94 posts categorized "Style rules"

December 17, 2009

You Can Quote Me on This

Timothy McAdoo by Timothy McAdoo

A good quote can make your paper more interesting, lend credence to your arguments, and add variety to the tone and style of your paper.  

But before you simply copy and paste, consider these four key points:

1. Be purposeful.

In researching your topic, you’ll read and absorb much more information than you could ever hope to restate verbatim in your paper. Most of this you’ll paraphrase (and cite accordingly!) or combine to form original ideas. But sometimes you’ll want to quote an original source.

Why quote rather than paraphrase an idea? A direct quote can be much more powerful. Maybe the original author is preeminent in the field, thus his or her quote lends instant gravitas to your argument. Maybe he or she coined a phrase that’s now ubiquitous in the research, and you’re quoting the earliest original use. Or maybe the original author just captured an idea so clearly and succinctly that you want to share the exact wording with your readers. Consider the impact you want the quote to have on your reader.

2. Be precise.

Once you’ve included the quotation, check and recheck the source material against what you’ve keyed in your paper. It’s easy to drop a word, insert a typo, or omit punctuation. We all know that one misplaced comma can make a world of difference (just ask that panda who eats, shoots and leaves)!

Also, be sure the author’s intent is not misrepresented. A sentence removed from the original context can sometimes be misunderstood. Read your quote with an objective eye and decide whether (a) more context is needed or (b) paraphrasing might be called for.

3. Cite your source.

Proper citation is essential. Always cite the author, date, and page or page range for direct quotes. For online sources where page numbers are not applicable, use paragraph numbers if they are visible or cite the heading and the number of the paragraph following that heading so your reader can find the quote in context.

4. Use the proper format.

Formatting the quotation is more than just an arbitrary means of ensuring consistency. It serves as a flag to the readers, telling them that something about the quote is significant or that you’ve altered or omitted some of the text. APA’s formatting recommendations are meant to provide a means of easily indicating how and why you’ve made alterations to a quote.

The quotation needs to be true to the original, but you also want it to work for you, to support your argument.

Let’s look at an example:

Smith (2009) also dabbles in hyperbole, saying, “Random Explosions 2: Revenge of the Dialogue is the worst movie in the history of time [emphasis added]. . . . it’s [sic] promise of dialogue is a misnomer of explosive proportions” (p. 13).


As you can see, even though I’ve made three separate formatting notations (added emphasis, ellipses points to indicate omitted text, and “sic” to indicate the typo), the original quote remains clear. With this formatting I've also clarified what aspect of the quotation I want the reader to focus on.

Finally, quotes of 40 or more words should be in block form, sans quotation marks.

I’ve simply touched on the APA formatting possibilities here. The APA Publication Manual includes detailed instructions on pp. 170–174. What are your thoughts on APA’s quotation guidelines?

December 10, 2009

How to Find a DOI

Timothy.mcadoo by Timothy McAdoo

Ever had trouble finding a DOI? In the video below, we demonstrate how to find a DOI in a variety of ways: from an article’s record in APA PsycINFO (on a number of vendor platforms), from an article itself (hard copy version or electronic), or from CrossRef’s Simple Text Query form.

We hope this visual demonstration is helpful. Are there other tutorials about APA Style that you’d like to see? Let us know!

P.S. For more detailed background information on DOIs, see Chelsea’s recent DOI primer. And for information about using DOIs and URLs in your references, don’t miss the DOI and URL flowchart!

A larger version of this tutorial, with a navigation menu option, is available here.

November 25, 2009

Books That Provoke Our Thanks

 Puffin  
by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

Writers in psychology and the social and behavioral sciences reach for the APA Publication Manual first when they have style and usage questions. But inevitably, some topics are outside its scope, while others are covered in less detail than one might like.

At APA, there are a few resource books we turn to in gratitude on a daily basis. You’ll find them on the desk of almost every editor here, and they just might have the answers you’re looking for.

Grammar, Usage, and Style

The Publication Manual contains valuable basic information on writing clearly and correctly but by no means covers all the bases. When I’ve been wrestling with a thorny sentence for the last half hour and it still looks wrong, I reach for Words Into Type.  If you’re looking for guidance on coordinate conjunctions or collective nouns, this is the place.

Some issues may arise infrequently in psychology and the social sciences (e.g., “In what context should I capitalize Platonic ideas?” “Where can I find a conversion chart from Wade-Giles to Pinyin?”), but they do arise. For questions with a humanities slant, the Chicago Manual of Style can be helpful. It has extensive information on foreign language references, titles of historical persons, and other topics that are beyond APA's purview.

