APA Basics

This page is based on the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, published in October of 2019.

What is APA? 

  • APA stands for American Psychological Association.
  • APA style, then, is how this organization thinks about research and how a paper should be prepared for presentation or publication.
  • Many of the social and behavioral sciences use this style to present written information in their publications.

Why should you use APA? 

  • APA allows you to use other people’s ideas to support your own.
  • APA guides you in quoting and paraphrasing source materials to ensure readers can distinguish between your ideas and someone else’s ideas.
  • In other words, APA protects you against plagiarism!

Types of APA Papers:

The two most common types of APA papers are literature reviews and research papers. Other common papers are empirical studies, theoretical articles, methodological articles, and case studies.

Literature reviews are generally composed of a title page, possibly an abstract, an introduction section (which will be the body of your paper), and the reference page.

Research papers are often composed of the title page, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references. Sometimes appendices or tables/figures may be necessary as well.

Where should I start?

  • First, it will be helpful to become familiar with the parts of an APA paper and decide what you will need. Be sure to double check with your professor to see what they require. For example, some professors will not require you to have an abstract.
  • Next, you should begin to create your reference page. You can find some example models here.
  • Now that you have your reference page created, inserting in-text citations will be a breeze. You can find some example models to help you here.
  • As you’re writing, you might find the need to use some different headings or lists. Check with your professor on if you are allowed to use them, and view this page to ensure you use them correctly.

Need further help?

  • Check out Purdue Owl for help with in-text citations, references, and other formatting issues.
  • Create an appointment with us using our online scheduler.
  • Getting stuck on some of the big words? Viewing this guide might help.
  • Click the video below for a virtual workshop all about APA: