University of Phoenix
June 18, 2005
APA Writing Style and Mechanics: A User’s Guide
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Publication Manual) began as an article published in Psychological Bulletin in 1929. That article reported results of a 1928 meeting of scholars "to discuss the form of journal manuscripts and to write instructions for their preparation" (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2001, p. xix). Today the manual is in its fifth edition, and the APA format described in it is a widely recognized standard for scientific writing (i.e., scholarly or professional writing) in the social sciences. Although the stylebook is designed to prepare manuscripts for publication, many school and health care journals have adopted its use as a guide to achieve uniformity and consistency (Cuddy, 2002). Writing in the style prescribed by the Publication Manual can be a daunting experience for students; however, as with all new skills, “practice makes perfect” (P. Proofreader, personal communication, June 28, 2004). In this paper, a review of APA information and writing tips most often used by the University of Phoenix undergraduate and graduate students are presented. However, this document is no substitute for the Publication Manual itself. While APA formatting software is available from a number of vendors, students are discouraged from purchasing it due to the inconsistency of formatting specific to University of Phoenix papers. Format Considerations
Some of the more commonly used rules and formats from the Publication Manual are presented and discussed in this section. Please note, however, that some assignments may require unique formatting, and students should consult with faculty for clarification.
Margins are required to be one inch equally or set at the word processor default. Microsoft Word default for the header and footer are each set at ½ inch. The rule is broken to avoid placing a lone heading on the last line of the page or a single line of text on the top of the next page.
The header contains the first two or three words of the title and appears in the header/footer feature of Microsoft Word (See Appendix A for format directions for the header/footer feature). The page number is set at five spaces to the right of the text. The automatic function of a word-processing program should be used to print the headers and page numbers consecutively in the paper, with Arabic numerals beginning on the title page.
The hanging indentation (See Appendix B for format directions for hanging indents) is used for the reference page; that is, the first line of the reference, usually the author’s name, rests against the left margin, and the lines that follow are indented 5 or 7 spaces or ½ inch. The Publication Manual (2001) recommends setting the tab key to ½ inch (word processor default). The reference page is alphabetized by author and contains the date of publication in parentheses, directly after the author’s name. Next, the title, the place of publication, and the name of the publisher are listed. The proliferation of electronic materials has prompted the APA to create formats designed specifically for Internet and web-based written material. Students should bookmark and frequently visit the APA website at www.apastyle.org for current formatting of electronic references. Only those references that have been cited in the paper are listed on the reference page. Personal communications are cited in the text, but not on the reference page. Additional reference examples are available in Appendix C. In Text Citations
Direct quotations. Direct quotations need to mirror exactly the original source, even if errors are contained in the original. To alert the reader that any errors are part of the original material, the word sic, enclosed in...