APA Style: A Brief Overview*
APA Style is used for citing sources in the social sciences, business, and nursing. The basic requirements of an APA research paper are the title page, the abstract, the main body, and the reference page. Examples of papers you will see formatted in APA style are literature reviews and experimental reports. While these are APA requirements, always follow your instructor’s guidelines.
Title Page: The first page of your paper must include the title, author’s name, and the institutional affiliation, all of which should be double-spaced. It should also include the page header, formatted as Running Head: TITLE on the left and the page number on the right. After the first page, you will no longer need “Running Head.”
- Title: Place centrally in the upper half of the page in upper and lowercase letters. It should be no more than 12 words and include no abbreviations.
- Author’s name: Place beneath the title. Use no titles, such as Dr. or Mr.
- Institutional Affiliation: Place beneath the author’s name. This is where the author conducted his or her research.
Abstract: This is a new page after the title page. The Abstract is a concise summary of the key points of your research. It should be between 150-200 words. The word “Abstract” should be centered at the top of the page with no italics or underlining.
Body Format: Double-spaced with one inch margins and 12 pt. Times New Roman font; include the running head on the top of each page of your paper (page number on the right, title of paper on the left in all capital letters). The page header should not be more than 50 characters.
Author-Date Method: This includes the author’s last name and the year of publication. Ex. (Hall, 2011). When paraphrasing, this is all you need at the end of the sentence. If directly quoting a source, you will need the author’s last name, year of publication, and the page number. Ex. (Smith, 2008, p. 42). You can also use the author’s name (and year of publication) in a signal phrase. Ex. Smith (2008) found “…” (p. 42).
- Two Authors: (Smith & Cole, 1999).
- Three to Five Authors: First Reference: (Smith, Cole, Jones, & Johnson, 2001), Next References: (Smith et al., 2001).
- Six or More Authors: (Long et al., 1995). You would also use “et al.” if the name is in the signal phrase.
- Unknown Author: Cite the title based on first one or two words listed on your reference page. For books, italicize (Book Title, 1998). For articles or shorter works, use quotation marks (“Article Title,” 1998).
- Indirect Sources: These are sources cited in another source. For this, name the original source in the signal phrase. Ex. Johnson argued...(as cited in Mines, 2004, p. 201).
- Electronic Sources: When possible, use the author-date method. If the author is unknown, use the first one or two words of the title. If the date is unknown, use n.d. (for “no date”). Ex. (“Page Title,” n.d.).
- No Page Number: If the paragraphs are numbered, use “para.” Ex. (Smith, 2009, para. 2). If there are no paragraph numbers and the source has headings, provide the heading and specify the paragraph number under that heading. Ex. According to Lowe (1952),…(Drinking Water section, para. 7).
The reference page is at the end of your paper on a new separate page. Label this page as “References” centered at the top of the page—no underlining, italicizing, or quotation marks. This page is double-spaced like the body of your paper. While entering references, indent a half inch after the first line of the entry as a hanging indentation.
- Use the author’s last name followed by his or her first initials. Ex. Hillman, J. M. You do this for up to seven authors. After seven, use ellipses.
- Alphabetize references by the last name of the first author.
- For books, chapters, articles, or web pages, only capitalize the first letter of the first word. For journals, capitalize all major words.
- Italicize titles of longer works—books and journals.
Last Name, First Initials (Year of Publication). Title of the article or web page. Title of the
Journal, Volume Number, pages. doi: or Retrieved from URL (if provided)
Author, A. A. (Year of Publication). Title of the book: Capitalize first word of subtitle. Location:
In Text: As prey, zebras must be aware of the predators around them, but little is known of how zebras adjust their constant vigilance when they sense the immediate presence of predators and the perceived risk of being hunted (Périquet et al., 2010).
Périquet, S., Valiex, M., Loveridge, A. J., Madzikanda, H., Macdonald, D. W., Fritz, H. (2010).
Individual vigilance of African herbivores while drinking: The role of immediate predation risk
and context. Animal Behavior, 79. 665-671. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.12.016
*This is not a complete guide to APA style and formatting. For more information, find the 6th edition APA Manual or use the Purdue OWL website: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/10/ .