Quotation marks are note used.

Another is that the essence of writing is rewriting. Very few writers say on their first try

exactly what they want to say. . . . “Effortless” articles that look as if they were dashed

off are the result of strenuous effort. A piece of writing must be viewed as a constantly

evolving organism. (Zinsser, 1998, p. 15)


Alternate sentence structures for in-text citations

Johnson (1995) stated . . .

In 1995, Johnson stated . . .

Second or subsequent references to a study within a paragraph

The first time a work is cited in text, note both author and date. Subsequent entries in the same

paragraph need not repeat the date of publication as long is the work cited cannot be confused

with another work.

In a recent study of reaction times, Walker (2000) described the method . . . Walker also

found . . .

Citing a secondary source

In text, name the original work, and give a citation for the secondary source:

The American Hospital Association's Patient's Bill of Rights (as cited in Edge & Groves,

1999) is an important document that guides ethical practice within the hospital setting.

In the reference list give the secondary source:

Edge, R. S., & Groves, J. R. (1999). Ethics of health care: A guide for clinical practice (2nd ed.).

Albany, NY: Delmar.

Citing personal communications and lecture notes

• These sources are cited in text only.

(M. Jones, personal communication, May 4, 1988)

(K. Smith, lecture notes, July 10, 1987)


Reference List

• Most reference citations refer to works in print or works available on line. (For alternate media,

see the APA Manual.)

• Reference citations of print works generally include author, date, title and publication

information. The format varies depending on whether the citation refers to a journal article, a

chapter in a book or a book. See examples of common forms below.

• Reference citations of on-line works will vary, but generally include author, date and location

of the text (URL or database name). See examples of common forms below.

Formatting the Reference List

• Include only works cited in the paper.

• Type the word “References” at the top of the page (centered, uppercase and lowercase).

• Double-space the heading and list.

• Begin the first line of each entry at the standard left-hand margin. Indent subsequent lines of

each entry 1/2 inch. This is called a hanging indent.

• List the entries alphabetically by the first word in each entry, generally the author(s)

Author

• Begin each entry with the author or authors of a work.

• Use authors’ surnames and initials, inverted: Litchfield, J.

• Separate authors’ names by using a comma; use an ampersand before the last author’s name:

Stanley, N., Manthorpe, J., & Bradley, G.

• For a work with six or fewer authors, include all authors’ names.

• For a work by more than six authors, include the first six authors’ names and the words “et al.”

• If a work has no author, move the title to the author position.


Date

• Give the copyright date in parentheses following the author’s name.

• For books and journal articles, give the year only: (2003)

• For meetings; monthly magazines, newsletters and newspapers, give the year and month:

(2003, May)

• For dailies and weeklies, give the year, month and day: (2003, November 4)

• For a work accepted for publication but not yet published, use: (in press)

• For a work on which no date appears, use: (n.d.)

Title and Publication Information

• Give title and publication information following the date. The information included and format

will vary depending on the type of print material cited.

Reference Citations: Print Sources, Books

• In citing a book, give the complete title, italicized. Capitalize only the first letter of the first

word, the first letter of proper nouns and the first letter of any word following a colon.

• Follow the title with the city and state of publication (U.S. Postal abbreviation). If the city is

well known and cannot be confused with another city, use the city name only (e.g., New York,

Philadelphia).

• Follow the place of publication with a colon. Then give the publisher’s name. Eliminate words

such as Publisher, Co., Inc., etc. from publisher’s name. Keep the words Books or Press.
Examples

Citing a book by a single author.

Zinsser, W. (1988). Writing to learn. New York: Harper & Row.

Citing a book by a group author.

American Nurses Association. (1987). Computers in nursing education. Kansas City, MO:

Author.

Citing a book by two authors, with an edition number

Campbell, W. G., & Ballou, S. V. (1987). Form and style (5th ed.). New York: Houghton

Mifflin.

Citing a chapter in a book edited by another writer

Grobe, S. J. (1994). Nursing informatics: State of the science. In J. H. van Bemmel & A. T.

McCray (Eds.), Yearbook of medical informatics: Advanced communications in health

care (pp. 85-94). Stuttgart: Schatlauer Verlagsgesellschaft mbH.


Reference Citations: Print Sources, Journal Articles

• In citing a journal article, give the complete title of the article NOT italicized and without

quotation marks. Capitalize only the first letter of the first word, the first letter of proper nouns

and the first letter of any word following a colon.

• Follow the article title with the complete title of the journal, italicized, uppercase and lower

case.

• Follow the journal title with a comma and give the volume number, also italicized. The issue

number will follow the volume number in parentheses, NOT italicized.

• Give page numbers for journal articles, inclusive.

Examples

Citing a journal article

Hays, B. J., Norris, J., Martin, K. S., & Androwich, I. (1994). Informatics issues for nursing’s

future. Advances in Nursing Science, 16 (4), 71-81.

Citing a journal article with sequential numbering

Loepprich, J. C., & Smith, J. L. (1983-84). Can computers solve nursing’s information overload?

Imprint, 30, 49-55.


Reference Citations: On-line Sources

• Material available on line changes frequently. Therefore, include the date of retrieval in

citations of most on-line material. (See the second example below.)

• When citing a URL, (1) use an address that takes the reader as close as possible to the material

cited, and (2) make sure the URL works.

Examples

A reference citation for an Internet-only journal article

Mackey, T. A., & Cole, F. L. (1997). Patient waiting times in a nurse managed clinic. The

Internet Journal of Advanced Nursing Practice 1997 1N1. Retrieved October 15, 2001,

from http://www.ispub.com/hournals/JANP/Vol1N1/time2.html

A reference citation for an Internet article based on a print source

Acton, G. S., Prochaska, J. J., Kaplan, A. S., Small, T., & Hall, S. M. (2001). Depression and

stages of change for smoking in psychiatric outpatients [Electronic version]. Addictive

Behaviors, 26, 621-631.

A reference citation for an Internet article based on a print source in which information

has been changed

VandenBos, G., Knapp, S., & Doe, J. (2001). Role of reference elements in the selection of

resources by psychology undergraduates. Journal of Bibliographic Research, 5, 117-123.

Retrieved October 13, 2001, from http://jbr.org/articles.html


A reference citation for an article from an aggregated database

Rew, L. (2003). A theory of taking care of oneself grounded in experiences of homeless youth.

Nursing Research, 52 (4), 234-41. Retrieved December 4, 2003, from CINAHL database.

A reference citation for report from a private organization, available on their Web Site:

Canarie, Inc. (1997, September 27). Towards a Canadian health IWAY: Vision, opportunities

and future steps. Retrieved November 8, 2000, from

http://www.canarie.ca/press/publications/pdf/health/healthdivision.doc

A reference citation for an independent document, no author identified

GVU’s 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.) Retrieved August 8, 2000, from

http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/ usersurveys/survey1997-10/

On-line APA Assistance

• UWC (Undergraduate Writing Center)


http://uwc.fac.utexas.edu/pages/students/resources/resources.html

• Purdue University
http://owl.english.purdue.edu (homepage)
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/research/r_apa.html

• American Psychological Association


http://www.apastyle.org/elecref.html (updated information on electronic formats)