APA Writing Style Resources

by VickyRN 14,682 Views | 15 Comments Senior Moderator

The proper use of APA Style and correct APA formatting can be a daunting feat to accomplish. Here are some resources to help the weary nursing student.

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    the american pyschological association (apa) style is a set of rules or guidelines designed to ensure clarity and uniformity of scientific writing. this publication manual aims to minimize distraction and maximize precision in the writing process. the guide also standardizes nearly every aspect of writing, such as: authorship; headings; bias-free language; punctuation; abbreviations; constructing tables; avoiding plagiarism; and citing references.

    the apa documentation style is used for research in science-related fields, whereas the mla is utilized for research in the liberal arts. there are thousands of peer-reviewed journals, references, and books that use apa as their style guide. apa also provides a format for cross-referencing sources, from citations-in-text to the reference page. cross-referencing is of great value to researchers who need to locate original sources for their own research projects. careful use of apa adds credibility to the writer by drawing upon the authority of the source material. proper citation of sources in apa can also help the author avoid charges of plagiarism, which is a very serious offense.

    apa has been criticized for being choppy and very difficult to master. the 6th edition of apa style has improved significantly from the 5th edition, with simplified heading levels, abstract with key words underneath, author note, seriation for organization of material, and no retrieval dates for citations. the reference page also contains “doi” designates. the 6th edition is much sleeker in appearance than the cumbersome 5th edition.

    a huge challenge in the new 6th edition is creating a unique header on the title page. the 6th edition does not allow the words “running head” in headers from page 2 onward. i have found an excellent tutorial on how to apply headers and page numbers, as well as create the unique header for the title page: creating a new apa header. for mac users, here is another resource: inserting apa style headers and page numbers on pcs and macs.

    another area of confusion and novelty is the use of “doi” designates for journal articles and some scholarly books in the reference section of the paper. digital object identifiers (doi) are unique strings of numbers and letters to identify scholarly content in the online environment. clicking on the doi that accompanies a citation furnishes the original online journal abstract. the doi for content material is created and assigned by the publisher. a user-friendly free doi lookup is provided by crossref.org: http://www.crossref.org/guestquery/

    here are some resources on apa style that i have found to be of inestimable help over the years:

    free tutorial: the basics of apa style
    general apa guidelines – purdue online writing lab
    sample apa paper
    sample one-experiment paper
    sample two-experiment paper
    sample meta-analysis paper
    citing sources using apa manual (6th ed.)
    citing legal materials in apa style
    Last edit by VickyRN on Jun 27, '11
    meghan wood, AtomicWoman, rn/writer, and 8 others like this.
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  3. About VickyRN

    VickyRN is a certified nurse educator (NLN) and certified gerontology nurse (ANCC). Her research interests include: the special health and social needs of the vulnerable older adult population; registered nurse staffing and resident outcomes in intermediate care nursing facilities; and, innovations in avoiding institutionalization of frail elderly clients by providing long-term care services and supports in the community. She is faculty in a large baccalaureate nursing program in North Carolina.

    VickyRN joined Mar '01 - from 'Under the shadow of His wings...'. VickyRN has '16' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds'. Posts: 12,043 Likes: 6,424; Learn more about VickyRN by visiting their allnursesPage


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    15 Comments so far...

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    Sure wish this kind of resource had been available to me when I was in college........oh, how I loathed APA format, even as I understood why our instructors demanded its use whenever we did any sort of research paper. Great job, Vicky, and thank you on behalf of nursing students everywhere who struggle to master this difficult and unwieldy documentation!
    tvccrn, eriksoln, and VickyRN like this.
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    Thank you for posting this. As a style buff -- I've had to master several over the years -- I respectfully disagree with the characterization of the sixth edition APA manual being a significant improvement over the fifth. I find the sixth edition even less user friendly than the fifth edition. It's difficult to find what I need. I'm still using the fifth edition for expediency's sake.
    VickyRN likes this.
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    Quote from Freedom42
    Thank you for posting this. As a style buff -- I've had to master several over the years -- I respectfully disagree with the characterization of the sixth edition APA manual being a significant improvement over the fifth. I find the sixth edition even less user friendly than the fifth edition. It's difficult to find what I need. I'm still using the fifth edition for expediency's sake.
    And the fact that the new 6th edition was so full of errors that they had to make a second version of the new edition, certainly didn't help much. I was referring to some of the stylistic changes in the new edition as being simplified. It still is a bear to use.
    blueheaven likes this.
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    Thanks for your reply, Vicky. I had no idea that a second version of the sixth edition had been published. I'm not sure which version I have, but I'll be sure to take a look!
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    I last went to college about 17 years ago and I don't remember having to use any particular "style" (of course over that long I may have just forgotten). Now I'm going back to college for nursing and there are just a couple of classes I have to take to complete all my pre-reqs, and psychology was one of them. The prof said we'll be writing a paper in July using the APA style, and recommended a video on youtube to explain it to us... the video is 10 minutes long just explaining how to set the thing up?! What the heck is wrong with just a neat type-written paper? It almost seems to me that whoever thought the style up just wanted to drag everyone through the process of having to use every feature of Word!

    ANYWAY, thanks VickyRN for all the info. Since I'm trying to get the best grades possible, I'll look through it all and make sure I'm doing it right! I've always found your posts very informative and really appreciate all the time you put in here!
    workingharder and VickyRN like this.
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    Quote from freedom42
    thanks for your reply, vicky. i had no idea that a second version of the sixth edition had been published. i'm not sure which version i have, but i'll be sure to take a look!
    there is a rather looong list of errors in the first printing of the sixth edition (rather embarrassing i might add, to the apa organization):

    corrections to the first printing (july 2009) (pdf)
    view the corrections to the first printing (july 2009)

    view the frequently asked questions about corrections to the first printing of the publication manual, sixth edition
    how will i know that a particular copy of the sixth edition of the publication manual is a corrected edition?
    eriksoln likes this.
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    I also wish that I had help with the APA format that was required on a few papers in nursing school. At the time I didn't understand how using that format could have a positive change or impact on my life, and after 18 years of nursing I still haven't figured that out. Guess it is just a method of torture???? LOL
    workingharder, nep1980, eriksoln, and 1 other like this.
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    Great info, Vicky, and I will immediately put it to use. Thank you!
    eriksoln and VickyRN like this.
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    Thank you for sharing very useful information.
    eriksoln and VickyRN like this.


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