140 posts categorized "How-to"

January 22, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Part 2. Determining Whether Permission Is Needed

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style. Here is Part 1.

The second step in navigating copyright for reproduced images is understanding whether you need permission from the image’s copyright holder before you are legally allowed to reproduce the image in your paper. This applies even if you are writing a paper for a classroom assignment and not for publication. 


When Is Permission Required? 

Permission is only sometimes required to reproduce an image.

  • Permission is required to reproduce a copyrighted image unless it meets one of the criteria described below in Parts A, B, C, or D of this post.
  • Permission is not required to reproduce an image that has a creative commons license or is in the public domain. If that’s your case, proceed to Part 4 of this series.

A. Academic Sources

Many scientific, technical, and medical publishers will allow you to reproduce images (here meaning tables or figures) without obtaining permission provided that

  • the purpose of the use is scholarly comment, noncommercial research, or educational use and
  • full credit is given to the author and publisher as copyright holder.

For example, APA allows you to reproduce without obtaining permission

  • up to three tables or figures from a journal article or book chapter or
  • a maximum of five tables or figures from a whole book.

Note that all publishers have their own policies, so you should check with the publisher of your material to determine whether permission is necessary. For materials published by APA, visit the APA Permissions Office.

B. Commercial Stock Photography

To reproduce a stock photo you will most likely have to buy a license from its stock photography website (e.g., ShutterStock, iStock, Getty Images, Corbis). Consult the terms of the image to know what steps to take.

  • If you do own the license to a stock photograph, you can use the image in the paper without any attribution or credit line.
  • If you do not own the license to a stock photograph, you cannot reproduce the image.

Note that you might come across a stock photo “in the wild”—for example, as part of a newspaper or magazine article (the images on this blog fall into this category too). That means that the publisher has bought a license for the stock photograph. If you want to use the photograph in your paper too, you need to go buy your own license for the photo.

C. Clip Art

Most clip art does not require permission to reproduce, but it may require a credit line. Check the terms of the clip art website to determine what to do.

  • If the clip art comes from a program like Microsoft Word, then by buying the program you have bought a license to that clip art and can use it in an academic paper without any attribution or credit line.
  • If the clip art comes from a free clip art website (e.g., Openclipart) and it has a creative commons license or is in public domain, permission is not necessary but you should give a copyright statement for the image (see Part 4 of this series).

D. Fair Use for Other Copyrighted Sources

You may also be able to avoid seeking permission to reproduce a copyrighted image if your use is considered “fair.” Fair use is a loosely defined and complicated legal concept (here is a summary from the U.S. Copyright Office), but in practice it means that under certain circumstances you can reproduce or adapt a copyrighted image without obtaining permission so long as you credit the source (see Part 4 of this series).

In the context of reproducing an image, your use is probably fair if it meets the following criteria:

  • It is for use in an academic work and not for profit (such as a paper for a class or publication in an academic journal).
  • It represents facts or data (such as a chart or diagram) rather than creative self-expression (such as artwork, although some famous works of art are in the public domain and thus do not require permission).
  • It is small in relation to the whole work (such as a chart within a report) and not the whole thing or the “heart” of the work (such as an individual photograph or a whole cartoon).
  • Reproducing the image will not hurt the market or potential market for the original.

If you fail to meet the above criteria for fair use or if you are unsure as to whether you meet the criteria, exercise caution and seek permission to reproduce the image. For more help in determining fair use, check out this Fair Use Checklist from Columbia University.

Unclear Copyright

If the copyright status of the image is unclear, assume that it is copyrighted. Contact the publisher of the image for more information if needed. If the origin of the image cannot be determined (e.g., it appears in many places on the internet without attribution and it is impossible to say where exactly it originated), we recommend that you choose an alternative image for your paper. Be particularly careful of stock photographs, which legally can be reproduced without attribution, but only by a license holder. 


Continue to Part 3: Securing Permission

Continue to Part 4: Writing the Copyright Statement

January 21, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Part 1. Understanding Copyright Status

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style. 

The first step in navigating copyright for reproduced images in APA Style is to understand the copyright status of the image you want to reproduce.

