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APA (7th edition) Citation Guide

APA Paper format

In the 7th edition, APA decided to provide different paper format guidelines for professional and student papers. For both types a sample paper is included. Some notable changes include:

  • Increased flexibility regarding fonts: options include Calibri 11, Arial 11, Lucida Sans Unicode 10, Times New Roman 12, and Georgia 11.
  • The running head on the title page no longer includes the words “Running head:”. It now contains only a page number and the (shortened) paper title.

7th ed. Student Title Page Guide

Format structure changes

Format and Structure

Rule or Example That Has Changed 7th ed. Page/Section # If in 6th ed., Page/Section #

 

Summary of Change

Student title page pp. 30-33, sections 2.3 and 2.4 p. 41, Figure 2.1

Include course, instructor, and due date. Do not use a running head or author note for student papers (only for professional papers).
Example:

Title

Name
Affiliation
Course
Instructor
Due date

Title pp. 31-32, section 2.4 p. 23, Section 2.01 Title on title page should be bolded.
Author bylines and affiliations pp. 33-35, sections 2.5 and 2.6 p. 23, section 2.02 Superscript numerals for author affiliations for two authors with different affiliations and three or more authors with shared or different affiliations. Change to be more consistent with how other publishers format title page. 
Running head p. 37, section 2.8 p. 41, Figure 2.1 Do not include the label "Running head" to identify the running head on any page. 
Font p. 44, section 2.19 p. 228, section 8.03 A variety of font choices are permitted in APA style, such as a sans serif font (e.g., 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode) or a serif font (e.g., 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or normal (10-point) Computer Modern. APA 6 only allowed 12-point Times New Roman.

Heading Levels

Rule or Example That Has Changed 7th ed. Page/Section # If in 6th ed., Page/Section #

 

Summary of Change

*Level 1 heading p. 48, Table 2.3 p. 62,  Table 3.1

Centered, Bold, Title Case Heading

Test begins indented as a new paragraph. 

*Level 2 heading p. 48, Table 2.3 p. 62, Table 3.1

Flush Left, Bold, Title Case Heading

Text begins indented as a new paragraph.

Level 3 heading p. 48, Table 2.3 p. 62, Table 3.1 Flush Left, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading (vs. Indented, boldface, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period.)
Text begins as a new paragraph.
Level 4 heading p. 48, Table 2.3 p. 62, Table 3.1 Indented, Bold, Title Case Heading, Ending With a Period. (vs. Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period.) Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.
Level 5 heading p. 48, Table 2.3 p. 62, Table 3.1 Indented, Bold Italic, Title Case Heading, Ending With a Period. (vs. Indented, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period.) Text begins on the same line and continues as a regular paragraph.

*Rules for heading levels 1 and 2 remain the same from APA 6.

Grammar and Punctuation

Rule or Example That Has Changed 7th ed. Page/Section # If in 6th ed., Page/Section #

 

Summary of Change

Singular "they" p. 120, section 4.18 pp. 79-80, section 3.20 Use the singular "they" for people who use this pronoun or when the gender of the person is unknown or irrelevant to the context.
Clear punctuation guidance pp. 154-155, sections 6.1 and 6.2 pp, 87-88, section 4.01 Use one space after a period, as opposed to two spaces.
Broader use of quotation marks rather than italics pp. 157-159, section 6.7 p. 92, section 4.08 Use double quotation marks to refer to a letter, word, phrase, or sentence as itself, or to present "stimulus words." 
New examples of preferred spellings pp. 161-162, section 6.11 pp. 96-97, section 4.12 The correct spellings for some common technology words in APA Style papers are as follows:
email, data set, Wi-Fi, home page, ebook, smartphone, website, username, ereader, internet, webpage, login page (but "log in" when used as a verb), database, intranet, the web, emoji (for the plural, either "emoji" or "emojis")

Tables and Figures

Rule or Example That Has Changed 7th ed. Page/Section # If in 6th ed., Page/Section #

 

Summary of Change

Standardized format for tables and figures Table 7.1 and Figure 7.1 p. 127, section 5.04 Both have numbers, titles, and notes. Identical formatting of most components.

