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APA Quick Reference Guide

Parts of a Manuscript

Title Page - Should summarize the main idea of the paper simply and if possible with style.   Spell out the entire title, no abbreviations.   The title page should include the author's last name in the following format: First name, middle initial, last name.

Abstract - A brief comprehensive summary of the contents of the articles.

Manuscript Body

  • Introduction - Introduces the problem.   It presents the specific problem under study and describes the research strategy.   Usually it is not titled, literally, “Introduction.”   A different, more descriptive name is usually chosen.   It answers in a paragraph or two:
    • Why is this problem important?
    • How are the hypotheses and the experimental design related to the problem?
    • What are the theoretical implications of the study, and how does the study relate to previous work in the area?
    • What theoretical propositions are tested, and how were they derived?
  • Controversial issues when relevant should be treated fairly.
  • State the purpose and the rationale after you have introduced the problem and developed the background materials; you are in a position, as the author, to explain your approach to solving the problem.   Make this statement in the closing paragraphs of the introductions.
  • Within the body of your paper you can emphasize certain words using italics and words “set off by quotation marks.”

Method - Describes in detail how the study was conducted.   Identify subsections, participants or subjects, apparatus used, procedure, etc.

Results - Summarizes the data collected and the statistical or data analytic treatment used. Generally, statistical presentations are included here.

Headings and Series

  • All topics of equal importance have the same level of heading throughout a manuscript.
  • Headings function as an outline to reveal a manuscript's organization.   Avoid having only one subsection with a section just as you would avoid in an outline
  • Use at least two subsection headings within any given section or use none.

Citations and Quotations

Quotation of Sources

  1. Material directly quoted from another author's work or from one's own previously published work, material duplicated from a test item and verbatim instruction to participants should be reproduced word for word.
  2. Incorporate a short quotation (fewer than 40 words) into text, and enclose the quotation with double quotation marks
  3. Display a quotation of 40 or more words in a freestanding block of typewritten lines, and omit the quotation marks.   Start such a block quotation on a new line and indent the block quote about 5 spaces from the left margin.   If there are additional paragraphs within the quotation, indent the first line of each 5 spaces.   The entire quotation should be double-spaced.  

Parenthetical Citation – there are many different guidelines for in-text citation of sources.   In general you should use the following format:

(Author's last name, year of publication)

Order of Reference List

Alphabetizing Names (arrange entries in alphabetical order by the last name of the first author)



  • Reference to a Periodical

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author C. C.   (year).   Title of article.   Title of Periodical, volume number, pages xx-xxx.

  • Non-Periodical (book chapter)

Author, A. A.   (year).   Title of work.   Location: Publisher.   

  • Online periodical

Author, A. A., Author B. B., & Author, C. C.   (year).   Title of article.   Title of periodical, volume number, pages xx-xx.      


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