You may be surprised to learn that just because you found something on the Internet or read it in a book does not mean that you are entitled to reproduce it for free in a paper. In fact, U.S. copyright law states that whomever owns the copyright to an image has the right to say how it is used.


To determine whether you are allowed to reproduce an image, look for the copyright on the work. Here are some examples of copyright statements you might see:

  • Regular copyright or “all rights reserved” copyright
    • This kind of copyright is indicated by the word copyright or the copyright symbol.
    • Examples: Copyright 2015 by the American Psychological Association. © 2014 Elizabeth T. Jones, all rights reserved.
    • To reproduce a copyrighted image, you have to get permission in writing from the copyright holder first, unless you meet one of the exceptions described in Part 2 of this series. You also have to give full credit to the copyright holder in the form of a copyright statement in your paper (see Part 4 of this series for the format).

  • Creative commons copyright
    • Creative commons licenses are indicated by the words creative commons or CC.
    • In general, creative commons licenses allow you to reproduce and/or adapt a work (including images) without getting permission from the copyright holder, so long as you give credit to the original author in the form of a copyright statement (see Part 4 of this series).
    • The specific terms of creative commons licenses vary, so check the license associated with your image to determine what you are allowed to do.

  • Public domain
    • Works that are not bound by copyright are considered in the public domain. This means you can reproduce them and/or adapt them however you want, so long as you credit the original author in the form of a copyright statement (see Part 4 of this series).
    • Assume a work is under copyright unless you see the words public domain on it or the work was produced by the U.S. Government (in which case it is automatically in the public domain). Copyright does expire, but that can take a long time.

  • No copyright indicated
    • If no copyright is indicated, treat the work as copyrighted.
    • U.S. copyright law states that a work is copyrighted as soon as it is fixed in tangible form (e.g., you can see it on a computer screen or on paper), even if the work doesn’t say copyright or have the copyright symbol, and even if it is not mass produced or professionally published. For example, you automatically own the copyright to papers you write for a class.


Continue to Part 2: Determining Whether Permission Is Needed

Continue to Part 3: Securing Permission

Continue to Part 4: Writing the Copyright Statement


January 20, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Overview

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is the overview for a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style.

Many writers wonder how to cite an image they have reproduced from another source in an APA Style paper. The image might be a chart, graph, picture, clip art, photograph, infographic, figure, or table, and it might come from a journal article, magazine article, newspaper article, book, book chapter, report, or website.  

You may be surprised to learn that regardless of the type of image or its source, to reproduce an image in an APA Style paper is not as simple as copy and paste. There are legal implications of reproducing copyrighted intellectual property like images, even in student papers, and the upcoming series of posts will walk you through the process of understanding copyright and permissions and then appropriately crediting the source in your paper.


There are four steps to navigating copyright for reproduced images, each of which is described in its own post. Click the post title below to be taken directly to the information you need, or read the whole series to learn all about this issue!

  1. Understand the copyright status of the image.
  2. Determine whether permission is necessary to reproduce the image.
  3. Secure permission to reproduce the image, if permission is needed.
  4. Write the APA Style copyright statement and reference list entry for the image.




October 28, 2015

An Abbreviations FAQ

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

This post will address how to use FAQ-1200
abbreviations in APA Style—specifically, how to use acronyms, which are abbreviations made up of the first letters of each word in a phrase. Consider it an FAQ about abbreviations! You can find abbreviations discussed in the Publication Manual in section 4.22 (starting on p. 106).

Click a question below to jump straight to its answer. 

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When should I use an abbreviation?

Use abbreviations sparingly and only when they will help readers understand your work. Ask yourself these questions each time you consider using a particular abbreviation:

  • Is the reader familiar with the abbreviation?
    • Use an existing, accepted abbreviation if one exists, because familiarity helps understanding. If a standard abbreviation does not exist, then you can create your own.
  • Will you use the abbreviation at least three times in the paper?
    • Use an abbreviation at least three times in a paper if you are going to use it at all. If you won’t use it three times, then spell out the term every time. The reader might have a hard time remembering what the abbreviation means if you use it infrequently.
  • Would spelling out the term every time be overly repetitive and cumbersome?
    • Use abbreviations to avoid cumbersome repetition and enhance understanding, not just as a writing shortcut. For example, it is usually easier to read a two-word phrase than it is to remember the meaning of a two-letter abbreviation. Longer phrases make better candidates for abbreviation.
  • How many total abbreviations do you have in the paper?
    • There’s no hard line of how many abbreviations is too many, but writing is generally easier to understand when most words are spelled out than when it is overflowing with abbreviations. Only abbreviate when it helps the reader.

