19 posts categorized "Publication Manual help"

September 26, 2019

Archiving the Sixth Edition APA Style Blog

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes, oh, look out you rock 'n rollers

—David Bowie, “Changes,” Hunky Dory

Change just aheadWe launched the sixth edition APA Style blog in 2009 on the very day that the sixth edition of the Publication Manual was published. During the past 10 years, we’ve enjoyed talking about writing, research, grammar, and style. And, we’ve learned so much from you! Your questions informed us about how APA Style is taught and applied, you shared which of our examples and guidelines needed clarification, and we observed how language changed. We discussed all aspects of sixth edition APA Style, and we answered thousands of questions. These discussions informed our thinking as we worked on the seventh edition. Thank you for helping us make this blog a success!

With the new edition of the Publication Manual, we’re beginning a new blog. On October 1st, you’ll find the new blog at https://apastyle.apa.org/blog.

But not to worry! We know that editors, instructors, and students need time to learn the new style and begin applying it. With that in mind, we’ll be keeping an archive of the sixth edition APA Style blog. (We’ll share the link for that on the new site.) To keep things streamlined, we’ll be closing comments on the sixth edition posts as of today. We will continue to answer questions and discuss style points on the seventh edition blog. And, we’ll be happy to answer questions about sixth edition style via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and email (StyleExpert@apa.org).

You’ll find many other changes on our website soon, too! We’ll archive the FAQs and other sixth edition resources. On the APA Style website, you’ll find new pages that highlight seventh edition APA Style. On these pages, we’ll show what’s new, what’s revised or updated, and what’s unchanged in seventh edition style. Please visit the APA Style website on October 1st to see the changes!

October 24, 2018

Mastering APA Style

Do you teach students about APA Style guidelines? APA has two instructional aids that can help you get started.

4210005-475Mastering APA Style: Instructor’s Resource Guide (6th ed.) "contains eight multiple-choice assessment surveys, correction keys, and answer sheets, along with informative instructions on how to incorporate this material into a curriculum." This guide is "designed to help improve students' understanding and use of APA Style before they begin writing term papers and research reports, allowing instructors in academic settings to concentrate more on course material and less on correcting style errors in students' papers."

 

 

4210006-475_tcm11-76755Mastering APA Style: Student's Workbook and Training Guide (6th ed.) "is a self-pacing, self-teaching workbook that can be used to learn APA Style quickly and effectively." This training guide includes "instructional exercises and practice tests on various aspects and features of the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, including electronic references and citations, grammar, headings, italics and capitalization, numbers style, and table formatting."

 

 

You can order these and other APA Style products for your library or classroom.

If you are college faculty seeking an examination or desk copy, information can be found on our website.

December 14, 2017

The Publication Manual Is Available as an E-book

image of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth editionWe are thrilled to announce that the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association® (6th edition) is available in electronic format from two outlets:

RedShelf and
VitalSource.

October 05, 2017

Widows and Orphans and Bears, Oh My!

David Becker



By David Becker

Dear APA Style Experts,

Is it okay for a heading to be alone at the very bottom of a page while the first paragraph of that section begins at the top of the next page? I checked page 62 in the Publication Manual where it talks about levels of heading, but I couldn’t find any answers to this question. Please help!

—Keith T.

Dear Keith,

Yes, in an APA Style manuscript, it’s perfectly fine to have a heading at the bottom of one page with the body of the section starting on the next page. In fact, you can see examples of this at the beginning of Sample Paper 2 (see pp. 54–55 in the sixth edition of the Publication Manual; the sample papers are also accessible online via our “Best of the APA Style Blog” post).

Lonely headings like these are sometimes called orphans in typesetting. An orphan can also mean the first line of a paragraph that’s left all alone at the bottom of a page. When the last line of a paragraph appears by itself at the top of the page, typesetters may refer to it as a widow. Widows, like orphans, are acceptable in APA Style manuscripts.

However, if you’re a student writing a class paper or a dissertation, your professor or university may have standards that differ from APA Style. They might prohibit widows and orphans. Universities have particularly precise criteria for dissertations and theses that often address widows and orphans—sometimes even specifying the minimum number of lines of text that can appear on the same page as a table. Your professor or a dissertation committee will be the ones evaluating your work, not APA, so their standards supersede those in the Publication Manual. You should therefore ask your professor or dissertation advisor about whether widows and orphans are acceptable.

