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General Primer on APA Style

Based on: American Psychological Association. (1994). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

This manual is the standard for many fields and is one of the clearest style manuals available. It covers the content and organization of a manuscript, the expression of ideas, basic punctuation and grammatical usage, table presentation and reference citations, and typing instructions with a sample paper. It is an invaluable resource and I highly recommend your purchasing one (available in the bookstore). If you plan on attending graduate school in psychology, consider owning one a requirement.

Your reference list items should be structured as follows and be in alphabetical order. More examples can be obtained on pages 189 and following in the 4th ed. APA manual. Notice the indentations and spacing, use of periods, underlining, capitalization, etc. I have given you an example for a journal, a chapter in an edited book, and a book. Your reference list will be on a separate page at the end of your paper, before appendices.


References should be double-spaced with a 5-space indentation of the first line. Web publishing does not allow me to double-space or indent (or at least I haven't figured out how to do it yet). Also, the journal title and volume issue, as well as the book title, need to be underlined. Depending on your web browser, they may or may not be underlined. Notice capitalization

Spetch, M.L., & Wilkie, D.M. (1983). A model of pigeons' memory for event duration. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 9, 14-30.

Hartley, J.T., Harker, J.O., & Walsh, D.A. (1980). Contemporary issues and new directions in adult development of learning and memory. In L.W. Poon (Ed.), Aging in the 1980s: Psychological issues (pp. 239-252). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Strunk, W., Jr., & White, E.B. (1979). The elements of style (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan.

Within a citation the order of the author's names goes from the person who originally generated the idea to those who made lesser contributions. Order is important.

For citations in the text you would use:

Notice the "and" outside parentheses vs the "&" within parentheses.

For a direct quotation also include the page number, for example:

In citing a chapter in an edited book you would refer to the authors of the chapter (not the book editor).

If there are less than 6 authors, cite all authors the first time the reference is used. In later citations include only the last name of the first author followed by "et al." and the year.

If there are 6 or more authors, in the text you would say:

If you are citing several studies at once, use the same information as above. Within parentheses separate by a semicolon and arrange alphabetically.

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Website created: June 1996. Page Created: August 25, 1996. Content last modified: August 3, 2000.