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How do I introduce an abbreviation in the text?

The first time you use an abbreviation in the text, present both the spelled-out version and the short form.

When the spelled-out version first appears in the narrative of the sentence, put the abbreviation in parentheses after it:

  • Example: We studied attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

When the spelled-out version first appears in parentheses, put the abbreviation in brackets after it:

  • Example: The diagnosis (i.e., attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]) was confirmed via behavioral observation.

After you define an abbreviation (regardless of whether it is in parentheses), use only the abbreviation. Do not alternate between spelling out the term and abbreviating it.

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How do I abbreviate group authors in in-text citations and reference list entries?

If your reference has a group author, the name of the group can sometimes be abbreviated—for example, American Psychological Association can be abbreviated to APA. You are not obligated to abbreviate the name of a group author, but you can if the abbreviation would help avoid cumbersome repetition and will appear more than three times in the paper.

As with other abbreviations, spell out the name of the group upon first mention in the text and then provide the abbreviation.

If the name of the group first appears in the narrative, put the abbreviation, a comma, and the year for the citation in parentheses after it.

  • Example: The American Psychological Association (APA, 2011) suggested that parents talk to their children about family finances in age-appropriate ways.

If the name of the group first appears in parentheses, put the abbreviation in brackets after it, followed by a comma and the year for the citation.

  • Example: Children should learn about family finances in age-appropriate ways (American Psychological Association [APA], 2011).

In the reference list entry, do not include the abbreviation for the group author. Instead, spell out the full name of the group.

Correct reference entry:

American Psychological Association. (2011). Dollars and sense: Talking to your children about the economy. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/children-economy.aspx

Incorrect reference entry:

American Psychological Association (APA). (2011). Dollars and sense: Talking to your children about the economy. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/children-economy.aspx

If you have several references by the same group author, you only need to abbreviate the name once (see here for how to handle references with the same author and date). Note that if two different groups would abbreviate to the same form (e.g., both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association abbreviate to APA), you cannot use the abbreviation in your paper—instead you must spell out the term every time to avoid ambiguity. 

An exception to abbreviations in the reference list is when works have been published using abbreviations as part of the author, title, or source. Retain these abbreviations because the reader will need them to retrieve the source (you also do not need to define them—just present them as-is). See more about this in our post on cite what you see.

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How do I present an abbreviation in conjunction with an in-text citation?

Sometimes an abbreviation is presented along with an in-text citation. For example, you might cite a test or measure that has an abbreviation and then provide its citation (for a common case, here is how to cite the DSM-5).

If the spelled-out version of the term appears in the narrative for the first time, put the abbreviation and the author–date citation in parentheses after it, separated by a semicolon. Do not use back-to-back parentheses.

  • Correct: We assessed depression using the Beck Depression Inventory–II (BDI-II; Beck, Brown, & Steer, 1996).
  • Incorrect: We used the Beck Depression Inventory—II (BDI-II) (Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996).

If the spelled-out version of the term appears in parentheses for the first time, put the abbreviation in brackets after it, followed by a semicolon and the author–date citation.  

  • Example: Our assessment of depression (as measured via scores on the Beck Depression Inventory–II [BDI-II]; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996) showed significant incidence of this disorder in the population.

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Can I use abbreviations in the title of a paper?

Avoid using abbreviations in the title of a paper. Writing out the full term in the title will ensure potential readers know exactly what you mean, and if your article is formally published, it will ensure it is accurately indexed. 

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Can I use abbreviations in the running head?

There is no official guidance on whether to use abbreviations in the running head. We recommend that you avoid them, unless the abbreviation is well-known and there is no alternative running head that would be better. If you do use an abbreviation in a running head, you can use it straightaway without definition. Instead, define the abbreviation the first time you use it in the text. 

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Can I use abbreviations in the abstract?

