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APA Style Guide

Based on Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed. (2020)

What is APA Style?

American Psychological Association (APA) Style "is a set of guidelines for clear and precise scholarly communication that helps authors, both new and experienced, achieve excellence in writing" (APA, 2020, p. xvii). APA Style is used in a variety of fields, including sociology, economics, political science, psychology, nursing, anthropology, business, education, engineering, social work, communication, and others. 

There are five main aspects of APA Style:

  1. Paper format
  2. Mechanics of style
  3. In-text citations
  4. Reference list citations
  5. Ethical practices

Although most student papers will not be published, "by writing papers, students engage in critical thinking, thoughtful self-reflection, and scientific inquiry and thereby prepare to make unique contributions to the repository of knowledge. Therefore, student writing deserves the same level of care and attention to detail as that given to professional writing" (APA, 2020, p. 3). Whether you are planning to submit your paper for publication or striving for a good grade, proper formatting, mechanics of style, citations, and ethical practices are essential features of reporting and presenting your findings. Formatting your paper in a style uniform to your field and using the mechanics of style correctly help your readers to follow the structure of your argument. Correct citations allow your readers to locate the original sources of the information in your paper. Following good ethical practices means that your subjects and readers will trust the content of your paper.

This guide is based on the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association: The Official Guide to APA Style, which was released October 1, 2019. It is intended to cover the most common concerns with APA Style. For more information, see the Official Guide to APA Style, go to the Official APA Style website, or ask a librarian. 

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). ​

The Research Process

Schematic of Research Process

While you conduct your research, it is important to retain the records of the resources that you find. When you move into the reporting and presenting stage, you will need to demonstrate to your audience that you used quality resources. 

More Resources


This guide was originally created by Leilani Hall. It was updated to the 7th edition by Sarah Davis in January 2020. 

Last Updated: Jan 17, 2024 10:39 AM