EP 35: Steps To Using APA Format In Your Academic Essays


New to learning APA format? Allow Cath Anne our weekly host to walk you through the steps of using APA format in your papers. On Episode 35 we discuss one of the essential components of academic writing: APA format.

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TRANSCRIPT:


Cath Anne:

[00:00:05] Hi there and welcome back to our channel. My name is Cath Anne and this is Episode 34 of the Homework Help Show. Here on The Homework Help Show we provide you with valuable content for your academic and student life.


Cath Anne:

[00:00:21] OK. This week I wanted to discuss APA format, definitely not a favorite topic of most students. However, I thought it was really important to go over the fundamentals and the basics of this format because it is so common in college and university. If you’re writing a paper for psychology, arts, or sociology class it is likely that you will be using APA format. If you’ve never used this format before it may be a little bit confusing and difficult to get used to. It might be different from some of the writing styles that you already know. However, practicing and understanding the basics will help you go a long way with it.


Cath Anne:

[00:01:06] While it may take a little bit of time to learn and to get used to, knowing APA format is a skill that you can carry with you well beyond your college and university years.


Cath Anne:

[00:01:21] Okay, so what is APA format? APA Format is the official style of the American Psychological Association and it is commonly used to cite articles in the psychological discipline. However, it is also used in sociology and other humanities courses. The APA style originated in 1929 in an article published by The Psychological Bulletin and this laid the foundation for what would later become the American Psychological Publication Manual.


Cath Anne:

[00:02:01] So, you might be wondering why APA format is so important in psychology and sociology. By using APA style researchers and students writing in that discipline have guidelines to go by and they’re able to communicate information across the board that everyone can understand. Sticking to a consistent style allows students and researchers to know what to expect in a research article.


Cath Anne:

[00:02:30] If you have ever taken a psychology or a social sciences class then you’re probably accustomed to using APA format. However, if you haven’t taken it you’ve probably used MLA or Chicago format. New college students are often quite surprised when they’ve been using a certain format for a long time and then they have to transition to APA format. Certainly, it can take some time to get used to and some adjustment. However, if you do know the basics and you have a few resources on hand then it can become part of your regimen as a student.


Cath Anne:

[00:03:11] OK. Let’s discuss the four major components of your APA format paper. As you can see I’ve made a note of them here on the board and I will discuss each one in succession.


Cath Anne:

[00:03:27] Number one you’re going to have your title page. Your title page should contain a running head, the title, the author name, so your name, and your school affiliation. The purpose of the title page is to give the reader a quick glance about what your paper is about and who wrote the paper.


Cath Anne:

[00:03:51] Number two: you want to make sure that you always have an abstract in APA format. There may be times that your prof may not want you to include an abstract. However, this is a standard in APA formatting. It is a brief summary of your paper that directly follows your title page. According to APA format an abstract should be between 150 to 250 words and no more. However this can vary depending on discipline and depending on what your prof requires. So, make sure that you are reading your syllabus and being certain what your professor is looking for.


Cath Anne:

[00:04:31] The third component of your paper is going to be the main body. For something like an essay, the main body of your paper will include the actual essay itself. However, if you’re writing a lab report or research report then your main body will be broken down into different components. The four main components of a lab report or a research report are: the introduction, method, results, and discussion sections.


Cath Anne:

[00:05:02] The fourth component of your paper is the references section. This is a very important section in the APA format. It will include a list of all of your sources that you used in your paper. If you cited any piece of information anywhere on your paper it is so important to properly reference the section. We do have a couple of videos on proper referencing and citation and the importance of that. So, make sure that you check that out on our YouTube channel.


Cath Anne:

[00:05:30] One handy rule of thumb to remember is that any source cited in your paper must be included in your references section and any source listed in your references section must be somewhere in your paper. When I am doing my research I tend to make a note of all the references I’ve used at the bottom of the page so that I can keep track of them and I’m not rushed to find what references I used when I’m trying to wrap up writing my paper. So, that’s just a little tip.


