How to Write Paragraphs in APA Style

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As a student, researcher or both, you must build upon your own credibility by giving credit to those people who have contributed to your efforts or helped shape your ideas. Hence the need for documentation. The American Psychological Association style of documentation is used in psychology and other social sciences. (The Modern Language Association style of documentation is used in literature, languages and other fields.) The APA system uses an author-date citation system in the text, which allows readers to find the full source listed on the references page, an alphabetical list of sources found at the end of an APA paper. Here are some of the most common documentation issues you will come across as you write a paper – and its paragraphs – in APA style.

  • Remind your students that they don't need to commit APA style to memory. After all, the point of documentation is to properly cite sources to imbue their research with credibility. Encourage your students to consult APA style as often as they need to. Their overriding goal should be accuracy and producing a high-caliber research paper.
    Quoting One Author:
    First citation in text: Anderson (2011) found that women…
    Subsequent citations in the text: Anderson (2011) found that women…
    Blending writing/citation: In 2011, Anderson’s study found that…
    Parenthetical format in text (first and subsequent): Women suffered a worse fate than men (Anderson, 2011).
    For a direct quotation, be sure to insert the page number: “Anderson (2011) suffered a worse fate than men – “and far worse than even the most vivid imagination could imagine” (p. 17).

  • Quoting Two or More Authors:
    (Note the use of the ampersand in the parenthetical reference):
    First citation in text: Anderson and Cooper (2011) found that women…
    Subsequent citations in the text: Anderson and Cooper (2011) found that women…
    Blended writing/citation: In 2011, Anderson and Cooper’s study found that…
    Parenthetical format in text (first and subsequent): Women suffered a worse fate than men (Anderson & Cooper, 2011).
    For a direct quotation, follow the standard from the example above.

  • Quoting Groups:
    For groups, agencies, companies and other organizations, follow the same structure as if you were quoting one author. For those groups that carry an easily identifiable acronym (in addition to their official name), follow this structure in paragraphs:
    First citation in text: Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI, 2011)
    Subsequent citations in text: FBI (2011)
    Blended writing/citation: In 2011, the FBI found that …
    First parenthetical format in text: (Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], 2011)
    Subsequent parenthetical format in text: (FBI, 2011).
    For a direct quotation, follow the standard from the first example.

  • Quoting Two Other Frequent Sources:
    When citing two sources, arrange the in-text sources together and alphabetically – the same order in which they will appear in the references. For example:
    Several studies (Anderson, 2011; Robertson, 2009) reached the same conclusion…
    When quoting a website, try to introduce the site before referencing it parenthetically: Yourdictionary is most teachers’ preferred site, and one produced by Webster’s New World College Dictionary (http://www.yourdictionary.com).

References

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