Running head: summary of the apa style summary of the apa publication Style, 6 th Edition

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Summary of the APA Publication Style, 6th Edition

Isaac V. Gusukuma, PhD, LMSW-IPR, ACSW

Department of Social Work, Sociology, and Criminal Justice

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

Belton, Texas

January 2012

Summary of the APA Publication Style, 6th Edition
There are several advantages for learning the APA publication style. Psychology and social work journals and journals of many other disciplines have adopted this style. It is easier to word process since this style generally uses no numeric footnotes. Additionally, the year of the cited material is evident in the text, so readers can immediately see how current the information is in a publication or paper.

This is a brief summary of organizing and writing a paper and the major forms of citations and references as noted in the 6th edition of the Publication Manual. Remember to keep this handy and to use this style for all your academic writing in the Social Work Program. This guide does not cover all of the information related to citations and references that are provided in the manual. When in doubt, consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition) (2010).

Plagiarism and Self-plagiarism

(Refer to Publication Manual, Section 1.10, pp. 15–16.)

Plagiarism is essentially claiming the words or ideas of another person as your own or, in other words, failing to give credit where credit is due. Quotation marks should be used to indicate the exact words of another. Each time you paraphrase another author (i.e., summarize a passage or rearrange the order of a sentence or paragraph and change some of the words), you will need to credit (cite) the source in your paper.

Self-plagiarism occurs when an author presents previously published work as new scholarship. For students, this may be viewed as using part or all of a paper, developed for one class, and submitting the work as “new work” for another class. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association provides guidelines for citing and referencing unpublished works. It is always best for the student to consult with their faculty or course instructor about incorporating material from a previously completed paper to meet the requirements of an assignment in another class.
General Guidelines for Writing Well

(Refer to Publication Manual, Chapter 3, pp. 61-86)

This is just a few comments about writing well. You will be judged by the care and attention you give to the form and presentation of your written work as well as your mastery and use of ideas. Most instructors believe that unorganized, misspelled papers with grammatical errors reflect uncritical thinking.

Use the active voice whenever possible. Passive voice constructions are poor prose, (e.g., “The research study was designed by Smith” is weak; “Smith designed the research study” is better).

Make sure a verb agrees in number (i.e. singular or plural) with its subject, despite intervening phrases.

Avoid dangling modifiers. An adjective or adverb, whether a single word or a phrase, must clearly refer to the word it modifies. Place an adjective or adverb as close as possible to the word it modifies and you will have fewer problems.

Unclear: The investigator tested the subjects using this procedure (it is not clear whether the investigator or the subjects are using “this procedure.”)

Clearer: Using this procedure, the investigator tested the subjects.

Selecting Levels of Heading

(Refer to Publication Manual, Chapter 3, pp. 62-63)

The number of levels of headings will vary from paper to paper. Short papers may not have any section headings, only the title of the paper noted on the title page and the top of the first page of the paper. Most often, though, papers will have one, two, or three levels of headings. (Refer to Publication Manual, Section 3.03, Table 3.1, p. 62.)
Level One

For a short paper, one level of heading may be sufficient. In such cases, use only centered, boldfaced, uppercase and lowercase heading, not italicized.

Example - a paper with only one level of headings.
Level Two

For many other papers, two levels of headings will be all that is needed. The first level will be formatted as noted above, centered, boldfaced, uppercase and lowercase, not italicized. The second level heading will be flush left, boldface, in upper and lower case. The paragraph begins, indented, on the line below the level two heading.

Example - a paper with two levels of headings.

Sample and Procedures
Level Three

You may organize your paper with three levels of heading to provide a clearer organization of the major points for your professor. For three levels of headings, the level one will use the centered, boldface, uppercase and lowercase headings, not italicized. The level two heading will be flush left, boldfaced, upper and lower case. The level three will be indented, boldface, lowercase paragraph heading, ending with a period. This means the level three heading begins the paragraph. The first sentence of the paragraph begins immediately after the level three heading on the same line.

Example - a paper with three levels of headings.
Method (Level 1)

Sample and Procedures (Level 2)
Measures (Level 2)

Perceived control. (First sentence begins here, on the same line as this heading.) (Level 3)

Autonomy. (Level 3)


Initial Analysis

Descriptive statistics.


