93 posts categorized "Style rules"

September 20, 2013

Comma Usage and Compound Predicates

DB2





by David Becker

Time for a brief review of Grammar 101! As you know, a sentence has two major components—the subject and the predicate. The subject is the person, place, or thing that the sentence is about. The predicate says something about the subject. Here is a basic example with the subject in blue and the predicate in red:

Ritija scratched the cat’s head.

A compound predicate says two or more things about the subject. A common mistake people make is to insert a comma between two elements of a compound predicate. This comma adds a pause that creates distance between the subject and the predicate, so you should not include a comma in this case, just as you would not use a comma to separate a verb from its subject or object. Here is an example that demonstrates the correct and incorrect ways to write a sentence with a compound predicate:

Correct: Ritija scratched the cat’s head and rubbed his belly.
Incorrect: Ritija scratched the cat’s head, and rubbed his belly.

However, a compound predicate with three or more elements constitutes a list, so it would be correct to separate them with commas. Commas are essential in this case to distinguish one element of the compound predicate from the rest. (Don’t forget the serial comma!)

The cat closed his eyes, purred, and twitched his ears.

Also note that a sentence with a compound predicate is different from a sentence with two independent clauses joined by a conjunction. The latter requires a comma to create a pause between two distinct thoughts that could be separate sentences. Here’s an example:

Correct: Ritija scratched the cat’s head, and the cat purred.
Incorrect: Ritija scratched the cat’s head and the cat purred.

I hope this will help you avoid incorrect comma usage in the future. For more information on when and when not to use commas, see section 4.03, pages 88–89 of the Publication Manual. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us or comment on this post.

June 20, 2013

Forming Possessives With Singular Names

Tyler

 

 

by Tyler Krupa

I don’t think that I’m revealing a big grammar secret by letting you know that the possessive of a singular name is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s (e.g., Smith’s, 2012, study). But although this rule seems straightforward, one thing that trips up many writers is how to form possessives when the name being used ends with an s. For example, should you use “Adams’ (2013) work” or “Adams’s (2013) work”?

Per APA Style, the answer is that the possessive of a singular name is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s, even when the name ends in s (see p. 96 in the sixth edition of the Publication Manual). Therefore, in the example above, the correct usage would be “Adams’s (2013) work.” Although this presentation may look awkward to some writers, the rule for forming the possessive does not change just because the name ends in s.

However, it is important to note the following exception to this rule: You should use an apostrophe only with the singular form of names ending in unpronounced s (see p. 97 in the Publication Manual). Therefore, if you were writing a paper about the philosopher Descartes, to form the possessive with his name, you would need to just add an apostrophe (e.g., Descartes’ theory).

To help illustrate these guidelines, let’s look at a few more examples of properly formatted possessives:

Sigmund Freud’s method

Jesus’s disciples

Charles Dickens’s novels

Socrates’s life

François Rabelais’ writings (note that Rabelais ends with an unpronounced s)

We hope these examples clear up this point of possible uncertainty. Still have questions? Leave us a comment.

June 14, 2013

Block Quotations in APA Style

Timothy.mcadooby Timothy McAdoo

Like so many aspects of writing, when formatting block quotations, the devil is in the details! Here’s everything you need to know about block quotations: 

 

  • If the quotation comprises 40 or more words, display it in a freestanding block of text and omit the quotation marks.When do you use block formatting? According to the Publication Manual (p. 171), “If the quotation comprises 40 or more words, display it in a freestanding block of text and omit the quotation marks.” 
  • Do you still use quotations marks around the block? No (see the previous bullet).
  • How far should you indent? Indent “about a half inch from the left margin (in the same position as a new paragraph)” (p. 171).
  • Does the citation go before or after the period? The citation should include the page(s) or paragraph number and should appear after the end punctuation (see the examples in this PDF). 
At the end of a block quotation, cite the quoted source and the page or paragraph number in parentheses after the final punctuation mark.
  • I’ve already cited the author in the paragraph. Do I still need to include the author name and year? Yes. All quotations, both in-line and block quotations, must include the complete citation (see earlier blog posts). The author name(s) may appear in your introductory sentence or in the parentheses (see the examples in this PDF).

  • Does the first letter have to be capitalized? Sorry, no short answer here: This is a matter of opinion, debate, and editorial judgment. The Manual says, “The first letter of the first word in a quotation may be Indent the block about a half inch from the left margin (in the same position as a new paragraph).changed to an uppercase or a lowercase letter.” Note the word may. If the block quote begins with a full sentence, keep the uppercase first letter. However, if the quote begins midsentence, you may or may not want to change the first letter to uppercase. If your introduction to the block quote leads directly into the quote, a lowercase first letter may be fine (see the examples in this PDF).
  • If I’m quoting multiple paragraphs, how should I format the second and subsequent paragraphs? The second and subsequent paragraphs within the block quote should be indented within the block (see Example 5 in this PDF).
  • My quote includes a list. Do I need to include the citation after each item? No. Just include the citation, including page or paragraph number, at the end of the quoted material.
  • What about my own text that follows the block quote: Should it be indented or flush left? Your text following the block quote should be either (a) indented, if it is a new paragraph, or (b) flush left, if it is a continuation of your paragraph (see Examples 4 and 5 in this PDF).

