APA Format or APA Style


APA style, or APA format are the terms commonly used to describe the writing style guidelines which are developed, maintained, and periodically revised and updated by the American Psychological Association (APA).

The American Psychological Association came into being in its current form through the 1945 amalgamation of a number of different psychological societies and organizations which existed in the U.S.A. at that time, at both the national and state levels. The APA currently has almost 160,000 members and is the largest association of psychologists in the world.

Over the years, the APA has developed a standard for writing style that is now widely used by writers in the social sciences, education, business and psychology. Accordingly, the APA documentation style is now used throughout the world, in both business and academia.

The APA's writing style is documented in its manual entitled:

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition (2009).

The APA's Publication Manual covers all aspects of the writing and publishing process including: organizing, writing, formatting, keying, and submitting a manuscript for publication. It provides detailed guidance on editorial style as well as on the appropriate standards for publishing research in accordance with ethical principles of scientific publishing.

There is often considerable confusion when teachers, students, editors and researchers use the terms "APA style" or APA format". To clear up that confusion I am including three paragraphs below from the APA website.

"When editors or teachers ask you to write in "APA style," they do not mean writing style. They are referring to the editorial style that many of the social and behavioral sciences have adopted to present written material in the field. Editorial style consists of rules or guidelines that a publisher observes to ensure clear and consistent presentation of written material. Editorial style concerns uniform use of such elements as:

  • punctuation and abbreviations
  • construction of tables
  • selection of headings
  • citation of references
  • presentation of statistics
  • as well as many other elements that are a part of every manuscript

The American Psychological Association has established a style that it uses in all of the books and journals that it publishes. Many others working in the social and behavioral sciences have adopted this style as their standard as well.

Please note that when researchers talk about APA style, they may be referring to APA's system of citations in text and reference format.

If you are unsure, you should clarify with your instructor or editor how they define "APA style." APA's style rules and guidelines are set out in a reference book called "The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association."

APA Rules

APA documentation style (in similar fashion to MLA style) calls for "in-text" citations of sources of information to be listed within the text where they are referenced, rather than in footnotes and endnotes, as some systems require.

To assist those who would rather not wade through APA's 272 page Publication Manual, I have broken down and summarized the APA Rules for the Preparation of Manuscripts into three distinct sections as follows:

  1. Overall APA Paper Format Rules

  2. APA Rules For In-Text Citation of Sources

  3. Compiling and Formatting the APA Reference List

Each of the above sections contains a link to an actual sample pages of of the formats being discussed. You can access this APA Rules Page at:
Basic APA Rules - Paper Format, Citations, and Samples

APA Software

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Disclaimer: This site is not affiliated with either the Modern Language Association of America (MLA) or the American Psychological Association (APA). The information and links posted above were gathered through a variety of publicly available sources, and have been assembled here for the convenience of users. Accordingly, Writinghelp-central.com does not accept any liability for the information posted above.

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