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APA Style

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To write in APA style you will need to follow the APA style rules as outlined in the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Click on each of the following to view a summary of some of these style rules:


(APA, 2012, pp. 106-111)

Sometimes it may be appropriate to use abbreviations in your writing. [show | hide]

The first time you use a term you wish to abbreviate, write the abbreviation in brackets immediately after the term. Thereafter, the abbreviation may be used.

For example, writing Ministry of Health (MOH) allows you to refer to the Ministry of Health as MOH in the remainder of the assignment.

Do not use too many abbreviations and only abbreviate if
the term is used four or more times.

Standard abbreviations found in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (2005) that are not labelled abbr, may be used without explanation, for example, IQ, HIV.

The following standard Latin abbreviations may be used within brackets (APA, 2012, p.108).




for example,

, etc.

, and so forth


that is,




versus, against


A list of common abbreviations for units of measurement can be found in the APA manual on page 109.


(APA, 2012, pp. 38-40)

Additional information, such as survey results or data sheets which support your assignment, may sometimes be appended. [show | hide]

Sometimes you need to add additional information such as survey results or data into your assignment. These should go in an appendix.

  • Head each appendix with the word Appendix (centred) above the appendix title.
  • Where there is more than one appendix, label each with a capital letter
    (e.g. Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.), according to the order they appear in the body of
    the assignment.
  • Begin each appendix on a new page.
  • Attach appendices after the reference list.
  • Continue page numbering into the appendices.


(APA, 2012, pp. 93-94)

Round or square brackets are appropriate in specific circumstances. [show | hide]

Use round brackets (also called parentheses) for:

Use square brackets [ ] for:

references and citations, for example, (APA, 2012, p. 93);

clarification of reference information within the reference list, for example, [brochure];

introduction of abbreviations, for example, Ministry of Education (MOE);

non quoted words within a quote, for example “Nearly always [governance] is misunderstood”;

parenthetical phrases that clarify information within a sentence or set off an independent element, for example, (refer to Appendix C);

phrases or words within a phrase that is already encased in round brackets, for example (key values include service and responsbility [tautua], and love and commitment [alofa], and respect [fa’aaloalo]); and

a list within a sentence, for example (a), (b), (c);

display of limits of a confidence interval, for example, 95% CLs [-7.2, 4.3], [9.2, 12.4], and [-1.2, -0.5].

mathematical expressions and statistical values, for example, (p = .031).


Bullet points and numbered lists

(APA, 2012, pp: 63-65)

Although not usually used in essays, bullet points and numbered lists may be used in other assignments, such as reports. [show | hide]

Bullet points:

To bullet point complete paragraphs or sentences

Punctuate and capitalise as you usually would without a bullet point (i.e., the first word of the bullet point will have a capital, and each sentence, including the final sentence, will end with a full stop).

To bullet point within a sentence

Punctuate as you usually would without a bullet point (i.e., separate bulleted items with commas at the end of each point, or with a semicolon as appropriate - refer to guides on semi-colons and commas).

Numbered Lists:

When each item in a list is a separate paragraph

  • Use a number followed by a full stop and a space to list the paragraphs, for
    example, 1. .... 2. .... 3. .... and so forth.
  • Punctuate the paragraphs as usual.

Within a paragraph or sentence

  • Use lower case letters in parentheses to separate items in a list, for example,
    (a) .... , (b) .... , (c) .... and so forth
  • Punctuate the list with commas or semicolons as usual.


(APA, 2012, pp. 104-105)

Certain aspects, such as book titles, are to be written in Italics.[show | hide]

Use italics for:

  • Titles of full length works, for example,
    • books (e.g., Johnston refers to Morris’s book, Manwatching: A guide to human behaviour, ...),
    • periodicals (e.g., The nursing journal Kai Tiaki...),
    • films (e.g., The New Zealand movie Boy...),
    • videos and TV shows (e.g., The current affairs programme, 60 Minutes...);
  • periodical volume numbers in the reference list (e.g., ... Education Today, 5, 5-7.);
  • genera, species and varieties (e.g., Arthropodium);
  • anchors of a scale (e.g., 1[poor] to 5 [excellent]);
  • linguistic example (e.g., the letter a);
  • words used as a designation which may be misread (e.g., the large group - not referring to size but label);
  • letters used as statistical symbols, algebraic variables, some test scores and scales (refer to the APA manual page 105 for examples); and
  • when introducing a term, the first occurence only (e.g., ...the group labelled extra... ).


(APA, 2012, p. 62)

APA specifies heading styles for up to five levels of headings.[show | hide]

Heading format, according to the APA, is as follows:

Level 1 Heading
(centred, bold, title case)

Level 2 Heading
(left aligned, bold, title case)

Level 3 heading.
(indented, bold, sentence case, full stop)

Level 4 heading.
(indented, bold, italicised, sentence case, full stop)

Level 5 heading.
(indented, italicised, sentence style case, full stop)


(APA, 2012, pp. 111-114)

The context and size of the number determines if the number is to be presented as a numeral or as a word.[show | hide]

Use numerals when numbers:

Use words when numbers:

are 10 and above (e.g., 19 years old);

are less than 10;

are in an abstract, or graphical display, such as a table or chart;

begin a sentence, title, or heading (try to avoid beginning a sentence with a number);

are in a unit of measurement (e.g., a 10-mg dose);

are common fractions (e.g., half);

relate to mathematics or statistics (e.g., 46%, divided by 2);

are universally used (e.g., the Five Pillars of Islam);

represent exact time, date, score and points on a scale, or sum of money (e.g., 3:30 p.m., 7- year olds, $51.80);

approximate numbers of days, months, and years (e.g., about twenty years ago);

identify a particular place in a numbered series, including parts of books and tables (e.g., row 6, chapter 11); and


are part of a range and one of them is less than ten (e.g. 5 - 25)

  • Sometimes a combination of words and numerals can be used to improve clarity
    where a number modifies another number (e.g., 2 two-way intersections).
  • Plurals of numbers can be formed by adding es or s as appropriate (e.g., 1930s,
    twos and sixes, 20s).

Quotation Marks

(APA, 2012, pp. 91-92)

Double quotation marks are used more frequently in APA style than single quotation marks. [show | hide]

Use double quotation marks for

  • irony, slang, or coined expressions at the first occurrence only (e.g., ...considered “normal” behaviour...);
  • the title of a chapter or journal article (e.g., Mitchell’s (2012) article, “Participation in Early Childhood Education ...”). NB. Titles of books and periodicals/journals are not placed within quotation marks but are italicised;
  • quotations of less than 40 words; and
  • transcription of speech (e.g., She said, “Yeah, she helped me understand.”).

Use single quotation marks when including a quotation in your assignment where the author has already encased a phrase in double quotation marks. Mark this phrase with single quotation marks in your assignment, and only use double quotation marks as you normally would, around the entire quotation.

Exception: Where the quotation is 40 or more words double quotation marks are not required. Retain the use of double quotation marks as used by the author.

The following link provides examples of how to place punctuation marks in relation to quotation marks.



American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Lee, C. (2012). Punctuation around quotation marks. Retrieved from



Schwartz, B. M., Landrum, R. E., & Gurung, R. A. R. (2012). An easy guide to APA style. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.