You may be wondering why the Publication Manual doesn’t discuss widows and orphans. This is because the guidelines in the manual were designed with draft journal articles in mind. They don’t directly address issues that are more relevant to a final article’s appearance and composition, including widows and orphans, which are sorted out during typesetting. Publishers generally determine what their articles will look like when they go to print, so they establish their own typesetting standards. Although the Publication Manual doesn’t weigh in on these issues, section 8.06 (pp. 239–240) briefly addresses an author’s responsibilities during typesetting, which includes sending the manuscript files to the publisher in an acceptable format and double-checking the typeset page proofs for any errors.

Typesetter at Work

Although some aspects of a draft manuscript carry over into the typeset version—the reference list follows the same APA Style guidelines, for example—the appearance and composition of the article will change drastically. The font type and size, the margins, and the line spacing are all typically very different after typesetting. Some articles will also be formatted so that the text is split into two columns. And, the tables and figures that appear at the end of the manuscript will be embedded close to their first mention in the text. All this rearranging and redesigning means that what were once widows and orphans in a draft manuscript will likely be in completely different places in the final version. There’s no reason to be too concerned about these lonely lines of text during the draft stage if they will be reunited with their lost relatives during typesetting and appear together in the final article.

If you’re a student, your schoolwork won’t go through this whole process before it’s finalized. Your paper is considered “final” when you submit it to your professor. For example, a dissertation, once submitted, becomes the final, published version of record. Therefore, it’s important to consider the final appearance of your paper during the draft stage. Some formatting issues not covered in the Publication Manual will need to be addressed while you’re writing your paper. When in doubt, always check with your professor or university to see if they have their own preferred standards.

And, in case you were wondering, APA Style doesn’t have any guidelines concerning bears. I doubt your professor or university will have any either.

July 14, 2016

The Origins of APA Style

Anne blog image
by Anne Breitenbach 

APA Style is older than virtually all of its users—if you were born after 1929, then APA Style is older than you are. But just because APA Style is nearing its 10th decade doesn’t mean that its origins need to be lost to the mists of time. This post will share some of the origins of APA Style.

The first glimmer of what has become APA Style emerged in a seven-page article published by the Conference of Editors and Business Managers of Anthropological and Psychological Periodicals following a 2-day meeting in Washington, DC. This article appeared in one of psychology’s preeminent journals, APA’s own Psychological Bulletin.

Calling-out-icons-1200

A prime incentive for publishing that first article was to save publishers money and time, as submitted manuscripts were often too long, inconsistently formatted, and wandered through their content. The authors were responding to a real need and genuinely trying to help would-be authors as well as improve the quality of the submissions. That they were aware that setting guidelines has a substantial and direct effect on those would-be authors is evident, as is conveyed by the downright diffident tone of their opening paragraphs.

The committee realizes that it neither has, nor wishes to assume, any authority in dictating to authors, publishers or editors; but it suggests the following recommendations for use as a standard of procedure, to which exceptions would doubtless be necessary, but to which reference might be made in cases of doubt, and which might be cited to authors for their general guidance in the preparation of scientific articles. (Bentley et al., 1929, p. 57)

In those seven pages you can find the core of the APA Style you know and love. Authors are urged to brevity in making their arguments; use of headings to impose logical structure; and subdivision into an introduction, statement of results, and discussion. There is a discussion of what to cite and how to cite a reference, and space is given to the use of tables and figures. Other familiar elements are not yet present and will be added over time. For example, there is no guidance on writing style or grammar—beyond the exhortation that those who are incompetent should get help. Reference types were few, and so the explosion of reference formats lies in the future. Nor would you have found instruction on how to avoid plagiarism or use bias-free language to write sensitively about participants or people in general.

As the APA Style Publication Manual evolved into its current sixth edition, the content has expanded and the tone has become more confident of a right, even a responsibility, to set standards, at least in APA’s own journals. In the future, especially given the explosion of digital technologies now used to disseminate content, we will continue striving to ensure that clear communication continues.

Reference

Bentley, M., Peerenboom, C. A., Hodge, F. W., Passano, E. B., Warren, H. C., & Washburn, M. F. (1929). Instructions in regard to preparation of manuscript. Psychological Bulletin, 26, 57–63. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0071487

July 11, 2016

Introducing APA Style CENTRAL

We are proud to announce the launch of APA Style CENTRAL, a learning, writing, research, and publishing solution developed for academic institutions by the American Psychological Association!

