APA style guidelines and examples

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A good academic paper should be written clearly and on target. It highlights ideas, not artistic methods of presenting those ideas. Document structure, punctuation, word choice, graphics, and bibliography are selected to drive the idea forward with the utmost precision and minimal indentation.

To achieve this clarity and ease of communication, editors have developed specific style guidelines to ensure that written materials are presented clearly and consistently. For example, editorial style concerns the consistent use of punctuation and acronyms, construction of tables, choice of headings, literature cited, and descriptions of statistics.

When editors or educators ask you to format the article in APA style, they are referring to the editorial style adopted by many social and behavioral scientists for presenting material. A group of sociologists developed this style in 1929. Their goal was to establish basic standards of communication. Since then, it has been adopted by pioneers in many scientific fields and is used by authors around the world.

APA style involves using an in-text reference whenever you cite a source or paraphrase, use an in-line citation, or a block citation. In addition to this, there are special requirements for formatting text elements. For detailed information on formatting APA headers, see wr1ter.

General APA Citation Guidelines

1. In-text citations

Even if you present other people’s ideas or information in your own words (for example, in paraphrase), you should still state where the original came from. It is an important part of the academic writing process.

When citing in the text of the work, indicate the name of the author(s) (or publisher(s)) and the year of publication.

An in-text citation might look like this:

Water is an essential part of everyone’s diet. Among the various nutrients that our body needs to function, it mostly needs water every day (Roldes & Whittney, 2014).


Roldes and Whittney (2014) state that our bodies need various nutrients to function, but note that water is of the utmost importance.


Water is an important part of every person’s diet, and Roldes and Whitney (2014) highlight its importance over other nutrients.

2. Parentheses when quoting.

APA guidelines state that when citing, the year of publication should be given in parentheses. This rule applies regardless of the style of the first quote (part of the story or introductory words).

For example, among epidemiological samples, Wessler et al. (2013) proved that early onset social anxiety disorder appears more severe and powerful. … Experience has also shown a high rate of comorbidity with drug or alcohol addiction or abuse and major depression (Wessler et al., 2013).

3. When you refer to a cited document, there are also certain peculiarities:

  • an example of a book reference:

Audrey, D. (2013). Logo design love: a manual for creating a great brand identity. Berkeley, CA: The Old Jumpers.

  • an example of a print journal article reference:

OnlineJohnson, B. (2012). Facebook: Uplifting Tales for Medical Personnel. Tai Kati: Nursing in Australia17 (6), 23.

  • an example of a remote access electronic resource reference:

Ministry of Health. (2020). COVID-19: Public information.

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Other guidelines and examples can be found in the latest APA style guide.

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