In general, it is not necessary to use abbreviations in the abstract because the abstract is so short. However, if the abbreviation would help the reader recognize a term or find your article via search, then it is permissible to include an abbreviation in the abstract, even if it is not used three times. When you use an abbreviation in both the abstract and the text, define it in both places upon first use.  

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Can I use abbreviations in headings?

The Publication Manual does not offer official guidance on whether to use abbreviations in headings. We recommend that you avoid them—for example, the reader may skim the paper before reading it in full, and abbreviations in headings may be difficult to understand out of context. So, if a term you intend to abbreviate appears in a heading (e.g., the name of a test or measure), spell out the term in the heading and then when it first appears in the text, spell it out again and define it there. 

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Can I use abbreviations in tables and figures?

Yes, you can use abbreviations in tables and figures. All abbreviations used in tables and figures should be defined in the table note or figure caption, respectively, even though the abbreviations will be also be defined in the text if they are used there. The purpose of defining abbreviations in the table note or figure caption is that if other authors reuse your graphical display in a future paper, the definitions of the terms will be attached. Additionally, many readers will skim an article before reading it closely, and defining abbreviations in tables and figures will allow the readers to understand the abbreviations immediately.

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Do all abbreviations needs to be defined?

Not all abbreviations need to be defined. Consult Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary to determine what to do: If the abbreviation has the designation abbr. after it in the dictionary, that means it needs to be defined; if it does not have this designation, the abbreviation is considered a word on its own and can be used straight off the bat, without definition. You also do not need to define abbreviations for units of measurement (e.g., cm for centimeters, hr for hour).

  • Examples of abbreviations that are considered words: IQ, REM, HIV, AIDS, FAQ

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How do I use the words and an before abbreviations?

Use the article that matches the way the abbreviation is pronounced—an before a vowel sound and a before a consonant sound. Some abbreviations are pronounced as words (e.g., RAM), and some abbreviations are pronounced letter-by-letter, which is also called an initialism (e.g., HMO, IQ). If you are unsure of the pronunciation of an abbreviation, look it up in the dictionary or ask a colleague. If an abbreviation has multiple pronunciations, use the first one shown in the dictionary entry.

  • Examples: an FBI agent, a DSM-5 disorder, a U.S. citizen, an IQ score

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Are abbreviations written with periods?

Generally, do not use periods in abbreviations. Some exceptions are that you should use periods in the abbreviations for United States and United Kingdom when these terms are used as adjectives (don’t abbreviate them if they are used as nouns). And if you have created an identity-concealing label for a participant, use a period after each letter.

  • Examples: U.S. Census Bureau, U.K. population, participant R.E.C.

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How do I make an abbreviation plural?

To make an abbreviation plural, add an –s (or –es, for abbreviations ending in s already). Do not add an apostrophe. For more, see our dedicated post on plural abbreviations and numbers.

  • Examples: IQs, RTs, CSes.

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I don't see my question!

Got more questions about abbreviations? Ask us in a comment!

August 04, 2015

How to Cite Online Maps in APA Style

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

I was recently asked how to cite the directions created with Google Maps. Because Google Maps is not addressed specifically in the reference examples in the Publication Manual, it’s time to stitch together a Frankenreference.  

For this example, let’s say you want to travel from Ingolstadt, Germany, to Geneva, Switzerland (as Frankenstein’s monster did in part of his journeys). And, let's assume you're driving, not walking or bicycling. Your reference for the directions would look like this:

Google. (n.d.). [Google Maps directions for driving from Ingolstadt, Germany, to Geneva, Switzerland]. Retrieved August 4, 2015, from https://goo.gl/maps/ILt8O

I assembled this Frankenreference from the four following pieces:

Who: The author is Google. (Google Maps is a service provided by Google, Inc.  We recommend dropping “Inc.” and “Co.” from names in references. See also our post on Group Authors.)

