Grand Canyon University American Psychological Association [APA] Style Guide for Writing
Students of Grand Canyon University (GCU) are required to use the guidelines provided by the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) for preparing written assignments, except where otherwise noted. GCU has made APA templates and other resources available within the Student Success Center; therefore, students are not required to purchase the APA manual.
PLEASE NOTE: The curriculum materials (Syllabus, Lectures/Readings, Resources, etc.) created and provided by GCU in the online or Web-enhanced modalities are prepared using an editorial format that relies on APA as a framework but that modifies some formatting criteria to better suit the nature and purpose of instructional materials. Students and faculty are advised that GCU course materials do not adhere strictly to APA format and should not be used as examples of correct APA format when preparing written work for class.
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APA Format and Style
Academic writing, which is independent thought supported by reliable and relevant research, depends on the ability to integrate and cite the sources that have been consulted. Use APA style for all references, in-text citations, formatting, etc.
Write in first- and second-person sparingly, if ever. This means, avoid using I, we, and you; instead, use he, she, and they. Do not use contractions.
1) Use standard-sized paper of 8.5″ x 11″.
2) Margins should be 1″ all around (top, bottom, left, right).
3) Use Times New Roman 12-point font.
4) For emphasis, use italics (not quotation marks, bold, etc.).
6) Align the text flush left.
The basic organization of an APA-style paper includes the title page, abstract, body, and reference section, though students are encouraged to follow any specific directions given in their Overview assignment.
The title page includes four elements that should be centered in the middle of the page: title, author byline, institutional affiliation followed by the course prefix and number (e.g., Grand Canyon University: PSY 351), and date of submission. Please note that even though APA does not require the date on a title page, it is a requirement for GCU papers.
Being the first page, the title page is where to set up your page header, which includes the running head and the page number. The running head—an abbreviated title that is a maximum of 50 characters—should appear flush left in all uppercase letters in the header on all pages. Page numbers should be in the header, flush right.
To format your running head and page numbers in Microsoft Word 2010, click InsertHeader Blank. In the header box that shows up, type Running head: ABBREVIATED TITLE HERE. After the title, tab over till the cursor is at the right margin, highlight the space, and click InsertPage Number and select Current PositionPlain Number.
The abstract covers the main points of the paper and is not always required in a GCU writing assignment. Read the assignment instructions carefully to determine whether the assignment requires an abstract or not.
1) Abstract is page 2 of the assignment.
2) The word Abstract should be centered at the top of the page.
3) As per GCU policy, the abstract should not exceed 120 words.
4) Do not indent the abstract paragraph.
The body will contain all of the author’s main points as well as detailed and documented support for those ideas.
1) The body begins on its own page.
2) The title of the paper should be centered at the top of the first page of the body, in initial caps.
3) The introduction follows the title, but is not labeled.
4) Use headings to separate sections of the paper, but none of the sections should start their own page. The first level of heading is centered and bolded with each word of four letters or more capitalized (see template for an example). The second level of heading (subheading) is flush left and bolded, with each word of four letters or more capitalized. Note that not all papers will have headings or subheadings in them. APA dictates that you should avoid having only one subsection heading and subsection within a section. In other words, use at least two subheadings under a main heading, or do not use any at all.
The references page will contain a list of all sources actually cited in the paper.
1) This should start its own page.
2) The word References, though not in italics, is centered at the top of the page.
3) Include all, any, and only sources that were actually cited in the paper.
4) Arrange the sources in alphabetical order using the authors’ last names.
Style, Punctuation, and Mechanics
1) Use numerals for numbers 10 and above (12 of the subjects); for numbers above and below 10 grouped for comparison (2 of 16 responses); for numbers representing times, dates, measurements, and ages (2-year-olds, 2 hr 15 min); for statistics and percentages (multiplied by 5, 5% of the sample); and for numbers denoting a specific place in a series, book, or table (Table 3, Group 3, page 32).
2) Spell out numbers below 10 that do not represent precise measurements (eight items, nine pages); for numbers beginning a sentence, title, or heading (Forty-eight people responded. Ten subjects improved.); for common fractions (one fifth of the class); and for approximations of numbers of days, months, and years (about three months ago).
An acronym uses the first letter of each word in a name or title.
1) Acronyms must be spelled out completely on initial appearance in text. The abbreviation or acronym should appear in parentheses after that initial spelling out.
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) had a profound impact on public education in the United States. The NCLB was an initiative of President George W. Bush in 2002.
Spelling and Word Usage
Use Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as a default for spelling words. The dictionary can also be used as a resource for hyphenation, capitalization, etc.
1) According to the American Psychological Association (APA), one space after terminal punctuation is considered correct for papers submitted for a grade.
2) Use ellipses when omitting material within a quote.
3) Place a comma after the penultimate word in a series. For example: Your books, ball, and bat are under the bed.
4) If a compound word is not in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, use hyphens for clarity rather than omit them.
5) Hyphenate compound adjectives that precede the noun they modify, except when the first word of the compound is an adverb ending in -ly. For example: role-playing technique, two-way analysis, middle-class families, widely used method
6) Do not hyphenate a compound adjective if its meaning is established or it cannot be misread. For example: grade point average, health care management
7) See page 98 of the APA Manual for further rules on hyphenation.
1) Capitalize all words of four or more letters in titles (books, articles, etc.) used in text. This rule does not apply within the References section, except for the titles of periodicals.
2) Capitalize proper nouns and names.
In-text citations are used in the body of a paper to show which sources a student used for particular material.
