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APA Formatting

PrinTerrific "APA Formatting Quick Guide"
PrinTerrific "How to Format an APA Document in Word"

A guide for correctly formatting APA-style papers.

Why APA?

APA stands for the American Psychological Association, and they put out a style guide that is updated regularly called the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

The University of Calgary in Qatar (UCQ) has chosen to follow APA guidelines for referencing and formatting because it is the style used by most nursing researchers. Many nursing journals use APA for publishing articles, so it is very important that those in the nursing profession know and understand the requirements.

What does APA require?

At UCQ, an APA-style paper may also be called a scholarly or academic paper. The requirements may differ from one professor to another, but you will probably be expected to include most or all of the following elements (click the items to see more):

Title page

Your title page is the first page of your paper. It comes before the first page of your written text. The title page should look like this:

Running head: SHORT TITLE

1



Long Title of Your Paper

Your Name

University of Calgary in Qatar

Course Code

Instructor

Due Date




Note that the running head includes the words “Running head” and a colon ( : ). These words appear only on the title page.

For more explanation, go to this YouTube video.

Page setup

  1. Margins are the white spaces between letters and the edge of the page. There are four of them: at the left and right sides of the page, and at the top and bottom. These should all be set at 1 inch (2.54 cm), which is the automatic default setting in Microsoft Word.
  2. Font is the size, colour and shape of the letters in the main text of your paper. Always use black lettering. Times New Roman size 12 is preferred. Versions of Microsoft Word after 2007 default to Calibri size 11, so remember to check your font style and size and ensure that it is consistent in your whole document (including the header).
  3. Running head: This is a short version of your title in capital letters. It also includes the page number at the right side. If your title is longer than 50 characters, use only the first 50. A running head is inserted by using the “Header” function in Microsoft Word.
  4. Paragraphs: The first line of every paragraph is indented. All of your main body text should be aligned to the left, which means that the first letter of each line should be all the way to the left margin of the page and the ends of the lines on the right side of the page will be uneven.
  5. Line spacing: The entire text, including the title page and references list, must be double-spaced. Do not add extra spaces between paragraphs. Use the “paragraph” tab to check these settings.

Headings

The headings are used in order according to the way you divide your paper. Level 1 headings are for the major sections, such as the Results and Discussion. Level 2 headings are used for subsections. If, for example, you have several parts to your Results section, you would use a Level 2 heading for each of these. If one of those subsections requires you to divide it even further, use a Level 3 heading.

Note: Two (2) Level 1 headings are not bolded; the title of your paper that appears just above the introduction paragraph and the “References” heading on the References page are not bolded. See below for an example of how to format your headings.

Introduction, body, and conclusion

Most academic papers have the same basic structure as essays. Introduce the body of the paper by explaining what it is about and providing a brief description of the sections in a few sentences. The order of points in your introduction should be the same in the body. Be sure to address all of the requirements of the assignment. The conclusion usually summarizes the body and explains why it is important. Tip: The conclusion and the introduction should be linked and should cover the same points.

Academic language

In most assignments for your classes, you will be expected to use academic language, which is more formal and more professional than conversational language. This means you will have to consider the following:

  • Personal pronouns: An important question you will have to answer before you start writing is whether or not you can use personal pronouns such as “I,” “you,” and “we.” Ask your instructor whether she or he would prefer you to use personal pronouns or not.
    • Most academic writing is intended to be objective, which means it should not be personal and should not express opinions without evidence. In this case, you are generally expected to avoid using personal pronouns.
    • On the other hand, reflective writing must reflect your own subjective thinking, as you are supposed to consider your own thoughts, ideas and learning. In this case, personal pronouns are perfectly acceptable, and probably necessary.
  • Contractions: Avoid using contractions such as “can’t,” “don’t,” and “won’t.” Use the proper long forms instead: “cannot” (which is always one word), “do not,” and “will not.”
  • Gender-biased language: When writing about people, such as patients or nurses, be sure not to refer to only one gender. There are both male and female patients, and male and female nurses. This can be done in one of three ways:
    1. Alternate between “he” and “she.”
    2. Consistently use expressions like “she or he” or “his or her.”
    3. Use the plural “they,” “them,” or “their.”
  • Informal expressions: English, like every other language, has many expressions that are used frequently in conversation, but which are not considered acceptable in academic writing. Below is a table of a few informal expressions and words, and their academic counterparts:

