Dr Abel Scribe PhD

2.0 APA Page Layouts

The APA Publication Manual (2009) does an excellent job of illustrating how papers intended for publication (copy manuscripts) should be formatted. In the context of a classroom or a conference many of these features are redundant, even intrusive. Therefore, the layout is compressed and simplified for college and conference papers (final manuscripts).
APA Basic Table of Contents
1.0 Mechanics of Style
  • 1.1 Abbreviations
  • 1.2 Capitalization
  • 1.3 Emphasis (Italics)
  • 1.4 Common Numbers
  • 1.5 Precise Numbers
3.0 Crediting Sources
  • 3.1 Text Citations
  • 3.2 Reference Lists
4.0 Reference Examples
  • 4.1 Article in Periodicals
  • 4.2 Books & Compilations
  • 4.3 Reference Works
  • 4.4 Monographs & Websites

Final Manuscripts. The title page is condensed in final manuscripts, papers prepared for classes or conferences. Since the paper is to be read rather than reviewed and typeset for publication (copy manuscripts), the title page should carry as more information about the content. The title and author share the page as does the abstract and author note for conference papers. The date is added to a published article by the journal; here it must be added by the author.

Page Headers. Copy manuscripts carry a running head on every page. This becomes the page header in college papers. The running head for publication is an abbreviated short title header--no more than 50 characters--that will be placed at the top of each page when the paper is published in a journal. It is omitted from the title page of college and conference papers where it is redundant, and set in heading caps to conform with other headings in the paper (it is placed in full caps when writing for publication).

Page Numbers. The APA Manual (2001) noted that "the position of page numbers on the first pages . . . may differ from the position of numbers on other pages" (p. 326). On the title page of final manuscripts the page number is relocated to the bottom center of the page.

  Note, every page is numbered consecutively through the paper whether the page number is shown on a page or not.

2.1 Title & Text Pages (APA Final Manuscripts) (TOP)

square The APA Manual (2001) noted: "If the paper is to receive masked review, also place the author note on the title page, following the bylines and affiliations. The journal editor will remove the title page before sending the manuscript out to reviewers" (p. 296). For this reason, the abstract is placed on a separate page. Since final manuscripts are not intended for anonymous review, it is sensible to add the abstract to the title page along with the author note as a convenience to the reader.

Figure 1. Title Pages
Figure 1. Title pages for college and conference papers. The title pages shown differ significantly from that shown in the APA Manual for copy manuscripts. Block spacing is used (single space within blocks of text, double space between blocks); title, author, abstract, and author note are combined on a single page.

Abstract. An abstract should reveal in concise terms what you studied and why, how you went about it, what you found, and the relevance of those findings. "Type the abstract itself as a single paragraph without paragraph indentation" (APA, 2009, p. 27). The maximum length varies by journal, usually 150 to 250 words. Keywords follow the abstract.

Author Note. There are four elements to the author note in copy manuscripts: (a) the author(s) name and affiliation (department and institution), (b) changes in affiliation since the paper was written, (c) acknowledgments, and (d) contact information. The author's name and current affiliation follow the title, so only acknowledgments and contact information appear on conference papers. Each element is presented as a separate indented paragraph.

  • Acknowledgment. This is a catch-all block of text where from a dissertation or other source, and any conflicts of interest. For example, if you are a paid consultant for a company providing a drug used in a study this must be disclosed.
  • Contact information. This is the person designated to respond to inquiries, followed by their complete mailing address and email address if appropriate.
square First Text Page. Repeat the title on the first text page. "The introduction to a manuscript does not carry a heading that labels it as the introduction. (The first part of a manuscript is assumed to be the introduction)" (APA, 2009, p. 63).

Figure 2. Text Page
Figure 2. First and subsequent text pages. The previous edition of the APA Manual (2001) advocated block spacing to improve the readability of college and conference papers (p. 326). The text is double-spaced, but block quotes are single-spaced within while double-spaced from the text. The same line spacing is applied to headings, tables, references, and figure captions.

Page Format

  • Margins must be at least one inch on all four sides of the page, wider left if the paper is to be bound. For shorter papers do not use a binder, a single staple in the upper left corner makes the paper easier to read.
  • Page header & page number. The page header is an abbreviated title in heading caps (every major word is capitalized). This is the the revised running head found in copy manuscripts (APA, 2009, p. 229). The page header goes inside the top margin a half inch above the text, next to the left margin (new with the 6th edition). The page number aligns with the right margin; on the title page the number is centered at the bottom or omitted.
  Number all pages consecutively--starting with the title page--whether the page number is shown or not.

