Getting Started

APA: An Overview

  American Psychological Association​​

  Covers scholarly writing in the fields of psychology, nursing, education, business, communications, engineering, and related fields.​​

Why do we use APA? ​​
  •   Predictable and easy to read format​
  •   Makes it simples to find the main ideas, key findings, and sources cited in your paper​​
  •   Eliminates the distraction of inconsistencies in formatting Capitalization, in-text citations and references​​
  •   Gives the writer credibility​

Formatting Your Paper

Setting Up Your Paper

When using APA formatting, your paper will consist of three sections:
1. Title Page
2. Main Body
3. References List

Here are the general formatting guidelines you will want to set up in Microsoft Word or the word processing software of your choice before beginning your paper:

Margins: 1" margins on all sides
Running head: For student papers, the running head consists of the page number in the upper right side of the header. Page one will be your title page.
Spacing: APA papers are doublespaced throughout the paper including the title page and references list. There are no extra spaces between paragraphs.
Fonts: APA requires the use of a font that is legible and easy to read. Commonly accepted fonts include 11 pt Calibri, 11 pt Arial, 12 pt Times New Roman and 11 pt Georgia.
Indents: The beginning of each paragraph is indented 1/2" 

Title Page

Creating Your Title Page

The title page is uses a specific template that you will use for all your papers.

Paper Title: In the upper middle of the page, write your title, centered and bolded using title case (capitalize all major words in the title).
Your Name
Your department, Your College (Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College)
Your Course Number: Course Name
Your instructors name
Today's Date
Page number inserted in the upper right hand side of the header.

Insert a page break at the end to start your main body on page 2.

Main Body: Headings

Using Heading Levels

When writing an academic paper in APA, you will often make use of headings to help organize your paper and make it easy for the reader to follow and find information.

Think of headings as the outline of your paper. Level 1 Headings are the main topics. Level 2 Headings are subtopics of Level 1 Headings. 
There are multiple levels of headings. For most undergraduate nursing students, you will not need to go beyond using Level 1 and Level 2 Headings.

Here is a visual example of how you might organize your topic be headings and subheadings:

Organize Your Paper with Headings

Here is a visual example of how you might organize your topic be headings and subheadings:

   Title: Self-Care Strategies for Nurses (Level 1)

Physical Health (Level 1)

     Exercise (Level 2)

     Healthy Eating (Level 2)

     Sleep (Level 2)

Emotional Health (Level 1)

     Humor (Level 2)

     Meditation and Mindfulness (Level 2)

Work-Life Balance (Level 1)

     Social Connections (Level 2)

     Family (Level 3)

     Friends (Level 3)

     Hobbies (Level 2)

Conclusion (Level 1)

References (Level 1)

In-Text Citations

Why We Use In-Text Citations

  • Academic writing makes use of the scholarly work of others​ through journal articles, books and credible websites.
  • In-text citations allow you to identify when you are using someone else’s ideas, and helps the reader easily find the sources you are referencing​
  • In-text citations correspond to the sources in your reference list. If you cite a source in your paper, you will also need a to include it in your references.

Formatting In-Text Citations

When paraphrasing the entire source:​

(Author's last nameYear)​

When quoting from or using a specific section of a source:​

(Author's last nameYearLocation Identifier)​

Types of In-Text Citations

There are two ways of formatting in-text citations depending on your writing:
  • Parenthetical: author’s name appears in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

  • Narrative: Author’s name is included as part of the sentence.

Paraphrasing using a parenthetical citation: The full citation appears in parenthesis at the end of the sentence (Name, Year). 
The study showed ... (Katz, 2021).
Paraphrasing using a narrative citation: When you use the authors name in the sentence, put the year of the source in parenthesis after their name and continue the sentence.
Katz (2021) explained through the study that ....

Quoting using a parenthetical citation: When using a direct quote, using the same format as paraphrasing, except include a location identifier for where the quote appears in your source.
The study stated "direct quote here" (Katz, 2021, p. 5).
Quoting using a narrative citation: When using a direct quote and using the authors name in the sentence, put the year of source in parenthesis after the author's name and the location identfier after the quote.
After completion of the study Katz (2021) stated "direct quote here" (p. 7).


How Many Authors to Cite?

Article will often have multiple authors. If there are one or two authors you list their names. If there are three or more authors, list the first author then "et al." to show there are additional authors.

One author                                   (Katz, 2007)

Two authors                                 (Katz & Marshall, 2007)

Three or more authors                (Katz et al., 2007)

Citing a Source by an Organization

American Psychological Association

First in-text citation: 

(American Psychological Association [APA], 2019)

*If the organization has an acronym, put in brackets after full name

After first citation: (APA, 2019)

Citing A Secondary Source (Source Within a Source)

Sometimes you will find information within a source that is quoted or pulled from another cited source.

Good academic scholarship usually requires reading and citing the primary source. Citing the secondary source should be used seldomly, for instance if the original source cannot be accessed.

If you need to cite a secondary source, use this format:

(Robins,1962, as cited in Defoe et al., 2017)​

*Only Defoe would appear in the reference list.

How Often to Cite a Source

​When quoting a source, always give the citation​.

When paraphrasing, cite your source in the first sentence the paraphrased information appears. You don’t need to repeat the citation within that paragraph unless it becomes unclear what source you are citing​.

If you paraphrase the same source in other sections of your paper, cite the source again​.

You may cite multiple sources in a single paragraph​.

When in doubt, cite the source

Additional Location Identifiers

Sometimes your source will span multiple pages or may not have page numbers. Here are some additional location identifiers you may use:
  • Page number: (p.23)

  • Page range: (pp.23-27)

  • Paragraph number(s): (para. 3 or paras. 3-4)

  • Tables or figures: (Table 4.3)

  • Presentation Slide: Slide 4

  • Video or audio time stamp: (2:15)

Paraphrasing and Using Quotes

Tips for Paraphrasing a Source

The goal of paraphrasing is not to simply rearrange the words of the source.​

Paraphrasing should show you have read a source, understand what it says, and can restate it in your own words​

Paraphrasing should maintain your voice. You are not rewriting someone else's article. You are using information from a source for your own writing.​

Technical terminology can be used in your paraphrasing​

It can be difficult at first. It takes practice. It can be more time consuming.

Using Long Direct Quotes

Place direct quotations that are 40 words or longer in a free-standing block and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line and indent the entire quote (all lines) 1/2 inch from the left margin.

References List

Setting Up Your Reference List

Your reference list corresponds with the in-text citations in your paper.​
If you cite a source in your paper, it needs to be in your references list.

Bold Level 1 title labeled References​
Double Spaced​
Hanging Indent (first line of reference flush left, remaining lines ½" indent)​
Alphabetical order by author’s last name (or article title if no author)​
Article titles in Sentence case (capitalize first work of title and subtitle only, except for proper nouns).​

How Many Authors to Include in a Reference

​APA requires you to list up to 20 authors in a single reference entry.​

If there are more than 20 authors, list the first 19 authors . . . Last author.

APA Paper Template

Use this APA Template in Word to set up your papers. It includes short descriptions of the different sections of your paper, formatting guidelines and tips for citing your sources.

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