Since 1929, scientists and researchers worldwide have adhered to the American Psychological Association’s style guide when writing research papers. The guide emphasizes consistent, clear writing and organization so that writers can easily communicate their findings. Using APA Style formatting benefits your paper by giving it the consistency and clarity of professional work published in scientific journals and manuals.
APA Style, like many style guides, has consistent rules about citing authoritative sources, as well as the formatting of text and pages. Consistent citations allow other researchers to locate and verify the sources that support the claims in the paper. Separate formatting rules govern different types of papers, such as literature reviews or experimental reports. The APA also dictates the presentation of information within a paper, so that lists or tables remain consistent. This level of consistency benefits researchers who must compare methods and results across different publications to make progress in their field.
The APA describes its style as “spare and straightforward.” Scientific research, often published in APA Style, requires verifiable experiments and methods, and every step of a method must be clear to ensure that other researchers repeat it correctly. In APA Style, a reader expects to understand the importance of a paper’s ideas and methods without being misled or overwhelmed by vague word choice or extraneous information.
APA Style organizes your paper into a series of tiered sections, which creates a logical flow of information from larger ideas to individual details. A reader of an APA Style publication should be able to follow multiple experiments across a variety of articles, or a broad scope of literature within a single review. Unfamiliar formatting can distract a reader used to APA Style and confuse their understanding of your experiment.
APA Style leads to professional-quality writing, whether the writing is published in a renowned social sciences journal or submitted in an undergraduate course. Using the style lends credibility to your paper by demonstrating your respect for the standards of professional research in your field. Whether your audience is your college professor or a journal’s editorial staff, you will appear more competent and authoritative if you report your research in APA Style.