Hello and Welcome to the Medaille Libraries APA Instruction Session. My name is April Higgins, and I’m here to guide you through the basics of using the APA style guide in papers for all your classes here at Medaille.
APA is one of many style guides. A style guide is just what it sounds like. It’s a set of rules or guides that tell you how to format your writing into a certain style. There are multiple style guides in existence. Here are some that you may see or use at some point in your career. The style guide is chosen based on the subject you are writing about and who will be reading your paper. APA stands for the American Psychological Association. This style is used primarily for topics within the fields of psychology, business, criminology, economics, education, and sociology. For the humanities or social sciences, a writer may choose to use the Chicago or Turabian style guides. For topics about literature, a writer may choose the MLA style. Luckily for you, you don’t have to select a style guide. Medaille professors prefer APA style.Students in the veterinary technology program, however, may be asked to use the CSE style.
So why are we using APA…or any style guide for that matter? Well, using a style guide helps you to present the information in your paper in a uniform way, which makes it easier to read and understand. It protects against plagiarism. As students, we build off of others’ work and knowledge in order to generate new ideas and make progress on a topic. However, it is important to give credit where credit is due and give others recognition for their work. It also ensures that anyone using your ideas will give you recognition as well. Formatting and citation can also help give the reader an idea of the process you went through to gather research and make conclusions.Lastly, APA is widely accepted in the business world and commonly used in professional publications. It’s important for you to use APA as a student and learn it, because you may be using throughout your career as well.
So, let’s get started. This is the general format every APA paper you write will be in. In front, you will have your title page. Next, you’ll have a page for your abstract. Most professors won’t ask you to write an abstract, so many times you will not have one. Then, you’ll have the main body of your document (your actual essay, what I call the “meat and potatoes”) And finally, you’ll have a list of references. We will go through each of these portions and talk about what you will need for each. But first, let’s discuss formatting guidelines that will affect your entire paper.
For an APA paper, you want it to be typed and double spaced, on standard-sized paper, in 10 to 12 point Times New Roman or similar font. Can I have everyone open up Microsoft Word on your computers now?Alright, now that you have it open, you should see something that looks like this in the top right-hand corner of your screen. Under the home tab, you will be able to select your font and font size. Over to the right of that, you’ll see a tool to select double space. Has everyone found these?You will also want one-inch margins on all sides. To do that you’ll want to select the page layout tab. Then select Margins and adjust accordingly. Can everyone do this now please? Any questions?Lastly, you’ll want every page of your document to have a page header with a short version of your title and a page number in the upper-right hand corner. We’ll go over how to do this on the next slide.
Here’s an example of what your header should look like on your very first page (which is your title page). You can see the short version of the title followed by the page number. Your header should appear on every page of your document with the correct page number.
To insert your header in Microsoft Word, you’ll want to go to the Insert tab. Over towards the right, you’ll see a tool for Page number. Click it, and select the top and right edges of the page. It will automatically put a number for each page in your document and create a new page number for any new pages you create. Everyone please try this now.Okay, and you can go ahead and type your short title in now and it will insert it next to your page number. Make sure to put a space at the end of your title so that there’s a space between it and the page number. After you’ve finished, click Close Header and Footer. Any questions?
Okay, now that we’ve talked about general formatting issues, let’s start at the back of your paper and work forward. The back of your paper is going to have a list called References. This is different from a Works Cited list in that your references may contain sources that you consulted to write your essay, but may not have cited in the essay itself. It of course, should also contain all the sources you cited in your essay. You’ll want to begin by consulting an APA Guide. We have a few of them listed here. At Medaille, we have our very own APA guide. You can find it through the library’s home page by clicking “Topic Guides” or “Libguides.” I will show you that now. You can also use the Purdue Online Writing Lab’s APA Guide. They use the term “OWL” for short. If you just google “owl apa” their guide will be the first result. A third guide is the official American Psychological Association Publication Manual, which you can find in the library on the wooden podium. When you are using the guides to make your references list, you’ll want to follow three important steps.First, identify the type of source you are using. It could be a book, a journal article, an article from a database, a webpage, an online video, and so on.Then, find an example of that source type in an APA Guide.Then all you need to do is mirror that example using the information from your source.
For example, let’s say you were citing this book in your references list. You would look for an example in one of the guides. This one is from the OWL guide. The cover of this book does not contain any information except the title. For more information, we always turn to the back of the title page, also called a verso.The verso will usually tell you the copyright information: including the year, the publisher, and the publisher’s location. You can see from my example verso here that Matthew Inman wrote the book. It is copyrighted 2012 and was published in Kansas City at Andrew McMeel Publishing. You’ll want to follow the example in the guide and put in the information from the verso. I’ve done it here for you so you can see what it should look like. You’ll notice that only the first word of the title is capitalized. Matthew Inman didn’t give us a middle initial so we simply omitted it. We only put the city for the location unless it’s a little known town. And we can omit the word “Publishing” or “Publisher” from the publisher’s name. That’s assumed.Lastly, you’ll notice that the second line is indented somewhat. That’s called a hanging indent. We’ll go over how to do that in Microsoft Word in a few minutes. For now, please take a moment to compare the verso and the APA guide example with the citation at the bottom of this slide.
Okay, let’s all do an example together. Here’s the cover and here’s the verso. Take a look at the basic format for books example from the guide and try to use the information from the cover and verso to type up a citation. Go ahead and type the citation into your open Microsoft Word now. Let me know if you have any questions or need help. Okay, everybody got theirs typed up? You can go ahead and check it against the correct answer here.
Here you see an example of what a References page should look like. The student here used the citation guide for an Article from an Online Periodical. They also included a retrieval date, database information, and an accession number for the specific artiicle. It is really up to you whether you want to include this extra information. Read your APA Guide and it will help you make this decision. I’d like you all to look at the title of the article in one of the examples, such as “The library is for studying: student preferences for study space.” Notice that it is not italicized and that only the first word is capitalized. Now look over to one of the journal titles in one of the examples, such as “The Journal of Academic Librarianship.” You’ll see that all of the important words are capitalized and the entire thing is italicized. I hope you have noticed by now that it is important to pay attention to capitalization, punctuation, italicization, and other details when writing your reference list.
Alright, just a few last notes about your references page. You want it to be double-spaced, just like the rest of your paper. Your references should be in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names. Make sure you type the word “References” and center it at the top of the page. Lastly you want your references to be aligned on the left side of the page with a hanging indent for each. I’ll show you how to do this on the next slide.
After you have all or most of your references typed up, arrange them into alphabetical order.Then, you want to highlight your references by clicking and dragging the mouse across the text. Right-click anywhere on the highlighted text and you’ll see this menu pop up. Select paragraph and it will pop open this window.Select hanging under special indents, and tell it to indent by half an inch. You’ll see how it effects the text in the preview. Click OK and you’re done!Does everyone still have Microsoft Word open? Type a few lines of text and try to make a hanging indent with your paragraph. Let me know if you need help, and when you’ve successfully created a hanging indent.
Phew! Okay, I promise that was the hardest part. Let’s move on to the Main Body of your paper. Here’s an example of what the very first page of text in your main body should look like. You should have a header at the top right-hand corner. If you have an abstract in your paper, the first page of your main body should be page 3. If you didn’t have an abstract, the first page should be page 2. Your text should be double-spaced with no extra spaces between the paragraphs. The beginning of each paragraph is indented. Just hit the tab key on your keyboard to indent. You should have your full title typed and centered at the top.
Throughout the main body of your paper, you want to focus on using personal pronouns where it is appropriate. Do not refer to yourself in third person. However, there is no need to say “I think” or “I believe” in a paper. It is assumed that the opinions stated in the paper are the author’s. Secondly, try to use the active voice rather than the passive voice. If you see the phrase “have been” or “has been” in a sentence, that should be a red flag.
You also want to be as clear and easy to understand as possible when you are writing your paper. Your language should be specific, yet brief. You also want to be as plain and straightforward as possible, being descriptive but avoiding figurative language.
Okay, now let’s talk about in-text citations. These are easier than the reference page citations, so rest easy. In-Text citations are essentially short versions of the reference citations to let the reader know which sources you used for specific pieces of information in your paper. Here is an example of an in-text citation here. This is the full citation for the same source given in the references list. Here’s how to do in-text citations.At the end of a sentence containing information from a source, you’ll want to enclose an in-text citation in parentheses. Include the page number when the information comes from a specific page or range of pages. If you are paraphrasing information that is stated in numerous places within the source or it’s a broader idea within the source, you do not have to cite the page number.If you find the same fact or piece of information across several sources, it is considered common knowledge and does not need to be cited.
Inside those parenthesis at the end of the sentence, this is generally what you’ll need to include: The author’s name and the date of publicationThe page number or numbers if your paraphrase is from a specific page or range of pagesYou will also need to include a page number if you directly quote the source.
There might be some situations in your writing where you want to say the author’s name in the sentence. You can use a signal phrase including the author’s name to introduce the source before the in-text citation. For example, you could write something like:“According to Rubin (2010), one of the reasons public libraries were built was because they were seen as a way to help the disadvantaged (p. 56). “You always want to follow the author’s last name with the year of publication. Then, at the end of the sentence, you only need to cite a page number.
If you are directly quoting a source, you will need to either put quotations around the quote or present it as a block quotation. If your quote is 40 words or less, you can simply put quotation marks around it. If it is more that 40 words long, you’ll want to present it as a block quotation. To do this, start on a new line and type in your quote. Then highlight your quote, right-click and select paragraph. From there you’ll be able to set your left indent at half an inch. This is very similar to the way we talked about creating a hanging indent earlier in this presentation. In all cases, you want to make sure you cite the author, the year of publication and the page number. Make sure your block quotation is also double-spaced.
An abstract is a brief summary of your paper. It should be presented as its own page right after the title page. As I stated earlier, chances are that your professor will not ask you to write an abstract. If they do, however, have them specify about how many words they’d like it to be. I have found different length suggestions in different guides. Some say an abstract should be no longer than 120 words; others say it should be between 150 to 200 words. The example you see here is a little over 150 words long. Your abstract page should also have a header, just like the rest of your document. The abstract itself should be double-spaced, with no indent at the beginning.Lastly, you want to have the word “Abstract” typed and centered at the top.
