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APA Writing Style and Mechanics Student Name Mid-Continent University
A properly written paper is comprised of several different parts. Depending on the required academic style of a document will determine how it should look. After the completion of the coversheet, American Psychological Association (APA) style requires the author to put an abstract first before the introduction to the paper. “A good abstract is accurate, nonevaluative,
coherent, readable and concise (APA, 2010, p.26).” Through the course of the abstract the author needs to put keywords within it that correspond to the topic of the paper. After the abstract comes the introduction of the paper which begins the body of the paper. American Psychological Association formatting requires the author to use section headings to divide up the information into logical easy to determine sections. The paper is suggested to be written using “Times New Roman typeface, 12-point font size (APA, 2010, p.228).” Throughout this paper the spacing between all lines from the first to the last is double, which is in accordance with APA style. This paper will demonstrate as well as explain the proper method of citing sources used in a paper not only in the body of the paper, but also in the references list. Since every person is not technologically savvy to know how to make all the changes to their document, appendices of this document will show how to change the settings of most word processing programs to fit the mechanics of the APA style.
APA Writing Style and Mechanics
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Publication Manual) began as an article published in Psychological Bulletin in 1929. That article reported results of a 1928 meeting of scholars "to establish a simple set of procedures, or style rules, that would codify the many components of scientific writing to increase the ease of reading comprehension" (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2010, p. xiii). Today the manual is in its sixth edition, and the APA format described in it is a widely recognized standard for scientific writing (i.e., scholarly or professional writing) in the social sciences. Although the stylebook is designed to prepare manuscripts for publication, many school and health care journals have adopted its use as a guide to achieve uniformity and consistency (Cuddy, 2002). Writing in the style prescribed by the Publication Manual can be a daunting experience for students; however, as with all new skills, “practice makes perfect” (P. Proofreader, personal communication, June 28, 2004). In this paper, a review of APA information and writing tips most often used by the Mid-Continent University undergraduate students is presented. However, this document is no substitute for the Publication Manual itself. While APA formatting software is available from a number of vendors, students are discouraged from purchasing it due to the inconsistency of formatting specific to Mid-Continent University papers.
Some of the more commonly used rules and formats from the Publication Manual are presented and discussed in this section. Please note, however, that some assignments may require unique formatting, and students should consult with faculty for clarification.
Margins are required to be one inch on all sides. The rule is broken to avoid placing a lone heading on the last line of the page or a single line of text on the top of the next page. Page Header
The header contains the Running Head followed by a colon and the entire title capitalized left aligned. On the same line as the Running Head aligned right is the page number (See Appendix A for format directions for the header/footer feature). The automatic function of a word-processing program should be used to print the headers and page numbers consecutively in the paper. Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, and so on) are used to number each page, and begin on the title page. Reference Page
The hanging indentation (See Appendix B for format directions for hanging indents) is used for the reference page; that is, the first line of the reference, usually the author’s name, rests against the left margin, and the lines that follow are indented 5 or 7 spaces or ½ inch. The reference page is alphabetized by author and contains the date of publication in parentheses, directly after the author’s name. Next, the title, the place of publication, and the name of the publisher are listed. The proliferation of electronic materials has prompted the APA to create formats designed specifically for Internet and Web-based written material. Students should bookmark and frequently visit the APA Web site at www.apastyle.org for current formatting of electronic references.
Only those references that have been cited in the paper are listed on the reference page. Personal communications are cited in the text, but not on the reference page. Additional reference examples are available in Appendix C.
Direct quotations. Direct quotations need to mirror exactly the original source, even if
errors are contained in the original. To alert the reader that any errors are part of the original material, the word sic, enclosed in brackets and italicized, should follow the erroneous material. The source of information must be cited. The format of direct quotations may vary with the placement of the quoted material in the sentence. The following is an example of how one might use a direct quote from a Web site with an author: “Diversity is emerging as one of the most serious issues in the workplace today, yet most employers are not prepared to deal with it” (Copeland, 2003, Erroneous Assumptions, ¶1). The author’s last name, the year of publication, the Web site title, and the paragraph number are included in the in-text citation when no page number is available. In addition, the following is an example of how one might use a direct quote from a book with one author: Venes (2001) stated, “The types of influenza doctors must prepare for fall into three categories” (p. 106). If the author’s name is given prior to the quote, include the date of publication (in parentheses) after the author’s name, and follow the quote with the page or paragraph number. See page 179 in the Publication Manual for more information. Appendix C has additional examples of in-text citations when using direct quotes.
