When you are required to write a paper in APA style, you may find that this statement has multiple meanings.
- In some cases, the focus is on how you will refer to the sources (books, journal articles, Web sites) in a formal way in your document. Many APA sites on the Web focus on using citations and references.
- APA style is also a way to format a document with specific sections, margins, headers, and more.
- Finally, APA style is a set of rules for grammar, punctuation, and even spelling and hyphenation.
The most common is the first and most Web sites you will find help with this. Others cover the whole set of stylistic rules. So when someone asks for a paper in APA style, be sure you know what they mean. You will also find online and software tools that can help with these tasks.
The Official APA Style References
There is only one place to look to get official answers to the question of "what is APA style" and that is the Web site of the American Psychological Association, which is why it is called APA. Just like other information on the Web, you may find a great site but the example it gives may not be correct. When in doubt, always check the official guide, now in the Fifth Edition (2001).
The Official APA Style Guide and FAQs
Using Citations and References
The most common questions writers have is how to set up their citations (those are the links in the body of your paper to a particular reference source) and references (the complete bibliography list at the end of your paper). There are hundreds of Web sites with examples, so here are just a few that my students have found helpful. But remember, the only official rules are in the APA Manual!
Quick Guides - short handouts you can easily print off
University of California - Berkeley Library (3 pgs) - http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/APAstyle.pdf
Handout in Word from CSU-LA
APA Layout and Formats
Guides to writing research papers based on APA
Helpful hints to avoid mistakes
Software and Online Tools and Templates
This quick online tool will format a reference for you for free and then you just paste it in your paper.
- Here's one that's very
useful. William Borst has set up his APA Writing
Guide so it
actually looks like an APA paper and you can see how it
works. He also has some helpful materials for using
your word processor, including sample
papers you can
Commercial ($$$) software you might find
Didn't find what you needed? Librarian Keith Stanger has a very comprehensive list of good Web sites with APA help