Alright, you’re finally at the front of your paper: your title page. This is the easiest part. First, you’ll want to start typing the information for your paper in the upper-half of the page and center the text.You’ll type in the information in this order: your essay’s title, the writer’s name (presumably your name), the instructor’s name (you can refer to them as Professor with their last name), the class number (class title or both), and the full date. All this should be double-spaced. And make sure your header is at the top with page number 1.
This is another area where I’ve seen discrepancies between the APA guides. Some say that student papers should not have a Running Head. Others say that even student papers should have them. Ask your professor whether or not they want a running head. The running head is essentially your short title from the header before, but put in all caps and aligned to the left side of the page. On the title page, you’ll put the words “Running Head” followed by a colon, then the short title.On every other page you do not want to have the words “Running Head”, just the short title in all caps.
Okay, we are almost done.Before we finish up, I should let you know that there are programs out there that will help you organize your sources and help you with citations. However, some of them cost money to purchase. Any program you use that automatically formats your citations should only be trusted so far. You need to make sure you check the citations it creates for you because these programs are not always totally accurate. I have never used these programs or websites myself, so I cannot speak to them specifically. I have always used the guides and created citations myself because that is the best way to learn APA. However, you are free to use these programs as long as you check the citations they create.
If you ever need help with your writing or with APA formatting, we are here to help you.You should all have the handout I passed out. There are APA guides online (which I listed earlier in the presentation) and the official APA manual is in the library on the wooden podium. Feel free to visit our online libguide for more APA tips. You are always welcome to set up an appointment with the Rochester campus Writing Lab if you need individualized writing help. Lastly, you can come to the library and ask Liz or I any questions pertaining to your paper or project. We are usually here from 4 to 8pm on weekdays and 8:30 am to 12:30 pm on Saturdays. \Does anyone have any questions?Thanks, and have a great day!
APA and You
An introduction to
citation and formatting
for Medaille students
A style guide:
APA (American Psychological Association) –
Psychology, Business, Criminology, Economics, Education, and
Chicago (CMOS) – humanities and social sciences
Turabian (variation on Chicago) – humanities, social
sciences, and natural sciences
MLA – literature and the humanities
CSE – biology
Benefits of Using APA
Your work will be easier to read and
Protects against plagiarism
Gives credit where credit is due
Gives the reader insight into your
APA Style is widely accepted in the
business world and is commonly used in
Your essay should:
be typed, double spaced
on standard-sized paper (8.5” x 11”)
in 10-12 pt. Times New Roman or a similar font
with 1” margins on all sides
include a page header (short title & page number) in the
upper right-hand of every page
Lists sources cited in the essay
May contain sources consulted, but not cited
Medaille APA Guide http://libraryguides.medaille.edu/apa
Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) APA Guide
Publication Manual of the American Psychological
Association, Sixth Edition
Using the Guides
Identify the source type: book, journal article, webpage
Find an example of the source in an APA Guide
“Mirror” the example using the information from your source
Inman, M. (2012). How to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you.
Kansas City: Andrews McMeel.
Adams, S. (2013). How to fail at almost everything and
still win big: Kind of the story of my life. New York:
In alphabetical order by
“References” centered at top
Left-aligned with hanging
Click and drag to highlight a
2) Right-click, select “Paragraph”
3) Select “Hanging” and “0.5”
Header at top right-hand corner
with page number
First page of main body will be
page 3 with an abstract or page 2
without an abstract
No extra spaces between
paragraphs, just indented
Title typed and centered at top
Main Body: In-Text Citations
In-text citations help readers locate the cited
source in the References section of the paper.
Whenever you use a source, provide in
the author’s name and the date of
The page number(s) if your paraphrase is
from a specific page or range of pages
The page number(s) if you are directly
quoting a source
Main Body: In-Text Citations
In some cases, you may choose to use a signal phrase
including the author’s name.
According to Rubin (2010), one of the reasons public
libraries were built was because they were seen as a way
to help the disadvantaged (p. 56).
In this case, you want to follow the author’s name
with the year of publication. At the end of the
sentence, specify the page number.
• Direct Quote (40 Words or Less)
– According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA
style, especially when it was their first time" (p. 199).
• Direct Quote (40 Words or More)
– Jones's (1998) study found the following:
Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it
was their first time citing sources. This difficulty could be
attributed to the fact that many students failed to purchase a
style manual or to ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)
Brief summary of your
Less than 120 words?
Double spaced, no indent
“Abstract” centered at top
Centered in the upper-half
of the page
Follow this order:
Header at top
The Running Head
Short version of title in
Aligned to left side of
On title page, put
All other pages, just
short title in all caps,
Help at Medaille
Handout or APA manual
Ask a librarian
− April Higgins: email@example.com
− Elizabeth King: firstname.lastname@example.org
Medaille College, Rochester campus Writing Lab
− Mon-Thu 6-8 PM; Sat 9-11 AM