Sm.edit.iStock_000066763803_FullWhen: Because Google Maps pages are created on the fly, they have no published date. Use “n.d.”
What: When a page has no title, we recommend creating a description, in brackets.  Because the page has no title, the exact wording to use is up to you.  In this example, I'll use "[Google Maps directions for driving from Ingolstadt, Germany, to Geneva, Switzerland]." Note that I included “driving” in my description. I recommend including the mode of transportation (walking, driving, biking, etc.) in the description because it does affect the URL that Google provides.
Where:  Note that I’ve included the retrieval date. Although retrieval dates are not necessary for most APA Style references, we recommend them for pages that might change or be updated over time. Directions are certainly subject to change, so we recommend including the retrieval date in this case.

Google Maps Reference

I’ve used Google Maps in this example, but the reference format would be similar for other online mapping sites. I hope you’ve found this helpful. Happy travels!

May 05, 2015

How to Cite an Article With an Article Number Instead of a Page Range

Several online-only journals publish articles that have article numbers rather than unique page ranges. That is, instead of the first article in the issue starting on page 1, the second on page 20, the third on page 47, and so on, every article starts on page 1. Why choose this approach? Because the online-only publisher does not have to worry about creating a print issue (where a continuous page range would assist the reader in locating a piece), this numbering system simplifies the publication process. So to still demarcate the order in which the articles in a volume or issue were published, the publisher assigns these works article numbers.

Many of our readers wonder what to do when citing these references in APA Style. No special treatment is required—simply include the page range as it is reported for the article in your APA Style reference. The page range may be listed on the DOI landing page for the article and/or on the PDF version of the article. Here is an example of an article with a page range, from the journal PLoS ONE:

Simon, S. L., Field, J., Miller, L. E., DiFrancesco, M., & Beebe, D. W. (2015). Sweet/dessert foods are more appealing to adolescents after sleep restriction. PLoS ONE, 10, 1–8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0115434

If the article is published in a format without page numbers entirely, just leave off this part of the reference (i.e., end the reference with the volume/issue information for the article). Here is an example article without any page numbers, from the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Cheryan, S., Master, A., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2015). Cultural stereotypes as gatekeepers: Increasing girls’ interest in computer science and engineering by diversifying stereotypes. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00049

In-Text Citations of Direct Quotations

In the text, citations of direct quotations should refer to the page number as shown on the article, if it has been assigned. If the article has not been assigned page numbers, you have three options to provide the reader with an alternate method of locating the quotation:

  • a paragraph number, if provided; alternatively, you can count paragraphs down from the beginning of the document;
  • an overarching heading plus a paragraph number within that section; or
  • an abbreviated heading (or the first few words of the heading) in quotation marks, in cases in which the heading is too unwieldy to cite in full, plus a paragraph number within that section.

Here is an example direct quotation from an article without page numbers that uses the abbreviated heading plus paragraph number method:

To increase the number of women in science and engineering, those in positions of power should strive to create "inclusive cultures so that those who are considering these fields do not necessarily have to embody the stereotypes to believe that they fit there" (Cheryan, Master, & Meltzoff, 2015, "Conclusion," para. 2).

You can read more about including page numbers in in-text citations here. Also see section 6.05 of the Publication Manual.

Do you have additional questions about citing articles with article numbers? Please leave us a comment. 

April 14, 2015

Using Italics for Technical (or Key) Terms

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

(Note: Key terms are not the same as keywords, which appear under an abstract. For more about keywords, see my previous post.)

In creative writing, italics are commonly used to emphasize a particular word, simulating the emphasis you would give a word if you read the sentence aloud. You see that all the time, right? But the APA Publication Manual recommends using careful syntax, rather than italics, for emphasis.

However, the Manual (on p. 105) does recommend using italics for the “introduction of a new, technical, or key term or label," adding "(after a term has been used once, do not italicize it).” I give examples of each below.

New or Technical Terms

To determine whether you have a new or technical term, consider your audience. A term might be new or technical for one audience and not for another. As an illustration, let’s look at two different uses of the phrase conditioned taste aversion.

This phrase might be considered commonplace in behavioral neuroscience or biological psychology research and thus likely not italicized at the first use in journal articles within that field.

Example sentence: “Of course, conditioned taste aversion may be a factor when studying children with these benign illnesses.”

But, let’s say you are instead writing for a journal about childhood development. Because this audience has a different expertise, you may think they are less familiar with the concept of conditioned taste aversion. In that context, you might consider the phrase technical and italicize the first case in your paper.

