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6 posts from March 2010

March 25, 2010

How to Cite Direct Quotations

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

One of our goals for this blog is to convey that following the guidelines of APA Style need not restrict your flexibility as a writer. Because of space limitations, many style points illustrated in the APA Publication Manual show only one or two examples. We’re happy that the blog now allows us to provide additional examples.

Today I have an illustration of how you may write a sentence in a variety of ways and still be following perfect APA Style. All of the following citations of a direct quote are in correct APA Style, citing the author, year, and page number.


  1. According to Palladino and Wade (2010), “a flexible mind is a healthy mind” (p. 147).
  2. In 2010, Palladino and Wade noted that “a flexible mind is a healthy mind” (p. 147).
  3. In fact, “a flexible mind is a healthy mind” (Palladino & Wade, 2010, p. 147).
  4. “A flexible mind is a healthy mind,” according to Palladino and Wade’s (2010, p. 147) longitudinal study.
  5. Palladino and Wade’s (2010) results indicate that “a flexible mind is a healthy mind” (p. 147).

Of course, these are just a few of the possible wordings for this sentence. Each of these examples properly cites the direct quotation, but I've varied the placement of the citation information. By changing the order of information in the sentence, I can choose what information to emphasize.

For example, because Example 2 begins with “In 2010,” you might use it if your greater context for this quote is to indicate the timeliness of the research in your literature review.

Or, you might find the quote so striking that you want to begin the sentence with it, as in Example 4, to make the most impact.

Or, you may be considering the readability and transitions from one sentence to the next. For example, if you ended the previous sentence with “Palladino and Wade,” you would probably not want to begin the next with “Palladino and Wade,” which would rule out Example 5. You might instead choose Example 2, but change the names to “they”:

This idea was recently explored by Palladino and Wade (2010). They noted that "a flexible mind is a healthy mind" (Palladino & Wade, 2010, p. 147).

I hope these examples begin to demonstrate the choices you have as an author using APA Style. More information on direct quotation of sources can be found on pages 170–174 of the Manual.

March 19, 2010

How to Cite Facebook: Fan Pages, Group Pages, and Profile Information

[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

Although Facebook citations may not be in the Publication Manual, this blog has addressed how to cite Facebook in general (just mention the URL in text) and how to cite particular Facebook status updates (make a reference list entry) in APA Style. That advice still holds true.

Now to discuss how to cite specific information from Facebook other than status updates, such as anything on a publically viewable page (e.g., a fan page, group page, info tab, boxes tab, etc.). Here are two templates, based on the APA Style FAQ for how to cite information from a website with no author, year, or page numbers:

Username or Group Name. (n.d.). In Facebook [Page type]. Retrieved Month 
Day, Year, from http://www.facebook.com/specificpageURL
  • When the date is unknown, use n.d. for “no date.”

  • Describe the source type inside square brackets.

Username or Group Name. [ca. 2010]. In Facebook [Page type]. Retrieved 
Month Day, Year, from http://www.facebook.com/specificpageURL
  • When the date can be reasonably certain but isn’t stated on the document, use a bracketed date and “ca.” (see also Example 67, p. 214).


Example Citations

Because examples make everything more fun, let’s say I am writing about the cognition skills of the great apes and I discuss Nonja, an orangutan armed with a digital camera who lives in the Vienna Tiergarten Zoo (read more about her in this Daily Mail article). Here’s a citation for her Facebook fan page:

Nonja. (n.d.). In Facebook [Fan page]. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from 

In my next paper about the power of nostalgia and viral marketing, I refer to the Facebook group page for When I was your age, Pluto was a planet. As of this writing it had more than 1.8 million members (and its founder has even been interviewed by NASA). Here’s a citation for the group page:

When I was your age, Pluto was a planet. [ca. 2009]. In Facebook [Group 
page]. Retrieved December 16, 2009,
from http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2207893888

For all these citations, whether to use "n.d." or "[ca. 2010]" is a judgment call and up to you, depending on the situation. And remember to double check your URLs—many pages can share the same name, so you need the right URL to tell them apart.


Private Page Citation

Because content from private or friends-only Facebook pages or profiles is not retrievable by everyone, if you cite it, it should be treated as personal communication (see section 6.20, p. 179).

What other social media citation conundrums do you have?

March 11, 2010

Follow the APA Style Team on Twitter!

We are pleased to announce a new feature from the APA Style team: APA Style Twitter!

Follow us to get updates on all things related to APA Style, including announcements about new blog posts, tips and tricks on writing and style, new features on apastyle.org, and more. Click the button below to follow us, or visit http://twitter.com/APA_Style:

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What Would You Like to Hear About?