Table number

p. 199, section 7.9 p.129, section 5.08 Table # (vs. Table #)
Figure number and title p. 227, sections 7.24 and 7.25 p. 159, section 5.23 Figure # (bold and flush left) above figure, title below figure number in italic title case, all double-spaced (vs. "Figure #. Title" below figure)

In-Text Citations

Rule or Example That Has Changed 7th ed. Page/Section # If in 6th ed., Page/Section #

 

Summary of Change

In-text citation for three or more authors p. 266, section 8.17 p. 175, section 6.12 With three or more authors, abbreviate "et al." the first time you present the work, as opposed to writing all author names the first time you present three to five authors and writing "et al." subsequent times.
General mentions of websites p. 268, section 8.22 p. 88, section 4.02 No reference list entry or in-text citation is needed for a general mention of a website. 
Quotations to other works  p. 276, section 8.32 p. 178, section 6.17 Do not include secondary works in reference list unless you cite them as primary sources elsewhere in your paper. Include the secondary source in parenthetical citations without adding "as cited in" (APA 6th ed.), but APA 7 manual recommends that you read the secondary source and then use it as a primary source. 

Reference List

Rule or Example That Has Changed 7th ed. Page/Section # If in 6th ed., Page/Section #

 

Summary of Change

Spell out up to 20 author names p. 317, section 10.1, example 4 p. 198, section 7.01, example 2

Write out 20 authors, as opposed to 7 authors max in 6th edition. At 21 authors or more, use an ellipsis to substitute the second to last author. 

Updated periodicals reference category p. 317, sections 10.2 and 10.3 p. 198, section 7.01 Issue number included in all journal article references. Journal articles without DOIs from databases treated as print works (i.e. no URL or database name).
Article numbers p. 294, section 9.27 Not specified For articles with article numbers (e.g., eLocators), write the word "Article" and then provide the article number instead of the page range.
Example: 
PLOS ONE, 11(7), Article 30158474. 
Works with specific locations p. 297, section 9.31 p. 186, section 6.30 For works associated with a specific location, such as conference presentations, include the location in the source element of the reference to help with retrieval. Provide the city; state, province, or territory as applicable; AND country (vs. only city and state).
Examples:
New York, NY, United States
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Lima, Peru
London, England
Updated book reference category p. 321, section 10.2 pp. 186-187, section 6.30 Publisher location no longer required. Books from research databases without DOIs treated the same as print works. 
Annotated bibliographies p. 307, section 9.51 Not specified Follow instructor's rules. If not specified by instructor, each annotation should be indented as a new paragraph below its reference entry. 
Publisher name p. 324, example 32 p. 187, section 6.30

When the publisher and author are the same, use the publisher as the author name and omit the publisher name at the end of the citation, as opposed to writing Author to indicate the publisher in APA 6. 

APA Formatting

APA 7 Formatting

Here is an interactive APA 7 tool to help you format your paper.

Alternatively, you can download our template for a preformatted APA 7 paper here.

Using Quotation Marks

Quoting Less than 40 Words

As a general rule, use quotation marks only when quoting text word for word from another source.

Example: According to Schunk (2012), “People agree that learning is important, but they hold different views on the causes, processes, and consequences of learning” (p. 3).

Note: place the closing quotation mark before the parenthetical citation. If the citation appears before the direct quote, then the ending punctuation is placed within the closing quotation, like this:

According to Schunk (2012, p. 3), “People agree that learning is important, but they hold different views on the causes, processes, and consequences of learning.”

Quoting 40+ Words: Block Quote

If the direct quote is 40 words or longer, then you will use a block quote and not quotation marks, which indents the entire quote 0.5", like this.

According to Schunk (2012, p. 3),

People agree that learning is important, but they hold different views on the causes, processes, and consequences of learning. There is no one definition of learning that is universally accepted by theorists, researchers, and practitioners (Shuell, 1986). Although people disagree about the precise nature of learning, the following is a general definition of learning that is consistent with this book’s cognitive focus and that captures the criteria most educational professionals consider central to learning.

NOTE: See the interactive formatting guides below for help with creating block quotes.