Click here to download this document with five sample block quotes:

Block Quotation Examples

April 04, 2013

When to Include the Year in Citations Appearing More Than Once in a Paragraph

Tyler

 

 

by Tyler Krupa

You may already know that references in APA Style are cited in text with an author–date system (e.g., Smith, 2012). But do you know when to include the year of publication when one of your citations appears more than once in a paragraph? Getting it right is simple as long as you remember the following two guidelines:

1. All parenthetical citations (i.e., citations in which both the author name and publication date are enclosed within parentheses) should include the year, regardless of how often they appear in a paragraph.

2. When the name of the author is part of the narrative and appears outside of parentheses, after the first citation in each paragraph you need not include the year in subsequent nonparenthetical citations as long as the study cannot be confused with other studies in the article (see p. 174 in the sixth edition of the Publication Manual).

To help illustrate these guidelines, let’s look at a few examples that correctly show when to include the year in citations appearing more than once in a paragraph:

Morin (1988) described two separate but linked epidemics. . . . Morin distinguished the HIV (viral) epidemic from the subsequent AIDS (disease) epidemic, foreseeing the ultimate convergence of preventing the spread of the virus and managing the disease it causes. . . . Morin also discussed a third epidemic . . . . This third epidemic is as much a part of the pathology of AIDS as the virus itself (Morin, 1988).

Socioeconomic status (SES) and chronic diseases rather consistently fall on a gradient, where those of relatively lower SES have poorer health and are more often afflicted by multiple diseases than those above them on the SES ladder (Adler & Stewart, 2010). . . . Adler and Stewart (2010) offered a framework to explain the major pathways by which SES can influence health outcomes. . . . The model is developmental, illustrating individual, social, and structural influences on disease over the lifespan (Adler & Stewart, 2010).

We hope these examples clear up this point of possible uncertainty. Still have questions? Leave us a comment.

 

February 07, 2013

Introduction to APA Style Legal References

Melissa.photo

 

by Melissa


Writers sometimes try to squeeze a reference for a statute or a court decision into the same format as a journal article, essentially trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. It won’t fit, it won’t look quite right, and it won’t be as useful to your readers as it could be.

There’s a better way. Instead of contorting legal references like pretzels, consult one or more of the following style resources: Appendix 7.1 in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, this blog, and the specialized style resources discussed below.

 

1. Appendix 7.1 in the Publication Manual

When creating APA Style legal references, your first and best resource is the Publication Manual’s Appendix 7.1: References to Legal Materials (pp. 216–224). There, you’ll find sample references for the legal documents that are most commonly used in psychology research, including court decisions, statutes, administrative regulations, and executive orders.

The reference examples in Appendix 7.1 are drawn from The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, which is an authoritative source for legal citations and the primary style guide used by legal scholars and other professionals in that field. The reference and citation formats that you’ll find in Appendix 7.1 are a hybrid of APA Style and Bluebook style, adapted to both fit well in an APA Style article and provide the unique information that will allow your readers to find the referenced legal document.

 

2. The APA Style Blog

The APA Style Blog already provides some resources for legal references. Citation of the U.S. Constitution is discussed in How to Cite the U.S. Constitution in APA Style. Capitalization of the names of legal documents is discussed in Do I Capitalize This Word?

New blog posts to help you find, reference, and cite other legal materials in APA Style are on the way. These posts will cover the following topics:

As each topic is added to the blog, we’ll include a link to the relevant post in the above list.

 

3. Additional Resources

The Bluebook. If you’re working with more complex legal references that require you to go beyond the scope of Appendix 7.1, be sure to consult The Bluebook, which provides citation formats for constitutions, international treaties, domestic and foreign statutes, legislative bills and resolutions, administrative regulations and proceedings, executive orders, legal briefs and other court filings, reported and unreported court decisions, and many other legal documents.

Because Bluebook citation style relies heavily on footnotes and doesn’t include the reference list and name–date citations that are the hallmarks of APA Style, when you use a legal reference format from The Bluebook, consult Appendix 7.1 in the Publication Manual and, using the create-a-reference skills that you learned from our Frankenreference blog post, adapt the reference to closely follow the examples in Appendix 7.1.

Law Librarian. The law mutates. New laws that alter or overrule existing laws are passed all the time. You may wish to consult a law librarian to ensure that your references are complete and correct and that the law you are citing has not been superseded or overturned.

