An APA running head is not
needed for undergraduate or
master’s courses per the
University Writing and Style
Guidelines. If you are a student
in a doctoral program, or
otherwise require a running
head in your paper, consult
the doctoral APA Sample
Paper in the CWE>Tutorials
and Guides>Doctoral Writing
Pagination: Use the
header feature in
Microsoft® Word to set
the page number (see
Writing Style and Mechanics
The title: Use upper and lower case
letters, centered between the left and
right margins, and positioned on the
upper half of the page. Use black, 12point Times New Roman font
throughout. Arial and Courier font
types are acceptable.
All lines are double-spaced throughout
the entire document. Use black, 12-point
Times New Roman font throughout the
document. Arial and Courier font types
This APA Sample Paper is intended for undergraduate and master’s level students.
The University of Phoenix APA sample papers represent the consensus of key academic officials within the University. This particular
sample reflects expectations outlined in the University of Phoenix Writing and Style Guidelines for undergraduate and master’s courses,
which correspond with the University’s preferred style guide for most programs: The Publication Manual of the American Psychological
Association, Sixth Edition. If your course materials direct you to follow MLA style, please see the MLA Sample Paper in the Center for
Writing Excellence (CWE)>Tutorials and Guides>MLA Information.
This sample paper is offered as a concise tool to help students with style, but it is not a definitive or binding representation of format for
all courses. The CWE provides many tools to help students write and format effective papers; however, the faculty member determines
the assignment grade in the course.
Abstract: Typically, an abstract is required only for
publication. If your assignment instructions indicate
a requirement to use an abstract, a sample can be
found in the CWE>Tutorials and Guides.
Center for Writing Excellence
© 2014 Apollo Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Writing Style and Mechanics
first line of
set at five
Use the paper
title above your
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) began as a
journal article in 1929. The APA reported results from a meeting of scholars “to establish a
simple set of procedures, or style rules, that would codify the many components of scientific
writing to increase the ease of reading comprehension” (APA, 2010, p. xiii). Today, the
Publication Manual is in its sixth edition and the APA style described in it is a widely
the end of
recognized standard for scholarly or professional writing in the social sciences. Although the
style guide is designed to prepare manuscripts for publication, many universities and health care
journals have adopted its use as a guide to achieve uniformity and consistency (Cuddy, 2002).
Writing in the style prescribed by the Publication Manual can be a daunting experience for
students. As with any new skill, “practice makes perfect” (S. Proofreader, personal
communication, June 28, 2004). Points of APA style most often used by undergraduate and
need to include
on the reference
graduate students are listed below. However, keep in mind that this sample paper is a guide and
should not be considered as a replacement for the Publication Manual.
Level one heading:
Centered, bolded, upper
and lower case letters.
Some commonly used rules and formats from the sixth edition of the Publication Manual
are listed below. Please note, however, that some assignments may require unique formatting,
and you should consult your syllabus for clarification.
Margins are one inch on all sides. This rule is broken only to avoid placing a lone
heading on the last line of the page or a single line of text on the top of the next page.
Margins should be
one inch on all
sides of the
ensure that a
line is not tab
as not to
The page header contains the page number aligned with the right margin. The automatic
header function in Microsoft® Word should be used to place the page numbers consecutively in
the paper (see Appendix A). Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, and so on) are used to number each page,
beginning with 1 on the title page.
Paragraph headings should be used in long documents to organize the essay, to break it
up into readable portions, and to make it easy for readers to locate information. Using headings
in a short document before every paragraph can make the writing appear choppy, and the paper
may not flow smoothly from point to point. Use paragraph headings if your document is longer
than three or four pages or if the assignment instructions require paragraph headings.
Hanging indentation is used for the reference page. The proper format can be set in
Microsoft® Word (see Appendix B). Creating the hanging indentation by using the tab key or
space bar will not protect the formatting if changes are made to the reference page at a later time.
The reference page is alphabetized by author or by title of the work when no author is listed, and
each entry contains the date of publication in parentheses directly after the author’s name. The
title, the place of publication, and the name of the publisher follow the date of publication for a
book entry. The proliferation of electronic materials has prompted APA to create formats
designed specifically for Internet and web-based written material. Visit the APA website at
http://www.apastyle.org for additional information about formatting electronic references. You
will also find frequently asked questions and helpful free tutorials about using APA style.
The place of publication in a reference should include city and state using two letter postal abbreviation for the state. If the
location is outside of the U.S., use the city and country. Examples: New York, NY. London, England.
Only references that have been cited in the paper are listed on the reference page.
