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Research Style & Usage: APA/MLA


 
 

APA Style: Formatting the Manuscript

 

Basic Guidelines

  • Paper and margins: Use standard 8.5"x11" paper with margins of at least 1" on all sides.

  • Font: Preferred font is 12-point Times Roman, although Courier also is acceptable.

  • Spacing: Double-space every line, including references.

  • Numbering: Number all pages starting with the title page, except pages containing art or figures. Place numbers in the upper right-hand corner. Put the first few words of the title to the left of the page number on every page.

  • Running head: Abbreviated title printed at the top of each page of the manuscript. The running head should be 50 characters maximum, including spaces and punctuation, and should appear in all capital letters on the upper left-hand corner of the title page.

  • Order of sections: Put pages in the following order, each starting on a separate page: Title page (p. 1); Abstract (p. 2); Main text (starting on p. 3), References, Appendixes, Author note, Footnotes, Tables, Figure captions, Figures.

 
 

Title Page

  • Title: Concise (10-12 words) and self-explanatory. Avoid redundancies like “An Analysis of . . .” or “An Investigation of . . . .” The title should appear in upper- and lower-case letters on the title page, centered and on the top half of the page. If it runs longer than one line, double-space it.

  • Authors: Listed in order of contribution, after the title, centered, and double-spaced. Include first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Separate any suffixes (e.g., Jr. or III) from the last name with only a space, not a comma.

  • Affiliation: Name of the institution where the research was conducted. Include two affiliations only if both institutions contributed financially to the study; never include more than two. If the affiliation is not a university or college, include a city or state. For affiliations outside the United States, include the city, state or province, and country.

 
 

Abstract

  • A clear, precise summary of the article. The abstract should be only one block paragraph in length (with no indentations) and should not exceed 120 words.

  • Place the abstract on the page following the title page (p. 2), with the title “Abstract” centered at the top of the page.

  • Begin with the most important information but do not repeat the paper title.

  • Include only information that appears in the paper itself. State only four or five of the most important points, theories, and/or findings.

  • Cite previous research relevant to your study.

  • Define all abbreviations and special terms, except for units of measurement.

  • Specific content of the abstract will vary depending on the nature of your paper:

    • Research report: Abstract should include the research topic, characteristics of participants, experimental method, results (including significance levels), and conclusions.

    • Theoretical article or review: Abstract should include the topic, organizing thesis, sources, and conclusions.

    • Case study: Abstract should include the individual or organization under study, the problem addressed, and the questions raised.

    • Methodological paper: Abstract should include the type of method used, its main features, the scope of its applications, and its reliability.

 
 

Introduction

  • Begins on the page following the abstract (p. 3). The paper title should appear at the top of the page, centered. The text of the introduction should appear one double space below the paper’s title. No “Introduction” label is necessary.

  • Give the appropriate background and context for your study by presenting the problem, explaining its importance, and recognizing previous works that are relevant to your study.

  • State the specific purpose of your study. Include a formal statement of your hypothesis and a description of the variables tested (why they were chosen, how they were manipulated, what results you expected them to yield and why).

 
 

Method

  • Immediately follows the introduction. The heading, “Method,” should be centered and continuous with the preceding section (do not begin a new page).

  • Include enough details so that a reader can replicate your study but not so many details that the reader gets bogged down in minutiae. If there are any detailed but necessary descriptions, put them in the Appendix.

  • Divide the Method section into three continuous subsections labeled “Participants,” “Materials,” and “Procedure.” The titles for these suaheadings should be in italics, flush left, and continuous with the preceding text:

    1. Participants (or Subjects): Describe the selection process for subjects, the total number of subjects chosen, and the number in each subgroup or sample.

      • If the subjects are human, describe basic demographic characteristics, including age, sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other relevant variables.

      • If the subjects are animals, describe genus, species, subspecies identification, sex, age, weight, physiological condition, and details of raising and handling.

    2. Materials (or Apparatus): Describe specialized equipment by giving the model number and the name and location of the commercial supplier.

    3. Procedure: Include a step-by-step summary of the research or experiment. Paraphrase all instructions unless the details are crucial to the experiment. Describe counterbalancing, randomization and other aspects of experimental design. If you used a language other than English to gather information, specify the method of translation used, if any.

  • If you are reporting the results of multiple experiments:

    • Use separate Methods and Results sections for each experiment.

    • Use centered headings before the Methods section of each experiment: e.g., Experiment 1, Experiment 2, etc.

 
 

Results

  • Immediately follows the Method section. The heading, “Results,” should be centered and continuous with the preceding section.

  • Summarize the data and the statistical methods you used to analyze the data. Review all relevant results, including those that contradict your hypothesis.

  • Figures and tables: Use figures and tables only when they enhance your ability to communicate the results. Do not include a figure or table without mentioning it in the text and describing briefly what it contains—remember, tables do not necessarily explain themselves. (For details on formatting, see Figures and Tables.)

  • Statistics: See Statistics, Math, and Measurements.

 
 

Discussion

  • Immediately follows the Results section. If the Discussion is brief, you can combine it with results in a “Results and Discussion” or “Results and Conclusions” section.

  • Begin with a direct statement of whether or not the results support your original hypothesis.

  • Compare your work with the work of others, if appropriate.

  • Comment on the importance of your findings: Why is the study important? How can the results be applied? What are the larger implications of your findings?

 
 

References

  • Begins on a new page, with the title “References” centered at the top of the page.

  • Double-space all references and use hanging indents (set first line of reference flush left and indent subsequent lines).

  • For details on formatting, see Quoting, Citing, and Referencing.

 
 

Appendix

  • Begins on a new page. If there are multiple appendices, label them “Appendix A,” “Appendix B,” and so on. If there is only one appendix, simply label it “Appendix.”

  • Include in the appendix all information that would be inappropriate or distracting if included in the main body of the paper (e.g., lists of stimuli, detailed descriptions of equipment, source code for a computer program).

 
 

Author Note

  • Begins on a new page, with the title “Author Note” centered at the top of the page.

  • In the first paragraph, state your departmental affiliations at the time of the study.

  • In the second paragraph, state any changes in your affiliation since the time of the study, if any.

  • In the third paragraph, acknowledge any grants and all colleagues who assisted in conducting the study or revising the paper. Also mention any special circumstances, including conflicts of interest. Do not acknowledge journal editors, reviewers, or others expected to be involved in the paper acceptance process.

  • In the fourth paragraph, list the contact person’s complete mailing address.