Informal

Formal

Really (e.g., “really hard”) Very (e.g., “very difficult”)
Lots of (e.g., “lots of people”; “lots of water”) Many (e.g., “many people”); Much (e.g., “much water”)
Into something (e.g., “He is into doing research”) Interested in (e.g., “He is interested in doing research.”)
Mess up (e.g., “I messed up the results.”) Make a mistake (e.g., “I made a mistake in the results.”)
Chill out Relax or calm down
Guy/guys Man or people (see “Gender-biased language” above)

References list

Any time you do research or use information, words or images from a source, you must acknowledge the source in two places: in your text and in references list on the final page of your paper. Please refer to the UCQ Writing Centre’s APA Referencing webpage for more information.

After the last page of writing in your assignment, include a new page of sources. The references are listed in alphabetical order according to the first author’s last name. Each reference is double-spaced and has hanging indents. This means that the first line of each reference is all the way to the left margin while each of the following lines is indented. Use the "special" drop-down menu in the "paragraph" tab to set hanging indents. The running head must also appear at the top of the page.

Below is an example, which shows the sources used for this handout.

Tables

APA Formatted Tables (APA, pp. 128–149)

Tables show data or statistics, which support the discussion, in columns and rows.


Examples
  1. When you are thinking of using a table in your work, you need to consider
    • necessity;
    • relation to text;
    • citation;
    • integrity and independence; and
    • organization, consistency, and coherence.

    You need to ask yourselves, is the information valuable?
    For more information, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImYm2wxBwhg

    1. Necessity
      • All materials and information in a table must be essential to your paper.
      • Tables with non-essential information are less effective and may cause confusion for the reader.

    2. Relation to Text
      • All information in a table must be directly and clearly related to the content of your paper.
      • You must refer to the table in the text of your paper.

      Examples
      The relationship between diabetes and diet can be seen in Table 1.
      There is a direct relationship between diet and diabetes (see Table 1).

    3. Citation
    4. If your entire table or any part of your table is copied from another source, you need to give a note at the bottom of the table citing both the original author and the copyright holder of the table or information within the table.

      Example For more information, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVBs8mseyTE

    5. Integrity and Independence
      • The reader should be able to understand the content and meaning of a table without reference to the text of the paper.
      • Include an explanation of every abbreviation or symbol in a note below the table (see the example in section 1C above).

    6. Organization, Consistency, and Coherence
      • Number all tables in the order you refer to them in the text (Table 1, Table 2, etc.).
      • Abbreviations and terminology must be consistent in all tables in the same paper
      • Formats, titles, and headings must be consistent.
      • Do not repeat the same data in different tables.

  2. Format

  3. Example For more information, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXjvgw1LT4w

References

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC:Author.

Whiting, D. R., Guariguata, L., & Shaw, J. (2011). IDF diabetes atlas: Global estimates of the prevalence of diabetes for 2011 and 2030 Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 94(3), 311-321. doi:10.1016/j.diabres.2011.10.029

Figures

APA Formatted Figures (APA, pp. 150 – 167)

There are many different kinds of figures:

  • pictures,
  • graphs,
  • diagrams,
  • charts, and
  • models.

1. A good figure

  • adds to the text (it is not a copy of the text),
  • gives only essential information,
  • isn’t visually distracting,
  • is easy to read and see,
  • is easy to understand,
  • is in the same style as similar figures, and
  • is carefully planned and prepared.

You need to ask yourselves, is the information valuable? Is it (a) necessary, (b) related to the text, and (c) clear?

a) Necessity

  • All materials and information in a figure must be essential to your paper.
  • Figures with non-essential information are less effective and may cause confusion for the reader.

b) Relation to Text

  • All information in a figure must be directly related to the content of your paper.
  • This relationship must be clear to the reader or readers of your paper.
  • You must refer to the figure in the text of your paper.
Examples

Examples of food that decreases the risk of developing diabetes can be seen in Figure 1. Regular exercise has many benefits including decreasing the risk of developing diabetes (see Figure 1).

