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APA Writing, Citing, and Formatting

Introduction

What is APA?
This style is used in applied and social sciences as well as education and business. It emphasizes writing style, organization, and substantiation of ideas. Using APA helps ensure you credit other authors for their work and provides enough information in order for readers to retrieve the original material. APA emphasizes the strength of data and the research process rather than the reputation of the author and other rhetorical methods.

Three primary concerns are associated with writing to APA standards:
In-Text Citations
Reference Pages
Format-writing style and conformity

Citations
What can students do to avoid plagiarism? When using the exact words of others, credit to the author must be given in the form of a citation. If you quote a passage of fewer than 40 words, the in text citation consists of the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page number. If the source of your quotation does not have numbered pages, then use the paragraph number or the first three words of the section name (e.g. Innovation Section). An example of a citation for fewer than 40 words looks like this:

According to Davis (2015), “Passages fewer than 40 words must have quotation marks” (p. 11).

Notice that the year and author appear together and should never be separated. If there is no date indicated in the source, use (n.d.) as the date.

Another format for a quote looks like this:

“State the quote and place the citation at the end” (Smith & McLain, 2015, p. 11).

When two authors are cited, both authors appear in every citation throughout the paper. Both formats are acceptable and are correct. If a page number is not available, use the paragraph number (e.g. para. 3) or the name of the section (e.g. Innovation Section).

If the quoted passage is more than 40 words, then a different format, called a block quote, is used. The block quote format has a specific lead in, does not use quotation marks, and the placement of the period at the end is at the end of the quoted passage, not after the citation. For example:

Indent the block quote format at .5 inches and do not place quotation marks before the first word. If words are omitted, then use three ellipses (. . .) to show that material has been left out of the original source. If words are added to improve the flow, brackets [ ] must be used to show words not in the original material. Please remember that the material must be taken exactly as it appears in the original source, including errors. If an error is found, the word (sic) is added directly after the error. Remember, all block quotes are double-spaced unless indicated otherwise by your institution’s student guide book. (The page number goes here like this: p. #)

What do you do if there are more than two authors?
Count the number of authors. If there are three, four, or five authors, list all authors the first time you cite them in your paper. However, each time after the first time, list the first author followed by the term “et al.” A citation having three authors would look like this the first time:

Jones, Smith, and Brown (2008) or (Jones, Smith, & Brown, 2008, page 17).

Notice that the word “and” is spelled out in the first format example and the ampersand is used instead of the word “and” when in parentheses. The page number in the first example is placed at the end of the quotation (p. 17). Please note all punctuation. The second time in the same paragraph, the citation looks like this:

Jones et al. (2008) or (Jones et al., 2008, p. 11).

When starting a new paragraph, the year is restated and looks like this:

Jones et al. (2008) or (Jones et al., 2008, p. 11).

If you have more than six authors and you are citing it for the first time in the paragraph, the citation is the abbreviated format and looks like this:

Jones et al. (2008) or (Jones et al., 2008, p. 11).

After using this citation the first time in a paragraph, then the citation looks like this:

Jones et al. (2008) or (Jones et al., 2008, p. 11).

The important aspects to remember are:

(a) give credit when using the words or ideas of others
(b) keep the author and year together
(c) identify the page, paragraph, or section
(d) format the exact quote correctly based on the number of words in the passage.

References
Once research has been conducted in the online library and your position has been stated and supported with scholarly sources, the next step is to create a References section. Here are a few basics:

Authors are referenced by last name and first initial.
Date of publication follows the author’s name.
Capitalize only the first words, words following a colon, and proper names in book titles, web pages, and journal articles.
Italicize titles of books and journals.
Decide the type of source used in the body of the paper:

Examples of the basic formats can be found below:

Book

Borque, M. J. (2006). Under the lights: A romantic encounter. New York, NY: Walden.

1. Author
2. Date of Publication
3. Title of Book
4. City of Publisher (always State)
5. Publisher

Journal

Scott, J. H. (2005). The power of peers. Education Weekly, 2(2), 58-69.
1. Author
2. Date of Publication
3. Title of Article
4. Name of Periodical
5. Volume & Issue Numbers
6. Page Numbers

Website

Trochim, W. M. (2008). Research methods knowledge base. Retrieved from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/

1. Author (Name of Organization as Appropriate)
2. Copyright Date
3. Title of Web Page
4. URL (no Period)

Tone

Voice and Audience
Consider your audience when writing. Think of instructors and classmates as representing many different political orientations, religious and non-religious backgrounds, socio-economic levels, and ethnic groups. You can assume that your audience is composed of people who know something about your topic and instructors who are experts in your topic. Therefore, you have something to tell them, and you should write in such a way that you grab their interest and desire to be enlightened by what you have to say. Even though your audience will be mainly your peers, this does not mean you should write in a “chatty,” informal tone. Such an informal approach may make you seem less concise, less competent, and less knowledgeable about the topic. Instead, aim for a formal tone engendered by the use of college level language. If you need to use a thesaurus to expand the wording of the paper, do it; however, never use a word that you do not understand yourself. Doing so might place you in the position of using the word inappropriately. If that happens, your readers might decide you really do not know what you are talking about, and from that point on, the thrust of your argument will be lost on them.

Another point for your consideration is the use of the pronoun “I” and the pronoun “we.” Many times, you will be advised to use “we” because it seems to be more formal. In fact, when you use “we,” the implication is that you are speaking with the reader, or you are speaking from a position of authority that is universally held. Using “I,” on the other hand, implies that you are speaking about your own analysis, interpretation, and perspective. Most papers you write will represent arguments, research, and synthesis of information regarding a topic; therefore, the I is implied. Where possible, avoid the pronouns I, me, mine, we, your, and your. These pronouns are too informal for a college level research paper.

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