Photo1-21-10by Sarah Wiederkehr

We’ve been going on about who we are, what on earth this thing called a DOI is and how one finds one, and the typical components of an APA-Styled reference. We’ve also expounded, at great length, on the changes in APA Style brought about by the publication of the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. As fun as it’s been, and as much as we have enjoyed and learned from your comments, we realize the inherent drawbacks of holding what could be construed as a relatively one-way conversation. We would much rather be spending our energy on explaining things that you would like explained.

So, we pose these questions to you: What sorts of things would you like to hear about from us? What tips or tricks have you found useful in applying APA Style? What particular APA Style guideline trips you up or just plain confuses you? What APA Style rule seems particularly cumbersome? What advice can you give people just learning APA Style?

Sometimes knowing the logic behind a style rule can make a world of difference in learning how to implement (and, we hope, not dread) it. And hearing what works from other veteran users can be invaluable. So let us know what needs explaining, and feel free to share your own insights. Plant your questions, tips, and ideas in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you!

March 04, 2010

Lists, Part 6: Overview

Timothy McAdooChelsea by Timothy McAdoo and Chelsea Lee

Earlier in this series, I gave examples of lettered, numbered, and bulleted lists. Whereas those posts provided detail about each type of list and how to construct them, this post synthesizes the information to help you decide what list might be best for your paper.

Chelsea has consolidated this information into a handy table that shows typical uses for each type of list. Please note that it’s a general overview of the APA Style guidelines described in the Manual, not an exhaustive or absolute list. In fact, we’d love to hear other ways you use lists—feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

What do you want to do with your series of items? Lettered Numbered Bulleted
Clarify the elements without drawing overmuch attention to the list itself

Visually separate the list from the surrounding text
Show procedural steps
Show a chronology (first, second, third)
Show how items have relative importance (e.g., increasing or decreasing in importance)
Show a general list, with no implied chronology, procedure, order, or differences in importance

You can also download a PDF version of this table here.

What other uses do you find for lettered, numbered, or bulleted lists?

Lists, Part 1  |  Lists, Part 2  |  Lists, Part 3

Lists, Part 4  |  Lists, Part 5  |  Lists, Part 6

March 02, 2010

Lists, Part 5: Bulleted Lists

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

This is the fifth in a six-part series about lists. Today I’ll discuss bulleted lists, which are new to APA Style!

Bulleted Lists

As the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association notes (p. 63), creating a list sometimes “helps the reader understand the organization of key points.” And although numbered lists are useful, in some cases the numbers may imply a chronology or ranking of importance that you don’t intend. Thus, I’m happy to share that bulleted lists are now an official part of APA Style (pp. 64–65)!

Bulleted lists allow a writer to create a list that stands out from the text without the implied chronology or order of importance that a numbered list might convey. Any symbol may be used for the bullets, although small circles or squares are typical software defaults. Here again, when full sentences are used, the first words should be capitalized and appropriate end punctuation should be included.

●  Each child received one plush toy.
●  Some toys were familiar to the children from their experiences in Experiment
    1. In Experiment 1, all children could see but not touch the plush elephant.
    Also in Experiment 1, half of the children could see but not touch the plush
    kangaroo, whereas the other half of the children could both see and touch
    the plush kangaroo.
●  One toy, a plush giraffe, was unique to Experiment 2.

(Note that although we single-space examples in the blog, you should double-space lists in an APA Style manuscript just as you would regular text.)

Bulleted Lists Within Sentences

In the example above, I used full sentences. But, you can also use bulleted lists within a sentence. When you do so, capitalize and punctuate throughout the list just as you would in any sentence. For example, in the following list, note the commas following the first two items, the conjunction “and” included with the second-to-last item, the lowercase used for each item in the list, and the end punctuation with the last item.

Each child was seated at a separate station and given
●  an elephant,
●  a kangaroo, and
●  a giraffe.

And remember that the rule for semicolons when items have internal commas is still applicable:

Each child was seated at a separate station and given
●  an elephant, which all children could see but not touch in Experiment 1;
●  a kangaroo, which half of the children could see but not touch and half of the
    children could both see and touch in Experiment 1; and
●  a giraffe, which was new to all children in this experiment.

A Caveat

Bulleted lists can be effective, but be sure to use them judiciously. Just as with numbered lists, by virtue of their formatting, bulleted lists are likely to draw a reader’s attention away from the running text. Too many bulleted lists in your paper may be visually distracting for a reader. You don’t want each page of your paper to look like a PowerPoint presentation!

There may also be differences in opinion about whether bulleted lists are appropriate for technical articles, dissertations, class assignments, and other types of writing. What do you think? Are you a list maker?

More to Come

In Part 6 of this series, we’ll provide an overview of good uses for each type of list.

Lists, Part 1  |  Lists, Part 2  |  Lists, Part 3

Lists, Part 4  |  Lists, Part 5  |  Lists, Part 6

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