January 26, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Part 4. Writing the Copyright Statement

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style. Here are Part 1Part 2, and Part 3

The fourth and final step of navigating copyright for reproduced images is writing the copyright statement.

All reproduced images (including tables) should be accompanied by an APA Style copyright permission statement and have a reference list entry (except for those images sold to you under a license, as described in Part 2, Sections B and C).

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The format of the statement depends on the type of source, but in all cases it’s as simple as putting the pieces of the reference in the order of title, author, year of publication, and source, followed by the copyright year and the name of the copyright holder (plus the permission statement, if necessary). The reference list entry uses basically the same pieces, but in a different order.

Here are example templates, copyright statements, and reference entries for images reproduced from journal articles, books, book chapters, and websites.  

Image source

Template or example

Journal article

Template

From [or Adapted from/Data in column 1 are from] “Title of Article,” by A. N. Author and C. O. Author, year, Title of Journal, Volume, p. xx. Copyright [year] by Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or Adapted] with permission.

Example copyright statement

From “Social Media: A Contextual Framework to Guide Research and Practice,” by L. A. McFarland and R. E. Ployhart, 2015, Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, p. 1656. Copyright 2015 by the American Psychological Association.

Corresponding reference entry

McFarland, L. A., & Ployhart, R. E. (2015). Social media: A contextual framework to guide research and practice. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 1653–1677. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0039244

Whole book

Template

From [or Adapted from/Data in column 1 are from] Title of Book (any edition or volume information, p. xxx), by A. N. Author and C. O. Author, year, Place of Publication: Publisher. Copyright [year] by Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or Adapted] with permission.

Example copyright statement

Adapted from Managing Therapy-Interfering Behavior: Strategies From Dialectical Behavior Therapy (p. 172), by A. L. Chapman and M. Z. Rosenthal, 2016, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Copyright 2016 by the American Psychological Association.

Corresponding reference entry

Chapman, A. L., & Rosenthal, M. Z. (2016). Managing therapy-interfering behavior: Strategies from dialectical behavior therapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Edited book chapter

Template

From [or Adapted from/Data in column 1 are from] “Title of Chapter,” by A. N. Author and C. O. Author, in A. N. Editor (Ed.), Title of Book (any edition or volume information, p. xxx), year, Place of Publication: Publisher. Copyright [year] by Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or Adapted] with permission.

Example copyright statement

From “The Cortex: Regulation of Sensory and Emotional Experience,” by D. Christian, in N. Hass-Cohen and R. Carr (Eds.), Art Therapy and Clinical Neuroscience (p. 63), 2008, London, England: Jessica Kingsley. Copyright 2008 by Jessica Kingsley. Reprinted with permission.

Corresponding reference entry

Christian, D. (2008). The cortex: Regulation of sensory and emotional experience. In N. Hass-Cohen & R. Carr (Eds.), Art therapy and clinical neuroscience (pp. 62–75). London, England: Jessica Kingsley.  

Website

Template

From [or Adapted from/Data in column 1 are from] “Title of Web Document,” by A. N. Author and C. O. Author, year (http://URL). Copyright [year] by Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or Adapted] with permission.

Example copyright statement

From “Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity: Data, Trends and Maps. Alabama Indicator Details Percent of Adults Aged 18 Years and Older Who Are Obese,” by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015 (http://nccd.cdc.gov/NPAO_DTM/DetailedData.aspx?indicator=29&statecode=30). In the public domain.

Corresponding reference entry

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Nutrition, physical activity and obesity: Data, trends and maps. Alabama indicator details percent of adults aged 18 years and older who are obese. Retrieved from http://nccd.cdc.gov/NPAO_DTM/DetailedData.aspx?indicator=29&statecode=30

Note that you should use the wording “Reprinted [or Adapted] with permission” only when permission has been sought and granted.

Where to Put the Copyright Statement

If the image is a table, the copyright statement goes at the end of the general table note. If the image is anything else, it is considered a figure for the purposes of an APA Style paper, and the copyright statement goes at the end of the figure caption. If you’re creating a PowerPoint presentation, put this statement at the bottom of the slide in which the reproduced image appears. 

Final Thoughts

Does all of this seem like a lot of trouble to go through just to include an image in a paper or in a presentation? If so, remember that this is just one example of a very important issue—ownership of intellectual property. Copyright infringement comes with serious legal consequences (anyone who has seen the copyright disclaimer before a movie knows that) and is considered stealing.

So remember, just because you found something on the Internet does not necessarily mean that you can freely reproduce it. Look at the terms of the copyright, determine whether you need permission, obtain permission if necessary, and ensure that you credit the author of a reproduced image with a copyright statement and reference list entry.

If you have further questions about reproducing images for a paper, please leave them in the comments below.

January 25, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Part 3. Securing Permission

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style. Here are Part 1 and Part 2.

The third step in navigating copyright for reproduced images is securing permission.

If none of the situations described in Part 2 of this series (Sections A–D) describe your case, you must seek permission to reproduce an image by contacting the copyright holder.

If the copyright holder is a large publisher, they probably have a permissions office to handle such requests (e.g., the APA Permissions Office). Otherwise, look for a “contact us” page on the site that contains the image to know who to contact for permission.

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Your request for permission should at minimum contain information about

  • what image you want to reproduce;
  • where you want to reproduce it (e.g., in a classroom paper, in an article to published, in a dissertation); and
  • whether you will be reproducing it online, in print, or both.

Allot several weeks of time to go through the permissions process. If there is no obvious person to contact, then you should not reproduce the image because you cannot obtain permission (we recommend you then choose something else that does not require permission).

 

Continue to Part 4: Writing the Copyright Statement

January 22, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Part 2. Determining Whether Permission Is Needed

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style. Here is Part 1.

The second step in navigating copyright for reproduced images is understanding whether you need permission from the image’s copyright holder before you are legally allowed to reproduce the image in your paper. This applies even if you are writing a paper for a classroom assignment and not for publication. 

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When Is Permission Required? 

Permission is only sometimes required to reproduce an image.

  • Permission is required to reproduce a copyrighted image unless it meets one of the criteria described below in Parts A, B, C, or D of this post.
  • Permission is not required to reproduce an image that has a creative commons license or is in the public domain. If that’s your case, proceed to Part 4 of this series.

A. Academic Sources

Many scientific, technical, and medical publishers will allow you to reproduce images (here meaning tables or figures) without obtaining permission provided that

  • the purpose of the use is scholarly comment, noncommercial research, or educational use and
  • full credit is given to the author and publisher as copyright holder.

For example, APA allows you to reproduce without obtaining permission

  • up to three tables or figures from a journal article or book chapter or
  • a maximum of five tables or figures from a whole book.

Note that all publishers have their own policies, so you should check with the publisher of your material to determine whether permission is necessary. For materials published by APA, visit the APA Permissions Office.

B. Commercial Stock Photography

To reproduce a stock photo you will most likely have to buy a license from its stock photography website (e.g., ShutterStock, iStock, Getty Images, Corbis). Consult the terms of the image to know what steps to take.

  • If you do own the license to a stock photograph, you can use the image in the paper without any attribution or credit line.
  • If you do not own the license to a stock photograph, you cannot reproduce the image.

Note that you might come across a stock photo “in the wild”—for example, as part of a newspaper or magazine article (the images on this blog fall into this category too). That means that the publisher has bought a license for the stock photograph. If you want to use the photograph in your paper too, you need to go buy your own license for the photo.

C. Clip Art

Most clip art does not require permission to reproduce, but it may require a credit line. Check the terms of the clip art website to determine what to do.

  • If the clip art comes from a program like Microsoft Word, then by buying the program you have bought a license to that clip art and can use it in an academic paper without any attribution or credit line.
  • If the clip art comes from a free clip art website (e.g., Openclipart) and it has a creative commons license or is in public domain, permission is not necessary but you should give a copyright statement for the image (see Part 4 of this series).

