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Research Guide: APA Style

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APA Citation Style

What is the APA citation style?

"APA Style® originated in 1929, when a group of psychologists, anthropologists, and business managers convened and sought to establish a simple set of procedures, or style rules, that would codify the many components of scientific writing to increase the ease of reading comprehension."
(APA Style | "What is APA Style®?")

Who uses the APA citation style?

"APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences."
(Purdue OWL | "APA Style Introduction")
APA is also commonly used in education and the sciences (some of which actually have their own specific citation styles). That means, unless your instructor says otherwise, that if you're writing a research paper for your Biology, Business, Chemistry, Criminal Justice, Education, History, Medical Laboratory Science, Psychology, or Sociology classes, then you should probably be citing your sources according to the APA citation style.

How do I use the APA citation style?

APA papers are divided into four major sections.

  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Main Body
  4. References

There are two common types of APA research papers, and both are further divided into sections.

  1. Literature Review
    1. Title Page
      1. The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header by inserting page numbers flush right at the top of the page and then typing the title flush left of the page numbers.
        1. Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page.
        2. Beneath the title, type the author's name: first name, middle initial(s), and last name.
        3. Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation, which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.
    2. Introduction
      1. The introduction presents the problem that the paper addresses. It should start on the same page as the Literature Review.
    3. List of References
      1. Start on a new page with the title References centered; do not underline or italicize. All citations in the paper should have a reference on this page.
  2. Experimental Report
    1. Title Page
    2. Abstract
    3. Introduction
    4. Method
    5. Results
    6. Discussion
    7. References
    8. Appendices (Purdue OWL | "Types of APA Papers")
The Purdue OWL has an APA Sample Paper available on its website.

How do I cite a resource using the APA citation style?

Citing references in-text follow the author-date citation model:

  • Kessler (2003) found that among epidemiological samples . . .
  • In 2003, Kessler's study of epidemiological samples found . . .
  • Several studies (Miller, 1999; Shafranske & Mahoney, 1998) . . .

How do I properly format my References page?

According to APA citation style, you must have a References page at the end of your research paper. All entries on the References page must correspond to the resources that were cited in the main text of your paper.
Entries are listed alphabetically by the author's last name (or the editor's or translator's name) or the title (ignoring initial articles), and the hanging indent style is used. For example:

Berndt, T. J. (2002). Friendship quality and social development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 7-10.

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

Wegener, D. T., & Petty, R. E. (1994). Mood management across affective states: The hedonic contingency hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 1034-1048.

(Purdue OWL | "Reference List: Author/Authors")

APA Template

Feel free to use the following document as a template for properly formatting your paper in APA, but please double-check with your instructor to make sure that you're following his/her specific directions!