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APA style is most commonly used in the social and behavioral sciences as well as in first-year composition classes at UTEP.  The most important considerations in using this style include manuscript structure, stylistic issues, and citing research, which includes in-text citations and a reference list at the end of the manuscript.  This page provides information on these various aspects with the goal of providing you with the basics you need to use APA style effectively.
The main components of an APA manuscript are
  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Paper body
  4. References
The title page should include the title, which generally should be 12 words or less, and the author/s' names and institutional affiliations.  For work in your classes, you may or may not be required to create a title page.  Check with your instructor.

The abstract is a brief summary of the paper or article which is generally 150-words or less.  According to the APA Manual, a good abstract is accurate, nonevaluative, coherent and readable, and concise.  For work in your classes, you may or may not be required to create an abstract.  Check with your instructor.

At the minimum, the paper body should include an introduction, body, and conclusion.  More formal research articles, such as for psychology, should include the following: An introduction that "presents the specific problem under study and describes the research strategy" (p. 27), a methods section which "describes in detail how the study was conducted, including conceptual and operational definitions of the variables used in the study," (p. 29), a results section which summarizes the "collected data and the analysis performed on those data relevant to the discourse that is to follow" (p. 32), and the discussion, which is where the author should "examine, interpret, and qualify the results and draw inferences and conclusions from them" (p. 35).

The reference list includes a list of sources, properly formatted, that allows your reader to locate the resources used in your paper.

For information on how to format your APA paper, click here to view a sample paper from the APA Style website.

Here are the first 3 pages of an APA-formatted manuscript:

In APA style, citations to sources are placed in the text of the paper in order to briefly identify sources for readers and enable them to locate the source of the cited information in the Reference List. Citations are placed within sentences and a paragraph so that it is clear what information is being quoted or paraphrased and whose information is being cited.

Option 1       Bartholemew (1992) believed that all institutions are "genuinely responsive to the essential problems but may be irrelevant to those problems if necessary legal services are not readily obtainable by those who might benefit from them” (p. 212).

Option 2     All institutions are "genuinely responsive to the essential problems but may be irrelevant to those problems if necessary legal services are not readily obtainable by those who might benefit from them" (Bartholemew, 1992, p.212).

In the first option above, the writer cites the source by (1) mentioning the author's name in the text and (2) placing in parentheses the year of publication from which the information was borrowed. In the second option, the writer does not use the author's name in the text and must, therefore, do so in parentheses after the borrowed material.

Note that quotes longer than 40 words should be block formatted, which means setting them off from the introductory phrase and indenting them a half inch from the left margin:

Harris (1993) held that the strict division between white and black is a socially constructed practice, albeit an important one with serious implications: Because whites could not be enslaved or held as slaves, the racial line between white and black was extremely critical; it became a line of protection and demarcation from the potential threat of commodification, and it determined the allocation of the benefits of this form of property.  White identity and whiteness were sources of privilege and protection; their absence meant being the object of property (pp. 1720-1).

Note that a block quote does not include quotation marks.

Appearing on its own page between the endnotes and the appendixes, the Reference List must include full citations for all sources of borrowed information.  At the top of the page, center the words Reference List.  Then proceed with your references, indenting the second line of each reference a half inch from the left.Here is a sample followed by examples of common references:

Note: In APA style, only capitalize the first letter of any title except for journal titles, which are all capitalized.


Bartholemew, J. (1992).  Personal law and you. New York, NY: Legal Press, Inc.

Chapter in an edited collection
Canagarajah, A.S.  (1999).  Interrogating the “Native speaker fallacy”: Non-linguistic roots, non-pedagogical results.  In G. Braine (Ed.), Non-native educators in english language teaching (pp. 77-92).  Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Venduzi, C.  (1991).  Keynote address. Twenty-fifth annual meeting of Midwest lawyers. Chicago.

Article in an academic journal (note how multiple authors are cited)
Govardhan, A. K., Nayar, B., & Sheorey, R. (1999).  Do U.S. MATESOL programs prepare students to teach abroad?  TESOL Quarterly, 33(1), 114-125.

Internet sources 
These can be especially tricky, since there is often not a specific author listed and because there are a number of different types of genres.  Here are examples of common internet references; for more, look at the APA guide or conduct an internet search for guidance.  

Blog post
PZ Myers.  (2007, January 22).  The unfortunate prerequisites and consequences of partitioning your mind [Web log post].  Retrieved from http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/01/ the_unfortunate_prerequisites.php

Electronic discussion board post
Marvin, A. (2007, January 17).  Re: Who’s learning Indian English? [Electronic mailing list message].  Retrieved from http://www.englishforums.com/English/ WhosLearningIndianEnglish/dnvxk/post.htm

Online news article
Roberts, S. (2008, August 14).  In a generation, minorities may be the U.S. majority.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/

YouTube video
Goyen, A. (2007, February 22). Downtown Marquette dog sled races [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW3CNCGGgTY

This page was created by Todd Ruecker in July 2010.


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