D. Fair Use for Other Copyrighted Sources

You may also be able to avoid seeking permission to reproduce a copyrighted image if your use is considered “fair.” Fair use is a loosely defined and complicated legal concept (here is a summary from the U.S. Copyright Office), but in practice it means that under certain circumstances you can reproduce or adapt a copyrighted image without obtaining permission so long as you credit the source (see Part 4 of this series).

In the context of reproducing an image, your use is probably fair if it meets the following criteria:

  • It is for use in an academic work and not for profit (such as a paper for a class or publication in an academic journal).
  • It represents facts or data (such as a chart or diagram) rather than creative self-expression (such as artwork, although some famous works of art are in the public domain and thus do not require permission).
  • It is small in relation to the whole work (such as a chart within a report) and not the whole thing or the “heart” of the work (such as an individual photograph or a whole cartoon).
  • Reproducing the image will not hurt the market or potential market for the original.

If you fail to meet the above criteria for fair use or if you are unsure as to whether you meet the criteria, exercise caution and seek permission to reproduce the image. For more help in determining fair use, check out this Fair Use Checklist from Columbia University.

Unclear Copyright

If the copyright status of the image is unclear, assume that it is copyrighted. Contact the publisher of the image for more information if needed. If the origin of the image cannot be determined (e.g., it appears in many places on the internet without attribution and it is impossible to say where exactly it originated), we recommend that you choose an alternative image for your paper. Be particularly careful of stock photographs, which legally can be reproduced without attribution, but only by a license holder. 

 

Continue to Part 3: Securing Permission

Continue to Part 4: Writing the Copyright Statement

January 21, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Part 1. Understanding Copyright Status

http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2016/01/navigating-copyright-part-2.htmlChelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style. 

The first step in navigating copyright for reproduced images in APA Style is to understand the copyright status of the image you want to reproduce.

You may be surprised to learn that just because you found something on the Internet or read it in a book does not mean that you are entitled to reproduce it for free in a paper. In fact, U.S. copyright law states that whomever owns the copyright to an image has the right to say how it is used.

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To determine whether you are allowed to reproduce an image, look for the copyright on the work. Here are some examples of copyright statements you might see:

  • Regular copyright or “all rights reserved” copyright
    • This kind of copyright is indicated by the word copyright or the copyright symbol.
    • Examples: Copyright 2015 by the American Psychological Association. © 2014 Elizabeth T. Jones, all rights reserved.
    • To reproduce a copyrighted image, you have to get permission in writing from the copyright holder first, unless you meet one of the exceptions described in Part 2 of this series. You also have to give full credit to the copyright holder in the form of a copyright statement in your paper (see Part 4 of this series for the format).

  • Creative commons copyright
    • Creative commons licenses are indicated by the words creative commons or CC.
    • In general, creative commons licenses allow you to reproduce and/or adapt a work (including images) without getting permission from the copyright holder, so long as you give credit to the original author in the form of a copyright statement (see Part 4 of this series).
    • The specific terms of creative commons licenses vary, so check the license associated with your image to determine what you are allowed to do.

  • Public domain
    • Works that are not bound by copyright are considered in the public domain. This means you can reproduce them and/or adapt them however you want, so long as you credit the original author in the form of a copyright statement (see Part 4 of this series).
    • Assume a work is under copyright unless you see the words public domain on it or the work was produced by the U.S. Government (in which case it is automatically in the public domain). Copyright does expire, but that can take a long time.

  • No copyright indicated
    • If no copyright is indicated, treat the work as copyrighted.
    • U.S. copyright law states that a work is copyrighted as soon as it is fixed in tangible form (e.g., you can see it on a computer screen or on paper), even if the work doesn’t say copyright or have the copyright symbol, and even if it is not mass produced or professionally published. For example, you automatically own the copyright to papers you write for a class.

 

Continue to Part 2: Determining Whether Permission Is Needed

Continue to Part 3: Securing Permission

Continue to Part 4: Writing the Copyright Statement

 

January 20, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Overview

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is the overview for a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style.

Many writers wonder how to cite an image they have reproduced from another source in an APA Style paper. The image might be a chart, graph, picture, clip art, photograph, infographic, figure, or table, and it might come from a journal article, magazine article, newspaper article, book, book chapter, report, or website.  