Text Format

  • Typeface. "The preferred typeface for APA publications is Times Roman, with a 12-point font size" (APA, 2009, p. 228). This is a serif typeface, a typeface with small cross bars on the letters—Times Roman and Courier are common examples.
  • Ragged right margin? An unjustified right margin is called a ragged right margin for its appearance on the page. Do not hyphenate words at the ends of lines, do not justify the right margin, leave it ragged.
  • Indent all text paragraphs--except the abstract and the first paragraph in a block quote--one-half inch. Hanging indents in references are also indented one-half inch. There are special rules for paragraphs in block quotes.
  • Block spacing? Double space the text, but single space "table titles and headings, figure captions, references (but double-spacing is required between references), footnotes, and long quotations" (p. 326). Long quotations--block quotes--are single spaced within and double spaced from the text. Titles, headings, and references also follow this format.
  • Space once after (most) punctuation? (New!) "Space twice after punctuation marks at the end of a sentence" (APA, 2009, p.88). Space once after initials--but not inside abbreviations--for example, the initials in Tolkein, J. R. R. are spaced, but the U. in U.S. is not (see p. 88).

2.2 Headings & Lists (Seriation) (TOP)

square Definitions.  Headings, subheadings, and lists are tools used to organize a manuscript. Lists come in two forms: sentence lists and paragraph lists, or more accurately, sentence seriation and paragraph seriation.

arrow Bullets are expressly acknowledged as an alternative to numbered lists (APA, 2009, p. 64).

arrow Do not begin a paper with the heading Introduction, this is understood (APA, 2009, p. 63). Repeat the title.

Figure 3. Headings & Lists Figure 3. Revised APA headings (2009). Headings are used in descending order as needed, starting over with each section of the paper. The use of a bold font for the title and page header (running head) are an APA Basic modification.

Five levels of headings are available in APA style. They are used in the order shown. Most papers will need no more than three levels. If a fourth level is needed, repeat the third level run-in or paragraph style heading adding italics—Level 4 heading in bold italic font and sentence caps. If a fifth level is needed drop the bold font and repeat the fourth level run-in style heading—Level 5 heading in italic font and sentence caps. "Use at least two subsection headings within any given section, or use none" (APA, 2009, p. 62).

Seriation.  "Just as the heading structure alerts readers to the order of ideas within the paper, seriation helps the reader understand the organization of key points within sections, paragraphs, and sentences" (APA, 2009, p. 63). The elements in the list must be comparable and the construction parallel. Letters are used to identify the items in a sentence, numbers to list full sentences--each indented as a paragraph--or paragraphs. Note, though:

  • Numbered lists may imply an ordering or ranking of the items.
  • Use bullets to remove or reduce this implicit ranking (APA, 2009, p. 64).

2.3 Quotations (TOP)

square Reproduce a quote exactly.  If there are errors, introduce the word sic italicized and bracketed—for example, "the speaker stttutured [sic] terribly"—immediately after the error to indicate it was in the original.

Figure 4. Quotations
Figure 4. Text and block quotations. Quotes 40 words or longer are formatted as block quotes.

Block quotes, quotations of 40 words or longer, double-spaced from the text, single-spaced within. Indent the entire block five spaces (one-half inch, 1.25 cm).

  • The first line of the first paragraph in a block quote is not additionally Indented; the first line of each paragraph after the first is indented (see Figure 5). Add the citation to the end of the block quote after the final punctuation.
  • Block quotes may be single-spaced in research papers, but must be double-spaced in copy manuscripts submitted for publication or review (see APA, 2001, p. 326).

Shorter quotes, less than 40 words, are placed in the text in quotation marks. Longer quotes, 40 words or more, are indented and single spaced as block quotes, without quotation marks.

  • Reproduce a quote exactly. If there are errors, introduce the word sic (thus) italicized and bracketed—for example, "the speaker stttutured [sic] terribly"—immediately after the error to indicate it was in the original.
  • When the author is introduced in the text the page number follows the quotation, but the date follows the author's name. Smith (1999) reported that "the creature walked like a duck and quacked like a duck" (p. 23). The abbreviation "p." for page ("pp." for pages) is lower cased.
  • Without an introductory phrase, the author, date, and page are placed together. For example, It was reported that "the creature walked like a duck and quacked like a duck" (Smith, 1999, p. 23).

