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APA citations

A guide to formatting in APA style

The information below is drawn from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed. In order to find a more in-depth explanation of any item below, be sure to buy a copy for yourself or check one out from VCU Libraries.

Formatting guidelines

Select a header below to learn more about APA formatting.

  • Font options: Calibri (11pt), Arial (11pt), Lucida (10pt), Times New Roman (12pt), Georgia (11pt)
  • 1-inch margins
  • Double spaced
  • Separate page
  • Centered on page in bold
  • For a class assignment: under title include your full name, institutional affiliation, course number, instructor’s name, and assignment due date
  • For publication: your full name and institutional affiliation
  • Running Head: in all caps and justified to the left
  • Separate page
  • Center the heading: “Abstract”
  • Short, concise, non-evaluative summary of the paper
  • 150-250 words
  • Header: use a SHORTENED TITLE (in all caps); justified to the left
  • Continue page number in header (justified to the right)
  • Use headings for sections of paper
  • New page
  • Simple title of “References” centered
  • Only include entries cited in paper
  • Each entry has a hanging indent of 0.5"
  • Authors’ names need to be inverted (last name, initials) and in alphabetical order
  • Double spaced
  • Were you as specific (in descriptions and numerical values) as possible?
  • Find all your pronouns! Are they clear and specific?
  • Do you use the proper labels for your subjects/participants?
  • Avoid jargon
  • Write in the active voice where possible
  • Remove any nonessential words
  • Remove all colloquial expressions
  • Are you using the right verb tense?
  • Do your subjects agree with your verbs?
  • Need a quick guide to punctuation? Look at Ch. 6 for quick tips of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed.
  • Only use gendered language when necessary
  • When possible, use your participants’ names
  • Avoid assuming heterosexual orientation and use the most up-to-date language
  • Only specify race if it is relevant to the study
  • Use the currently preferred name for groups (e.g. Inuk or Inuit for plural, instead of Eskimo)
  • Do you “put people first”? Always list the person and then their disability
  • Do you always place socially dominant groups first in lists? If so, vary the placement
  • Do you avoid stereotypes?

Introduce the idea with a signal phrase that includes the author’s last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.

Ex. 1: According to Campbell (1995), strong coops are important for poultry (p. 21).

Ex. 2: According to Campbell (1995), “When owning poultry, it is important to maintain a secure coop” (p. 21).

WARNING: Avoid quotations unless absolutely necessary.

  • When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word: Farm-Raised Chickens
  • Capitalize the first word after a colon or a dash: "Perfecting Farm Life: An In-depth Study of Agricultural Practices”
  • Italicize the titles of longer works such as books, edited collections, movies, television series, documentaries, or albums: LOST, Criminal Minds, Harry Potter
  • Put quotation marks around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles, articles from edited collections, television series episodes, and song titles
    Ex. 1: “Hurt,” by Johnny Cash (song title)
    Ex. 2: “Saint Lucifer.” (T.V. series)
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