Finally, a lighter approach sometimes helps when you’re trying to get your head around language problems. In The Elephants of Style and Lapsing Into a Comma, Bill Walsh offers tips on contemporary usage in a humorous and thoroughly approachable way. Another classic in this vein is The Careful Writer, by Theodore M. Bernstein.

Spelling and Word Division

For everyday spelling issues, APA uses Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. But when you need to know whether it’s “Alzheimer syndrome” or “Alzheimer’s disease,” we (naturally) recommend the APA Dictionary of Psychology: a thousand pages of terminology specific to the psychological sciences.

Legal References

Appendix 7.1 of the Publication Manual gives a good introduction to the use of legal materials in APA style. For most authors, this is all you’ll ever need. But researchers in some fields, such as forensic psychology, may need a more comprehensive guide. In that case, go straight to the source: The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. (Then head over to the nearest law school librarian for help, because legal citation is an art unto itself.)

What reference works are you grateful for?

October 26, 2009

How to Cite Twitter and Facebook, Part II: Reference List Entries and In-Text Citations

[Note 10/18/2013: Please view an updated and expanded version of this post at http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2013/10/how-to-cite-social-media-in-apa-style.html]


Chelsea blogby Chelsea Lee

Previously I talked about how to cite Twitter and Facebook posts or feeds in general, which you can do quite easily by mentioning the URLs in text (with no reference list entries required).

Today I address some of the issues pertaining to citing particular posts, which require both reference list entries and in-text citations. As you may have noticed, the Publication Manual does not give specific guidance on how to do this. This is an evolving area, and blog discussions will be considered as we create guidelines related to these new references sources for future APA Style products.

What to do in the meantime? Below are examples of one approach to citing tweets and Facebook updates. Until more definitive guidance is available, feel free to use this approach or another that is also clear and gives the reader enough information about the source to be able to locate it.


First, here are screenshots of my examples from Twitter and Facebook (click to enlarge): 

 Baracktweet  Barackfb

The suggested reference list entries below generally follow the format for citation of online sources (see pp. 214–215):

BarackObama. (2009a, July 15). Launched American Graduation Initiative 
to help additional 5 mill. Americans graduate college by 2020:
http://bit.ly/gcTX7 [Twitter post]. Retrieved from
http://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/2651151366
Barack Obama. (2009b, October 9). Humbled. 
 http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/obamaforamerica/gGM45m 
 [Facebook update]. Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/posted.php? 
id=6815841748&share_id=154954250775&comments=1#s154954250775

Here’s the rationale I used for presenting each element in the reference: 

  • I included the author name as written (not changing BarackObama or Barack Obama to Obama, B.; see Example 76, p. 215). For simplicity’s sake and to ensure accuracy, it’s best to include names as written for Facebook and Twitter citations. 

  • Alphabetize under B, not O, ignoring the space (i.e., BarackObama and Barack Obama are treated the same, so you would next arrange them chronologically; see also section 6.25 of the manual, pp. 181–182). 

  • The date includes the year and day, but not the time. The date gives ample specificity without adding an element of how to format times, which isn’t done anywhere else in APA Style. 

  • To differentiate among posts from the same person in the same year (or even the same day), you can include ”a” or “b” after the year, in chronological order. If you have only one post from the writer in a year, then it is not necessary to include “a” or “b.” 

  • I included the whole post in the title position (mine included a URL, so I included that too). Facebook updates, however, might be quite long—if that is the case, you might use a truncated version of the post in the title position. 

  • It’s helpful to provide a description of form inside brackets, such as Twitter post or Facebook update. 

  • The URL leads directly to the post rather than to the feed in general, in order to be as direct and specific as possible about what is being cited. Click the date and time stamp beneath the post in question (seen in the screenshots) and you will be taken to the individual status update page with its own URL.


For in-text citations, parenthetical citation may be easiest:

President Obama announced the launch of the American Graduation Initiative 
(BarackObama, 2009a). He also stated that he was “humbled” to have 
received the Nobel Peace Prize (Barack Obama, 2009b).

One last issue is retrievability. Because online social media are more about live updates than archiving, we don’t know if these status update pages will still be here in a year, or 5, or 20 years. So if you are writing for publication, it may be prudent to self-archive any social media updates you include in your articles (check out this post by Gunther Eysenbach on some ways to do this).

  

What’s Next

I hope to bring you more in the future on citing social media posts, for example, citing hash-tagged conversationsalthough first we must figure out how to securely archive them (the adorably named Twapper Keeper might meet this need).

