APA Style

What is APA Style?


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The American Psychological Association (APA) developed a set of standards that writers in the social sciences follow to create consistency throughout publications. These rules address:

  • Crediting sources
  • Document formatting
  • Writing style and organization

APA's guidelines assist readers in recognizing a writer's ideas and information, rather than having to adjust to inconsistent formatting. In this way, APA allows writers to express themselves clearly and easily to readers.

The APA materials developed in the Walden Writing Center are based on the sixth edition of The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (i.e., "the APA manual"). Many programs at Walden require the Essential Guide to APA Style for Walden Students, a condensed, electronic resource based on the APA manual and produced by Laureate Education. This guide focuses on using APA in coursework, while the APA manual is comprehensive and focused on preparing a document for publication. The materials on our website are largely consistent with the recommendations in either of these two resources. However, when there are minor discrepancies between the two, we use the guidelines from the original APA Publication Manual.

Why APA Style?

When you are writing as a student, you are entering into a new writing community; just as you would need to learn the customs and rules of any new country you visit, you need to learn the customs and rules of academic writing. These guidelines will be different than guidelines for writing in other environments (such as letters to friends, e-mails to coworkers, or writing for blogs). The academic community has its own rules. These standards help writers:

  • Improve clarity
  • Avoid distracting the reader
  • Indicate sources for evidence
  • Provide uniform formatting

To learn more about transitioning into academic writing, view "Joining the Conversation: Relearning the Conventions of Academic Writing." Remember that itís your job as the author to engage your readers, and inconsistencies in formatting and citations distract the reader from the content of your writing. By using APA style, you allow your readers to focus on the ideas you are presenting, offering a familiar format to discuss your new ideas.

Getting Started with APA Style

APA style can seem overwhelming at first. To get started, take some time to look through these resources :

  • Familiarize yourself with the column on the left; peruse the different pages to see what APA has to say about citations, reference entries, capitalization, numbers, et cetera.
  • Find our APA templates, determining which is the most appropriate for your assignments (hint: the first "Course Paper" template is best for most course assignments).
  • Use this APA Checklist to review your assignments, ensuring you have remembered all of APA's rules.
  • Review one of our APA webinars (like "Using and Crediting Sources in APA"), based on your interest.
  • Find the APA resources in our APA Scavenger Hunt, helping to familiarize yourself with the APA resources we have on the website (Answer Key).

Lastly, feel free to contact writingsupport@waldenu.edu or editor@waldenu.edu with any questions you may have.

APA Changes

Perrin Pocket Guide Changes 

The major changes between the two editions of the APA and the Perrin guide are listed here.

Fifth and Sixth Edition Changes

There are a few important changes between the 5th and 6th edition manuals. Follow this link for more information: APA Style Sixth Edition Tutorial

Sixth Edition Corrections

After the first printing of the sixth edition manual, a few additional changes were made. If you have the first printing, check these links to see what has changed in subsequent printings:

APA Checklist

Overwhelmed by APA? Try using our new APA Basics Checklist!

APA Style Blog

APA style Website