You may be surprised to learn that regardless of the type of image or its source, to reproduce an image in an APA Style paper is not as simple as copy and paste. There are legal implications of reproducing copyrighted intellectual property like images, even in student papers, and the upcoming series of posts will walk you through the process of understanding copyright and permissions and then appropriately crediting the source in your paper.

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There are four steps to navigating copyright for reproduced images, each of which is described in its own post. Click the post title below to be taken directly to the information you need, or read the whole series to learn all about this issue!

  1. Understand the copyright status of the image.
  2. Determine whether permission is necessary to reproduce the image.
  3. Secure permission to reproduce the image, if permission is needed.
  4. Write the APA Style copyright statement and reference list entry for the image.

 

 

 

January 13, 2016

Coming Soon: APA Style CENTRAL

Last weekend, we did something fun: At the American Library Association’s midwinter conference, in Boston, we gave librarians a sneak peek at APA Style CENTRAL!

To get a glimpse for yourself, check out the video below!

To receive additional updates about APA Style CENTRAL as they become available, just complete the form at http://apastyle.org/asc.

December 10, 2015

Contractions in Formal Writing: What's Allowed, What's Not

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Asking whether you should use contractions in formal academic writing is sort of like asking whether you should wear a bathing suit to a party—it depends on the type of party. Is it a pool party or a fancy dinner? Therein lies your answer.

Likewise, when it comes to writing, some ways of expressing yourself are more formal than others, and different contexts come with different expectations about what is appropriate. On the informal end of the spectrum you have texts between friends. In the middle of the spectrum you have things like these blog posts. On the formal end of the spectrum, you have the scholarly writing you do for classroom assignments, theses and dissertations, and publications.

Contractions are a part of informal writing. Thus, avoid contractions in scholarly writing, except for under the following circumstances:

  • If you are reproducing a direct quotation that contains a contraction (e.g., a quotation from a research participant), leave the contraction as-is.
  • If you are writing about contractions (e.g., in a paper about language), naturally you must be able to use contractions as linguistic examples.
  • If you are reproducing an idiom that contains a contraction (e.g., “don’t count your chickens before they hatch”), leave the contraction (no need for “do not count your chickens…”).
  • If you are making an off-the-cuff or informal remark within an otherwise formal paper, it is okay to use a contraction as part of your writing voice. You might find this kind of remark in a footnote or a parenthetical statement. Scientific writing should be formal but it doesn’t have to be stuffy. It is okay to have a moment of informality as long as the overall tone is appropriately formal.

Do you have additional questions on the use of contractions? Ask them here!

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November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks in APA Style

David Becker



By David Becker

It’s Thanksgiving, that time of year when you can thank your friends, family, and all the other important people in your life by bringing them together for a massive, fun-filled feast. If you’re a researcher about to publish the results of a recent study, you may also want to give thanks to those who helped you conduct it or prepare your manuscript. Inviting them to Thanksgiving dinner would certainly be a great way to express gratitude, but you can also thank them in an author note.

Thank You

The author note, which is explained on pages 24–25 in the Publication Manual, generally appears in the footer of a published journal article. In a draft manuscript, it is part of the title page (see the order of manuscript pages on page 229 in the Publication Manual). Most student papers do not include one. You can find examples of the author note through our Best of the Blog post. Sample paper 1 demonstrates the author note's typical location in a draft manuscript, and the sample published paper shows what an author note looks like in a journal article.

The author note usually lists the authors’ departmental affiliations and contact information, states any disclaimers and potential conflicts of interest, and provides acknowledgments. These acknowledgments can be included in the third paragraph and used to identify grants or other financial support, explain any special authorship agreements, and thank those who provided personal assistance. Generally, you don't need to acknowledge peer reviewers, journal editors, or others who routinely review and accept manuscripts.

