Introduction to APA Style
Most classes in psychology will require you to write your papers in APA style, which is a writing style described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (which was just released in its fifth edition). APA style describes rules for the preparation of manuscripts for writers and students in psychology. These rules cover areas such as the content and organization of a manuscript, writing style, references, and how to prepare a manuscript for publication. APA style breaks papers up into sections, which helps you to present information clearly and also allows readers to quickly find and process the information they need.
Who Uses APA Style?
APA style is also used in many other disciplines such as Sociology, Business, Economics, Nursing, Social Work, and Criminology. As a result, the Publication Manual is available at several libraries on the Purdue University campus (Consumer and Family Sciences Library; Engineering Library; Hicks Undergraduate Library; Humanities, Social Science, and Education Library; Pharmacy, Nursing, and Health Services Library; and Psychological Sciences Library) either in the reference section or on reserve. The basic information that you will need to write your papers can be found in this manual. However, if your question is not addressed on this manual, if you are writing a complex document such as a thesis or lengthy manuscript, or if you have detailed questions, you should refer to http://www.apastyle.org.
Why Use APA Style?
Abiding by the rules of APA style makes it easier for others to understand your writing. Your reader will be able to find what they are looking for, follow your writing more easily, and your communication will be more clearly understood. If you go on to publish your writing, the tasks of editors and publishers are simplified when everyone uses the same format. Using APA style also provides you with a model for thinking about psychological phenomena.
APA must have a title page. At least three pieces of information are required: a title , the author’s name, and an institutional affiliation. The title page includes:
1. The page header (first 2-3 words of your title and page number; Note: EVERY page has a page number on it) 2. The running head for publication
3. The title
4. Your name
5. Your institution
The title should be a concise statement of the main topic and inform readers of the content of the paper. The recommended length for a title is 10 to 12 words. The title is centered on the page with your name two spaces below the title and your institution below your name. The running head is an abbreviated title (no more than 50 characters, including punctuation and spaces) and is typed at the top of the title page between the page header and the title. Note the capitalization of the running head.
Double-spacing is required throughout most of the manuscript. Single spacing can be used for table titles and headings, figure captions, references (but double-spacing is required between references), footnotes, and long quotations (APA, 2001, p. 326). Space once after:
• commas, colons, and semicolons
• punctuation marks at the end of sentences
• periods that separate elements of a reference citation • periods after initials in personal names
Do NOT space after:
• internal periods in abbreviations
• around colons in ratios
• Make sure the text is left aligned and not justified. With left aligned text, the left margin forms a straight line and the right margin is ragged. • Footnotes are rarely used in APA papers.
• Use a 12 point font.
• Indent 5-7 spaces (one-half inch, 1.25 cm) within paragraphs. • Single space after sentence terminators (i.e., '.', '?', '!'). • Keyword emphasis requires the use of italics,...