Free trials are available today for institutions. Students and faculty: If you are interested, please contact your institutional library. For more, see this short video!



To learn more, see http://apastyle.org/asc!

May 31, 2016

You Can Word Count on This

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

Dear Style Expert,

What words count toward the word count in an APA Style paper? Am I supposed to count the title page, abstract, citations, and reference list? Are there minimums or maximums for the word count of a sentence or paragraph? How many words should go in the whole paper? Help me!

—Wordy William

Vintage-typewriter-1200

Dear Wordy,

Counting the number of words in an APA Style paper is easy: Count all the words in the entire paper to get the total word count. That includes the title page, abstract, main text, quotations, headings, citations, footnotes, reference list, tables, figure captions, and appendices—everything. This gives an accurate representation of the overall length of your paper and saves you from having to perform elaborate calculations just to know whether your paper is too long, too short, or just right. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to count the words in your paper.

There is also no set minimum or maximum number of words allowed in a sentence or paragraph. Sentences and paragraphs of any length are technically allowed. However, there are still reasons to avoid very short or very long sentences and paragraphs that have nothing to do with arbitrary word counts. Very short sentences might be abrupt or choppy, and very long sentences might get confusing. Paragraphs shorter than two or three sentences might seem incomplete, and paragraphs longer than a page might contain too many ideas at once. Use very short or long sentences and paragraphs only when warranted by the information being presented.

The word count limit for an entire paper will be set by the journal to which you are submitting your work or by your professor for a university assignment. Limits vary widely and are dependent on the nature of the article you are writing—for example, a brief report will be short but a dissertation quite long.

The word count limit for the abstract is also set by the publisher or professor; abstract word limits vary from journal to journal and typically range from 150 to 250 words (for student assignments, the limit is typically 250 words as well).

If you’ve got other questions about word counts for your particular assignment, your professor or publisher will probably be the best resource for you. Leave any other questions or comments below.

May 02, 2016

Principles of Writing: Passive and Active Voice

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

Few topics in scholarly writing raise as many questions as passive voice. Many writers have gotten the impression that passive voice isn’t allowed in APA Style or that if it is allowed, it is to be avoided at all costs. However, that’s an oversimplification. The reality is that sometimes the passive voice is appropriate, but many writers overuse it.

This post will show you how to identify the passive and active voices, explain the advantages and disadvantages of each, and help you choose the appropriate voice for your writing. Both passive and active voices are likely to appear in the same paper; it is just a matter of choosing the right voice given what you want to express.

Identifying Voice

Here is the classic formula for identifying the passive voice:

A “to be” verb + a past participle + the word by.

  • Active voice: The lion ate the mouse.

Lion eats mouse 1

  • Passive voice: The mouse was eaten by the lion.

Lion eats mouse 2

In the active voice sentence, the actor (the lion) is presented first, followed by the action (eating) and then the object of that action (the mouse). In the passive voice sentence, the order is reversed.

There are two caveats to this formula:

  1. Sometimes the word by is left out of a passive voice sentence but is still implicit in the meaning, for example, in a sentence like “This topic was addressed in the paper.” If you can ask “by whom?” and come up with a coherent answer (such as “by the researchers” or “by Smith”), then the sentence is still in the passive voice even though the word by does not appear. 

  2. Not all instances of to be indicate the passive voice, as in a sentence like “The participants were hungry.” Asking “hungry by whom?” makes no sense, so this sentence is not in the passive voice even though it has a to be verb.

Advantages of the Active Voice

The Publication Manual says to “prefer the active voice” (p. 77), and there are two main reasons why. First, the active voice clearly lays out the chain of events: Lion eats mouse. With a passive voice sentence, the reader must wait until the end of the sentence to discover who was responsible for the action. When used in a long sentence, the passive voice may confuse readers. Second, the active voice usually creates shorter sentences. Although your paper should include a variety of sentence lengths, shorter sentences are usually easier to understand than longer ones.

Here are two common cases in which you should prefer the active voice rather than the passive voice:

  1. Use the active voice to describe your own actions. It is completely permissible, and in fact encouraged, to use the first person to describe your own actions in APA Style. Use I to refer to yourself if you worked alone and we if you worked as part of a group (see PM 3.09 for more).
    • Active voice: I conducted an experiment about body image.
    • Passive voice: An experiment about body image was conducted.