Edit quotes. Effective writing seeks to merge quotations into the flow of the text. Edit a quotation according to the following rules (see APA, 2001, pp. 119–120):

  • Change case/punctuation. Double quotation marks may be changed to single quotes, and the reverse, without indicating the change. The case of the letter beginning the quote, and punctuation ending it, may be changed to fit the syntax. For example, drawing on a sentence above, write: "Merge quotations into the flow of the text!" Do Not write "[M]erge quotations . . . ." in APA style (but see Chicago Manual of Style, 2003, p.462).
  • Omit . . . Words. Words may be omitted from a quote as long as the original meaning is not altered. The omission is an ellipsis, and is indicated by inserting three ellipsis points, three periods with a space before the first, after the last, and between each period; between two sentences, four points are used. "Do not use ellipsis points at the beginning or end of any quotation unless, in order to prevent misinterpretation, you need to emphasize the quotation begins or ends in midsentence" (APA, 2009, p. 173).
  • [sic]. Obvious errors in a quotation may be corrected without making a special notation. But for an unusual word choice, concept, term, or spelling, it may be appropriate to emphasize that the original is being quoted faithfully by inserting the Latin term sic (thus), in italics or underlined, and in brackets, immediately following the term (see APA, 2009, p. 172). For example, "the hapless students in the study sttutttered [sic] unbearably."
  • [Add note]. A clarification may be inserted in a quote. This is added in brackets at the appropriate place. For example, the local authority reported "they [the Irish Republican Army] called for a cease-fire."
  • [Italics added]. Emphasis may be added to a quote with italics. When this is done a note must be appended to the quote in brackets immediately after the change [italics added] to the quotation.

5.1 Tables (TOP)

square Figure 6 presents the same statistics, first in the text, then in a table. Which is easier to interpret? Note, it is APA policy to replace the standard deviation (SD) with confidence intervals in current publications.

Figure 5. Tables
Figure 5. Statistics from a survey of problem areas in using APA style. The same statistics are presented in the text and in the table.

Figure 6 presents a fairly clear ranking of the means of problem areas reported: References 3.23, Tables and figures 3.00, and Math and statistics 2.81. The difference from highest to lowest is 0.42 points, almost half a standard deviation, which ranges from 0.98 to 1.07. This reflects a measure of agreement among the editors.

The influence these problem areas have is less evident. The range of means from highest to lowest is just 0.08 (2.31 to 2.23), a trivial distinction when the standard deviation ranges from 1.27 to 1.39. Try to derive the same interpretation from the data presented in the text. Tables are more expensive to render in print than text, so the authors or editors of this published article likely opted to present the statistics in text format for that reason.

Table Manners

  • Place tables close to where they are first mentioned in your text, but do not split a table across pages. (Tables in papers submitted for review or publication are placed on separate pages at the end of the paper.)
  • Label each table beginning with the table number followed by a description of the contents in italics.
  • Horizontal rules (lines) should be typed into tables; do not draw them in by hand.
  • "Tables may be submitted either single- or double-spaced" (APA, 2009, p. 141). What works best in a class or conference paper depends on the complexity of the table. Simple is better than complex; readers may shy from studying complex tables of data.
  • Each row and column must have a heading. Abbreviations and symbols (e.g., "%" or "nos.") may be used in headings.
  • Do not change the number of decimal places or units of measurement within a column. "Use a zero before the decimal point when numbers are less than 1" (APA, 200, p. 113). Write "0.23" not ".23" unless the number is a statistic that cannot be larger than one, for example a correlation r = .55, or a probability p < .01.
  • Report exact probabilities to two or three decimal places in preference to the p < .xx model when possible (APA, 2009, p. 139). Write p = .035 in preference to p < .05.
  • Add notes to explain the table. These may be general notes, footnotes, or probability notes.
  • General notes follow the word Note: (in italics) and are used to explain general information about the table, such as the source.
  • Footnotes are labeled "a, b, c, etc." set in superscript. They explain specific details.
  • Probability notes follow footnotes. They are used when the p < .xx format is required by the nature of the statistic "assign the same number of asterisks from table to table within your paper, such as *p < .05 and **p < .01" (APA, 2009, p. 139).

2.5 Figures & Graphs (TOP)

square "A figure may be a chart, drawing, graph, map, or photograph. The APA Manual is circumspect in encouraging the use of graphs since they are costly to produce in print. Figures are appropriate when they complement the text and eliminate a lengthy discussion. There are additional instructions for biological data and scans.