Motivational Profiles



More than Three Levels of Headings

If you have a paper that requires more than three levels of headings, consult the Publication Manual for instruction and examples. (See Table 3.1, Publication Manual, p. 62.)

Guidelines for Reducing Bias
The faculty of the Social Work Program will insist that you adhere to guidelines for reducing bias and stereotypes in language, and placing a conscience and deliberate effort to use People First Language (PFL). (Refer to Publication Manual, Sections 3.12 - 3.17, pp. 71 – 77.) Internet sites that discuss bias, stereotypes, and implementing people first language include:

Preparing Papers
Type: The preferred typeface is Times New Roman (12-pt) or a Serif (12-pt). (A sans serif type may be used for tables and figures.)

Space after punctuation marks: Space once after commas, colons, semicolons, periods separating parts of reference citations, and after periods in personal names. Space twice after punctuation marks at the end of a sentence. No space is needed after periods in abbreviations, such as e.g., and U.S., or after initials for a name. Examples:

No space after initials for a name (internal periods): I.V.G.

No space after internal periods in abbreviations: a.m., i.e., U.S.

No space after the colon in ratios: 6:1

Hyphens, dashes and minus sign:

hyphen: no space before or after (e.g., trial-by-trial analysis).

em dash: is longer than a hyphen and is used to note the insertion of a phrase or element that is added to amplify or digress from the main clause. Use no space before or after an em dash. If the em dash is not available on the keyboard, use two hyphen with no space before or after, (e.g., Studies--published and unpublished--are . . . .). Note that it might be wise to break this rule when using formats in which one has no control over line-breaks (web-page authoring or using email). The long text-blocks created without the space between the dash (--) and the words can create problems with page layout.

en dash: is longer and thinner than a hyphen and shorter than an em dash. They are used between words with equal weight (e.g., DFW–Honolulu flight). Use a single hyphen if the en dash is not available on the keyboard.

minus sign: type as a hyphen with space on both sides (x – 3). If a minus sign is not available on the keyboard, use a hyphen with a space on each side.

(For more examples and discussion about punctuation, hyphenation, capitalization, and abbreviations, refer to the Publication Manual, Sec. 4.01 – 4.11, pp. 87 – 96.)
Line spacing: Each line of the text should be double-spaced, including the title, headings, quotations, reference list, and titles for tables and figure captions. Single or one and a half spacing is used only for parts of tables.

Margins: Use minimum, uniform margins of at least 1-inch at the top, bottom, left and right of every page.

Line length and alignment: Do not justify lines (all even on the right margin). Use the flush-left style, leaving the right margin uneven, or ragged. Do not divide words at the end of a line by using hyphens to break words. Let the line run short.

Tabs and indents: The first line of each paragraph and the first line of each footnote should be indented ½ inch or about five to seven spaces.

(Refer to Publication Manual, Section 8.03, p. 229.)
Quotation marks: When quoting, always provide the author, year, and specific page citation in the text and include the complete reference in the reference list. All quotes should be double-spaced. Place all direct quotes in quotation marks within the ongoing text unless the quote exceeds 40 words (about 5 lines). If a quote exceeds 40 words, set it apart in your text without quotation marks in a “blocked form” with each line indented ½ inch from the left margin.

For quotes of less than 40 words (about 5 lines of text) use the following two formats:

Long Quotation Format 1 Example:

Leahey (2002) states, “Divorce is a complex process with diverse social, psychological, legal, educational, and economic implications. Similarly, adjustment and adaptation following divorce are part of a complex process involving family and professional interaction in many contexts” (p. 315).

Long Quotation Format 2 Example:

“Divorce is a complex process with diverse social, psychological, legal, educational, and economic implications. Similarly, adjustment and adaptation following divorce are part of a complex process involving family and professional interaction in many contexts” (Leahey, 2002, p. 315).