How have you addressed citing, archiving, and retrieving tweets and other social media posts in your field of expertise?

October 23, 2009

How to Cite Twitter and Facebook, Part I: General

[Note 10/18/2013: Please view an updated and expanded version of this post at http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2013/10/how-to-cite-social-media-in-apa-style.html]

 

Chelsea blog by Chelsea Lee

Because posts from online social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, are not yet often fodder for scholarly research, specific reference examples aren’t included in the Publication Manual. Well, whenever you need a reference format for something that’s not explicitly covered in the manual, you can adapt our examples to meet your needs (see p. 193). I’ll show you how, using example posts from President Obama’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

To cite a Twitter or Facebook feed as a whole or to discuss it in general, it is sufficient to give the site URL in text, inside parentheses. There is no need for a reference list entry.           

President Obama uses Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/barackobama) and 
Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/barackobama) to keep citizens up 
to speed on his initiatives, especially health care reform and Supreme 
Court nominations. 

 It’s the same method you’d use to cite a website as a whole (see this FAQ).

 On Monday I will address citing particular Twitter or Facebook posts.

October 19, 2009

How to Cite a Speech in APA Style

Timothy mcadoo by Timothy McAdoo

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. made this famous declaration on August 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It may be the most famous American speech ever given, and it’s certainly oft-quoted. 

But how do you properly cite a speech in APA Style?  The answer may surprise you. You don’t reference the speech itself!

Even for a speech you may know by heart, you should find an authoritative source for the text. Then you simply reference the book, video documentary, website, or other source for the quotation. The reference format you need will depend on the type of document you’ve used. 

For example, if you’ve found Dr. King’s speech in a book of great speeches, your reference might be as follows. 

Smith, J. (Ed.). (2009). Well said! Great speeches in American history. 
  Washington, DC: E & K Publishing.


The in-text citation would include the surname of the author or editor of the source document and the year of publication.  For example, your sentence might look like this: 

Dr. King declared, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed” (Smith, 2009).


Of course, you can find speeches in a wide variety of sources. Consider two ends of the spectrum: You might find an embedded video in a blog post and use Example 76 (“Blog post,” p.  215 of the Publication Manual), or you might find a lone, dusty copy of an audiotape in an archive and use Example 69 (“Interview recorded and available in an archive,” p. 214). 

What’s your favorite source for great speeches?

October 16, 2009

APA Style for Citing Interviews

Timothy.mcadoo by Timothy McAdoo

“I’m quoting Johnny Depp from an interview I read in a magazine. But the Publication Manual has no reference format for interviews. What do I do?”

I’ve always said there are two types of interviews in this world: those you conducted and those you didn’t! Let’s look at both. 

The guidance on p. 179 of the Publication Manual about citing personal communications mentions “personal interviews” as one example. Let’s say you interview a professor about her lifetime of work in the field of industrial and organizational psychology. Because a reader would not be able to find your interview in print or online, no recoverable data are available. You’ll need to use the “personal communication” in-text citation style shown on p. 179.

Of course, these days it can be easy to make your data recoverable. If you have a blog or another publishing outlet online, you could post the text of your interview. Then you’d want to follow the appropriate reference format.  If you’ve posted to your blog, for example, use the Example 76 (“Blog post”) on p. 215 of the Publication Manual

Finally, if you’ve simply read an interview conducted by someone else, you should pick the reference format appropriate for the source. If you read the interview in a magazine, for example, you’d want to follow Example 7 (“Magazine article”) on p. 200.

I hope this post clears up that small point of confusion about citing interviews. Some of my favorite interviews are from Studs Terkel’s oral histories. What are yours?

October 14, 2009

How to Cite Wikipedia in APA Style

Timothy.mcadoo

by Timothy McAdoo

First things first. Is it a good idea to cite Wikipedia in your research paper? Generally speaking, no. In fact, if you’re writing a paper as a class assignment, your teacher may specifically prohibit citing Wikipedia. Scholarly papers should generally rely on peer-reviewed and other scholarly work vetted by experts in the field.

Does this mean Wikipedia contains bad information? Not at all. It is a great way to get an overview of a topic that might be new to you. And, because many Wikipedia entries contain thorough citations, they can be good starting points to find the original source materials you do want to use. Don’t quote or paraphrase from the Wikipedia entry in your paper, but check the entry’s Reference section to find links to more authoritative sources. And be sure to find and read these sources to verify the facts, figures, and points of view they present.