Cath Anne:

[00:05:58] OK. Let’s move on to how to handle in-text citations in APA format.


Cath Anne:

[00:06:06] As you’re writing your paper it is important to include your citations in-text so that demonstrates that you have drawn information from another resource. These notations are called in-text citations and APA format dictates that when you are using APA format in the text of your paper, use the author’s name followed by the date of the publication. For example, if you were to cite Sigmund Freud’s book ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ you would use the following format which I’ve noted right here. Freud comma 1990 and you put it in brackets. So that’s what it would look like within the body of your text at the end of a paraphrased sentence.


Cath Anne:

[00:06:51] However, there are more in-depth details that we will discuss a little bit further, but I will also direct you to some resources that can help you learn a little bit more about in-text citations. So if you are using a citation like this within the body of your text you will then want to include the extended information in your references section at the end of your paper. So, remember if you cite something within the body of your paper it should be in your references section. If you cite something in your references section it should be in the body of your paper. Just a rule of thumb.

[00:07:30] OK. So, here are some important tips for APA style referencing pages. Your references should begin on a new page. Title the new page ‘references’ and center the title at the top of your page. Make sure that it is not connected to the body of your paper. This should be a page of its own. All entries in your references page should be in alphabetical order starting from ‘a’ and going to ‘z’. All of your references will begin with the last name of the author, so make sure you are being attentive and putting them in alphabetical order in the proper format.

[00:08:08] The first line of the reference should be flush with left margin and then each additional line should be indented. So, you can use the tab key to tab over so you’ll have the first line of your reference flush with the left side and then the next line below will be indented. It’s called a hanging indent.

[00:08:30] While earlier versions of APA format required only one space after each sentence. The new 6th edition of the style manual now recommends 2 spaces so make sure that you do remember that because that is one thing that your profs might be a stickler on and that’s something that a lot of people don’t realize. So, make sure when you finish the sentence to put two spaces afterwards. The reference section should also be double spaced. So, although you might see some references single spaced you will always want your reference section to be double spaced as well as the body of your paper. As I mentioned all sources you cited should appear both in-text and on the reference page.

[00:09:18] Any reference that appears in your text or article should be in your references section and any item appearing on your references page should also be in your text.

[00:09:30] Titles of books, journals, magazines, and newspapers should always appear in italics. This is a good one to remember. The exact individual reference may vary somewhat depending on whether you are referencing an author or several authors, a book, or a journal article, or an electronic source. So, all of these references are going to look differently. Don’t just learn one way of writing them and then do it standard across the board. Make sure you check with the guidelines because they are all different depending on what source you are using. It does pay to spend some time looking at specific requirements of each type of resource, so that you can make sure that your reference list is correct.

[00:10:22] Okay, so a few more helpful resources. If you’re struggling with APA forma and you’re looking for a good way to collect or organize your references as you work on your research consider using a free resource like APA citation machine and there is also a Bibme.com. These online tools can help you generate APA style references however, always remember to double check these references for accuracy because they’re not always 100-percent accurate and they might not be up to date with the sixth edition of the APA formatting. You can also look at purchasing your own official copy of the publication Manual of American Psychological Association. This might be something you want to do if you are in your master’s degree or are looking into doing a Ph.D. It’s a great way to learn APA format and also a handy resource to check your own work. Also, looking at examples of APA format can help just to get used to how you read APA formatting and then you’ll become more accustomed to writing it.

[00:11:32] While APA format might seem complex it will become easier once you familiarize yourself with the rules and the format. The overall format may seem similar for many papers, but your instructor may have specific rules that they want you to follow. So, always make sure you are reading your syllabus and ascertaining what your professor wants specifically.

[00:11:59] You can also look up guides online. There is Owl Perdu which is a famous APA formatting resource and I highly encourage you to check that out because that is an incredible resource to have at your fingertips.