If you want to get the highest score for your academic paper, error-free content is not enough. You should take care of a structure, relevance, sources, and, of course, formatting. There are many known ways to cite and reference sources, and it seems impossible to remember all of them by heart. However, at least, you should memorize MLA and APA style rules by heart as they are the most popular citation formats for students and researchers.
The 7th edition of APA writing style is the latest. Unless you hire an expert from a service like BestCustomWriting or use special citation generating apps, you will have to remember the basic guidelines from this manual. Follow it to cite the sources inside your work and come up with a correct reference list – and your tutor will reward you with the highest grade for sure.
What APA Stands for: Definition and Application
To begin with, this citation format was created and offered by the American Psychological Association. It designed this style to help researchers worldwide organize their papers, theses, and dissertations properly. The organization itself consists of professors and psychologists from the US and Canada. Thus, this style is in priority for these regions. The members of psychological organizations from other countries are also present.
This style aims to help writers avoid issues with plagiarism. Every information retrieved from an external source should be properly cited and referenced. On the whole, APA is used in the papers on the following subjects:
- Social science
- Mental medicine and nursing
- Applied linguistics
- Sociology, etc.
So, basically, it was developed for humanitarian sciences. In some cases, APA style is used for writing assignments in other fields.
Basic Formatting Rules to Keep in Mind
With every new release of the writing manual, the guidelines for APA slightly change. Still, they remain more-or-less the same. Try to focus on the following rules to remember them in case you will have to write a paper with no access to corresponding resources like the internet one day:
- Apply 11-inch white paper
- Double-space the entire work
- Make it Arial or Times New Roman (with the font size 11-12, respectively)
- Indent every single paragraph 1,5”
- Make sure that the margins are a single inch on all sides throughout the project
- Involve a header (insert the number on every page without the cover one, include the running headings – shortened titles of the project)
Why should you remind the reader about the name of your document on every page? Well, it will bring them and you to the main theme in case you have fallen off the point a bit.
Structuring a Scientific or Academic Project in APA
A format predetermines the structure of the entire paper. In other words, an outline should contain the same elements. Stick to it not to get lost between the lines. APA format always needs a title page to introduce the audience to your work. Make it all in the center of the page. Provide your full name, the title of your institution or organization, topic of the paper, and date; avoid abbreviations. Every component is equally important, so do not try to skip anything out.
While you can skip an abstract in an essay, it is a must-have in your research project or dissertation. This part shows up as a tiny paragraph describing the work and summarizing the study’s results. Recall the methods that you plan to use in your study. It should not exceed ⅓ of your page. That would be no more than 250 words. You may also need to explain the main abbreviations and terms (if any).
Usually, research papers contain 3-5 paragraphs with main arguments, methodologies, results, and discussions. It is necessary to start with a powerful introduction. Before developing this part, think about a solid thesis statement – the central argument of your research paper. Explain why you and your target audience might even care about the suggested theme or question. You may replace a thesis with a hypothesis.
In the introductory part, one should add a literature review. It is often written as a separate document and added after the title page. However, you can make it a part of an intro. This section conveys what the readers may already know about the construct under investigation. Make sure that the literature recalled is accurate and all of the ideas are presented logically.
You should try to answer all questions related to the chosen theme. Unlike in MLA, in APA, you should provide every new section with a separate heading just like a blog post or an article.
Citations and References Page
In MLA, you had to create the Works Cited page. Its analogy in APA is the so-called References page. You can either come up with in-text direct or indirect citations. The first ones stand for the words of an author that you copy and paste into your work. If you put them in parentheses and mention the author properly, it is not considered plagiarism. Also, you may paraphrase the piece of text from the original source, but you should still mention the author next to it.
Utilize the quotations that you add. They are necessary as they prove your words, figuring as facts and statistics. What you have to mention next to each in-text citation is the author’s name and date of publication. Then, you should also recall these sources on the last page of your work, which is made of references. This part should consist of/adhere to such guidelines as:
- Make the references 1,5” from the left margin
- Always include all sources in the alphabetical order
- Focus on the initial letter in the author’s last name when creating an alphabetical list
- You should include the authors’ initials
- Do not leave out any authors if the source was composed by few
- Always input the date of publication
- Insert the name of the reference
- Specify the page numbers from which the citations were taken (if known)
- Specify the origin of the book, journal, magazine, website, etc. Also, include an issue, volume, and edition if any are present.
In other words, you should do everything so that your reader can easily find the source that you were using and find out more about the topic (or just ensure that you did not lie to them). Every quotation serves as your best support of an argument.
APA is one of the simplest writing styles, but you still should spend some time learning the basic principles. Do not forget to proofread and edit your research paper once you are done. Correct the formatting, making sure that your work adheres to all of the APA citation format guidelines.