Quotations of less than 40 words are enclosed in double quotation marks. “Use single quotation marks within double quotation marks to set off material that in the original source was enclosed in double quotation marks” (APA, 2010, p. 92). Quotations of 40 words or more
are set in a block format without quotation marks. The block quote is started on a new line, indented five spaces or 1/2 inch. A sample block quote is contained in this paper. Paraphrased material. Paraphrasing allows the writer to use the ideas of another, to represent another’s argument, and to give proper credit to the original author or authors (Lawton,
Cousineau, & Hillard, 2001). Each time an author is paraphrased, the source must be cited in the
text. Page or paragraph numbers are not required for paraphrased material, but the Publication Manual encourages writers to do so (APA, 2010, p. 171). For example, if one were to paraphrase information from an article located in an online database, one would format it in this way: Daniels (2004) included Garden Restaurants on his list of the 50 best companies for minorities. Or, for another example using the same article consider the following: A list of companies has been singled out as best for minority employees (Daniels, 2004). Both examples include the author’s last name and the date of publication. If the author’s name is not provided with the paraphrased text, it must be included in the in-text citation. Appendix C has additional examples of in-text citations when paraphrasing.
Plagiarism. Plagiarism constitutes a serious academic concern. According to Lawton, Cousineau, and Hillard (2001), “academic communities demand that writers credit others for their work and that the source of their material clearly be acknowledged” (¶ 6). Internet access has resulted in an increase in plagiarism. As noted by McCabe (as cited in Sterngold, 2004), 41% of students said they engaged in “cut-and-paste” plagiarism from online sources. The sentences and phrases we use must be original, or cited and referenced accordingly. While it may be easier to use someone else’s words, doing so only discredits the writer. When in doubt, cite. Plagiarism is stealing and stealing is a sin (Exodus 20:15, NASU). Other Format Issues
Although the Publication Manual (2010) suggests that an abstract of an article precede the text, an abstract is not used in most papers submitted by Mid-Continent University students. Faculty members may require an abstract if students are submitting very lengthy papers or project proposals. In those cases, the direction to submit an abstract will be in the assignment guidelines. Students should avoid using any software settings that reduce spacing between words or letters.
Besides formatting, correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure are essential components of scholarly writing. Strunk (1999) emphasized the importance of being succinct:
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a
paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should
have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not
that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his
subjects only in outline, but that every word tell. (¶1) Grammar
Besides the provision of a standardized format for scientific writing, the Publication Manual emphasizes the importance of proper grammar. In addition to the Publication Manual, students will have another resource with the The Gregg Reference Manual. For a thorough review, Chapter 3 in the Publication Manual is particularly helpful for learning good writing mechanics. A few of the rules of grammar will be addressed here.
Subject and verb agreement. A singular noun requires a singular verb, and a plural noun requires a plural verb (APA, 2010). Words that intervene between the noun and verb do not change that basic rule.
Noun and pronoun agreement. When writers use a subject which is singular, they need to use pronouns which are singular. To avoid having to use he/she and him/her, writers may reword the sentence and use a plural subject, thereby eliminating the problem. For example, the sentence “A student applying for a job must carefully proofread his or her application” can be reworded to read, “Students applying for jobs must carefully proofread their applications.” Use of plurals also can help writers reduce sexist bias and avoid stereotypes, as well as keep them from using both singular and plural in the same sentence or paragraph.
Punctuation. Correct punctuation establishes the rhythm and readability of sentences. In APA style, only one space is used after periods, commas, colons, and semicolons. When a hyphen is used, no space appears before or after the hyphen (APA, 2010).
Correct use of commas and semicolons can be challenging for students. Writers are encouraged to proofread their papers to ensure proper use of commas (Proofreading
Web Address in Text: Do not cite Web addresses in text- please see
for commas, n.d.).
the explanation on the references page of this document.