For quotes longer than 40 words, “block” the quote without quotation marks, but still including reference to author, year, and page:
Format 3 Example:

In her comprehensive review of the findings from research on divorce, Maureen Leahey (2002) notes that:

Outside the nuclear family are the many suprasystems which are affected by divorce. The extended family can enhance or detract from the adjustment following separation. Highly anxious grandparents can enhance family anxiety, impair parental functioning, and negatively influence adjustment. Extended family members who take sides may promote polarization and conflict. On the other hand, they can often provide economic contributions which assist family stability (p. 300).
If you have a quotation within a block quotation, enclose it in double (") quotation marks. If you have a quotation within a short quote (one incorporated within the text), enclose it within single quotation marks (') to denote it was a quote within the quoted material.

(Refer to Publication Manual, Section 6.03, pp. 170 - 171.)

Ellipsis points are used to indicate omitted material. Type three periods with a space before and after each period to indicate omission within a sentence (. . .). To indicate an omission between sentences type a punctuation mark for the sentence followed by three spaced periods

(. . . .) (?. . .) (! . . .).

When a period or comma occurs with closing quotation marks, place the period or comma within the closing quotation mark. Place other punctuation mark outside the quotation marks unless that mark is part of the quoted material.

Page numbers: Beginning with the title page, number all pages, except artwork for figures, in Arabic numerals in the upper right-hand corner. The number should appear at least 1 inch from the right-hand edge of the page and ½ inch from the top of the paper in the header area. Do not number pages that are inserted pages as, “6a.”

Citations and References
You MUST give citation credit when you directly quote and even when you paraphrase any author’s ideas. If you fail to acknowledge your debt to source authors, you are guilty of plagiarism, a serious violation of University rules.

The Publication Manual states that every reference cited in the text must appear in a reference list at the end of the paper, except for personal communications. Conversely, each entry on the reference list must be cited in the text. Each entry in the reference list must contain all data necessary so that a reader could find the cited material in a library.

Citations in the Body of the Paper

Single author. In the body of the paper, use the author’s name and the year to identify your source. You may do this two ways.
Zastrow (1998) identified five components in the problem-solving process.

The problem-solving approach to casework (Zastrow, 1998) identifies five process components.

Two authors. When a work has two authors, always cite both names (and year) every time the reference occurs: (Jones & Smith, 1996).

Two or more but fewer than six authors. When a work has more than two authors and fewer than six, cite all authors (and year) the first time the reference occurs (Jones, Smith, Williams, & French, 1997). After that, you need to cite only the surname of the first author, following by “et al.” and the year (Jones et al., 1997).

More than six authors. When a work has more than six authors, you may cite only the first author and use “et al.” (Jones et al., 1999) the very first time. Don’t type out “and” inside a citation parenthesis; use the symbol “&.” The opposite is true in the text, outside of the parenthesis: “Jones, Smith, Williams and French (1981) report on...” In the parentheses, use only the authors’ last names, unless there is more than one with the same last name; then, identify each with first initials: (Williams, B., & Williams, J., 1998).

Personal communication. Personal communication includes letters, memos, some electronic communications (e.g., e-mail or messages from non-archived discussion groups or electronic bulletin boards), personal interviews, telephone conversations and the like. Because they do not provide recoverable data, personal communications are not included in the reference list. Cite personal communication in text only. Give the initials as well as the surname of the communicator, and provide as exact a date as possible.
T.K. Lutes (personal communication, April 8, 2011) reported . . . .


(T.K. Lutes, personal communication, April 8, 2011).

Every citation in the body of the paper must appear on the reference list. Start the reference list on a new page. Type the word “References” at the top (or “Reference” if there is only one reference).

Arrange the references alphabetically by authors’ surnames. If you cite more than one work by an author, arrange his or her work by dates, listing the earliest publication first.
Double-space all reference entries. APA publishes references in a hanging indent format, meaning that the first line of each reference is set flush left and subsequent lines are indented. If a hanging indent is difficult to set up with your word processing program, it is permissible to indent your references with paragraph indents. The format should be consistent throughout the references. The 6th edition has been revised in that all publication cities are to be spelled out. The state of the location of the city uses the general state abbreviation, i.e., New York, NY.
In the following examples, observe carefully to see where the commas, colons, periods, and spaces belong. Different types of references are noted below. See the course syllabus for another example of a list of references.
Books (Single and Multiple Authors)
Author, A. (Year). Title of book italicized with only first word and any word following a colon capitalized (edition). City, State: Publisher.
[NOTE: Always include the city and state of the publisher’s location.]
Strunk, M., & White, E. (1972). The elements of style. New York, NY: Macmillan.

