APA Style: American Psychological Association (update Aug 07)
APA is the style of writing research papers in the social sciences such as psychology and
sociology. There are no footnotes or endnotes. APA requires the use of parenthetical references,
which means key reference information is given in parentheses throughout the paper. As
information is used from a source, the author‟s last name and the date of publication must be
included “on the spot.” The page number must be included for a direct quote only. Full source
information is provided on a separate reference page at the end of the paper.
The APA Manual (on reserve in the library or available in the Campus Bookstore) fully explains
APA style, but listed below are some helpful examples and general rules for writing a paper.
Examples of Parenthetical References:
Lister (1994) studied the Red Knife gang and found that a few females held positions of power in
the inner circle of leadership. (Preferred method)
Youthful offenders may spend up to three days in an adult prison before moving to a juvenile
facility (Marston, 1998).
“Poverty can be directly related to high birth rate in underdeveloped countries” (Jackson &
Bruce, 1996, p. 125).
If there is no author listed for a periodical, book, brochure, or report, us a shortened title with
quotation marks around articles and italics for books:
(College Bound Seniors, 1979) or (“Gang Leaders,” 2000)
List references in alphabetical order. The first line should be flush with the left margin, and
subsequent lines should be indented 3 spaces (tab is ok). This is called a hanging indent.
Capitalize the first word and any proper nouns of books and article titles. Also capitalize the first
word after a colon. Use initials only for author‟s first name and middle name if given.
Book with one author:
Marston, K. T. (1998). Kids in American jails: Under the influence of criminals. New York:
Book by two or more authors:
Jackson, A. V., & Bruce, D. J. (1996). Poverty and birth rates. New York: Howard House.
Article in a hard-copy scholarly journal with continuous pagination through an annual volume:
Miller, W. (1999). Violent crimes in city gangs. Journal of Social Issues, 27, 581-593.
DSM-IV-TR (manual used to define mental disorders, identify symptoms and recommend
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders
(4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: Author.
An Internet Article (from a website):
Mason, T., & Smith, K. (1995). Forgiveness and the Bible (Liberty University Cognitive
Research Report No. 21). Abstract retrieved January 12, 2003, from
http://www.liberty.edu/forgivenss.html (No period if ending reference in web address)
Internet Articles based on print source:
VandenBos, G., Knapp, S., & Doe, J. (2001). Role of reference elements in the selection of
resources of psychology undergraduates [Electronic version]. Journal of Bibliographic
Research, 5, 117-123.
Article from a searchable electronic database:
Norwoozi, C. (1992). What you lose when you miss sleep. Journal of Sleep Studies, 17, 70-75.
Retrieved April 22, 2006, from Expanded Academic ASAP database.
Font: Courier New (12) & Times New Roman (12); or a font approved by the professor.
Title page: see example.
Abstract: Summary of paper topic and conclusions, no indention of paragraph, not exceeding 120 words.
Page numbers: upper right hand corner, title page is page 1.
Margins: 1 inch top & bottom, right & left.
Double space the text, abstract, and references.
Indent left side only quotes of 40+ words (double space).
Introductory paragraph: 4-6 sentences, one of which must be the thesis or topic sentence.
The summary paragraph (conclusion) is essential.
Only use third person in a formal paper: no first (I, me, my, we, us, our) or second (you, your, yours).
Do not use statements in reference to your paper, such as “This paper is about…”
The purpose of a formal paper is to gather research by others, put it together in a cohesive unit and inform
the reader- Do not use personal opinions unless the instructor requests them.
Use strong subjects and action verbs. Avoid passive.
Do not use the word “thing.”
Have someone else proofread your paper. Use computer spell-check (and grammar-check).
Watch subject and verb agreement: “The child says…” not “The child say…”
Do not hyphenate words at the end of a line.
Do not use contractions such as can‟t, won‟t, shouldn‟t.
Watch pronouns: make sure they match the nouns to which they refer. Do not overuse pronouns.
Do not end a sentence with a preposition.
Alphabetize references. Do not number references on the reference page.
Sources should be from peer-reviewed journals only- no popular sources such as magazines.
Sources should be recent (2000 or later unless doing a historical review); must be research-based, not
opinion pieces or web pages with non-researched information.
For electronic sources, you must have an address, path, or database.
If there is no author, use title for reference.
On the reference page, list all authors, always in the order found in the article.
With multiple authors, use „and‟ when listing authors in the text; use ampersand (&) when listing in
parentheses and on reference page.
For 1 or 2 authors, cite all at all times.
For 3 to 5 authors, cite all the first time and thereafter list the first followed by „et al.‟
For more than 6 authors, list the first followed by „et al.‟
For the Bible, cite book, chapter, and verse in the text, with translation in parentheses.
If you quote a source from a reformatted on-line article, use para. # or ¶ # . For pdf source, use p. #