Additional Information Online. Finally, one other resource that I find helpful in my own research is the online guide Introduction to Basic Legal Citation by Peter W. Martin (an emeritus law professor at Cornell University). This is not an official source, so if you consult it, be sure to seek additional verification in The Bluebook.

February 01, 2013

Quotation Mark Uses Other Than Quotes

Daisiesby Stefanie

Most people know how to use quotation marks to identify material directly quoted from a source (“That’s terrific!” the editor cried; Hendrik Willem van Loon once said, “Somewhere in the world there is an epigram for every dilemma”; the first item on the questionnaire was, “How often do you engage in this type of behavior?”). In APA Style, when else is it OK to use quotation marks? I’m so glad you asked! Here are two key quotes from page 91 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth edition, to explain. (Before you awesome APA Style diehards point this out, I’m exercising some artistic license and taking advantage of the differing standards of an informal blog post and setting the two quotes as block quotes, even though they consist of fewer than 40 words each.)

To introduce a word or phrase used as an ironic comment, as slang, or as an invented or coined expression. Use quotation marks the first time the word or phrase is used; thereafter, do not use quotation marks. (p. 91)

Let’s take these cases one by one. An ironic comment is one that means something other than (often the opposite of) what it says. In the example provided in the Publication Manual, “considered ‘normal’ behavior,” the quotes around normal should indicate that the behavior under discussion deviates from what might immediately come to mind when thinking of the norm (whatever that might be). For example, what qualifies as normal behavior for an 8-year-old that has been awake for 24 hours straight with a stomach virus will not be the normal behavior of an 8-year-old child who has had a decent night’s sleep and no illness (not that I would know from experience. Actually, yes, I would). “Normal” is not precisely normal in the case of the sick, sleepless child.

Slang is an informal word or phrase that may not appear in a standard dictionary but is used colloquially; slang terms appear in scholarly writing most often when writers quote participants (yet another reason to use quotation marks!). For example, if a participant described a confederate’s relationship as “lolalam” (a slang word based on an acronym for the phrase love only lasts as long as the money) or said she was “LOLing” (laughing out loud) over the questions asked in the interview, those slang terms are loaded with meaning; using the slang term the participant used preserves and conveys that meaning to the reader.

An invented or coined expression is a new word or phrase often specific to the work it is used in (although sometimes a term will catch on and start being used elsewhere, which is part of the beauty of our ever-evolving language). The example provided in the Publication Manual is the “good-outcome variable.” This term is not likely to be used or understood outside of the study it was coined for, but within the context of the study, it makes perfect sense.

Then there is our second quote from the Publication Manual:

To set off the title of an article or chapter in a periodical or book when the title is mentioned in text. (p. 91)

Quotation marks are used for full or abbreviated titles of articles, book chapters, or web pages without authors that are mentioned or cited in text (see p. 176 of the Publication Manual; note that this is how they are presented in the text, not the reference list). Examples:

In Han Solo’s (2003) article, “With a Wookiee Beside Me: How I Became the Best Rebel Pilot in Any Galaxy,” Solo recounts how he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a game of Sabacc during the Cloud City Sabacc Tournament. The newspaper account of the tournament (“Sabacc Shenanigans,” 2000) corroborates Solo’s version of events.

More quotation mark questions? Let us know at styleexpert@apastyle.org or in the comments below!

 

January 03, 2013

Alphabetizing “In Press” and “No Date” References

Tyler

 

 

by Tyler Krupa

You may already know that references with the same authors in the same order are arranged by year of publication, the earliest first (see the sixth edition of the Publication Manual, p. 182):

Meints, K., Plunkett, K., & Harris, P. L. (2002).

Meints, K., Plunkett, K., & Harris, P. L. (2008).

But do you know what to do when a group of references with the same author(s) in the same author order contain “in press” and “no date” publication dates? Alphabetizing these references is easy as long as you remember the following two points:

1. An “in press” work has yet to be published, so if you have one or more references that contain a publication year, these references will always come before an “in press” reference because they’ve already been published.

2. When dealing with “no date” references, simply follow the same “nothing precedes something” guidance that the Publication Manual gives regarding alphabetizing author surnames in the reference list (see p. 181). Using this guideline, “no date” references should always precede references with “some date.” Also remember that “no date” is abbreviated as “n.d.” in both the reference list and the in-text citations (see p. 185).

Here are some examples that show the correct ways to alphabetize these types of references in the reference list:

Johnson, K., & Jones, B. B. (2012).

Johnson, K., & Jones, B. B. (in press).

Taylor, H., Carter, N., & Beckett, S. (n.d.).

Taylor, H., Carter, N., & Beckett, S. (2010).

Taylor, H., Carter, N., & Beckett, S. (in press).

University of Florida. (n.d.).

University of Florida. (2012).

