Apa Citation Format

American Psychological Association (or simply APA) formatting style is a style, which is used to write and format any scholarly article or book. It is also used to cite sources in social and behavioral sciences.

APA citation format creates written communication standards for:

  • Content organization;
  • Writing peculiarities;
  • Citing sources;
  • Adjusting the paper to specific discipline demands.

In today’s article, we will tell you about the most important features of the APA style, its formatting and writing peculiarities.

We will start by explaining when the APA citation format is used and will then describe every element of the paper you need to adjust to formatting requirements.

We guarantee that this article will answer the most common questions on APA citation format. However, if you are working on a more challenging document than an abstract or a report (for example, on a thesis) it is better to consult Publication Manual of American Psychological Association, where you can find all the necessary requirements.

In addition, APA has a website, where you can not only order the Manual but also get answers to the frequently asked questions. Let’s get started!

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Why to use APA?

Many students wonder why it is so important to use an accepted format to their publications. It takes lots of additional time and usually has quite controversial demands. However, applying a certain formatting style allows both editors and students to understand the text and to follow a well-known structure, which will greatly simplify the reading process.

Following peculiarities of APA citation format will allow you to:

  • Provide readers with signals that will help them to follow your thoughts and to find necessary information quicker;
  • Help readers with focusing on your ideas. The unknown format always distracts attention;
  • Show that you are a credible source of information and that you understand the needs of your audience and other researchers.

APA citation format consists of rules and requirements for writing manuscripts in the following disciplines:

  • Social Sciences (Sociology, Psychology, Linguistics, Criminology, and Economics);
  • Nursing;
  • Business.

To be on a safe side, you should first check what style is used in your discipline (if it is not directly indicated by your tutor). If you have stopped your choice on APA citation format, read further without pausing! 



APA formatting and writing peculiarities

To improve the quality of your manuscripts, you need to familiarize yourself with the general APA citation format requirements. Considering that APA format has a few major differences, you need to pay careful attention to every sentence and paragraph of your work.

Read the information below attentively or even print it out!

General APA citation format requirements

  • Provides information on the basic layout of the page, including margins, headings, and other elements;
  • Contains a list of APA manuscript components: title page, abstract and references;
  • Includes slide presentation with data about the APA citation format.

Types of papers

  • Introduces to the main types of APA manuscripts: experimental report and literature review;
  • Shows which sections every paper type should include: starting with an introduction and finishing with methodology.

Basics of APA stylistics

  • Describes main areas of APA citation format stylistics: clarity, point of view and word choice;
  • Provides with instruments to avoid poetic devices and language;
  • It contains examples for every stylistic type.

Things you need to avoid

  • Identifies topics that should be avoided: disability, race, gender, sexuality, etc.
  • Contains links to official requirements of the APA citation format;
  • Provides suggestions on using various descriptions to identify genders in your manuscript.



APA citation format and reference list

As with any other formatting style, the most challenging part in mastering APA is to understand the requirements of citing and referencing sources. Don’t worry! With guidelines of APA citation format, you will easily master this task.
If you think that this stage is not important and can be avoided, just imagine how simpler it will be for students and other researches to find and locate necessary information! They will surely be thankful and will see that you are an experienced and thoughtful writer.
That is why it is better to devote some time mastering APA citation format requirements. In such a way your readers will never be confused and you will greatly help them in getting access to all the information they may need!

Basics of built-in citations

  • Concerns the basic requirements of applying APA style to secondary sources that are used in the text;
  • Provides guidelines on using various types of references: from quotes to paraphrases.

Authors of built-in citations

  • Provides details on referring to authors of the sources, especially when there is more than one author or if the author is unknown;
  • Explains how to insert indirect quotes, sources without numbers of pages or electronic sources.

Foot- and endnotes

  • Highlights importance of using foot- and endnotes to make the text easier to read;
  • Covers peculiarities of two-note types: digressive and bibliographic.

Basics of reference lists

  • Contains general rules of applying reference lists;
  • Includes all the information on references: from words capitalization to the location of the list.

Reference list authors

  • Explains how to create a reference entry for various text types, focusing on the author;
  • Shows how references differ depending on the number of authors or works of the same writer.

Articles in periodicals

  • Explains how to apply APA citation format to different types of periodicals;
  • Shows how entries should be formatted depending on the periodical: newspaper, letter to the editor, magazine, etc.

Books in the reference list

  • Explains to authors how to refer a book;
  • Includes not only basic requirements but also ways to cite specific parts of the book.

Other printed sources

  • Includes a list of not so common sources that you may need to refer to in your manuscript;
  • It contains examples of such sources (like referring to a source that is cited in another source or referring to a government document).

Electronic sources

  • Provides with details on creating references for electronic sources;
  • Gives information on electronic sources, like emails, periodicals, and scholar databases.

Non-printed sources

  • Explains how to refer to audio or video content. For example, recordings or video clips;
  • Emphasizes that verbal communication, such as conversations or interviews are not included in the reference list.

As you see, there is nothing difficult in APA citation format and the only thing you need to do is to read the guidelines thoroughly and make sure that every element of your manuscript is following the required format!

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