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May 06, 2010

Alphabetization in APA Style

Chelsea blog

by Chelsea Lee

Alphabetization—did you know there was anything more than A, B, C?

(Surprise! There is, or this post would be really short.)

Although we all learned our alphabet a long time ago, when you're writing a research paper your references can and do come from authors around the world. Those author names might have all sorts of interesting characters in them, from accent marks, hyphens, and apostrophes to spaces, punctuation, and nontraditional capitalization. With all those characters in the mix, putting your reference list into alphabetical order for APA Style can seem difficult, but it's not. In APA Style, alphabetization is easy as long as you remember these simple rules:

  1. Alphabetize letter by letter.
  2. Ignore spaces, capitalization, hyphens, apostrophes, periods, and accent marks. 
  3. When alphabetizing titles or group names as authors, go by the first significant word (disregard a, an, the, etc.)

Knowing these rules, try your hand at alphabetizing some tough entries in the quiz below.

If you can’t see the quiz in your browser or would prefer to take it on paper, you can also download a PDF copy of the quiz here (including the answer key).

How did you do on the quiz?

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