Capitalization. Capitalization is used to designate a proper noun or trade name, as well as major words in titles and headings. Instances where capitalization is not used include “laws, theories, models, or hypotheses, such as ethical decision-making models; names of conditions or groups in an experiment, such as experimental or control groups; or nouns that designate parts of a book, such as chapter 8” (APA, 2010, p.101-4). A common error in capitalization is its use with the name of a job title or department. An example is human resources versus the ACME Human Resources Department.
Seriation. Items contained in a list can help to clarify the point being made or components of a subject. APA does not permit the use of bullets. To show seriation of separate paragraphs, number each paragraph with an Arabic numeral, followed by a period but not enclosed in or followed by parentheses. To show seriation within a paragraph or sentence, use lowercase letters (not italicized) in parentheses.
Numbers. Spell numbers one through nine in the body text. Use Arabic numerals to express numbers 10 and above. However, there are many exceptions to this rule and these can be found on pages 111-114 in the Publication Manual.
Third person versus first person. Writing, “The writer instructed the patients” when “the writer” refers to yourself is ambiguous and may give the impression that you did not participate. Instead, use a personal pronoun: “I instructed the patients.” However, for the most part, reference to self (first person) is limited to reflection or opinion papers.
APA formatting will help you improve and communicate clearly the content of your work. The intent of this paper is to help you begin to understand the different components necessary for development of scholarly papers. However, not all of the content of the Publication Manual is reviewed, and you are encouraged to refer to this excellent resource as well.
American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological
June 28, 2004, from EBSCOhost database.
Daniels, C. (2004, July 28). 50 Best companies for minorities. Fortune, 149(13), 136- 141. Retrieved October 19, 2004, from ProQuest database.
New American Standard Bible: Updated Version. (1997) Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publication.
. Plagiarism: Its nature and consequences.
Retrieved June 28, 2004, from Duke University Guide to Library Research Web site:
Proofreading for commas. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2004, from Purdue University Online Writing Lab Web site: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_commaproof.html
Sterngold, A. (2004). Confronting plagiarism: How conventional teaching invites cybercheating. Change, 36(3), 16. Retrieved June 28, 2004, from ProQuest database.
Strunk, W., Jr. (1999). Omit needless words. In The elements of style (chap. 3). Retrieved June 28, 2004, from http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk5.html#13
Venes, D. (2001). Taber's cyclopedic medical dictionary (19th ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.
Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Copeland, L. (2003). Managing a multicultural workforce. California Job Journal. Retrieved October 16, 2004, from http://www.jobjournal.com Cuddy, C.M. (2002). Demystifying APA style. Orthopaedic Nursing, 21(5), 35-42. Retrieved
Appendix A: Header/Footer Feature
Page Headers: The Running head goes in the header on the left side. Identify each page with the page number on the right side. Do not use your name to identify each page. Again, use the automatic function of the word-processor as illustrated in this picture. Be sure the font type and size is the same as that used in the document.
Header Microsoft Word
Appendix B: Directions for a Hanging Indent
Select the text that requires a hanging indent. As shown in Picture One, use the Indents and Spacing tab (Format menu, Paragraph command). In the Special list under Indentation, select Hanging. In the By box, set the amount of space for the hanging indent (Picture Two)
|Picture 3 Word 2007|
|Picture 4 Wordperfect Hanging Indent|
|Picture 5 Works Hanging Indent|
|Picture 6 OpenOffice Hanging Indent|
|Picture 7 GoogleDocs Hanging Indent|
Appendix C: Additional Reference and In-Text Citation Examples
The first words of the in-text citation should mirror the first words of the source on the References page.
Remember the following
The following examples provide information about how to format in-text citations and the corresponding source on the reference page.
A book with one author could be formatted in any of the following ways:
Sample 1 According to Venes (2001), three types of influenza are spreading throughout the country.
Sample 2 Three types of influenza are spreading throughout the country (Venes, 2001).
Sample 3 Venes (2001) stated, “The types of influenza doctors must prepare for fall into three categories” (p. 106).
[Note: Page or paragraph numbers are always included with the in-text citation when direct quotations are used.]
Venes, D. (2001). Taber's cyclopedic medical dictionary (19th ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.