Personal assistance encompasses individuals whose work may not warrant authorship credit—that is, they didn’t do any actual writing or make significant scientific contributions (see pages 18–19 in the Publication Manual and Standard 8.12 of the APA Ethics Code for more details about defining and assigning authorship)—but their assistance was nonetheless valuable and deserving of some form of credit. Maybe you would like to thank some students who helped recruit research participants and collect data, or perhaps a couple friends and colleagues who took some time out of their busy schedules to proofread the first draft of your manuscript before you submitted it for publication. You can thank them in the acknowledgments section of your author note. It may not be tasty—or even edible—like a Thanksgiving dinner, but I’m sure your benevolent contributors will appreciate the recognition.

Happy Acknowledgmentsgiving!

November 16, 2015

The Use of Singular “They” in APA Style

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Dear Style Experts,


Can I use the singular “they” in APA Style? Is it okay to use “they” or “their” to refer to a single person, or should I say “he or she” or “his or hers” instead?

—A Reader

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Dear Reader,

In APA Style, whether it’s appropriate to use singular they depends on the context.

The Context of Gender Diversity

APA supports the choice of communities to determine their own descriptors. Thus, when transgender and gender nonconforming people (including agender, genderqueer, and other communities) use the singular they as their pronoun, writers should likewise use the singular they when writing about them. Although the usage isn’t explicitly outlined in the Publication Manual, APA’s guidelines for bias-free language clearly state that writers should be sensitive to labels:

Respect people’s preferences; call people what they prefer to be called. Accept that preferences change with time and that individuals within groups often disagree about the designations they prefer. Make an effort to determine what is appropriate for your situation; you may need to ask your participants which designations they prefer, particularly when preferred designations are being debated within groups. (APA Publication Manual, 2010, p. 72; see also the supplemental material to PM § 3.12)

Thus, choose the appropriate pronoun for the people you are writing about. Note, however, that many transgender people use the pronoun that matches their gender identity or gender expression, which would be she for a transgender woman and he for a transgender man. Other possible terms are noted in the supplemental material.

When writing with the singular they, use the forms they, them, their, and themselves.

The Context of General Use

The singular they is also commonly used to refer to a person whose gender is irrelevant or unknown—for example, imagine the sentence "The participant indicated their preferences." However, most formal writing and style guides, including the APA Publication Manual, the Chicago Manual of Style, and the AP Stylebook, do not currently support this usage, deeming it too informal and/or ungrammatical.

Instead, APA recommends several alternatives to the general singular they, including the following:

  • Make the sentence plural: "Participants indicated their preferences."
  • Rewrite the sentence to replace the pronoun with an article (a, an, or the): "The participant indicated a preference."
  • Rewrite the sentence to drop the pronoun: "The participant indicated preferences."
  • Combine both singular pronouns (he or she, she or he, his or her, her or his, etc.): "The participant indicated his or her preferences." (However, avoid overusing this strategy, as it can become cumbersome upon many repetitions.)

These alternatives are also available for you to use when writing in the context of gender diversity if you would prefer them or if you are unsure of the appropriate pronoun to use.

Other alternatives to the singular they are not recommended:

  • Avoid combination constructions like s/he, (s)he, and he/she because they can look awkward and distracting to the reader.
  • Do not use either he or she alone to refer to a generic individual—"use of either pronoun unavoidably suggests that specific gender to the reader" (PM § 3.12).
  • Do not alternate between he and she (e.g., using he in one sentence and she in the next), as this can also become confusing and distracting to the reader.

The Future of Singular They

The use of singular they has received a lot of attention in recent years, and the tide seems to be turning in favor of using it more generally, not just in the context of gender diversity. After all, the usage addresses a real need for a gender-neutral, singular, third-person pronoun in the English language. Indeed, some magazines and newspapers have officially endorsed the broad use of singular they in their pages.

It’s possible that APA might directly endorse the singular they in the future, but that decision lies in the hands of the task forces and committees that craft and approve the Publication Manual, not just in the hands of the writers of this blog.

In the meantime, we hope that this post clarifies the current ways in which it is appropriate to use the singular they in APA Style. You may also be interested to read APA's Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People, which discusses these issues in more detail and provides a glossary of terms and definitions.

We welcome your thoughts and feedback on this matter and hope you will share them with us in the comments below.

