How to write an APA-style essay

Topics: Citation, APA style, Pilcrow Pages: 13 (2579 words) Published: September 21, 2013
Updated 08/14/2013



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How to Do that Annoying APA Format Stuff: A Brief Overview of the 6th Edition Scott W. Plunkett
California State University, Northridge

Authors’ names should appear in
order of their contribution to the

Noh Wahnelse and I. M. N. Oyed
University of Invisible Students

Author Note
Scott W. Plunkett, Department of Psychology, California State University Northridge. Noh Wahnelse, Department of Paranormal Experiences and Life Events, University of Invisible Students.
I. M. N. Oyed, Department of Anger Management, University of Invisible Students. Special thanks to Bill White in the Management Department at Liberty University for suggestions to the content of this document.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Scott W. Plunkett, Department of Psychology, California State University Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8255. E-mail:



The abstract provides a brief, comprehensive summary of the paper. Abstracts should be between 150 and 250 words; although this requirement varies depending on the source (e.g., journal). For a research study, the abstract should generally summarize the introduction, hypotheses, methods, results, and discussion. Otherwise, the abstract should highlight the major ideas of the paper. For example, this paper is designed to enlighten people how to use APA formatting through a somewhat silly example. Important considerations such as formatting, headings, citations within the text, and references are addressed (not undressed).

Keywords: APA, citing, formatting, 6th edition, referencing



How to Do That Annoying APA Format Stuff: A Brief Overview of the 6th Edition This document is an overview of how to do an APA formatted paper as outlined in the Sixth Edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2010). My hope is that this document will help you in your academic and professional endeavors. I know learning APA styles seems like a hassle and can be scary (Dracula, Frankenstein, & Werewolf, 2006), but there are legitimate reasons the style was established (not just to cause you grief). Following the style guidelines provides a consistent structure for papers from different authors across many disciplines. This is especially important for editors and readers. Plus, your grade may depend upon your ability to follow these guidelines. Whoa! I bet THAT got your attention! Overview of Headings

There are five levels of heading recommended by APA. These are Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, and Level 5. All major headings (i.e., Level 1 Headings) are bold, centered, and title case. What is title case? Well, it means that each of the main words is capitalized (e.g., “Each of the Main Words is Capitalized”).

Subsection Headings
All subsection headings (i.e., Level 2 Headings) are left justified, bold, and title case. Notice there are no extra lines or spacing between headings and the preceding or following paragraphs. All text is double-spaced.

Sub-sub headings. The sub-sub headings (i.e., Level 3 Headings) are (a) indented, (b) bold, (c) sentence case (i.e., only the first letter of the sub-sub heading is capitalized), and (d) followed by a period. The text immediately follows sub-sub headings on the same line. By the way, these headings are actually not called “sub-sub headings”; I just like saying sub-sub. I also like saying “bubbles.”



I didn’t really have anything to say in this paragraph, but I wanted to show that the next paragraph would be indented as usual. So, with that in mind, bubbles, bubbles, bubbles. Other Notes About Headings

You should try to avoid having only one subsection. It is best to have at least two subsections in any section. Otherwise, there is little reason to use a...

Citations: B. Smart, personal communication, September 18, 2007).
If you have any questions, ask your professor (Bird, 2006; Snuffleupagus, 2006; Urkel,
because all people make errors (S. W. Plunkett, personal communication, September 9, 2010).
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Electronic references made easy. Retrieved April
18, 2004, from (online document created by a private
Bird, B. (2006). Towering over the world and loving it: An autobiographical case study.
(DAQ Publication No. 51-0091). Washington DC: Author. (government report published by the
same government agency)
Dracula, C., Frankenstein, C., & Werewolf, I. M. (2006, March). An examination of
misrepresented figures in history: Persecution instead of love
Gas, P. U. (2001a). Can you say stinky? In P. U. Skunkett & P. U. Skunk (Eds.), Famous people
leaving lasting impression (pp
Gas, P. U. (2001b). Garlic, rotten eggs, and dung. The history of the scientific study of smells.
Knowitall, I., & Allknowing, I. M. (2002, January 5). Answers to everything you ever wanted to
Letterman, D., Leno, J., O’Brian, C., & Plunkett, S. W. (1982). How I handle all those people
who want my autograph: It is a curse
Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (10th ed.). (1993). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
(2002). The anal-retentive professor. Prague, Czech Republic: Freud Press. (book with more
than 6 authors – only the first six and the last author are listed with … in between)
Plunk’s teaching philosophy. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2003, from (online article with no author or date
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