Example sentence: “Of course even much later in life these children may avoid avocados simply because of conditioned taste aversion, associating them, consciously or unconsciously, with feelings of illness.”

Key termsKey Terms

(Note: Key terms are not the same as keywords, which appear under an abstract. For more about keywords, see my previous post.)

A key term italicized in an APA Style paper signals to readers that they should pay close attention. This might be because you are defining a word or phrase in a unique manner or simply because the term is key to the understanding of your paper. For example, I might italicize a term that will be used throughout the remainder of a paper about conditioning:

Example sentence: “Conditioned taste aversion is a concept not to be overlooked.”

That statement would very likely be followed by a definition and examples of the concept, but subsequent uses of the term would not be italicized.

APA does not maintain a list of technical or key terms—this is intentional. Only you, the author, can know, or reasonably surmise, whether a term is technical to your audience or key to your paper. Let’s look at one more example:

Let’s say you’re writing a paper about the psychological benefits of owning a cat. You might naturally use the term feline many times. Nonetheless, you probably won’t italicize its first use because, for most audiences, it’s a familiar word. Still, as a careful author, if you’ve used the word many times, it’s worth considering why. Let’s say you’ve discussed in great detail how you believe feline traits differ from similar traits of other household pets. In that case, you might consider the understanding of the word feline key to your paper, and you could italicize the first use and perhaps include a definition.

As you can tell, deciding whether you have key, new, or technical terms is subjective. Your paper may have none. Or, if you need to delineate multiple important concepts within a paper, you may have several.


I’ve saved the easiest category for last! Use italics for labels. The Manual gives this example: “box labeled empty.”

For these, you should italicize each time the word is used as a label.

Example sentence: "The box labeled empty was full. Boxes labeled empty should remain empty."


Use italics for the first case of a new or technical term, a key term, or a label. Don’t italicize the subsequent appearances of new or technical terms or key terms.

April 02, 2015

Keywords in APA Style

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

What are keywords?

If you’ve searched PsycINFO, Google Scholar, or other databases, you’ve probably run across keywords. In APA Style articles, they appear just under the abstract. They are usually supplied by an article’s author(s), and they help databases create accurate search results.

Key lightbulbsHow do I pick my keywords?

Keywords are words or phrases that you feel capture the most important aspects of your paper. To create yours, just think about the topics in your paper: What words would you enter into a search box to find your paper? Use those!

We call these natural-language words, because they reflect the way people really talk about, and search for, a topic. In fact, in some databases, to provide comprehensive results, the “keywords” search option actually searches the article titles and abstracts along with these designated keywords.

In short, when later researchers are searching PsycINFO or other research databases, the keywords help them find your work.

For example, if you’ve written a paper about the benefits of social media for people with anxiety, your keywords line might be as follows:

Keywords: anxiety, social media, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat

Note how I’ve included the social media platform names. Keywords don’t have to be formal; they just have to be useful! These keywords will help the later researcher who searches for one of those terms or a combinations of them (e.g., “anxiety and social media,” “anxiety, Facebook, and Twitter”).

Also, because these are natural-language words, keywords can include acronyms. Keywords for a paper on using the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test with patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder might look like this:

Keywords: Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, WCST, OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder

The Publication Manual does not place a limit on how many keywords you may use. However, to be most effective, keywords should be a concise summary of your paper’s content. We recommend three to five keywords.

Where do they go?

The keywords line should begin indented like a paragraph. (In typeset APA journal articles, the keywords line is aligned under the abstract.)  Keywords: should be italicized, followed by a space. The words themselves should not be italicized. You can see an example under the abstract in this APA Style sample paper.

Note (02/01/2016): An earlier version of this post indicated that the keywords line should be centered. This was corrected in the paragraph above.

March 17, 2015

How to Cite an Illustrated Book

David Becker

By David Becker

Dear APA Style Experts,

I want to cite an illustrated book and give proper credit to the illustrator, but I can’t find an example of how to do that in the Publication Manual. Can you give me some guidance?

Edward G.

