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5 posts from December 2009

December 31, 2009

Happy Holiday Citing: Citation of Classical Works

Chelsea blogby Chelsea Lee

If December has put you in a holiday mood, then maybe you’ll enjoy this little piece on how to cite classical works like the Bible or the Qur’an in APA Style.

The 6th edition of the Publication Manual stipulates that reference list entries are not required when you cite “ancient Greek and Roman works or classical religious works” (p. 179). These works are so widely known and available that all that is required is an in-text citation.

For your first in-text citation, whether it is general or a direct quote or paraphrase, identify the version you used, if that is relevant. You do not need to repeat the version name in subsequent references.

Here is an example of a general reference to the Bible, the first time it is mentioned:

The researchers consulted the Bible (King James Version) to provide items
for the development of their religious values assessment.


If you’re paraphrasing or quoting specific parts of a classical work, also provide the relevant names and/or numbers of chapters/verses/lines. These books “are numbered systematically across all editions, so use these numbers instead of page numbers when referring to specific parts of your source” (p. 179). Again, include the version name upon first cite only.

Here are two examples of how to cite when you are directly quoting (first cite):

The Bible enumerates these virtues: “And now these three remain: faith, 
hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:1 New 
International Version). 


The Qur’an 5:3 specifies some dietary restrictions, such as forbidding 
Muslims to eat "the flesh of swine."

Here are two examples of how to cite when you are paraphrasing (first cite):

In 1 Cor. 13:1 (New International Version), the Bible states that of
the three virtues of love, faith, and hope, love is the greatest.


The Qur’an specifies some dietary restrictions, such as forbidding 
Muslims to eat pork (Qur’an 5:3).

As with all citations, you can put the source information in parentheses or work it into the text.

APA does not provide—nor could it begin to maintain!—a list of all possible classical works, because there are hundreds (a good resource for ancient Greek and Roman works is the Internet Classics Archive). If there’s ambiguity, talk with your professors or your colleagues or with APA. If you are uncertain but believe a reference list entry would help the reader, then let that be your guiding principle.

December 24, 2009

The Version of Record: What Is It and Does It Matter?

New Imageby Paige Jackson
From a practical point of view, denoting a version of record provides a means for version control.  A journal article can go through a number of incarnations—for example, draft for peer review, revised draft, accepted manuscript, first typeset version, published version, and sometimes corrected published version. 

Back in the day, we found articles from print journals among library stacks and the published print version was the version of record.  With the advent of the Internet, journal articles are now more likely to be read in electronic form than in print.


Last spring, APA joined the ranks of other publishers who have made the switch to the electronic article as the version of record.  One rationale for this change is the additional information and functionality that it provides to our readers.  When accessing an article electronically, one can link to any correction or retraction notices, comments and replies, and other enhancements such as supplementary data.  In addition, having the electronic version be the version of record opens up the possibility of publishing some articles only online.


Digital-object-identifiers (DOIs) have made it easy to identify and locate the version of record.  In a number of posts on this blog, we have portrayed the DOI as a wonderful tool that will greatly simplify referencing documents as it becomes more ubiquitous.  Some publishers release articles online as they are completed, rather than waiting until articles are assembled into an issue.  In this case, an “online first” article is identical to the article published with an issue, with the exception that continuous pagination will be inserted at issue assembly.  The DOI leads the reader to the early release of an article when that is available; after the article has been published as part of an issue, the DOI tracks to that later version.  Whether to use a URL and if so which URL to use will become moot as more and more documents have DOIs, which lead the reader directly to the latest version of record.



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?

Note: When used, sic should be italicized and in brackets (see p. 172 of the Manual). The example above was updated to reflect this.

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!

Edit: The original DOI video has been replaced with an updated (March 30, 2016) version. A larger version of this tutorial, with a navigation menu option, is available here.

December 03, 2009

Figure Construction: Resisting the Urge to Obscure

Daisiesby Stefanie

The best figures make complex results understandable at a glance. Sometimes a procedure that would have taken three pages to describe can be illustrated in one well-designed chart.

The principles of figure construction are described on pp. 150–167 of the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. I urge you to study these pages carefully. Figure construction is a creative art that is deceptively complicated.

Study and practice will help you resist the following “figure don’ts.” Every writer has fallen at least once into the abyss described below—you know, the one that makes instructors cringe and stalwart editors shudder.


  1. Variety is the spice of fonts. See how many different typefaces and font sizes you can put into one figure! Test readers’ eyesight with tiny, intricate fonts, but also include large, bold typefaces as a consolation prize.

  2. COLOR! Everything looks better in color, right? Fluorescent yellow will make your data POP!

  3. Touch of gray. The bars on your graph are artistic, subtle graduations of gray or gently differing patterns. Readers will be able to tell the difference if they look closely—or if they invest in a good pair of magnifying readers.

  4. Your cup runneth over. Every detail and nuance of your data can be incorporated into one figure if you use enough dimensions, descriptions, and axes. So what if your reader needs a PhD in psychology and mechanical engineering as well as a guidebook to fully appreciate the brilliant visual representation you have concocted? Who cares if not all the data are relevant? We must love all of our data equally.

  5. Too cool to cut. Even if the figure is redundant or not necessary for understanding the article, include it. That figure looks good.

  6. Proportion control? Your figure’s not dieting. Have two elements within your figure that need to be compared? Or maybe two separate but similar figures that you want to contrast? Do not worry about matching their proportions. Your reader can make the mental adjustment. The construct of depression can be a small dot (∙) or a big black box (█), depending on your mood.

  7. A rose by any other name does not smell as sweet. Forget abbreviations, acronyms, or otherwise shortened labels for elements within a figure. Nothing but the full and formal name should be used, even if it has to be squeezed onto the figure. After all, who reads the figure caption?

  8. Roses, Part 2: The thorns. Forget the previous admonition: Use abbreviations exclusively, whether or not they are needed. Make them ANANAP,1 forcing the reader to the caption to UAAF.2 By golly, if you have to write a caption, the reader should have to read it, repeatedly!
    1 ANANAP = as nonintuitive and numerous as possible.
    2 UAAF = understand any aspect of the figure.

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