« Making a Concrete Abstract | Main | Citing Paraphrased Work in APA Style »

March 10, 2011

Spelling Success in APA Style

Timothy McAdoo by Timothy McAdoo

Readers send us APA Style questions every week—by e-mail, phone, Twitter, and Facebook. We love hearing from you, and we love the variety of your questions!

People sometimes contact us just to verify how a word is spelled or formatted. For example, “Is the word Internet capitalized?” Yes, Internet, a proper noun, is always capitalized, whereas website is not. Some people may believe that the word Internet has taken on a more general use, but until this change is reflected in dictionaries, most style guides will likely continue to advise writers to capitalize it.

As this example shows, questions of spelling are often about, or overlap with, guidelines for capitalization, hyphenation, and other stylistic areas. We can look at those in later posts, but today I’ll stick with the first—and easiest—answer: When in doubt about a word’s spelling, consult a dictionary!

For psychological terms, see the APA Dictionary of Psychology. In all other cases, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (p. 96) indicates that “spelling should conform to standard American English as exemplified in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (2005).” If you don’t find a word there, check “the more comprehensive Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (2002).”

We have just one request about spelling (per p. 96 of the Manual): When the dictionary provides multiple options, use the first one. For example, use toward (not towards) and canceled (not cancelled).

Spelling Success in APA Style

Readers send us APA Style questions every week—by e-mail, phone, Twitter, and Facebook. We love hearing from you, and we love the variety of your questions!

People sometimes write us just to verify how a particular word is spelled or formatted. For example, “Is the word Internet capitalized?” Yes, Internet, a proper noun, is always capitalized, whereas website is not. Some people may believe that the word Internet has taken on a more general use, but until this change is reflected in dictionaries, most style guides will continue to advise writers to capitalize it.

As this example shows, questions of spelling are often about, or overlap with, guidelines for capitalization, hyphenation, and other stylistic areas. We can look at more stylistic areas in later posts, but today I’ll stick with the first—and easiest—answer: When in doubt about a word’s spelling, consult a dictionary!

For psychological terms, see the APA Dictionary of Psychology. In all other cases, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (p. 96) indicates that “spelling should conform to standard American English as exemplified in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (2005).” If you don’t find a word there, check “the more comprehensive Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (2002).”

We have just one request about spelling (per p. 96 of the the Manual): When the dictionary provides multiple options, use the first one. For example, use toward (not towards) and canceled (not cancelled).

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a01157041f4e3970b014e5fc022ab970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Spelling Success in APA Style:

Comments

Search the APA Style Blog


ABOUT THE BLOG

My Photo


About Us

Blog Guidelines

APA Style FAQs

Archives


rss Follow us on Twitter

American Psychological Association APA Style Blog

Twitter Updates