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4 posts from February 2012

February 23, 2012

How to Capitalize Author Names in APA Style

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Dear Style Experts,

I am citing an article by an author whose name begins with a lowercase letter. How should I write her name in my paper? Should I capitalize it if it comes at the beginning of a sentence? What about capitalizing it in the reference list entry? Thanks for your help!

— Olivia in Ottawa 

Dear Olivia,

As discussed in our post about the capitalization of specific words, author names are capitalized in APA Style because they are proper nouns. For most author names this poses no difficulty, because most names begin with capital letters anyway. However, some names begin with lowercase letters, such as lowercase prefixes like de, d’, van, or von.

Thus, a more specific guideline is that when writing author names, your first goal should be to write the name as the author him- or herself has presented it in scholarly work. (On a related note, if an author writes under a pseudonym, cite whatever name is used by the source.) Capitalize and spell the name just as you see it in the byline of the article you’re citing. If it starts with a lowercase letter, keep that presentation.

Here are two examples of how an author name beginning with a lowercase letter keeps that presentation when written within a sentence:

  • To examine the impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting, de Haan, Deković, and Prinzie (2012) employed a longitudinal methodology.
  • Parental and adolescent personality have significant effects on parenting (de Haan, Deković, & Prinzie, 2012).


Keep the author’s original capitalization even in reference list entries:

de Haan, A. D., Deković, M., & Prinzie, P. (2012). Longitudinal impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 189–199. doi:10.1037/a0025254


However, capitalize the name if it (a) begins a sentence or (b) is the first word after a colon when what follows the colon is an independent clause:

  • De Haan, Deković, and Prinzie (2012) studied the impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting.
  • Recently, researchers have explored the impact of personality on parenting: De Haan, Deković, and Prinzie (2012) used longitudinal analyses to untangle the effects.

You can read more about this method of capitalization in the Publication Manual in section 4.14 (p. 101). We also have advice in another blog post if you are having trouble determining who the author is to begin with.

Finally, be aware that some publishers apply idiosyncratic formatting to author names in the byline, such as using all capital letters to write full names or surnames. This is a stylistic choice on the part of the publisher as a way to set the byline and not something that you need to reproduce in your APA Style paper. So if you see an author’s name capitalized as “Thomas J. SMITH” in the byline of an article, you should write the name as “Smith” when citing it in your paper. If the byline capitalization obscures the regular capitalization an author would use, look for the author name in the text or elsewhere to see how it is normally formatted.

With these guidelines, you should be able to capitalize author names in any context of an APA Style paper.

—Chelsea

More Posts on Capitalization

February 16, 2012

Do I Capitalize This Word?

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee


Dear Style Experts,

I am writing a paper in APA Style, and I have a question about the capitalization of a specific word. Can you tell me how to capitalize it? Also, I need to know what the proper APA Style spelling of the word is. Thanks for your help!

— Wally in Washington, DC


Dear Wally, 

Your first stop in answering questions about the capitalization or spelling of a specific word in an APA Style paper should be the dictionary. APA uses Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (2005) as its standard reference for capitalization and spelling, along with the APA Dictionary of Psychology for psychology-related terms. Along with the guidance provided in the Publication Manual (see pp. 101–104 for capitalization rules), follow the capitalization and spelling you see in those dictionaries for words in your APA Style paper. If more than one option for capitalization and spelling is provided, use the first entry.

Now, you might wonder, why is it helpful to look up a word in a dictionary if you want to know how to capitalize it and not just how to spell it? Well, it’s helpful because the dictionary tells you whether a word is a proper noun (i.e., a specific person, place, or thing), and proper nouns are capitalized in English and therefore in APA Style (see Publication Manual sections 4.16 and 4.18). Their opposite, regular or “common” nouns (which refer to general persons, places, or things), are lowercase in English and thus in APA Style as well.