Zastrow, C. (1995). The practice of social work. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Journal Articles
Author, A., & Author, B. (Year). Title of the article not underlined, with only first word and any word following a colon capitalized. Name of Journal, Italicized, Each Major Word Capitalized, Volume(number), pages inclusive. doi: xx.xxxxxxxxxx

(NOTE: DOI is the digital object identifier reference number. If an article has a doi, it should be included as part of the reference information.)

(For more information on the doi, see the Publication Manual, Sec 6.31, pp. 187 – 192.)
Pharis, M., & Manosevitz, M. (1984). Sexual stereotyping of infants: Implications for social work practice. Social Work Research and Abstracts, 27(1), 7-12. doi: 10.39411020.22.3.334
Article or Chapter in an Edited Book
Author, Z. (Year). Title of chapter as in journal articles. In A. J. Smith & T. S. Jones (Eds.). Book title italicized (pp. pages). City, State: Publisher.
Gordon, J. A., & Smith, S. H. (1981). Family therapy outcome research: Knowns and unknowns. In A. S. Gurman & D. P. Kniskern (Eds.). Handbook of family therapy (pp. 742-775). New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel.
Electronic Media
Article in an Internet-only journal.
Wright, C. M. (1999). Stress and emotions: Optimal living in the 21st century. Prevention & Treatment, 3, Article 0001a. Retrieved from prevention/volume3/pre0030001a.html
Chapter or section in an Internet document.
Benton Foundation. (1998, July 7). Barriers to closing the gap. In Losing ground bit by bit: Low-income communities in the information age (chap. 2). Retrieved from

U.S. government report available on government agency Web site, no publication date indicated (n.d.).

United States Sentencing Commission. (n.d.). 1997 sourcebook of federal sentencing statistics. Retrieved from

Web page from the Internet

Food Research and Action Center. (January 17, 2007). Hunger and food insecurity in the United States. Retrieved from

Author (if not author is provided, you may use the name of the organization or agency that supports the web page)

Year (month, day, year – taken from the web page, but if the web page does not provide the reader this information, indicate the date that the information was accessed, see “Retrieved on” below)

Title (name or title of the web page or the document)

Retrieved on (month, day, year) from (URL) with no period

  • A recommended format may be something like that noted above.

  • Retrieval dates are no longer required, unless the information could or would change often as “Wikies.”

  • There is no specified format for providing information accessed via the Web. APA guidelines suggest authors should observe the following:

    • Direct readers as closely as possible to the information being cited – this means referencing the specific document or page and not the home or menu page

    • As much as is possible provide a web address that works, which means you should test the URL that you provide to insure it is a good link

  • You should always consult your instructor to see if they may have a specific format for an internet source.

Stand alone electronic document, no author, no date.
Title of document. (n.d.). Retrieved from (URL).
Poverty around the world. (n.d.). Retrieved from

  • If information is obtained from a document on the Internet, provide the Internet address for the document at the end of the retrieval statement.

  • Use the phrase available from to indicate that the URL leads to information on how to obtain cited material, rather than to the material itself.

  • Finish the retrieval element with a period, unless it ends with an Internet address.


Email sent from person to person is handled and cited as personal communication. References to personal communication are not included in the reference list, only cited in the body of the text.

Citation styles for reports, dissertations, newspaper articles, monographs, government reports, and various other documents have minor variations from these examples. Many of the textbooks you will be using have an APA edition style; check them out carefully and you can probably figure out what’s needed in unusual situations. Check out this site for more information:
Formatting Your Paper

Various academic departments may have different formats for student papers. This section provides a recommended format for the Title Page, Abstract, Text Body, and References page for a student paper. Consult with your instructor for specific requirements or format for your course.