Other

Use quotation marks to:

• To indicate words that you consider or want your reader to consider ironic, slang, or invented/coined (However, do so sparingly as this can diminish the academic tone of your paper.):

Analysts consider this “normal” behavior.

• Around the titles of an article or chapter if you mention that title in the text of your paper:

Wolf’s (1978) article, “Social Validity: The Case for Subjective Measurement or How Applied Behavior Analysis is Finding its Heart” identified…

Paper Formatting

Paper Formatting (Chapter 2)

The Title Page (2.3)

The newest edition of the APA manual recommends different title pages for students and professionals. Professional title pages include:

  • the title of the paper,
  • the name of each author of the paper,
  • the affiliation for each author,
  • an author note (if desired),
  • a running head (which also appears on the following pages,
  • a page number (which also appears on the following pages.

Students are directed to follow their instructors’ directions with regards to title page formatting. If no directions are given, students may use the APA-specified title page for students, which includes:

  • the title of the paper,
  • the name of each author of the paper,
  • the affiliation for each author (typically the school being attended),
  • the course number and name for which the paper is being written (use the format used by the school or institution (e.g., ENGL 106),
  • the course instructor’s name and title (ask for the instructor’s preferred form if possible; e.g., some instructors may prefer “Dr.,” “Ms.,” “Mrs.,” “Mr.,” or a different title),
  • the assignment’s due date written in the format most common in your country (e.g., either January 3, 2020, or 3 January 2020 may be appropriate),
  • a page number (which also appears on the following pages.

Note also that student papers now lack a running head.

Heading Levels (2.27)

Headings are used to help guide the reader through a document. The levels are organized by levels of subordination. In general,  each distinct section of  an academic paper should start with a level one heading.

The seventh edition changes only level three, four, and five headings. All headings are now written in title case (important words capitalized) and boldface. Headings are distinguished only by the use of italics, indentation, and periods.

Sixth Edition (3.03)

APA Headings

Level

Format

1

Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Headings

     Text starts a new paragraph.

2

Flush left, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading

     Text starts a new paragraph.

3

     Indented, boldface, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period. Paragraph text continues on the same line as the same paragraph.

4

     Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period. Paragraph text continues on the same line as the same paragraph.

5

     Indented, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period. Paragraph text continues on the same line as the same paragraph.

Seventh Edition (2.27)

APA Headings

Level

Format

1

Centered, Boldface, Title Case Heading

     Text starts a new paragraph.

2

Flush left, Boldface, Title Case Heading

     Text starts a new paragraph.

3

Flush Left, Boldface Italic, Title Case Heading

     Text starts a new paragraph.

4

     Indented, Boldface Title Case Heading Ending With a Period. Paragraph text continues on the same line as the same paragraph.

5

     Indented, Boldface Italic, Title Case Heading Ending With a Period. Paragraph text continues on the same line as the same paragraph.

For example, in a scientific report following APA style, a report contains three sections: Method, Results, and Discussion. Each of these sections start with level 1 headings:

Methods (Level 1)

Site of Study (Level 2)

Participant Population (Level 2)

Teachers (Level 3)

Students (Level 3)

Results (Level 1)

Spatial Ability (Level 2)

Test One (Level 3)

     Teachers with Experience. (Level 4)

     Teachers in Training. (Level 4)

     Graduate Teaching Assistants. (Level 5)

Test Two (Level 3)

Kinesthetic Ability (Level 2)

Other Paper Format Changes

A handful of additional formatting changes are recommended in the seventh edition. These include the following:

  • Running heads are no longer required for student papers.
  • Professional papers include a running head on every page, including the title page. However, the “Running head:” label used in the sixth edition is no longer used.
    • The running head is written in all capital letters. The running head should either be identical to the paper’s title, or a shortened form of the title that conveys the same idea. However, running heads should not exceed 50 characters (including spaces and punctuation).
  • The section labels for abstracts and reference lists follow the conventions for level one headings (i.e., in addition to being centered and written in title case, they are also in boldface).
  • Font guidelines are now somewhat looser in order to account for differences in computer specifications and users’ accessibility needs. So long as the same font is used throughout the text of the paper, a variety of fonts are acceptable.