October 28, 2015

An Abbreviations FAQ


Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

This post will address how to use FAQ-1200
abbreviations in APA Style—specifically, how to use acronyms, which are abbreviations made up of the first letters of each word in a phrase. Consider it a FAQ about abbreviations! You can find abbreviations discussed in the Publication Manual in section 4.22 (starting on p. 106).

Click a question below to jump straight to its answer. 

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When should I use an abbreviation?

Use abbreviations sparingly and only when they will help readers understand your work. Ask yourself these questions each time you consider using a particular abbreviation:

  • Is the reader familiar with the abbreviation?
    • Use an existing, accepted abbreviation if one exists, because familiarity helps understanding. If a standard abbreviation does not exist, then you can create your own.
  • Will you use the abbreviation at least three times in the paper?
    • Use an abbreviation at least three times in a paper if you are going to use it at all. If you won’t use it three times, then spell out the term every time. The reader might have a hard time remembering what the abbreviation means if you use it infrequently.
  • Would spelling out the term every time be overly repetitive and cumbersome?
    • Use abbreviations to avoid cumbersome repetition and enhance understanding, not just as a writing shortcut. For example, it is usually easier to read a two-word phrase than it is to remember the meaning of a two-letter abbreviation. Longer phrases make better candidates for abbreviation.
  • How many total abbreviations do you have in the paper?
    • There’s no hard line of how many abbreviations is too many, but writing is generally easier to understand when most words are spelled out than when it is overflowing with abbreviations. Only abbreviate when it helps the reader.

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How do I introduce an abbreviation in the text?

The first time you use an abbreviation in the text, present both the spelled-out version and the short form.

When the spelled-out version first appears in the narrative of the sentence, put the abbreviation in parentheses after it:

  • Example: We studied attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

When the spelled-out version first appears in parentheses, put the abbreviation in brackets after it:

  • Example: The diagnosis (i.e., attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]) was confirmed via behavioral observation.

After you define an abbreviation (regardless of whether it is in parentheses), use only the abbreviation. Do not alternate between spelling out the term and abbreviating it.

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How do I abbreviate group authors in in-text citations and reference list entries?

If your reference has a group author, the name of the group can sometimes be abbreviated—for example, American Psychological Association can be abbreviated to APA. You are not obligated to abbreviate the name of a group author, but you can if the abbreviation would help avoid cumbersome repetition and will appear more than three times in the paper.

As with other abbreviations, spell out the name of the group upon first mention in the text and then provide the abbreviation.

If the name of the group first appears in the narrative, put the abbreviation, a comma, and the year for the citation in parentheses after it.

  • Example: The American Psychological Association (APA, 2011) suggested that parents talk to their children about family finances in age-appropriate ways.

If the name of the group first appears in parentheses, put the abbreviation in brackets after it, followed by a comma and the year for the citation.

  • Example: Children should learn about family finances in age-appropriate ways (American Psychological Association [APA], 2011).

In the reference list entry, do not include the abbreviation for the group author. Instead, spell out the full name of the group.

Correct reference entry:

American Psychological Association. (2011). Dollars and sense: Talking to your children about the economy. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/topics/learning/enhance-memory.aspx

Incorrect reference entry:

American Psychological Association (APA). (2011). Dollars and sense: Talking to your children about the economy. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/topics/learning/enhance-memory.aspx

If you have several references by the same group author, you only need to abbreviate the name once (see here for how to handle references with the same author and date). Note that if two different groups would abbreviate to the same form (e.g., both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association abbreviate to APA), you cannot use the abbreviation in your paper—instead you must spell out the term every time to avoid ambiguity. 

An exception to abbreviations in the reference list is when works have been published using abbreviations as part of the author, title, or source. Retain these abbreviations because the reader will need them to retrieve the source (you also do not need to define them—just present them as-is). See more about this in our post on cite what you see.

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How do I present an abbreviation in conjunction with an in-text citation?

Sometimes an abbreviation is presented along with an in-text citation. For example, you might cite a test or measure that has an abbreviation and then provide its citation (for a common case, here is how to cite the DSM-5).

