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APA Format and Citations: Everything You Need to Know

Oct 18, 2022


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Science nowadays is comprehensively embraced by the process of globalization. This trend has many advantages and provides many opportunities, for example, to demonstrate scientific achievements to the world, and to publish scientific articles in international publications. However, the requirements are tough as well – the material must be understandable to the entire target audience. That is why universal styles of referencing are being introduced. One of the best styles available is the APA style.

Key Features and Benefits of APA style

APA style is the style of the American Psychological Association, proposed as a universal algorithm for citing, quoting, and compiling bibliographic sources and references. It is mainly used in academic works devoted to areas of social science, including law, economics, art, psychology, and sociology.

These scientific areas are typically characterized by a large number of sources and wide coverage of the studied material within a framework of a given research paper. That is why in APA style the presence of 2-3 references per page is considered the norm, as is the list of sources consisting of dozens, and sometimes even hundreds of external sources. Under such circumstances, there is little doubt that proper ordering is needed. Here, the APA style is considered one of the best options available.

Main Principles of APA Style

  1. Each item of the bibliographic list should be tied to a specific reference in a research paper.
  2. One cannot use footnotes without displaying them in the bibliographic list of sources at the end of the research paper.
  3. APA style stipulates working with all kinds of references, including in-text references, block references, and paraphrases.
  4. The main rules are as follows: informative value, the clear presence of all elements of the inventory of sources, literacy, truthfulness, and careful verification of sources.

In-text quotations should always contain information about the author of the scientific work or editor, compiler (in case the author is absent), the title of the cited work, year of publication, and page spacing. 

A paraphrase must never be quoted, unlike a quotation within a sentence. The date is always indicated in brackets, although it can follow both inside a sentence immediately after the second name and initials, and after the sentence, along with the second name and the exact pages.

In general, the APA style is characterized by high logic and clarity, although at first glance one can’t tell right away. Despite a large amount of various punctuation signs, when it comes to bibliography, the presence of separators is kept to a minimum. For example, there is no forward slash “/” and no actual semicolons “;”. These are just some of the advantages of the APA style.

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What Does APA Style Consist of?

A typical APA formatted paper consists of four basic sections: an APA title page, abstract, body (which includes methods used during the research, results of the research, and conclusion, which sometimes includes discussion), as well as references in the end. In each specific case, the particular sections that are used will depend on the particular type of research paper you are writing. For instance, in a college term paper, the very last part of the APA formatted paper will be titled “Conclusion”, while in a more senior thesis work the same ending will be titled “Discussion”. 

Ordering a List of Sources – Distinct Features

The bibliographic list is always placed on the last page(s) of the research work and always on a separate sheet. Its content should be presented in such a way that everyone can easily access the original source and use the original data therein. To this end, literacy and clarity of references are important. The name of the list of used sources is the List of References or Bibliography.

The heading should be placed in the middle in a regular font and without quotes. The entire list is double-line spaced. To list the cited materials, researchers use alphabetical order as a preferred method, which is based on the names of the author.

If the original source does not have an author, then alphabetical enumeration is applied, which is based on the title of the cited scientific work. If a study contains references to the same author, but different works, they are placed in the bibliography in chronological order by year of publication sorted starting from the earliest to the most recent.

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