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September 17, 2010

Dear Professor...



Your Students Have Questions We Can't Answer

.rev3by Jeff Hume-Pratuch 

Here at APA Style HQ, we pride ourselves on answering questions. Lots of questions—about a hundred per week by phone and e-mail (not to mention Twitter). Want to know how to cite Michelangelo’s David? We got that. Japanese surnames in your reference list? No problemFacebook, Twitter, Kindle? Done, done, and done. If it’s about APA Style, we can answer it. 

But around this time of year, we start getting questions we can’t answer—because they’re not really about APA Style. Usually they’re from students (or occasionally, teachers) who want to know how to format a table of contents or annotated bibliography or slideshow in APA Style for a class assignment. They want to make sure they’re doing it by the book, but it isn’t in the book.

The APA Publication Manual has a lot to say about clear and concise writing. It is silent about certain topics—bibliographies, Powerpoint slides, dissertation formatting—because its primary purpose is to provide guidelines for writers submitting manuscripts to scholarly journals. Style preferences for undergraduate writing vary by discipline, university, and instructor, so APA has opted not to prescribe in that area.

If you have a question on how APA Style applies to classroom assignments, please contact us. We'll show you what the manual covers and try to help with suggestions for what it doesn't. You can post your question here, or e-mail us (at styleexpert@apastyle.org).

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