Dear Edward,

Unfortunately, the Publication Manual doesn’t have the space to accommodate examples for every type of citation situation (cite-uation?). But, even though the manual doesn't specifically mention how to cite an illustrator, the basic book reference format described on pages 202–203 still applies to your cite-uation.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the goal of a reference is not necessarily to provide proper credit—it’s more about directing your readers to the right source. These two objectives generally go hand-in-hand, but not always. For instance, if you’re citing a book that includes illustrations that aren’t essential elements of the book, crediting the illustrator is probably not necessary—this information will likely not assist readers in finding the original source.

Take Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for example. The illustrations by Sir John Tenniel are very well-known, but the book can function perfectly fine without them, and your readers won’t need to know his name to find the source. With that in mind, here’s what the reference would look like:

Carroll, L. (2006). Alice’s adventures in Wonderland & through the looking-glass. New York, NY: Bantam Dell. (Original work published 1865)

Even if you were writing specifically about these illustrations, you would still use the same reference information, as well as the standard author–date format for parenthetical citations. You could simply refer to the illustrator and his work in your narrative: “Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations are excellent examples of surreal art from the 1800s (Carroll, 1865/2006).”

Alice in Wonderland

However, when citing a book where the illustrations are essential to understanding the content—a children’s picture book or a graphic novel, for example—it would be appropriate to cite both the author and the illustrator, especially if they are both given cover credit. But, you don't need to worry about their roles. Keep it simple and cite the book as you would cite a non-illustrated book with more than one author. Take Goodnight Moon for example:

Brown, M. W., & Hurd, C. (2007). Goodnight moon. New York, NY: HarperCollins. (Original work published 1947)

Although Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd are clearly identified on the book's front cover as the author and the illustrator, respectively, there's no need to indicate this in your reference entry.

One benefit of sticking with this basic citation format is that you can easily apply it to books where the author and illustrator roles are not clearly designated on the cover, which is the case with the graphic novel Watchmen:

Moore, A., & Gibbons, D. (1986). Watchmen. New York, NY: DC Comics.

Note that although John Higgins is credited as the colorist inside the book, he's not named on the front cover. Therefore, it's not necessary to cite him for retrievability purposes—just cite what you see on the front cover.

This simple citation format also works for wordless picture books where there is no author, only an illustrator:

Becker, A. (2013). Journey. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

If you’re trying to cite an illustrated book, I hope this information will help you resolve your cite-uation. If not, please leave a comment below or contact us.

February 04, 2015

How to Cite a Hashtag in #APAStyle

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

Note: To learn how to cite individual tweets or posts that include hashtags, see our post on citing social media. This post is about how to talk about the hashtags themselves.

The hashtag as an organizational tool wasn’t born on Twitter, but that's where I, and many others, first saw it used that way. And, as Chris Messina, who introduced the idea to Twitter, has said, "it's left nerd-dom and now it's out there in the world." Indeed, the hashtag is a common sight on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Google+, Flickr, Tumblr, Pinterest, Kickstarter, and other platforms. And its ubiquity makes the hashtag an incredibly useful search tool.

#APAStyle on Facebook
#APAStyle on Twitter
#APAStyle on Pinterest
#APAStyle on Google+

So how do you cite a hashtag? This may surprise you: You don’t!

That’s because, just like a search of a research database, finding and searching with the right hashtag is part of your research methodology. And just as with other aspects of your methodology, you can simply describe it the text of your paper.

That is, just as you might say “I searched the Public Affairs Information Service International database for Hong Kong, electoral system, and Umbrella Revolution,” you might also say “I searched Twitter, Vine, and Instragram for the hashtags #UmbrellaRevolution, #OccupyHK, and #HongKong that appeared between September 22, 2014 through October 22, 2014.” Interested readers and fellow researchers can then attempt to replicate the search if they are so inclined. If the reasoning behind the wording of the hashtag is not obvious, you might want to elaborate. In this example, you might want or need to explain the origin of the terms Umbrella Revolution and the Occupy movement, which led to the #UmbrellaRevolution and #OccupyHK hashtags.

Of course, in your paper you might also refer to individual tweets, Facebook posts, pictures, or other online items that include hashtags. For instance, you might want to quote the most popular Tweet that used the hashtag or just show some representative cases. You can (and should) create references and cite tweets or other online posts that you’ve quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise relied on in a paper.

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