What to Capitalize

Here are some examples of different types of (capitalized) proper nouns, along with some (lowercased) regular or common noun corollaries:

Noun type

Proper noun example

Common noun example

Author or person

Freud, Skinner, von Neumann

the author, the investigator, the mathematician

Company,  institution, or agency

American Psychological Association, University of Washington, Department of Sociology

the association, a university, a sociology department

Product

Advil, Xerox, Prozac (brand names)

ibuprofen, photocopy, fluoxetine (generic names)

Test or inventory

Beck Depression Inventory, Child Behavior Checklist

a depression inventory, a behavior checklist

Website or database

PsycINFO, Facebook, Survey Monkey, Internet

a database, a social media page, a website, online

Periodical (journal, magazine, newspaper)

Journal of Counseling Psychology, Time, The Washington Post

a psychology journal, a magazine, a newspaper

Software, program, or app

SPSS, Mplus, Davis’s Drug Guide for iPhone

statistical software, a computer program, a mobile app drug guide

Legal materials (statutes, acts, codes, bills, regulations, constitutions, etc.; see also PM Appendix 7.1 and the Legal Bluebook) 

Americans With Disabilities Act, FDA Prescription Drug Advertising Rule, U.S. Constitution

antidiscrimination laws, drug advertising legislation, a constitution 


Along with the proper nouns listed in the table above, you should also always capitalize:

  • the first word of a sentence,
  • the first word after a colon when what follows the colon is an independent clause,
  • factor names in a factor analysis (see section 4.20),
  • most nouns when they are followed by numerals or letters (e.g., Table 1, Figure 2, Panel A; see section 4.17), and
  • words in an interaction when there is a multiplication sign between them (e.g., Age x Sex effect; see section 4.20).

What Not to Capitalize

This section provides some examples of what not to capitalize—especially the types of words that writers tend to capitalize by mistake. Note that proper nouns (such as personal names) within these terms usually retain their capitalization.

Noun type

Example

Model

five-factor personality model, associative learning model

Theory or philosophy

behaviorism, psychoanalytic theory, Freudian theory

Therapy or technique

client-centered therapy, cognitive behavior therapy

Concept

object permanence, confirmation bias, correlation

Disease/disorder

major depressive disorder, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder

Hypothesis

null hypothesis, experimental hypothesis

Condition or group in an experiment

control group, experimental group, no-information group

Variable (for factors in a factor analysis, see above)

the age variable, the effect of gender

Statistical procedure or test 

analysis of variance, t test, standard deviation

Academic subject/discipline

social psychology, nursing, English, Spanish,  business

Law (scientific; for legal, see above table)

law of symmetry, Newton’s three laws of motion


Again, the dictionary corroborates this style of capitalization, so if you have questions, start there.

Parting Thoughts

Capitalization is a big topic, and this post covers only some of the basics. For more on the capitalization of specific words in APA Style, including copious specifics, exceptions, and examples, see the Publication Manual (pp. 101–104). In future posts, we will cover capitalization in author names, source titles, the reference list, abbreviations, and more. If there is an area of capitalization that you would like to hear more about, please leave us a note in the comments section.

—Chelsea

More Posts on Capitalization

 

February 09, 2012

A Little Respect

Daisiesby Stefanie

It’s hard not to be sentimental, emotional, even sensitive around February 14, while surrounded as we are by hearts, flowers, chocolate, and conversation hearts. Although scholarly writing would seem to not have much in common with a holiday revolving around love, the lesson of sensitivity that comes with the day is worth exploring.

When meeting a new person of (romantic) interest, do you call him or her by whatever name you choose or by his or her actual name? I hope you would use the name or nickname your potential beloved prefers. In the same way, be conscious of the labels and tone you use when discussing individuals and groups of people in your work. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) has a large section (Reducing Bias in Language, pp. 70–77) as well as supplemental material (see also these documents on gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities) devoted to explaining how to discuss individuals with respect and accuracy. It is all important reading for specific recommendations; in the meantime, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind.

Be precise. For example, school-age females could mean different things to different people. Fifth-grade African American girls who score in the top 10% of their class in math is a much more specific and thus more helpful description.

Mention differences only when relevant. If marital status, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic identity, or disability don’t have an effect in your experiment, don’t mention those characteristics gratuitously in your article or report.

Call people what they want to be called. Some terms can be perceived as pejorative or patronizing (e.g., the elderly, handi-capable); do not use them.