  2. Use the active voice to acknowledge the participation of people in research studies, which is an important part of reporting research (see Guideline 3 on p. 73 of the Publication Manual for more on this). For example, researchers often administer surveys to participants or observe them for certain behaviors. Show with your sentences how participants completed actions, rather than how researchers acted upon them, as in these examples:
    • Active voice: The students completed the surveys.
    • Passive voice: The surveys were completed by the students.

Advantages of the Passive Voice

The Publication Manual also states that “the passive voice is acceptable in expository writing [writing used to give information on a topic or to explain something] and when you want to focus on the object or recipient of the action rather than on the actor” (p. 77). Here is an example of appropriate passive voice:

  • First-year students have been underserved by the university administration.

In this sentence, the focus is on first-year students. Depending on the context, this may be exactly what you are going for. The active voice version (“The university administration has underserved first-year students”) puts the focus on the university administration, which is not necessarily what you want. Remember, APA Style doesn’t prohibit the passive voice; it just requires that you use it wisely.

Strategies for Choosing the Appropriate Voice

Both the active and passive voices have uses in scholarly writing, so employ them appropriately. However, newer writers especially tend to overuse the passive voice, which can lead to clumsy, long, and confusing sentences. With that in mind, we recommend the following:

  1. Prefer the active voice over the passive voice to create clear, concise sentences; however, remember that the passive voice can also be an appropriate choice under certain circumstances.

  2. Identify cases of the passive voice by looking for instances of the to be verb + a past participle + the word by.

  3. Try rewriting a passive voice sentence in the active voice to determine which voice more clearly communicates your ideas.

For more on this topic, see section 3.18 of the Publication Manual.

Leave a comment if you've got questions that you want to be answered by us.

January 13, 2016

Coming Soon: APA Style CENTRAL

Last weekend, we did something fun: At the American Library Association’s midwinter conference, in Boston, we gave librarians a sneak peek at APA Style CENTRAL!

To get a glimpse for yourself, check out the video below!

To receive additional updates about APA Style CENTRAL as they become available, just complete the form at http://apastyle.org/asc.

December 23, 2014

Making a List, Checking It Twice

Anne Breitenbach

 

By Anne Breitenbach

You know what I love? Assembly instructions.Recipes. Rules of engagement. Game plans. In essence, any tool that helps me clearly define what I need to have on hand to do a project properly and what steps I will need to take to complete it. So the first thing I do each morning when I arrive at my desk (well, after getting coffee) is jot down a checklist of what I hope to accomplish on this day. It gives me goals, focuses me, keeps tasks from getting lost, and—perhaps best of all—allows me to strike through each as it’s completed. (Microambition provides pretty constant self-congratulatory feedback.)   I’m not alone in my appreciation of checklists either.  Researchers, authors, and students ask us all the time if there is a roadmap to achieving a paper or a manuscript created correctly in APA Style.

So I’ve convinced you, right? You grab the Publication Manual and flip to the index looking for a handy “checklist” entry. I’m afraid it isn’t quite that clear cut. There are checklists of various kinds, but you have to know your manual or supporting APA resources well enough to know what and where they are and how to use them.  Let’s look at some examples. 

At the end of Chapter 8, “The Publication Process,” in section 8.07, you’ll find a précis of what a “good” manuscript looks like, with sections on format, title page and abstract, paragraphs and headings, abbreviations, mathematics and statistics, units of measurement, references, notes and footnotes, tables and figures, and copyright and quotations. This Checklist for Manuscript Submission is also available online in the Authors and Reviewers Resource Center on our website. Although designed for authors, it is just as handy as a cheat sheet for students. A bonus is that it provides you with the relevant section numbers in the Publication Manual

In fact, at the end of several sections you’ll also find a checklist. For example, section 5.19 summarizes the information about tables and reminds you, among other elements, to use tables only when necessary, review for consistency of presentation, keep your title brief, ensure all columns have a column head, define abbreviations, construct notes appropriately, and provide suggested statistics. It’s a very useful way to check that you’ve complied with all the recommendations. 

And the checklists don’t stop there. There’s one for figures in section 5.30 at the close of the figures section to gently remind you to use simple and clear figures that are clearly labeled. It reminds you to ensure the figures appear in order and are discussed in the text. It also reminded me of several other steps that I just had to go back to the checklist and check.

Of course, not all checklists may be so benign. You know who else loves checklists? That’s right. Santa’s making his list and checking it twice. Things might go better for you if he knows you're a checklist user too.

Bad santa

 

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