Order of the manuscript pages: Number all pages consecutively, arranging the pages in the following manner. (Refer to Publication Manual, Section 8.02, pp. 229-230.)
Title Page (title, byline and institutional affiliation, numbered as page 1)

Abstract (separate page, numbered page 2)

Text of paper (start on a separate page, numbered page 3)

References (start on a separate page)

Tables (start each on a separate page)

Figures (place each on a separate page, include caption on page with figure)

Appendices (start on a separate page for each appendix)

Title and Title Page

The Publication Manual notes that the title for your paper should be “fully explanatory when standing alone” and its length should be around 12 words. (Refer to Publication Manual, 6th ed., Section 2.01, p. 23.) The title page includes the following elements: the running head, title, byline (author’s name), and institutional affiliation. An example of a title page follows that includes a running head for publication and the byline. Information about institutional affiliation has been expanded to note the class, section and date the paper is submitted. Check with your instructor for specific requirements and expectations for the Title Page.


Running head: Shortened title

Title of the Paper

Your Name

Course Number and Section

Name of Course

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

Date Submitted

Abstract and Key Terms

An abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of a paper. The abstract allows the reader to quickly survey the contents of a paper by providing key, relevant information. The abstract should be a single, well organized, accurate, concise, brief, nonevaluative, coherent, and readable paragraph. The abstract should be numbered as page 2. The heading, Abstract, should be typed in upper and lower case letters, centered, at the top of the page. The abstract is double-spaced, block format (no paragraph indent), whose length is generally between 150 to 250 words. (Refer to Publication Manual, 6th ed., Section 2.04, pp. 25-27.) Check with your instructor about the requirement for an abstract.

Key terms are three or four words that capture the important aspects of your paper. For a manuscript submitted for publication, searches are often linked to the author identified key terms.


Running head; Shortened title


An abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of your paper. The abstract allows the reader to quickly survey the contents of the paper by providing key, relevant information about the paper contents. The abstract should be a single paragraph and should be well organized, accurate, concise, brief, nonevaluative, coherent, and readable. The abstract should be numbered as page 2. The label Abstract should be typed in upper and lower case letters, centered, at the top of the page. The abstract is double-spaced, block format (no paragraph indent), and should be between 150 and 250 words.

Key terms: three or four important relevant terms

Body of the Paper

Begin the body of your paper on a new page (page 3) and identify the first text page with the running head, page number, the title of the paper centered at the top of the page, double-spaced, then the typed text of the paper. The sections of the text follow each other without a break. You should not start a new page when you have a new heading. All pages should have the running head and the page number.


Start the reference list on a new page. Type the heading, References, in upper and lower case letters, centered, at the top of the page.

Double-space all reference entries (although some instructors may prefer you to single space the references). References are formatted in the hanging indent format. The first line should be flush with the left margin and subsequent lines are indented 5-7 spaces (about ½ inch). If a hanging indent is difficult to format with your word processor, it is permissible to indent your references with paragraph indents.

Double-space the appendices and begin each one on a separate, new page. Type the word Appendix and the identifying capital letters (A, B, etc.) in the order they are mentioned in the text, centered, at the top of the page. If there is only one appendix, the word Appendix at the top of the page without the letter A, is permitted. The text of an appendix is typed like that of the main text of your paper with paragraph indents, double-spacing, etc..

Tables and Figures

The guidelines for presenting tables and figures in papers are too extensive to include in this brief guide. Consult the Publication Manual, Section 5.07 to 5.29 (pp. 128-167) for the various formats for general and specific formats for statistical tables, figures, and photos. Tables and figures in manuscripts submitted for publication are generally placed on separate pages. For your papers, however, tables and figures may be directly inserted into the text of your paper. Consult with you instructor on the preferred placement of tables and figures for papers you submit for a class.

Author’s Copyright
All manuscripts are protected by federal statute against unauthorized use of unpublished material. The Copyright Act of 1976 (Title 17 of the U.S. Code) notes that an unpublished work is copyrighted from the moment it is set in tangible form - for example, typed on a page. Copyright protection is “an incident of the process of authorship” (U.S. Copyright Office, 1981, p. 3). Until such time as the author transfers copyright, the author owns the copyright on any unpublished manuscript. To ensure copyright protection, it is recommended that one include the copyright notice on all published works (e.g., Copyright [year] by [name]). Registration of the copyright provides a public record and is usually a prerequisite for any legal action. (Refer to Publication Manual, Section 1.15, pp. 19-20.)
Remember, if you have any difficulty with organizing or writing your paper, it is always advisable to contact the UMHB Center for Academic Excellence for their assistance or refer to a writing website, such as the site below:

Reference for this summary:

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: Author.

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