Dissertation APA Formatting Basics - Version 6

Dissertation APA Formatting Basics - Version 6

By Dr Lonny Ness

APA formatting can be very challenging as there are many (some obscure) rules to remember. I wanted to point out a couple nuances regarding APA reference formatting that you may not be aware of.

Here are some of the more common errors I see on a daily basis for my students and clients:

  • For each periodical (journal), there must be either a DOI or “retrieved from” URL. The DOI takes precedence over the URL, if present. To locate the DOI, search for the title at crossref.org. If a DOI is not available, use the journal’s homepage URL as the retrieved from source – not the database (e.g., Proquest).
  • The inclusion of an issue number implies that each issue begins on page 1, if not, omit the issue #. However, to determine this, multiple issues must be observed at the journal homepage – this takes work!
  • Only capitalize the first word of the title and subtitle.
  • Italicize the journal name and volume number, or the book title.
  • Only use the authors first and middle initials – not their full names
  • Use a number for units of measure, e.g., “5 years”, even if less than 10
  • Always use past tense for cited sources, e.g., “Smith (2019) stated…”
  • Avoid anthropomorphisms/personifications, e.g., “The study asserted…”
    Note here that the author(s) asserted, not the study!

Do any of these look familiar? How does your paper align? Also, do you have the APA Manual? Have you read it from front to back – with highlights?

Note that APA Style Manual - Version 7 has recently been released. The above tips will be reviewed and reposted to reflect any changes. Stay tuned!


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