APA Style / Format:
A Primer or Booster
Psychology Dept.
Occidental College
I. What is it?
• A set of rules & guidelines for
presenting information in
academic and professional
– Developed by the American
Psychological Association (APA)
• “Publication Manual” includes
a complete account
– Continually revised: 6th edition
II. Purpose
• To make the presentation
of information* complete,
clear, & efficient
– Components to be included
– Organization of components
– General writing style tips
* Stricter rules for empirical
(data-based) works
Guidelines for papers
• Student papers
– Why learn an artificial format
of no general importance?
• Formal manuscripts
intended for publication /
dissemination among
– Learn a subset of guidelines
for this type of paper
III. Common Components
• General formatting
1-inch margins, all around
12-pt. font (or equivalent)
“Times New Roman” (or
equally clear font)
III. Common Components
• Writing style
– Succinctness
• “in order to”  “to”
• “four different categories” 
“four categories”
3rd person
Active voice
Unbiased language
Quotations used sparingly
• No plagiarism
• Paraphrase points from sources
unless completely obvious and
• “2nd citing” (of another source
cited within a reference source
you have on hand) is not ideal,
but permissible
– You should know exactly what the
original source says regarding your
specific point; look up the original
source whenever possible!
III. Common Components:
Title Page
Running head
Page numbers
• Make it look like it should!
– See sample paper (APA)
– See sample paper (OWL)
III. Common Components: Body
• Format the title properly
• Use references properly:
… within the text
• In a 4-year study, Vrij and Secundo
(1971) discovered…
… within parentheses
– Order multiple references
• … demonstrated a statistically
significant effect (Borth, 1992; Lee &
Park, 2004; Miettinen et al., 1934).
III. Common Components: Body
• “et al.” for multiple authors
– 3-5 authors: use et al. when
citing a source after the first
– 6 or more: use immediately
• Miettinen et al. (1934) OR
(Miettinen et al., 1934)
III. Common Components: Body
• Quotations: use page #s
2 ways to do this… before the
quote or after it
Place the page number close
to the quote
– El-bahim (2007, p. 196)
claimed “all three factors…”
– El-bahim (2007) surveyed
college students and
concluded that the groups
“must be equalized” (p. 41)
III. Common Components:
“References” Page
• Order alphabetically
• Hanging indent
• For 8 or more authors, list
the first 6, use an ellipsis (…)
and include last author:
– Castillo, A. R. N., Thompson,
C., Engler-Smith, F., Ricci, Q.
H., … Ward, A. (2001).
“References” Page (cont.)
• Each type of source
requires a uniquely
formatted reference
– Refer to publication manual
• At Oxy, you are expected
to know just a few
common ones
– (see following slides)
IV. Empirical Work Components
• Abstract
• Section Headings
• Statistics (PSYC 201)
• Figures & Tables
• Appendices (if needed)
– Ex) survey items; “extra” data
V. Expectations for Oxy Students
• Reference types
– Journal article:
Men, X. A. (1964). Reply to
critics: Bayesian may be
best. Social Psychological
Bulletin, 36, 45-49. doi:
– Book:
Patel, P. (1997). Cultural
barriers. New York: Wiley.
V. Expectations for Oxy Students
• Reference Types
– Book chapter (edited):
Lightfoot, T. G., & Widmer, E.
(1987). Tall tales. In G. Suri & L.
O’Kachai (Eds.), Folklore in South
America (pp. 31-65). Omaha, NB:
University Press.
– Internet Source:
Nguyen, T. (2003, May 19). The p
value. The New York Times.
Retrieved from
V. Expectations for Oxy Students
• Note for journal articles:
– Always include volume number
– ONLY include issue number for
journals that start page numbers
from 1 for each issue of a volume
Ex) …Journal of Personality Issues,
7(2), 14-29
[Here issues 1 and 2 both start at
page 1; articles cannot be
identified solely by volume & page
VI. Supplemental Resources
• Oxy Psychology Website
• APA’s website
– Sample paper (APA)
– Sample paper (OWL)
• Purdue’s “The OWL”
• Daryl Bem’s writing guide