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APA Style Workshop

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Welcome to the OWL Workshop on APA Style! This workshop introduces important aspects of the American Psychological Association (APA) Style used to format research papers. The introductory material describes what APA Style is, why it is used, and who should use it. Following this, the resource provides links to some of the OWL's most helpful APA resources.

NOTE: This workshop should answer most of your basic questions about using APA Style. However, if you are writing a complex document such as a thesis or lengthy manuscript, or if you have detailed questions, you should consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th edition), which can often be found at your local library. You might also consult the APA's website, which allows visitors to order the book online and read frequently asked questions about APA style. Finally, see our Additional Resources page for additional references you can consult.

What is APA Style?

APA Style establishes standards of written communication concerning:

  • the organization of content
  • writing style
  • citing references
  • and how to prepare a manuscript for publication in certain disciplines.

Why Use APA?

Aside from simplifying the work of editors by having everyone use the same format for a given publication, using APA Style makes it easier for readers to understand a text by providing a familiar structure they can follow. Abiding by APA's standards as a writer will allow you to:

  • provide readers with cues they can use to follow your ideas more efficiently and to locate information of interest to them
  • allow readers to focus more on your ideas by not distracting them with unfamiliar formatting
  • and establish your credibility or ethos in the field by demonstrating an awareness of your audience and their needs as fellow researchers.

Who Should Use APA?

APA Style provides fairly comprehensive guidelines for writing academic papers regardless of subject or discipline. However, traditionally, APA is most frequently used by writers and students in:

  • Social Sciences, such as Psychology, Linguistics, Sociology, Economics, and Criminology
  • Business
  • Nursing

If you are a student, consult with an instructor to learn what style your discipline uses before using APA Style in your work. If APA Style is appropriate for your writing project, use the links below to learn more about APA and how to follow its rules correctly in your own work.

APA Formatting and Writing Style

The following pages introduce some of the basic requirements of APA Style as well as describing the different formatting and writing conventions that are used in APA papers.

General APA Format

  • Covers the basic page layout for a typical APA manuscript.
  • Includes a general list of the basic components of an APA paper: title page, abstract, body, and reference page.

Headings and Seriation

  • Provides models and examples for the section headers used to organize APA papers.
  • Describes how to format lists within the text of APA papers.

Footnotes and Endnotes

  • Recommends using footnotes or endnotes to avoid long explanations in the text.
  • Covers two basic kinds of notes: content and copyright permission notes.

APA Citations and Reference List

The following pages walk through the details of making in-text citations and developing a reference page at the end of your paper. They contain numerous illustrative examples.

In-Text Citations: The Basics

  • Addresses the basic formatting requirements of using the APA Style for citing secondary sources within the text of your essay.
  • Provides guidance on how to incorporate different kinds of references to borrowed material, from short quotes to summaries of entire articles.

In-Text Citations: Author/Authors

  • Focuses on various details about referring to the authors of your sources within your essay, which can be a difficult task if the source has more than one author or has an unclear author (e.g., an organization).
  • Describes how to cite indirect quotes, electronic sources, and/or sources without page numbers.

Reference List: Basic Rules

  • Guides you through the general rules that apply to any reference list developed using APA Style.
  • Serves as a primer on formatting the sorts of references that will be described in greater detail at the pages linked below..

Reference List: Author/Authors

  • Walks through how to construct a reference entry for sources with a wide variety of author configurations.
  • Notes how references differ depending on the number of authors or if there are multiple works by the same author.

Reference List: Articles in Periodicals

  • Describes how to refer accurately to academic journal articles—a very important kind of source in scholarly writing.
  • Lists types of entries depending on the type of periodical (e.g., journal, newspaper, magazine, etc.) and the type of article.

Reference List: Books

  • Describes how to properly refer to book-length sources.
  • Addresses both the basic book format as well as requirements for unique book sources that require additional detail, such as translations or parts of multivolume works.

Reference List: Other Print Sources

  • Offers a short list of uncommon print sources with instructions for how to construct references for them.
  • Examples include indirect print citations (i.e., a print source that is cited in another) and government documents.

Reference List: Electronic Sources

  • Walks through the requirements and unique qualifications for constructing references for electronic sources.
  • Covers sources from online periodicals and scholarly databases to emails.

Reference List: Audiovisual Sources

  • Offers guidance on all manner of audiovisual sources, including sound recordings and YouTube clips. 
  • Also describes how to cite visual artwork hosted online.

Reference List: Other Non-Print Sources

  • Focuses primarily on how to reference uncommon non-print sources, including presentations and interviews.
  • Notes that personal communication (e.g. an interview or conversation) is not to be included in the reference list.