If the spelled-out version of the term appears in the narrative for the first time, put the abbreviation and the author–date citation in parentheses after it, separated by a semicolon. Do not use back-to-back parentheses.

  • Correct: We assessed depression using the Beck Depression Inventory–II (BDI-II; Beck, Brown, & Steer, 1996).
  • Incorrect: We used the Beck Depression Inventory—II (BDI-II) (Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996).

If the spelled-out version of the term appears in parentheses for the first time, put the abbreviation in brackets after it, followed by a semicolon and the author–date citation.  

  • Example: Our assessment of depression (as measured via scores on the Beck Depression Inventory–II [BDI-II]; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996) showed significant incidence of this disorder in the population.

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Can I use abbreviations in the title of a paper?

Avoid using abbreviations in the title of a paper. Writing out the full term in the title will ensure potential readers know exactly what you mean, and if your article is formally published, it will ensure it is accurately indexed. 

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Can I use abbreviations in the running head?

There is no official guidance on whether to use abbreviations in the running head. We recommend that you avoid them, unless the abbreviation is well-known and there is no alternative running head that would be better. If you do use an abbreviation in a running head, you can use it straightaway without definition. Instead, define the abbreviation the first time you use it in the text. 

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Can I use abbreviations in the abstract?

In general, it is not necessary to use abbreviations in the abstract because the abstract is so short. However, if the abbreviation would help the reader recognize a term or find your article via search, then it is permissible to include an abbreviation in the abstract, even if it is not used three times. When you use an abbreviation in both the abstract and the text, define it in both places upon first use.  

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Can I use abbreviations in headings?

The Publication Manual does not offer official guidance on whether to use abbreviations in headings. We recommend that you avoid them—for example, the reader may skim the paper before reading it in full, and abbreviations in headings may be difficult to understand out of context. So, if a term you intend to abbreviate appears in a heading (e.g., the name of a test or measure), spell out the term in the heading and then when it first appears in the text, spell it out again and define it there. 

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Can I use abbreviations in tables and figures?

Yes, you can use abbreviations in tables and figures. All abbreviations used in tables and figures should be defined in the table note or figure caption, respectively, even though the abbreviations will be also be defined in the text if they are used there. The purpose of defining abbreviations in the table note or figure caption is that if other authors reuse your graphical display in a future paper, the definitions of the terms will be attached. Additionally, many readers will skim an article before reading it closely, and defining abbreviations in tables and figures will allow the readers to understand the abbreviations immediately.

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Do all abbreviations needs to be defined?

Not all abbreviations need to be defined. Consult Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary to determine what to do: If the abbreviation has the designation abbr. after it in the dictionary, that means it needs to be defined; if it does not have this designation, the abbreviation is considered a word on its own and can be used straight off the bat, without definition. You also do not need to define abbreviations for units of measurement (e.g., cm for centimeters, hr for hour).

  • Examples of abbreviations that are considered words: IQ, REM, HIV, AIDS, FAQ

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How do I use the words and an before abbreviations?

Use the article that matches the way the abbreviation is pronounced—an before a vowel sound and a before a consonant sound. Some abbreviations are pronounced as words (e.g., RAM), and some abbreviations are pronounced letter-by-letter, which is also called an initialism (e.g., HMO, IQ). If you are unsure of the pronunciation of an abbreviation, look it up in the dictionary or ask a colleague. If an abbreviation has multiple pronunciations, use the first one shown in the dictionary entry.

  • Examples: an FBI agent, a DSM-5 disorder, a U.S. citizen, an IQ score

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Are abbreviations written with periods?

Generally, do not use periods in abbreviations. Some exceptions are that you should use periods in the abbreviations for United States and United Kingdom when these terms are used as adjectives (don’t abbreviate them if they are used as nouns). And if you have created an identity-concealing label for a participant, use a period after each letter.

  • Examples: U.S. Census Bureau, U.K. population, participant R.E.C.

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How do I make an abbreviation plural?

To make an abbreviation plural, add an –s (or –es, for abbreviations ending in s already). Do not add an apostrophe. For more, see our dedicated post on plural abbreviations and numbers.

  • Examples: IQs, RTs, CSes.

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