Figure 6. HPS Cases

The bar graph illustrates quantitatively the episodic character of this very lethal disease (the mortality rate is about 40%). The outbreaks are contrasted with the low endemic or background rate in a manner that would be difficult to describe in the text since the time scales and severity vary (the peaks always occur in the second or third quarters).

Labels (axes). The graph meets APA standards for presentation and labeling the axes. The Y-axis, the vertical axis on the left side of the graph, is labeled with the text in heading caps parallel to the axis (readable when the graph is rotated 90 degrees clockwise). These are APA requirements. The X-axis, the horizontal axis, is self explanatory and needs no additional label.

Legend. The legend of a graph identifies what each line or segment indicates. In this case there is only one metric, HPS cases, but the legend identifies periods of outbreak of the disease in contrast with periods when few cases are reported. Legends must be presented within the dimensions of the graph, never outside it.

Caption. Figures (graphs and images combined) are numbered like tables, starting with 1 and continuing in whole numbers through the text, with the word Figure and number in italics. The caption explains enough about the content so the reader need not refer to the text.

pointer  "A sans serif type (e.g., Arial, Futura, or Helvetica) may be used in figures [and tables] . . . to provide a clean and simple line that enhances the visual presentation" (APA, 2009, p. 228; see also APA, 2001, p. 191).

Images (TOP)

square A picture is worth a thousand words. Illustrations, pictures, are expensive to print, especially color pictures, but that is not a limitation with the word processors and inkjet printers used for final manuscripts. If it makes sense to use a picture, do so. The picture in Figure 7 would be difficult to describe in the text, and would likely require a specialized language to do so (cornice, fall line, glissade, grade, talus, tarn) that would also have to be explained.

Andrews Glacier, RMNP
Figure 7. Andrews Glacier, Rocky Mountain National Park. The small dot above the solid red bold line is a party starting the 150 m vertical descent. Right (north) of the crest of the glacier the slope drops dangerously into rocks. "Bum sliding" (sitting glissade) is the favored mode of descent on this popular outing. Andrews Tarn is in the foreground. Doc Scribe photos.

Legend. A legend explains the symbols added to an image or provides a scale. This picture has been edited to show a safe descent line (bold), the crest of the glacier (thin gray line), and the dangerous north side of the glacier marked with the universal no-go sign. All of these markings show up well against their respective backgrounds; important when labeling images. They need no further explanation beyond the caption. The legend should be within the boundaries of the image.

Caption. The caption goes below the images as it does with a graph. The caption begins with the figure number (graphs and images are both figures and numbered in the same sequence), followed by the title, a "brief descriptive phrase" (APA, 2001, p.199). Additional information should explain the image. "A reader should not have to refer to the text to decipher the figure's message" (APA, p. 200). Finally, an acknowledgment of the source is required. This may be dispensed with if you are the source, but adding that fact will dispel doubt.

The captions in APA Basic show the title in a bold font, a useful touch though not part of the APA instructions. Most journals (outside medicine) publish only halftone images (grayscale). Capitalize Figure in references to an image or graph in the text.

pointer  Graphs and images are presented in a dramatically different manner in copy manuscripts for publication, and are subject to complex requirements. They come at the end of the manuscript; figures and their captions go on separate pages. If writing for publication avoid images if possible, and consult the APA Manual.

Flow Charts (TOP)

square Mapping the research design. Flow charts have been a required part of clinical research reports in medical journals for several years. The APA Publication Manual (2009) features several examples of flow charts including one for a clinical trial (fig. 5.3, p. 154) and one for a survey study (fig. 5.4, p. 155). Expect the APA to require these charts for empirical studies in the future. They are a great addition to a theses or dissertation.

Flow chart

FYI: Matching Text from the Article

Of the 146 screened potential participants, 104 met eligibility criteria, and of those, 59 agreed to participate in the study. A total of 59 participants were enrolled in the trial, and 54 (27 per group) were randomized (Figure 9). Six participants had a large response during the placebo-run-in period and should have been dropped from the study prior to randomization; however, they were erroneously randomized, 2 to study medication and 4 to placebo. Because they had been randomized, these participants were allowed to remain in the trial and are included in the intention-to-treat analysis. (Weber et al., 2008, p. 2636)

FYI: Reported Results

To our knowledge, this is the first placebo-controlled trial of H perforatum in children and adolescents. The results of this study suggest that administration of H perforatum has no additional benefit beyond that of placebo for treating symptoms of child and adolescent ADHD. In our study, those in the H perforatum group experienced neither more nor fewer adverse events than the placebo group. (Weber et al., 2008, pp. 2638-2639)