For more information, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVBs8mseyTE

c) Clarity

  • A good figure is easy to read and understand.
  • The reader should be able to understand the content and meaning of a table without reference to the text of the paper.
Examples

2) Format

  • Number all figures in the order you refer to them in the text (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.).
  • Figures need to have a brief caption. A caption
    • is put below the figure,
    • provides a brief descriptive phrase about the figure,
    • serves as an explanation of the figure,
    • serves as the title, and
    • provides any needed additional information needed to clarify the figure after the descriptive phrase.

For more information, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHtCApVcoTk OR https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImYm2wxBwhg

Example

Figure X. Caption. Additional information. Citation if needed

  • If your entire figure or any part of your figure is copied or taken from another source, you need to cite the source below the figure after the caption and any additional information.

Example

Figure 1. Top 10 causes of death in the world by percent in 2012. Adapted from “The Top 10 Causes of Death,” by the World Health Organization, 2014, retrieved from http://www.who. int/mediacentre/factsheets /fs310/en/.

References

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC:Author.

World Health Organization. (2014). Top 10 causes of death in the world by percent in 2012. Retrieved from http://www.who. int/mediacentre/factsheets /fs310/en/

Sources used for examples

  1. Zureks.png. (2001). Rapid prototyping worldwide. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/File:Rapid_prototyping_worldwide_by_Zureks.png.
  2. Caron, E., Ghosh, S., Matsuoka, Y., Ashton-Beaucage, D., Therrien, M., Lemieux,...Kitano, H. (2012, December 21). Upstream regulators of mTORC1 signaling. Retrieved from http://msb. embopress.org/content/6/1/453.

Appendices

When you are writing a paper, there may be times when you would like to include additional material that would be distracting in the body of your paper and disrupt your reader’s attention. This may include information such as large tables and figures or text that is not directly about the main topic of your paper. This type of information can be given in an appendix.

Appendices will be the last information in any document. They come after your references and any other supplemental material.

  1. Appendices
    • should be relatively brief,
    • should be on individual pages (i.e., only one appendix per page),
    • can have tables or figures — labeled Table A1, Table A2, Table A3, Figure A1, Figure A2, Figure A3, etc. (only label them as tables and figures if they are not the only Information in the appendix), and
    • should have the first paragraph of any written text beginning flush left with subsequent paragraphs being indented.
  2. When you are thinking of using an appendix in your work, you need to consider
    • necessity;
    • relation to text;
    • citation;
    • integrity and independence; and
    • organization, consistency, and coherence.

    You need to ask yourselves, is the information valuable? Is it (a) necessary and (b) related to the text?

    a) Necessity
    All materials and information in an appendix must be essential to your paper.
    Usually, each distinct item has its own appendix.
    Appendices with non-essential information are less effective and may cause confusion for the reader.

    b) Relation to Text
    All information in an appendix must be directly related to the content of your paper.
    This relationship must be clear to the reader or readers of your paper.
    In the main text, you should refer to the Appendices by their labels. You must refer to the appendix in the text of your paper.

    Examples

    The relationship between diabetes and diet can be seen in Appendix A.

    There is a direct relationship between diet and diabetes (see Appendix A).

  3. Format
  4. Appendices should have the running head and page number in the header section.
    Appendix and the letter should be centered on the first line of text. This should be in regular font, not bold font.
    If your paper only has one appendix, label it "Appendix" (without quotes).
    If there is more than one appendix, label them "Appendix A," "Appendix B," etc. (without quotes) in the order that each item appears in the paper.
    Leave a double space and write the title of the appendix. The title should be centered and in regular font.
    Provide any needed citation information at the bottom of the appendix.

    Example
    For more information, go to http://www.howcast.com/videos/383550-how-to-write-an-appendix/

References

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

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