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APA Guide

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Welcome to the APA Guide!

Use the tabs along the left to access information on various elements of the APA style. Trying to format your cover page? Select the Formatting & NoodleTools tab. Citing a book? Select the Books tab for information on creating references and in-text citations.

Additional information about the APA style is provided in the boxes below.  Also, view the short videos from a fellow student, a faculty member, and a Librarian!

Use this Guide in the way that works best for you. Click and explore! 


Learn how to navigate the guide by watching this short video:

American Psychological Associaton (APA) citation style is an editorial style that governs:

  1. How to format your paper in Microsoft Word.
  2. How to include resources in your paper. 

The purpose of properly formatting your paper is to aid your reader. When your paper follows APA guidelines, it ensures that content is organized in a clear format and is consistent from one paper to the next. Imagine how helpful this is for instructors when all the papers they are reading are organized in the same way and follow the same rules!


*For more information on formatting, click on the Formatting & NoodleTools tab to the left!

Citations, similar to formatting, are used to aid the reader. A reader should be able to easily locate the sources used in the paper or manuscript. This is achieved by using both in-text citations and references.


*Use the tabs along the left to locate examples for in-text citations and references for books, articles, website and other types of resources.

Below you will find the APA Template and the APA Sample Paper.

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Who? Why? When? What? How?

About APA Style

The best scientific writing is simple and straightforward. It spotlights the ideas being presented, not the manner of presentation. Paper structure, word choice, punctuation, graphics, and references are all chosen to move your ideas forward with minimum distraction.

To achieve clear communication, publishers have developed rules of style. These rules are designed to ensure clear and consistent presentation of written material. Editorial style concerns uniform use of such elements as

  • punctuation and abbreviations
  • construction of tables
  • selection of headings
  • citation of references, and 
  • presentation of statistics

When your instructors ask you to write in APA Style, they are referring to the editorial style that many of the social and behavioral sciences have adopted to present written material in the field. APA Style was first developed 80 years ago by a group of social scientists who wished to establish sound standards of communication. Since that time, it has been adopted by leaders in many fields and has been used by writers around the world.

APA's style rules and guidelines are set out in a reference book called The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed.

Citations are tools that help your reader.  They serve other valuable purposes, including:

  • Giving credit where credit is due
  • Demonstrating that your research rests on a solid foundation
  • Adding credibility to your argument by integrating the work of experts
  • Creating a research roadmap that enables other researchers to follow the creation of knowledge over time
  • Avoiding plagiarism
    • ​What's plagiarism? Visit the tab on the left to learn more information!

Use citations whenever you incorporate information gathered during the research process. This includes not only direct quotes, but also paraphrases and summaries

Information Paraphrased: using different words to express the original message.

Information Summarized: giving the main facts in condensed form.

Information Quoted: repeating the original information word for word.

Images: tables or graphics that you did not create yourself. 

There are two places that you need to cite your sources in your paper: 

  1. In the actual text of your paper (in-text citations).
  2. In the reference page at the end of your paper (references).

Citations signal to your reader that you are using information that you gathered through research and allows them to easily locate your information sources if they choose. There are two types of citations:

  • In-Text Citations – found within the body of your document and let your reader know that information was collected during research and is not your own.  These citations are very short to minimize distractions and to provide the reader with enough information to find the full reference in the list at the end of the document.
  • References – correspond to in-text citations but include more information, enabling the reader to locate the sources used in your document. 

In this guide, the in-text citation examples shown to the left for specific sources are for paraphrases and summaries (Author-Date pattern). When citing a direct quote, you will also need to include either a page number or paragraph number (Author-Date-# pattern).


Author-Date pattern:

When you summarizeparaphrase, or otherwise refer to an idea, concept, or fact gained through your research, your citation will contain the last name of the author(s) and the year of publication:

(Smith, 2008)

(Wilson, 2014)


Author-Date-# pattern:

When you copy a portion of the text directly from a source, it is called a direct quotation. Your citation will contain the last name of the author(s), the year of publication, and page number of where the quote can be found in the source:

If you are using a source that has pages, then you will use an abbreviated p.:

(Smith, 2008, p. 4)

If you are using a source that does not have pages (a website), then you will use a paragraph number. You will count down to the paragraph where your quote is located. You will use an abbreviated para.: 

(Wilson, 2014, para. 2)


Remember - In-text citations are located within the text of your paper and references are located in the references list at the end of your paper.


*For more information on creating in-text citations, visit the In-Text Citations tab to the left!

References follow an Author Date Title Access pattern.

  • Author - Who wrote it? Individual, group, association, organization? 
  • Date - When was it published?
  • Title - What is it titled?
  • Access - Where can it be retrieved? Publisher, Issue, URL, DOI?

The purpose of the reference is to provide the reader with the information needed to retrieve the full text of the resource that is cited in your paper. 


*For more information, visit the Locating Information For A Reference tab to the left!

Some resources may not have all of the elements needed to create a reference or an in-text citation. 

No Author

Move the title (or abbreviation of a long title) to the Author position of a citation when an author is not provided.

Reference example:

No Date

Use the abbreviation n.d. in the date segment of the citation.

Reference example:

Consult the chart linked here to assist in creating citations with missing elements.

 

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APA Links

APA Videos

As a student, why is it important to properly format your paper and use APA citations? What's the big deal? Get the inside scoop from a current Rasmussen student by watching this short video:

Ever wonder why your instructors put so much emphasis on using proper APA citations and formatting? Get your answers straight from the source and watch this short video from one of our faculty members

Get a librarian's perspective on the APA learning process: 

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