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APA Style Guide

The APA style guide is the guide used by the American Psychological Association in the books and journals that it publishes to ensure clear and consistent presentation of the written material. Others working in the field of social and behavioral sciences also have adopted this style.

Like the MLA style guide, the APA style provides a standard system by which an author of a research paper or other document can cite others for their contribution to his or her work.

The most important aspects of these guidelines for most academic writing are the formatting of the reference list and headings. Other aspects of the guidelines concern the formatting of documents, punctuation, abbreviations, construction of tables, headings, presentation of statistics, and other elements that form part of every manuscript

Here are examples:

  • Justify text to the left margin only.

  • The preferred font is Courier or Times New Roman in 12-point size.

  • Pages should always be double-spaced.

  • Paragraph indentation should be 5-7 spaces.

  • The active voice should be used, rather than the passive voice.

  • Numbers should be used to express 10 and figures greater than 10. Numbers from zero to nine should be spelled out.

  • A zero should precede the decimal point if the number is less than one.

  • The first word after a colon should be capitalized if it begins a complete sentence.

  • Each Table should begin a separate page.

  • Personal communications, such as letters, memos, and personal interviews, should be cited only in the text only.

  • An abstract should summarize the purpose and content of a paper in one paragraph.

  • A comma should be used before "and" and "or" in a series of three or more items

For an authoritative coverage of APA style, see the most recent edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

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