But, of course, there are times when citing a Wikipedia entry itself is appropriate. For example, let’s say you are writing a paper on how social media and crowdsourcing influence definitions of common psychology terms. Wikipedia would be one excellent source for this topic!

Example 30 (“Entry in an online reference work, no author or editor”) from p. 205 of the Publication Manual can be used for Wikipedia or other wikis. The following example is for the Wikipedia entry on “psychology.” Note that the retrieval date is needed in this case because, as true for any wiki entry, the source material may change over time.

Psychology. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from
  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology

October 01, 2009

Sayonara to the “Well-Known City” Rule in APA Style

Anne Breitenbach

by Anne Breitenbach

For those of you familiar with the previous editions of the APA Publication Manual, be aware that the “well-known city” exception for reference citations is no more. Briefly, the old rule was to provide the state, province (if applicable), or country as well as the city for book and other nonperiodical publishers except in the case of certain cities that were described as “major cities that are well known for publishing” (p. 217, 5th edition). Thus, for example, a reference list entry for a publisher from Baltimore need and should not list MD as part of the location element. The author was to assume that the reader would be familiar with Baltimore and know that it is in the state of Maryland.

That rule has disappeared in the new edition, and the examples specifically show cities that once were on the exception list now being followed with the state abbreviation (e.g., New York, NY, p. 187). Though no specific reason is given for the change, it is noted in the Foreword that the manual is now available “in Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, and many other languages.” Perhaps it was felt that a student in Korea might not understand why Baltimore and not Seoul made the exceptions list. Baltimore and six other American cities were on the list, but indisputably well-known cities outside of the United States were not well represented. A quick review of the world’s most populous cities is instructive: Only three of the “well-known” cities are even among the top 20 in population (http://www.worldatlas.com/geoquiz/thelist.htm), leaving the citizens of Shanghai (No. 1), Mumbai (No. 2), and Buenos Aires (No. 3), among others, to wonder why their cities need more definite placement than Philadelphia (No. 53), San Francisco (No. 60), or Baltimore, which doesn’t make the list of even the top 100 in population size.

The choice was simple. Either create and try to maintain a list that more accurately reflects cities well-known for publishing to a wider scholarly global community or make no assumptions about which cities are well-known to whom. The second option was seen as the better choice.

September 15, 2009

How Do I Cite a Kindle?

Chelsea blogby Chelsea Lee

E-book readers, like the popular Kindle from Amazon.com, are revolutionizing the way we interact with the printed page. Although most e-book content has leaned toward the nonscholarly, major textbook manufacturers are now partnering with Amazon to produce e-textbooks, with a pilot program to be run at six universities in Fall 2009. They have recently debuted the Kindle DX ($489 retail), which in comparison to the original Kindle boasts a bigger screen (9.7” vs. 6” diagonally) and native support for PDFs, both key to good textbook reproduction.

For the students and scholars who use Kindles (or other e-book readers) when writing papers, the next question becomes, how do I cite material I read on a Kindle?

For the reference list entry, you’ll need to include the type of e-book version you read (two examples are the Kindle DX version and the Adobe Digital Editions version). In lieu of publisher information, include the book’s DOI or where you downloaded the e-book from (if there is no DOI). For example:

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success [Kindle DX version]. 
 Retrieved from Amazon.com

Brill, P. (2004). The winner’s way [Adobe Digital Editions version]. 
doi:10.1036/007142363X

Consult Chapter 7 of the 6th ed. of the Publication Manual (examples 19, 20, and 21) for some more help. If the full URL is very long (the one for Gladwell's book was), you may give instead the homepage URL with a description of where to go from there, or the store name—your preference (e.g., Amazon Kindle store or http://www.amazon.com).

In the text, however, citation can get confusing because e-books often lack page numbers (though PDF versions may have them). Kindle books have “location numbers,” which are static, but those are useless to anyone who doesn’t have a Kindle too. To cite in text, either (a) paraphrase, thus avoiding the problem (e.g., "Gladwell, 2008"), or (b) utilize APA’s guidelines for direct quotations of online material without pagination (see Section 6.05 of the manual). Name the major sections (chapter, section, and paragraph number; abbreviate if titles are long), like you would do if you were citing the Bible or Shakespeare.

Gladwell’s book has numbered chapters, and he’s numbered the sections in the chapters. An example direct quotation might be this: 

One of the author’s main points is that “people don’t rise from nothing” 
(Gladwell, 2008, Chapter 1, Section 2, para. 5).

And that’s how you cite material from a Kindle or e-book reader. Have you tried this out yet?

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