Cleckley, B. (1997). Strategies for promoting pluralism in education and the workplace. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
|Sample 4||Cleckley (1997) noted that diversity in the classroom prepared young Americans for work in a global society.|
|Sample 5||Diversity in the classroom prepared young Americans for work in a global society was the idea presented by well-known scholar Bernard Cleckley (1997).|
|Sample 6||“Because youth have had experience working and playing with children of other races and cultures while growing up, they will be better able to interact with those of other cultures when working within intercultural corporations” (Cleckley, 1997, p. 37).|
A book with two or more authors A book with two or more authors could be formatted in any of the following ways:
|Sample 1||Often, people compare Caldwell and Thomason’s book (2004) to The DaVinci Code because of the brilliant writing and historical context.|
|Sample 2||The Book of Four (Caldwell & Thomason, 2004) has been compared to Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code.|
|Sample 3||“An encyclopedia masquerading as a novel, The Book of Four is a dissertation on everything from architecture to zoology” (Caldwell &|
Thomason, 2004, p. 136).
Caldwell, I, & Thomason, D. (2004). The book of four. New York: Dell.
Sample 4 Mandelbrot and Hudson (2004) have combined Mandelbrot’s mathematical framework with Hudson’s knowledge of Wall Street to produce a must-read for any serious investor.
Sample 5 For the individual who manages money for a living, one of the best books on the market is The Misbehavior of Markets by Mandelbrot and Hudson (2004).
Sample 6 “This equilibrium market clearing price is automatically interpreted as being the mean of a normal probability distribution” (Mandelbrot & Hudson, 2004, p. 46).
Mandelbrot, B., & Hudson. R. L. (2004). The misbehavior of markets. New York: Basic Books.
|Sample 1||The 9/11 Commission Report (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, 2004) is one of the most important documents of this century.|
|Sample 2||A very clear mandate was expressed by The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks (2004).|
|Sample 3||“Investigate the facts and circumstance relating to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 … and other areas as determined by the Commission” (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, 2004, p. 14).|
Reference Page Citation
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks. (2004). The 9/11 commission report: Final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. New York: W.W. Norton.
Sample 1 Walker and Schutte (2002) believed that the five areas of team building were not inclusive of all the areas needing attention.
Sample 2 Not everyone agrees with the five areas of team building (Walker & Schutte, 2002).
Sample 3 “Given sufficient time, a team should be able to surmount any and all challenges to productive activity” (Walker & Schutte, 2002, p. 52).
Reference Page Citation
Walker, J., & Schutte, K. (2002, January). Practice and process in wraparound teamwork. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorder, 12(3), 182.
A journal article from an online database could be formatted in any of the following ways:
Sample 1 Daniels (2004) included Garden Restaurants on his list of the 50 best companies for minorities.
Sample 2 A list of companies has been singled out as best for minority employees (Daniels, 2004).
Sample 3 “At the Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains, diversity efforts are encouraged from ‘boardroom to dining room’” (Daniels, 2004, para. 5).
[Note: No page number was listed in this particular article because of the way the article is written. When no page number is available, count the paragraphs and use the paragraph number, as above. In long documents, you can count the paragraphs of a particular section and indicate that within the citation: (Daniels, 2004, Methods section, para. 3).
Daniels, C. (2004, July 28). 50 best companies for minorities. Fortune, 149(13), 136- 141. Retrieved October 19, 2004, from ProQuest database.
An anonymous journal article from an online database could be formatted in any of the following ways: In-Text Citation
Sample 1 In its “Corrections” section (2004), Fortune magazine did name the CEO of Rite-Aid who is currently in prison for fraud.
Sample 2 Fortune magazine did name the CEO of Rite-Aid who is currently in prison for fraud (“Corrections,” 2004).
Reference Page Citation
Corrections. (2004, November 1). Fortune, 150(9), 32. Retrieved November 3, 2004, from ProQuest database.
|Sample 1||Herron and Miles (1987) addressed the recent Supreme Court decision|
|regarding promotions based on race.|
|Sample 2||Efforts have been made regarding racial parity (Herron & Miles, 1987).|
|Sample 3||The Supreme Court declared, “a company may decide to promote an|
|employee on the basis of race under certain circumstances” (Herron &|
Miles, 1987, p. 32).
Reference Page Citation
Herron, C. R., & Miles, M. A. (1987, March 1). Promotion based on race is upheld by Supreme
Court. New York Times, p. e4.
Sample 1 The Web site for the National Osteoporosis Foundation (2004) has many interesting facts about this debilitating disease.