Personal communications are cited in the text but do not appear on the reference page because
the reader cannot retrieve them. Additional reference examples are available in the Reference
and Citation Examples tutorial in the Center for Writing Excellence (CWE) at Tutorials and
Direct quotations. Direct quotations must mirror the original source word for word, even
if errors are contained in the original text. To alert the reader that errors are part of the original
material, the word [sic], enclosed in brackets and italicized, must follow the erroneous material.
The source of the quotation must be cited. The format of direct quotations may vary with the
placement of the quoted material in the sentence. The following is an example of how you may
use a direct quotation from a website with an author: “Diversity is emerging as one of the most
serious issues in the workplace today, yet most employers are not prepared to deal with it”
(Copeland, 2003, Erroneous Assumptions, para. 1). The author’s last name, the year of
publication, the website title or section title, and the paragraph number, when no page number is
available, are included in the citation.
The following is an example of how one may use a direct quotation from a book with one
the p. and
author: Venes (2001) stated, “The types of influenza doctors must prepare for fall into three
categories” (p. 106). If the author’s name is stated prior to the quotation, include the date of
publication (in parentheses) after the author’s name, and follow the quotation with the page or
paragraph number. For a work with two authors, use both authors’ last names for every citation.
If the source has three or more authors but fewer than six authors, list all authors in the first
citation, and use the first author’s last name and the words et al. (without italics) for the rest of
is the heading
of a section
heading of a
section for an
content in the
the citations. If the source has more than six authors, you may use the first author’s last name and
the words et al. (without italics) for every citation (APA, 2010, p. 175). The following example
from the Publication Manual (2010, p. 42) shows a citation from a work with more than six
authors using the first author: (Good et al., 2001). Refer to the Reference and Citation Examples
tutorial in the CWE at Tutorials and Guides for more examples of in-text citations.
Quotations that contain fewer than 40 words are enclosed in double quotation marks
within the text. Use single quotation marks for quotations contained within a direct quotation.
Quotations of 40 words or more are indented in a block format without quotation marks. Use
double quotation marks to indicate a quotation within the block quotation. The block quotation is
started on a new line, and it is indented five to seven spaces or one-half inch. A sample block
quotation appears on page 7 of this document.
Paraphrased or summarized material. Paraphrasing or summarizing allows the writer
to present someone else’s ideas or intellectual property and to supply proper credit to the original
author or authors (Lawton, Cousineau, & Hillard, 2001). When an author is paraphrased or
summarized, the source must be cited in the text. If a source is mentioned more than once in a
paragraph, a citation must be included each time. Page or paragraph numbers are not required for
paraphrased material, but the Publication Manual recommends that writers include a page or
paragraph number to help the reader easily locate the information (APA, 2010, p. 171). If a
writer were to paraphrase information from an article located in an online database, the writer
would format the citation as follows: Daniels (2004) included Darden Restaurants on her list of
the 50 best companies for minorities. Here is an example where the author is not mentioned
within the text: A list of companies has been singled out as best for minority employees (Daniels,
2004). Both examples include the author’s last name and the date of publication. If the author’s
name is not provided with the paraphrased text, it must be included in the citation. Refer to the
Reference and Citation Examples in the CWE at Tutorials and Guides for examples of citing
Deciding to summarize, to paraphrase, or to provide a direct quotation is an important
question one must consider when using sources in an academic paper. Summarizing and
paraphrasing both consist of sharing a source author’s ideas by phrasing them in one’s own
words. A writer should summarize or paraphrase source material when it is important to capture
the basic idea but when the author’s exact words are not essential to the paper. Conversely, a
writer should quote directly when the source verbiage is crucial and stating it any other way
would cause it to lose its meaning. Usually writers will quote authors who are experts in their
field and whose ideas support their own. However, excessive use of direct quotations should be
avoided. Writers are encouraged to paraphrase when doing so will not change the meaning or the
impact of a source (Ede, 2011).
Plagiarism. Plagiarism constitutes a serious academic concern. According to Lawton,
Cousineau, and Hillard (2001), “Academic communities demand that writers credit others for
para. for the
their work and that the source of their material clearly be acknowledged” (para. 6). Internet
access has resulted in an increase in plagiarism. McCabe noted (as cited in Sterngold, 2004),
41% of students said they engaged in cut-and-paste plagiarism from online sources. The
sentences and phrases used in one’s paper must be original or cited and referenced accordingly.
Although it may be easier for a writer to use someone else’s words, doing so discredits the
writer. When in doubt, cite. See the Plagiarism Guide in the CWE at Tutorials and Guides for
more information about avoiding plagiarism and about properly citing intellectual property.
Also called an
only within the
not ideal in
Other Format Issues
The preferred typeface for APA style is black, 12-point Times New Roman (APA, 2010).
