American Psychological Association
The style and format specified by the American Psychological Association (APA) for research reports in psychology is presented in words and by example in this brief paper. This paper, including this abstract, is written and typed using page layouts, section headings and subheadings, referencing style, and other features required by APA for journal articles and required by many psychology courses for research and term papers. American Psychological Association (APA) Format Requirements for Research Papers in Psychology Courses
The style and format described in this paper is called “APA format” or “APA style”, and is explained in detail in the fifth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2001). This paper is also written in APA format, and can be used as an example of how a paper should be organized and how the manuscript should be typed. A brief explanation of each section of the paper and of specific requirements for headings and subheadings, referencing methods, and other characteristics of a paper are presented.
The entire paper, starting with the first line on page one, and ending with the last line in the tables and figures, should be double-spaced. All papers should include a page header, which is a shortened version of the title (three or fewer words). It appears in the upper right hand corner of every page of the manuscript. The purpose for this is in case the pages of the manuscript become disorganized, or mixed in with another manuscript (remember, most professors, like most journal editors, are working with many papers at the same time).
The best way to include a page header is to use the ‘header’ function that is available in most word processing computer software programs. The programs will also allow an automatic page numbering function. The Title Page The first page of a manuscript should contain a page header (as described previously), a description of a running head, the title, the author’s name, and the author’s institutional affiliation. This title page is counted as page one.
The description of the running head should be positioned on the first line of text, left justified, preceded by the term “Running Head:”, typed all in capital letters (maximum of 50 characters). If the manuscript is published, the publisher will replace the page header with the running head. The title, name, and affiliation should be centered on the page and double-spaced and should appear towards the middle of the page. A paper submitted for a course (like this one) should also have a note, near the end of the page, also double-spaced, which indicates the course and semester for which the paper is being written.
The title itself typically should not exceed 15 words. The Abstract Page 2 will contain the word, abstract, centered near the top of the page. Below it will be a 120 word or less paragraph, double-spaced, which briefly summarizes the entire paper. This is the only paragraph in the paper that does not start off with a tab. It should begin against the left margin. Examples of what should be included in the abstract are given in the APA Publication Manual (2001), and can be found at the beginning of any recent article published in a journal of the American Psychological Association.
At the upper-right hand corner will be the page header and the page number (2). All subsequent pages of the manuscript will have a page number and the page header that appears in the exact same location. The Body of the Paper The title of the paper, exactly as it appears on the cover sheet, page 1, is to be centered near the top of page 3. It is double-spaced and is followed immediately by the body of the paper, which is also double-spaced. Sections and subsections within the body of the paper will depend upon what type of paper it is.
Papers reporting results of an original study, as in Johnson and Downing (1979) or Lavery, Franz, Winquist, & Larson (1999), typically have an Introduction, which is not labeled, followed by Method, Results, and Discussion sections, each of which starts with a heading centered above the section to which it refers, with the first letter capitalized, no period, and no underlining. In brief, non-data papers, such major heading need not be used, as in this paper. Second level headings are done as in the heading of this section (titled The Body of the Paper), from the margin, no period, and underlined.
The text below it is indented, starting on the next line. Third level headings. These are indented, underlined, and followed by a period. The text immediately follows the heading on the same line. Papers not presenting original data, such as theoretical papers (Festinger, 1954), reviews of the literature, (Brewer, 1979), or analytical papers (Downing, 1975), use headings and subheadings as seem appropriate for the material being covered. Referencing All published material, referred to in the paper, is to be cited with the last name or names of the author or authors, followed by the year of publication.
A book or article might be referred to as, a book by Strunk and White (1979) or as a book (Strunk and White, 1979). Further, you could start a sentence by saying something like “According to Strunk and White (1979). ” For one or two authors, always cite them. For three to six, such as the paper by Lavery et al. (1999) list all authors the first time you cite the paper, and then use the Latin abbreviation “et al. ” from then on. For seven or more authors, you may use the Latin abbreviation “et al. ” beginning with the first citation. A complete reference for each citation will appear in the Reference section of the paper.
The Reference section is not a bibliography; this means that only those articles that are cited appear in the references. If the content of an article did not fit in your paper even though you read it (thus, you were unable to cite it), it should not appear in the references. Any article from any recent APA journal can be used as an example of how to use this referencing method. Also, rules and examples for references are presented in the APA Publication Manual (APA, 1983). Figures and Table Tables are presentations of numerical information, usually in rows and columns, and are to be separately numbered.
The text should refer to a table by name, either by stating in parentheses (see Table 1) or by referring to it in the text. Tables are to be placed, one per page, immediately following the Reference section at the end of the manuscript. All material in tables is to be double-spaced, include a title, and horizontal lines only (no vertical lines). Cutting and pasting output from SPSS is not an appropriate format for tables. Instructions about how to format tables are detailed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2001).
All graphs, illustrations, and pictures are called figures, and are identified by numbers, in sequence of appearance. They will appear at the end of the paper, one per page, following the Reference section and the tables. Like tables, the text should refer to a figure either by stating it in parentheses (see Figure 1) or referring to it in text. Like tables, figures should be titled. However, figures get their own title page that precedes the page that includes the figure. This is done so that when publishing a paper, the publisher can scan your figure directly into their version of the paper.
References Following the body of the paper, a separate section, beginning a new page, starts with the word, References, centered near the top of the page. The Reference section is not a bibliography, but contains only citations of specifically mentioned books, articles, or presentations. The entire section is to be double-spaced with references listed alphabetically by author. Margins and indentations should follow the pattern shown in the reference section of this paper. Examples of how to reference specific types of materials can be found in any APA journal or in the publication manual (APA, 2001).
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