THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF APA STYLE
- Hannah Berry (Ph.D.)
- Published on 04/17/2021
- Updated on06/30/2021
This page provides an introduction to APA citations and academic style. It has been compiled by our citation experts, and the information comes from the most recent version of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th Edition).
WHAT IS APA STYLE AND WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
APA is the abbreviation for the American Psychological Association, which is the largest organization of professional psychologists in the United States. It was founded in 1892, and in 1929 its members decided to formalize how scientific papers should be written and structured. They outlined the following principles, which became the foundations for the current guidelines.
UNIFORMITY AND LEGIBILITY
Papers should be written using clear language and be organized in a predictable and logical way. When research is presented in a standard format, readers are able to quickly and easily assess its key ideas. That is why, for example, all papers should include an APA cover page and an APA reference page, as these help readers to understand the focus of the research, note the sources it employs, and recognize the institutions that made it possible.
Papers should also include accurate and honest documentation. Firstly and most importantly, this ensures that other researchers receive credit for their hard work. This prevents plagiarism, which is a serious form of academic dishonesty where students or researchers pass off someone else’s ideas as their own. Whether you quote, paraphrase, or use the data from another source, you should always make sure that you cite it correctly. Secondly, providing accurate documentation also helps to make your argument stronger. Not only does it allow you to back up your claims by showing that you have engaged with a range of reliable sources but it also lets other researchers follow up on your work.
RESPECTFUL SCIENTIFIC EXCHANGE
Finally, by presenting their data and arguments in a standard way, researchers can demonstrate that they have adopted good scientific practices and maintained ethical research standards. Using a regular structure with unbiased language also allows researchers to discuss the work and ideas of others in a way that is respectful and dignified, befitting of the global enterprise of academic study.
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WHO SHOULD USE APA?
Given its history, the APA citation system tends to be used by students and scholars in the behavioral and social sciences; its rules are particularly popular among writers in psychology, nursing, business, communications, and engineering. If your professor or publisher has recommended a different formatting system, such as Chicago, Harvard, or MLA, then please see our relevant pages for those guides.
WHAT’S NEW IN THE APA 7TH EDITION?
The APA 7th edition made a number of significant updates to the rules for formatting academic papers and citations. The following is a summary of five of the most important changes (but please see the Publication Manual for a more detailed account):
- The creation of a student-specific APA title page. In the 7th edition, student essays are formatted differently to professional papers. On the first page of their essay, students should include information about their institution, department, professor, and course. Please see our detailed formatting guide for more information on this.
- Updates to the advice on how to cite new media sources. The guide now provides sample citations for TED Talks, TV series, webinars, YouTube videos, streaming services, podcasts, songs, speech and radio recordings, photographs, museum artworks, PowerPoint slides, social media posts, Reddit threads, and more. It also offers extensive details on how to cite various kinds of webpages, which we cover in our in-depth guide to citing online sources.
- Substantial new guidance on how to format tables, data, and text in a way that accords with the Journal Article Reporting Standards (JARS). In relation to this, the new edition focuses particularly on the needs of qualitative and mixed methods researchers.
- The introduction of principles for writing with inclusive and bias-free language. For example, the manual now endorses the singular form of “they” and provides specific advice on how to discuss matters relating to age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, and racial and ethnic identity.
- A chapter dedicated to the mechanics of the publication process. This chapter particularly targets early career researchers looking to adapt their dissertation or thesis into an article or book for publication.
WHAT CAN AN APA CITATION MACHINE DO FOR YOU?
If all of these changes and new rules seem a little overwhelming, then an APA citation generator might be able to take some of the stress out of citing and formatting. It could help by:
- Creating accurate and consistent citations that you can copy and re-use as many times as you need.
- Generating in-text citations and reference lists simultaneously.
- Providing an easy way to save, download, and export your citations.
- Freeing you up from the onerous task of generating citations, allowing you to concentrate on your research and your writing.
WHY SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TYPECITE?
TypeCite’s APA generator doesn’t rely on the standard algorithms used by many other citation tools, some of which produce inconsistent citations with misplaced punctuation marks, incorrect typesetting, and irregular formatting. TypeCite was designed by professionals in academia, publishing and education, and its developers understand the complexities and nuances of academic style. They recognize the need for a tool that is accurate and flexible at the same time. TypeCite was built with students and academics in mind, meaning that it is able to handle all the most common types of sources that they need to cite. The tool and the website are intuitive and easy to use, giving researchers one less thing to worry about whenever they have to cite APA sources.
American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000