However, Arial and Courier font types are acceptable. Avoid using any software settings that
reduce spacing between words or letters or that add spacing between paragraphs. Use doublespacing throughout the document. You may use one space or two spaces after sentence-ending
punctuation in the body of your essay, but use consistent spacing at the end of a sentence
throughout your essay.
Although the Publication Manual (2010) requires an abstract to precede the text, an
abstract is not used in most student papers. Some assignments may require an abstract if students
are submitting lengthy papers or project proposals. In those cases, the direction to submit an
abstract will be in the assignment guidelines. A sample abstract can be found in the CWE at
Tutorials and Guides.
Correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure—in addition to
formatting—are essential components of scholarly writing. Strunk (1918/1999) emphasized the
importance of being succinct:
Indent to the
and do not
that ends the
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a
paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no
unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer
make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in
outline, but that every word tell. (para. 1)
In addition to the provision of a standardized format for scientific writing, the Publication
Manual (2010) emphasizes the importance of proper grammar. Important basic grammar
principles are listed below. For further information, refer to Step-by-Step Grammar Review in
the CWE. The Step-by-Step Grammar Review provides individualized practice with grammar
Subject and verb agreement. A singular noun requires a singular verb and a plural noun
requires a plural verb (APA, 2010). Words that intervene between the noun and the verb do not
change this basic rule.
Noun and pronoun agreement. When writers use a singular noun, they must also use a
singular pronoun. To avoid using awkward combined forms such as he/she or (s)he, writers may
reword the sentence and use a plural noun and a plural pronoun to eliminate the problem of
nouns and pronouns that do not agree. For example, the sentence “A student applying for a job
must carefully proofread his/her application” may be reworded to read, “Students applying for
jobs must carefully proofread their applications.” Use of plural forms also helps writers reduce
bias, avoid stereotypes, and refrain from using both singular and plural in the same sentence or
Passive voice. Passive voice obscures the actor in this sentence: “The house was
painted,” because it omits who applied the paint. In contrast, the same sentence written in active
voice would be something such as this: “Our company painted the house.” The passive voice,
which is a form of “be” (is, was, were, will be, have been, etc.) and a participle (painted, etc.), is
useful when the actor's identity is not important to the sentence or context. Overuse of the
passive voice causes the document to read similarly to an instructional manual, dry and
monotonous. According to Sigel (2009), it weakens the essay’s argument and prevents clear and
concise writing. Occasional use of the passive voice is acceptable, but documents written
primarily in the active voice are more enjoyable and more persuasive to read (Sigel, 2009).
Punctuation. Correct punctuation establishes the rhythm and readability of sentences.
Use only one space after commas, colons, and semicolons. Use one or two spaces after a period
at the end of a sentence (be consistent with use). When a hyphen or a dash is used, no space
appears before or after the hyphen or dash (APA, 2010). In academic writing, use a comma to
separate all words in a series of three or more, as in the following example: Tasks included
reading, writing, and analyzing the information in the text. Correct use of commas and
semicolons can be challenging for students. Writers should consider using a proofreading tool,
such as WritePoint®, to aid in checking proper comma use.
Capitalization. Capitalization is used to designate a proper noun or trade name as well as
major words in titles and in headings. Instances where capitalization is not used include laws,
theories, models, or hypotheses, such as ethical decision-making models and names of conditions
or groups in an experiment, such as experimental or control groups (APA, 2010). A common
error in capitalization is its use with the name of a job title or department. An example is human
resources, which is not capitalized, versus the specific title of ACME Human Resources
Department, which is capitalized.
Seriation (elements written in a series). Items contained in a list help to clarify the
point being made or help to clarify components of a subject. Bullets may be used for a list in
academic writing according to APA standards (2010). To show seriation of separate paragraphs,
however, number each paragraph with an Arabic numeral followed by a period that is not
enclosed in or followed by parentheses. To show seriation within a paragraph or a sentence, use
lowercase letters in parentheses (see Appendix C).
Numbers. Spell out numbers one through nine that appear in the body text. Use Arabic
numerals to express numbers 10 and above. Exceptions to this rule are discussed in the Grammar
and Writing Guides in the Center for Writing at Tutorials and Guides. Once in the Grammar and
Writing Guides, go to Grammar Mechanics and select Number Usage for a list of the exceptions.
If you have the Publication Manual, sixth edition (2010), refer to pages 111-114 for detailed
information about number usage.
Third person versus first person. Person refers to the point of view or the source of the
writer’s opinions. Use third person (he, she, or they) in academic writing. When referring to
yourself, however, stating “The writer instructed the patients” is ambiguous and may give the
impression that ...
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