Also remember that if you have two or more “in press” or “no date” references with the same authors in the same order, you should use lowercase letters—a, b, c, and so forth—after the publication date and alphabetize the references by their titles (excluding A, An, and The; see p. 182 in the Publication Manual). The only difference between these types of references and references with publication years is that “in press” and “no date” references contain a hyphen before the a, b, and so forth:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.-a). The knowledge . . .

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.-b). A strategy to . . .

Schafer, G., & Plunkett, K. (2011a). The power . . .

Schafer, G., & Plunkett, K. (2011b). Task complexity . . .

Schafer, G., & Plunkett, K. (in press-a). The rapid learning . . .

Schafer, G., & Plunkett, K. (in press-b). Sometimes a child . . .

We hope that these examples clear up this point of possible confusion.

November 15, 2012

How to Cite a Class in APA Style

Timothy.mcadooby Timothy McAdoo

Have you ever learned so much in a class that you wanted to cite the whole thing? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, because a class is not a retrievable source, when you try to put together a reference, you won’t have a "where" there. There, there: Don’t worry, you do have other options!

Citing a Course Pack or Custom Textbookback to school

Sometimes people who ask about citing a course are really trying to cite the textbook, course pack, custom textbook, or other published materials used in the class. Our recent post on that topic provides a number of options.

Citing the Teacher’s PowerPoint File or Other Materials

In some cases, you might want to cite materials presented by the instructor that were not included in a course pack or a custom textbook (e.g., the instructor’s lecture itself or a PowerPoint presentation designed by the instructor). 

If the instructor has posted the materials somewhere online, you can cite them directly. But, it’s more likely that he or she is the only source for the materials. In that case, cite as a personal communication (see the Provide a Reliable Path to the Source section of our post on what belongs in a reference list).

Citing Your Own Class Notes 

In other cases, you might want to cite your own notes from the class. Again, because these notes will not be a retrievable source for most readers, cite them as a personal communication (see the Provide a Reliable Path to the Source section of our post on what belongs in a reference list).

Citing the Course Itself 

Your experience of attending the class simply cannot be replicated or retrieved. But, although the course itself is not retrievable, you may be able to find a description of the course on your school’s website. If you can find it online, you can cite it!

October 11, 2012

British Spellings

Timothy.mcadooby Timothy McAdooUnion Jack

This week, I look at another frequently asked APA Style question! Though the answer is true for other languages, too, the question is most often framed around British spellings.

Question

When an article or book title includes British spellings, should I “fix” them in my reference list? Also, what if I include a direct quote? Should I change spellings or use [sic]? I read somewhere that APA Style requires spellings to match those in the APA Dictionary of Psychology or Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

Answer

The Publication Manual’s spelling guidelines apply only to the original writing in your paper.

For references, keep the spelling in titles and other elements exactly as they appeared in the original. That is, cite what you see.

For instance, if you cite this scholarly tome, keep that u in colour!

Trooping, T. C. (2012). Who rotated my colour wheel? London, England:
    Neal’s Yard Publishing.


Likewise, if you quote from the text, keep the original spellings. There’s no need to use [sic], as these are not errors.

    Trooping (2012) said, “only when you allow your colour wheel to turn will you recognise the aesthetic ‘complements’ you’ve received” (p. 10).

September 20, 2012

Citing a Whole Periodical

Newspapers
Dear Style Experts,

I consulted a newspaper, a magazine, and a journal for my research. How can I create a citation for the whole issue of each of these periodicals?

Sincerely,    

Nancy in Newcastle    

Dear Nancy,

Actually, you don’t usually need to cite a whole issue of a periodical. For readers unfamiliar with the term, a periodical is any publication that is released at regular intervals, or “periods”—typically, journals, magazines, and newspapers.  Rather than make a citation for the whole periodical, you can just mention its name and the relevant volume and issue information in the text, for example, “I surveyed an issue of The Washington Post from September 15, 2012.” Then, for each individual article that you use as a source in the paper, create individual citations. Formats for periodical article citations can be found in the Publication Manual (§7.01).

You can find examples of this technique in a meta-analysis. In a meta-analysis, authors typically survey various databases and journals for articles relevant to their research question. In the text they might state something like, “We searched the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology for articles on major depression published between 1991 and 2011.” The reference list would not contain a citation for each issue of the journal that the authors examined. Instead, it would contain citations only for the articles that the authors actually used in their research.

The only exception to this pattern is that you can create a citation for a whole special issue of a periodical (click the link for example citations)—precisely by virtue of its specialness. A special issue has a narrow focus to which all the articles pertain (say, the self and social identity), unlike a typical issue, which has a broader focus (personality and social psychology in general). In that way, a special issue functions sort of like an edited book, and the reader can be referred to the issue as a whole in a citation. Thanks for this interesting question.

Best regards,

Chelsea Lee 

 

 

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