APA Writing Style
by Rachel Johnson
The Joy (ha!) of Learning to Use the APA Writing Style!
The APA writing style was developed as a resource for students studying serious research in psychology and the social and behavior sciences. Scientific research is usually a public venture, so one of the most important skills of a scientist is to be able to communicate ideas, research data, and results effectively. The APA writing style helps a scientist clearly explain research data in a way that is comprehensive to most who would take the time to read an essay, article, or summary of this nature.Currently, the fifth volume of the Publication Manual of the American Pyschological
Association is available as a resource for those who need to master theAPA writing style. The book is a very detailed guide of the APA writing style, but there are also many guides online, and books that have summaries of the style. If guides and summary type books are not detailed enough, the manual is available for twenty-seven dollars. Keep in mind; there are probably copies available in college libraries for student’s regular perusal.
While most students find online guides, textbooks, and summary books sufficient in learning the APA writing style, it does take some practice to get it right. Like all forms of writing, it comes easier to some than others. Writing is an art form, and correctly formatting for the APA writing style is no exception. Even for those who struggle, practice really does make perfect. The more you use the style, the more naturally it will come! Soon enough, you’ll find yourself formatting your personal correspondence in APA writing style! Well, maybe not, but you never know!
Some general guidelines for the APA writing style are keeping margins to one in on all sides. Font size should be no more or no less than twelve point font. Times Roman or Courier are the only acceptable typefaces.
Documents should be double-spaced throughout the paper, and the alignment should be to the left. Paragraph indentations should be no less than five spaces and no more than seven. A page number should appear one inch from the right edge of the paper on the first line of every page, beginning with the title page. As a rule in the APA writing style, the passive voice should not be used. And, the order of pages should always go title page, abstract, body, references, footnotes, tables, figure captions, figures. Pretty simple, huh?! Ha! Actually, it’s a lot more complicated than it sounds and once you do it a few times you’ll get the hang of it!
When you are first introduced to this writing style it can seem a bit overwhelming, but when your really break it down it’s not all that different than a lot of reports and such that you did before. This writing style just helps break down your results in a more comprehensive way! Hey, it makes you look more impressive so you shouldn’t complain, right?
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