Sample 2 Osteoporosis is a highly preventable disease (National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2004).
Sample 3 The National Osteoporosis Foundation (2004) stated, “Eighty persons of those affected by osteoporosis are women” (para.1).
National Osteoporosis Foundation. (2004). Fast facts. Retrieved October 15, 2004, from http://www.nof.org
Sample 4 Subaru (2004) makes it easy to compare its Outback with similar cars.
Sample 5 Subaru currently has five models in its lineup (Subaru, 2004).
Sample 6 “All Subaru Outback models blend the rugged versatility of an SUV with the driving performance and comfort of a passenger car” (Subaru, 2004, ¶1).
Subaru. (2004). Subaru previews all-new. Retrieved November 4, 2004, from http://www.subaru.com
Sample 1 According to Copeland (2003), the adaptation required when minorities enter the workplace is a two-way street.
Sample 2 Diversity is a positive thing in the workforce (Copeland, 2003).
Sample 3 “Diversity is emerging as one of the most serious issues in the workplace today, yet most employers are not prepared to deal with it” (Copeland, 2003, Managing a Multicultural Workforce, ¶1).
[In a long online document with no page numbers, you can list the title of the section and the paragraph number within that section (see above).]
Copeland, L. (2003). Managing a multicultural workforce. California Job Journal. Retrieved
October 16, 2004, from http://www.jobjournal.com
Sample 4 According to Nix (2004), no definitive national Christmas tree exists.
Sample 5 Apparently, four trees could be the national Christmas tree in the United States (Nix, 2004).
Sample 6 “Four trees touted to be the nation’s Christmas tree” (Nix, 2004, para. 1).
Nix, S. (2004). The Amazon and neotropical rainforest. Retrieved November 6, 2004, from
|the following ways:|
|Sample 1||If we create our experience (Paul & Elder, 2002), then we are|
|responsible for our lives.|
|Sample 2||We can control our experience (Paul & Elder, 2002).|
|Sample 3||Paul and Elder (2002) stated, “For most people, experience is|
understood as something that ‘happens to them,’ not something they create for themselves” (Chap. 8, p. 131).
[Note: In the e-text, you may need to include the chapter or week to clarify the source.]
Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2002). Critical thinking: Tools for taking charge of your professional and personal life. [Mid-Continent University Moodle e-text]. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Retrieved November 24, 2004, from Mid-Continent University, Moodle Web site.
[Note: Reference entries are not needed for off-the-shelf software and programming languages. In text, give the proper name of the software and the version number.] Do provide reference entries for specialized software or computer programs with limited distribution.
|Sample 1||The strength of ACI (2002) as a real estate appraising software program|
|is its ease of use.|
|Sample 2||Because it is user friendly, many more real estate appraisers are using|
ACI—The appraiser’s choice. (2002). (Version 0.0) [Computer software]. Retrieved November 3, 2004, from http://www.aciweb.com/p_aci.asp
Sample 1 According to the Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Biblesoft), believers have no worries after death.
Sample 2 Because of the price that was paid, believers have no problems
according to the Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Biblesoft).
Sample 3 “The believer in Christ does not come into judgment for his sins either now or in the future” (Biblesoft, Wycliffe Bible Commentary).
Biblesoft. (2008) Wycliffe Bible Commentary. Seattle, OR: Biblesoft. CD-ROM. PC Study Bible for Windows 5.0.
|Sample 1||The Seinfeld series (Ackerman, 1989) presented a major, creative breakthrough in evening sit-coms.|
|Sample 2||The four main characters in Seinfeld represent people whom we all know (Ackerman, 1989).|
|Sample 3||One of George’s famous sayings to Jerry is, “On some level, I have always been handicapped” (Ackerman, 1989).|
Ackerman, A. (Producer). (1989). Seinfeld. (Television series). New York: NBC. Appendix D: Conversion to RTF format
WordPerfect to RTF format
Microsoft Works to RTF format
Microsoft Word 2007 to Word 2003
OpenOffice to RTF
Google Docs to RTF
Appendix E: Removing extra spacing in Word 2007
|Microsoft Word 2007 automatically gives either a 10 pt or a 12 pt before spacing. To remove it:|
|Click on the down arrow next to the 12 pt before until it reads 0 pt.|
|When it looks like this. You will no longer have the extra spacing between paragraphs.|
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