PLEASE NOTE: APA information here is directly taken from OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab. Note also this information is based on the 6th edition of the APA Style Manual. Resources reflecting the new 7th edition of the manual are scheduled to be published early Spring 2020. I have added some information in the APA pages reflecting the new rules.
Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
Include a page header (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. Insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.
Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. For an example of how this should look see: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html
- Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above).
- On the first line of the abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting, italics, underlining, or quotation marks).
- Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.)
- Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions.
- You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings.
- The Abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced.
- Abstract should be between 150 and 250 words.
- You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.
Please note: While the APA manual provides many examples of how to cite common types of sources, it does not provide rules on how to cite all types of sources. Therefore, if you have a source that APA does not include, APA suggests that you find the example that is most similar to your source and use that format.
Follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, for example, (Jones, 1998), and a complete reference should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.
If you are directly quoting from a work, you will need to include the author, year of publication, and page number for the reference (preceded by "p."). Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.
- According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (p. 199).
- Jones (1998) found "students often had difficulty using APA style" (p. 199); what implications does this have for teachers?
If the author is not named in a signal phrase, place the author's last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.
- She stated, "Students often had difficulty using APA style" (Jones, 1998, p. 199), but she did not offer an explanation as to why.
Place direct quotations that are 40 words or longer in a free-standing block of typewritten lines and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same place you would begin a new paragraph. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.
Jones's (1998) study found the following: Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time citing sources. This difficulty could be attributed to the fact that many students failed to purchase a style manual or to ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)
If you are referring to an idea from another work but NOT directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your in-text reference. All sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.
- According to Jones (1998), APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners.
- APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (Jones, 1998, p. 199).
Sources Without Page Numbers
When an electronic source lacks page numbers, you should try to include information that will help readers find the passage being cited. When an electronic document has numbered paragraphs, use the abbreviation "para." followed by the paragraph number (Hall, 2001, para. 5).
If the paragraphs are not numbered and the document includes headings, provide the appropriate heading and specify the paragraph under that heading.
According to Smith (1997), ... (Mind Over Matter section, para. 6).
- Please note this change with the 7th edition of the APA Manual: The in-text citation for works with three or more authors is now shortened right from the first citation. You only include the first author’s name and “et al.”. For example: (Taylor et al., 2018)
Your reference list should appear at the end of your paper. It provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source you cite in the body of the paper. Each source you cite in the paper must appear in your reference list; likewise, each entry in the reference list must be cited in your text.
- All lines after the first line of each entry in your reference list should be indented one-half inch from the left margin. This is called hanging indentation.
- Authors' names are inverted (last name first); give the last name and initials for all authors of a particular work for up to and including twenty (20) authors.
- Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.
- For multiple articles by the same author, or authors listed in the same order, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to most recent.
- Present the journal title in full.
- Maintain the punctuation and capitalization that is used by the journal in its title. For example: ReCALL not RECALL or Knowledge Management Research & Practice not Knowledge Management Research and Practice.
- Capitalize all major words in journal titles.
- When referring to the titles of books, chapters, articles, or webpages, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns.
- Italicize titles of longer works such as books and journals.
- Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles or essays in edited collections.
- Please note: Location of Publisher NO LONGER REQUIRED with the 7th edition of the APA manual.
- Please note: URLs are no longer preceded by “Retrieved from,” unless a retrieval date is needed. The website name is included (unless it’s the same as the author), and web page titles are italicized.
Academic journals (also known as periodicals or serials) publish the world's most recent research in all disciplines. Popular magazines are primarily designed to entertain as well as inform. See Academic Journals vs. Popular Magazines and Newspapers to learn the differences between these.
Many of our databases allow you to limit your searches to "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed" journals. These are other words for academic.
To search for Academic Journal Articles use the Library's search tool. Please note this tool will be changing in early January.
When searching, consider the following:
Once you have your results:
- To see only BOOKS click on Book/eBook.
- To see only JOURNAL ARTICLES click on Journal Article and click on Scholarly & Peer-Review.
Because there will be many results, it is important to narrow your search.
- Content Type
- Publication Date
- Subject Terms
- Library Location
- Social Work Abstracts
- Social Services Abstracts
- Canadian Business and Current Affairs Database (especially good for Canadian material)
Do NOT limit yourself to these databases alone. See Databases by SUBJECT Page
Pick a research topic:
- Read your syllabus (assignment instructions).
- Pick a topic that interests you and meets the assignment instructions.
- Narrow or broaden the scope of your topic so that it is "doable."
- What's scope? Scope refers to the "people, places and things" or "who, what, when and where" that you are studying. For example, Canada or another country? Children or adults? Education or child protection services?
Identify key concepts:
- Use an online thesaurus.
- Use a dictionary or encyclopedia to find definitions and explanations of social work terms and concepts.
Do an initial search for academic sources:
Here is a Subject Guide to help you pick the right databases, search-engines and sources for your assignment.
Watch this video to help you with search strategies for various databases:
Step 1: Write your topic out in sentence or question form
- How do Canadian social workers treat teenage drug abuse?
Step 2: Break your topic sentence up into main ideas or keywords
- Canada, social work, teenage, drug abuse
Step 3: Think of synonyms or alternate words to describe each concept
- teenage - juvenile, youth
Tip: Use dictionaries, encyclopedias, or a thesaurus to find alternate words.
Step 4: Add "Boolean operators" (AND, OR) to make a complete search statement
- Use AND to limit or narrow your search to results that mention all of your keywords.
- Use OR to broaden your search to include synonyms.
- Canada AND social work AND teenage AND drug abuse
- (teenage OR youth OR juvenile) - Note: OR terms must be bracketed.
Step 5: Add wildcards to search for all possible word endings
- A wildcard is usually represented by a *. This is also called truncation.
- (teenage* OR youth OR juvenile*) AND Canad* AND drug abuse
Step 6: Consider Key Phrase searching
Some databases search each word separately. To ensure that your words are evaluated as a key phrase, enclose them in double quotation marks.
- "drug abuse"
Step 7: Evaluate your results
If you are finding too many or too few results, try these tricks:
To broaden your search (find more):
- Find synonym for each keyword.
- Search for a broader concept ('dog' instead of 'poodle').
- Use wildcards/truncation.
To narrow your search (find fewer):
- Add another concept or idea to your search with AND
- Use more specific words ('poodle' instead of 'dog').
Get one-on-one help with your research assignments or access one of our many subject guides.
Contact Margaret McLeod for a one-on-one session.
You can also CHAT with a librarian if you need help after hours.