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The main parts of any documentation format concern

1) the setup of the paper as a whole


2) the method of citing sources.

The American Psychological Association format has a reputation for being difficult, but, like anything else, it just takes some getting used to. You can pick up a style sheet explaining all APA rules in the Writing Center, but here are some of the basics.

General Layout

Your essay should be typed in a 12-pt font, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins on all sides. Each of the following sections (if applicable) should start on a new page:

  • Title page, including a running head, title, and byline and affiliation
  • Abstract
  • Body
  • References
  • Appendixes
  • Author note
  • Endnotes
  • Tables
  • Figure captions
  • Figures
Adobe PDF Title Page - an example of a Title Page using APA format
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Quotations in Text

When quoting another source in your paper, you should include the author's name and the date in the body of your text:

Jones (1976) examined the affect of color on newborns.
In 1976, Jones examined the affect of color on newborns.
In an experiment examining the affect of color on newborns (Jones, 1976),

If you are citing a source with no author, such as a website, use an abbreviated version of the title:

Camden's findings revolutionized the study of fossils ("Paleontology," 1995).

For short quotations (fewer than 40 words, or about 2 detailed sentences), enclose the quoted material in quotation marks in your text and include a page number. The period goes after the parenthesis:

According to Kingsly (1999), "Men think about sex once every five minutes" (p. 278).

For longer quotations (block quotes), indent quoted material an extra five spaces from the margin. Maintain double-spacing. There is no need to include quotation marks here, because it is obviously a quote. After completing the quotation, you may resume your discussion using the original margins

Rawlinson's 1984 study found the following:

A mere 3% of the mice treated with mercury injections finished the maze in under one minute. This could be due to the fact the mercury is lethal, and we had no business giving it to mice. In the next experiment, I shall inject myself with mercury and run the race to prove my superiority to rodents. (p. 476) (The period goes before the parenthesis.)
Rawlinson died shortly after from complications involving mercury in his blood stream. He never completed the maze.

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General Rules: Invert authors' names (Last, First), and alphabetize by authors' last name. If using more than one source by the same author, list them in order of publication year, oldest to newest. Use "&" instead of "and". Use a hanging indentation (see example). Capitalize only the first word of titles and subtitles, and italicize titles of books and journals.

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year, add month and day of publication for daily, weekly, or monthly publications). Title of article. Title of periodical, volume number, pages.

This is the basic guideline. Please consult one of the following sources for citation formats of other types of reference materials, including electronic text, magazine articles, etc.

For more information, go to:

Outside Link
Outside Link

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Page last updated: April 21, 2016