If you are working on an academic paper for your Psychology class, you will definitely have to acquire knowledge of APA style formatting. It is essential to know how to organize and structure your paper, cite sources in the text, as well as format the reference list. In case it is the first time you plan to use this formatting style, it is vital to devote ample time to learning at least its basics and getting a general understanding of what the style looks like. Despite the fact that it may be challenging and time-consuming to learn APA style, it is definitely a useful skill as you will come across it really often throughout your academic career. If you are aware of some other writing styles, maybe it will be easier to master APA formatting style. Still, if not, you are welcome to use the guidelines provided in the article below.
What Is APA Style?
APA style refers both to a writing and formatting style that is used when writing academic papers, books, journals, and articles. As a rule, it is mostly used in social sciences and behavioral disciplines. If you look through the style guide provided by the American Psychological Association, you will see that the style is described there in great detail, taking into account all the peculiarities and format features. These rules of APA style usage were composed to help in the process of reading and writing comprehension as well as for the effectiveness of written communication.
APA style can be used in its pure form as well as in modifications, for example, it can be often composed with Harvard style as well as ASA, AMA or CSE styles. You can find examples of APA style usage in a variety of scholarly journals and peer-reviewed publications. In other words, it is one of the most widespread writing and formatting styles ever. Since it is an officially accepted style of the American Psychological Association (APA), it is widely used in social science, education, and psychology disciplines. The first guidelines of this style appeared back in 1929. Now they are frequently modified and adjusted to make them up-to-date.
Why is it so important to adhere to a specific writing or formatting style? The answer is quite simple. For example, by using APA style, academic writers can clearly communicate their message across in a logical and consistent format. It is important when it comes to writing educational, academic, scientific, and other types of writing. Namely, when it comes to psychology and experiments done in this field, it is significant to be clear and consistent in reporting the results and findings. Consistency of style helps readers look for similar information in the other sources and also be aware of where specific information is placed in the paper (in sections or chapters).
If you have never written academic papers in psychology or other social sciences, you may be probably unaware of the principles of using APA. Maybe you are better in Chicago or MLA. Still, if you want to be successful and effective in writing, you need to learn the principles of APA style since you will definitely have to deal with psychology papers or papers in the sphere of behavioral or social sciences. Though it may be a process of a difficult transition to using a new style, you need to be diligent and persistent to learn the basics of it.
When it comes to the fundamentals of APA style, you need to pay attention to such aspects as the writing style and tone of presenting information, sections and headings, paper length, punctuation, in-text citations, and organization of sources in the reference list. Moreover, when it comes to presenting results (either in the main body or appendices), you need to be aware of how to construct and present tables and figures, graphs, and diagrams, as well as how to cite the used sources.
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Why Is It Important to Maintain a Single Style in the Paper?
A single writing and formatting style used throughout the whole academic paper is essential for clarity of comprehension of the provided information. First of all, maintaining to a specific structure helps to organize paper chapters or sections in the proper way. As such, whatever article you read, you can easily find the needed information, as you are aware of where it is placed in the paper. Even if the paper is long, you do not have to read it all from beginning to end to find a section with methodology or findings, for example. Second, the usage of APA style throughout the paper in a consistent manner allows you to easier navigate through sections. Moreover, it is easier to format all visual graphs, tables or diagrams in a single style if you know its rules rather than present the visual aid chaotically.
Why Was APA Style Established?
The main aim of establishing the APA style was to enable scholars and researchers in Social Sciences and psychology fields to foster and regulate written communication among them. Moreover, a single writing style enabled researchers to communicate information across in a consistent and comprehensive form. The main function of APA style is to focus on the rules, guidelines, and regulations in behavioral, psychological, and social sciences in order to help writers present information clearly.
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What Major Sections Should a Paper Contain According to APA Style?
Mostly, the structure of the paper according to APA rules and guidelines are limited to four main sections: the cover page, abstract page, the main section (composing of introduction, the main body, and conclusion), and the reference list.
- Cover page (or title page). On the title page, make sure to provide such information as the running head, the paper topic, your full name, and the institutional affiliation you study at. The main purpose of a title page is to be informative and provide brief information to your reader as to what the paper topic is and who the paper was written by.
- Abstract page. The abstract is a brief overview or synopsis of your paper, which is usually 150-250 words in length. You need to be logical, consistent, and succinct when providing the abstract page, as you need to outline all the paper constituents and the main idea of the paper.
- The main body. This is the text of the essay or a research paper itself. When you provide a long paper, make sure to break it down into smaller sections or chapters. Some of the main components include the introduction, the methodology, the results, and the discussion section followed by a conclusion.
- Reference list. On this page, you need to place a detailed and full list of all sources you consulted and cited in the text. Make sure to organize them in alphabetical order. Use the sources that are updated and credible.
How to Organize In-Text Citations in APA format
The citations placed in the text are essential to pinpointing where the user information, facts or ideas come from. As a rule, the in-text citation in APA style includes the author’s name and the year of publication. For example, (Freud, 1990), (Walker, 2005), etc.
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Tips for Structuring the Reference Page
The reference list should be placed starting from the new page. It should be entitled as “References” which should be centered at the top of the page. All sources should be organized in alphabetical order and the first line should be flushed from the left. The very list of books, articles, and other sources should be double-spaced. Each reference that is included in the reference list should also appear in the text. There should be at least one in-text citation for the source included in the reference list.
Titles of books, magazines, journals, and newspapers are italicized while the titles of smaller works, such as articles are put in quotation marks.
Helpful Resources for APA Style Formatting
If you have just started to learn the basics of APA style writing and formatting, be sure that you can improve your citation and formatting with the help of online citation machines, such as Zotero, Landmarks Citation Machine, BibMe Citation Creator, KnightCite, and APA Citation Wozards among others. Using citation machines can be particularly helpful when you have just started mastering your practical skills in APA formatting. These online tools will be particularly helpful as you are referencing the names of the sources according to APA style. Still, it is advisable to check the referenced sources for accuracy and look through the rules and examples taken from the official APA source. Another tip is to look through the samples of APA-formatted papers and use them as a template for formatting.