The APA writing style, published by the American Psychological Association, is one of the most commonly used academic writing styles. Widely utilized by psychology, business, criminal justice and most science majors, the APA writing style is one of the most important skills writing students will learn. Mastering the key steps outlined below will ensure that your APA style in perfect every time.
Like almost all academic papers, the APA writing style asks that writers format work with one-inch margins on all sides, in double space, 12 point, Times New Roman font type. Since formatting is both the simplest and most significant way to make a good impression, it's essential to pay careful attention to this detail. Test your knowledge of these formatting factors by producing a properly formatted test document or a template that you can save and use again.
The title page is a key feature of the APA writing style. The title page should include the paper's title and writer's name, and the Purdue OWL online suggests that the title page includes the name of the student's institution. Students might also include the course title and instructor name when appropriate. The most difficult part of the title page is the running header, which should appear at the top of the page. Practice makes perfect with the running header. Open a new document, place the page number on the right-hand side (this comes first because inserting the page number will delete your header), open the header and type your running head and paper title. The trick here is to make a section break between this page and the next page because only the title page should include the words "running head." All other pages include only the title (in all capital letters). Give it a try and refer to the Purdue OWL's APA guidelines for examples.
In-text Citations and Block Quotes
All writing styles include rules for making in-text citations, and APA is no exception. Remembering three significant pieces of information is key to properly formatted in-text citations. All APA citations include the author's name, the page number (if applicable) and the year of publication, and writer's may choose to use this information in several ways. Writers may choose to include the author's name in text, followed by the year of publication in parenthesis with the page number following the quotation: According to Jon Smith (2011), "quotation" (pg. 1). If the author's name is not used in-text, the parenthetical citation following the quotation will include all relevant information: "quotation" (Smith, 2011, pg. 1). Practice this by using a properly constructed APA reference page and writing in-text citations to match each reference entry.
A references page is possibly the most important part of the APA formatted paper because citing sources is how writers avoid plagiarism. However, not all entries are cited the same way. Using an APA style guide or Bedford Researcher, look up how to cite books, magazines and online publications such as journals and webpages. Practice making a reference page that includes each of these common source-types using your choice of materials. Consider challenging yourself with anonymous sources, sources with no available date of publication and webpages with no author's name.