Don’t reduce a person or group of people to a condition (e.g., the demented, the autistic). Instead, identify participants first as people (e.g., people with dementia, people with autism).

Also, consider whether the terms you are using have any unintended or colloquial meaning(s) that you do not want to bring to your article or paper. For example, see the beginning of my second paragraph. “Person of interest”? Anyone who has seen any police procedural show (or, indeed, Person of Interest) knows that person of interest is often used as a euphemism for someone suspected by the police of committing a crime. (The smooth operators among you can spin this into “the crime—of stealing my heart!” but the rest of us may be more likely to shy away from a real-life person of interest, and we certainly wouldn't want to be one.)

Finally, if you’re talking about colleagues or researchers who disagree with your outlook or argument, afford them the same respect and sensitivity in your paper that you would like them to extend to you in theirs. As the Publication Manual says, “differences should be presented in a professional, noncombative manner” (p. 66). For example, Dr. Jones may be right in reporting, “Satipo betrayed his lack of character by not throwing me the whip after I threw him the idol,” but the editors of Archeology Today would likely prefer a more neutral wording, such as “Satipo did not throw me the whip after I threw him the idol.”

In the end, keep in mind that both in writing and in life, a little sensitivity can go a long way!

 

 

February 02, 2012

How to Cite Pseudonyms

DBby David Becker

“Whom do I cite: Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens?”

In this post, I provide some basic guidelines and suggestions for citing pseudonyms. There’s no official APA Style rule on this, but a few criteria can help you decide how to present the information.  I use republished books as examples here—to learn more about citing republished works, see a recent post on citing sheet music.

Citing pseudonyms can seem tricky at first, but it becomes much simpler when you take into account one of APA Style’s key mottos: Cite what you see.  When it comes to citing an author, cite whatever name is used by the source, whether it be a real name or a pseudonym.  For example, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer lists Mark Twain as its author, not Samuel Clemens, so you should cite the author’s pseudonym rather than his real name: 

Twain, M. (2010). The adventures of Tom Sawyer. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Original work published 1876)

In-text citation: (Twain, 1876/2010)

However, some pseudonyms can still be difficult to cite.  What if you’re citing a work by the Dalai Lama, for example?  Do you cite him as “Lama, D.” in the reference list and as just “Lama” in an in-text citation?  Well, the “Dalai” cannot be removed from “Lama” without losing meaning, so the author’s name should be spelled out in full as “Dalai Lama.”  Also, “Dalai Lama” is a title, so spelling it out in full makes that especially clear:

Dalai Lama. (1991). Freedom in exile: The autobiography of the Dalai Lama. New York, NY: HarperPerennial.

In-text citation: (Dalai Lama, 1991)

This same rule applies to Dr. Seuss, where the “Dr.” and the “Seuss” cannot be separated from one another without creating some confusion:

Dr. Seuss. (1985). The cat in the hat. New York, NY: Random House. (Original work published 1957)

In-text citation: (Dr. Seuss, 1957/1985)

You might have noticed that in both of the above reference list examples, there is a period after the author’s name.  If you’re wondering why that is, then read this post about punctuating reference list entries.

You may have also noticed in a previous post about citing recorded music in APA Style that Dr. Seuss is cited as “Geisel, T.” in a sample reference list entry for the song “Welcome Christmas!” from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Why was he cited by his real name, Theodor Geisel, for this song but by his pseudonym for the book The Cat in the Hat?  This is where the “cite what you see” motto comes into play again.  “Dr. Seuss” is listed as the author of The Cat in the Hat, whereas the lyricist for “Welcome Christmas!” is listed as “Theodor Geisel.”  In each case, you use whatever name was provided by the source you’re citing as the author in your citations.  This rule also applies to the Dalai Lama who occasionally goes by his birth name, Tenzin Gyatso, when authoring some books.

The “cite what you see” motto helps to keep your citations simple and uncomplicated without struggling to find extraneous information, yet it still provides readers with enough information to follow your sources.  It is an important rule of thumb to keep in mind when you are citing any source.

See sections 6.11–6.15 and 6.27 in the Publication Manual for more information about citing authors in in-text citations and reference lists.

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