When you use material from a source, you need to document that source by using a citation and reference note. All quotations, paraphrases, and summaries must be referenced. Using material from a source without citing that source is considered plagiarism; please reference GCU’s policy on Plagiarism in the University Policy Handbook.
1) In-text citations should note the author information, plus the publication year.
2) For a work by one author, cite last name followed by year on every reference. This citation can be placed at the end of the sentence, or it can be incorporated into the grammatical structure of the sentence.
Researchers have concluded that food and comfortable setting were more important than games available to most students (Liu, 1999).
According to Liu (1999), researchers have concluded that food and comfortable setting were more important than games available to most students.
3) For a work by two authors, cite both last names followed by year on every reference.
(Walker & Allen, 2004)
According to Walker and Allen (2004)…
4) For a work by three to five authors, cite all last names followed by year on first reference, and the first author’s last name followed by et al. and year upon subsequent references.
(Bradley, Ramirez, Soo, & Walsh, 2006)
(Bradley et al., 2006)
5) For a work by six or more authors, cite last name of the first author followed by et al. and the year on all references.
(Wasserstein et al., 2005)
According to Wasserstein et al. (2005)…
6) If no author exists for the source, use the first few words of the title.
Students were more concerned about having a place to socialize with other students than about all-out competition (“Philosophy and the Science,” 2001).
7) When referencing the Bible, cite the book, chapter number, and verse number(s) (starting and ending). The first time the Bible is cited in the paper, also include the version used. This system of citation for the Bible is sufficient and requires no reference note for the Bible on the References page.
· Citing the Bible, first reference: Use book, chapter, verse, and version (Luke 2:16-20 King James Version).
· Citing the Bible, subsequent references: Use only book, chapter, and verse (Luke 2:16-20).
8) If the material is a direct quote, the page or paragraph number of the source should immediately follow.
“Ethics examines moral values and the standards of ethical behavior” (Ornstein et al., 2008, p. 162).
Basu and Jones (2007) went so far as to suggest the need for a new “intellectual framework in which to consider the nature and form of regulation in cyberspace” (para. 4).
9) Quotations with 40 or more words should be in block format.
a. Omit the encompassing quotation marks.
b. Start a block quote on a new line.
c. Indent the entire block 0.5 inches from the left margin (in the same position as a new paragraph)
d. Additional paragraphs within a block quote should have the first line indented an additional 0.5 inches.
e. The in-text citation for a block quote is placed outside the final punctuation for the quote.
f. Double space.
Sample Paragraph With In-Text Citations
Liu and Berry (1999) conducted a survey of college campuses to determine the best design for a student lounge. They concluded that food and comfortable seating were more important than games available to most students. Students were more concerned about having a place to socialize with other students than about all-out competition. In fact, they continue,
arcade games could be a turn-off for some students because they did not want to compete with the noise to talk. These same students said that they would prefer to have a place where they could study and casually socialize at the same time, so seating, lighting, and noise level were all crucial. (Liu & Berry, 1999, p. 14)
This study and others (Wendell, 1978; Hartford, Herriford, & Hampshire, 2001; Johnson et al., 2004) confirm that while having activities is important, students are more drawn to comfortable multi-purpose environments.
In-Text Citation Examples
Ellis, D. (2006). Becoming a master student. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.
With a direct quote:
Ellis (2006) notes that “creative thinking is more appropriate in the early stages of planning and problem solving” (p. 223).
Without a direct quote:
It may be more appropriate to think creatively during earlier planning and problem-solving stages (Ellis, 2006).
The reference list should appear at the end of a paper. It provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source you cite in the body of the paper. Each source you cite in the paper must appear in your reference list; likewise, each entry in the reference list must be cited in your text.
Your references should begin on a new page separate from the text of the essay; label this page References (with no quotation marks, underlining, etc.), centered at the top of the page. The References page should be double-spaced just like the rest of your essay.
1) All lines after the first line of each entry in your reference list should be indented one-half inch from the left margin. This is called hanging indentation.
2) Invert all authors’ names; give surnames and initials for up to and including seven authors (e.g., Author, A. A., Author B. B., Author, C. C.). When authors number eight or more, include the first six authors’ names, then insert three ellipses, and add the last author’s name.
Gilber, D. G., McClernon, J. F., Rabinovich, N. E., Sugai, C., Plath, L. C., Asgaard, G., … Botros, N. (2004). Effects of quitting smoking on EEG activation and attention. Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 6, 249-267. doi:10.1080/14622200410001676305
3) In reference notes for journal articles, include both the volume and issue numbers if each issue of the journal is paginated separately (i.e., beings with page 1). If the journal paginates continuously throughout the volume, then use only the volume number in the reference note.
4) Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.
5) If you have more than one article by the same author, single-author references or multiple-author references with the exact same authors in the exact same order are listed in order by the year of publication, starting with the earliest.
6) When referring to any work that is NOT a journal—such as a book, article, or Web page title—capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns. Do not capitalize the first letter of the second word in a hyphenated compound word.
Reference Examples: Books, Reference Books, and Book Chapters
Entire Book — Print Version
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of work. Location: Publisher.
Daresh, J. C. (2004). Beginning the assistant principalship: A practical guide for new school administrators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Electronic Version of a Print Book
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of work. Retrieved from http://www.xxxxx
Shotton, M.A. (1989). Computer addiction? A study of computer dependency [DX Reader version]. Retrieved from http://www.ebookstore.tandf.co.uk/html/index.asp
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of work. doi:xxxx
Schiraldi, G. R. (2001). The post-traumatic stress disorder sourcebook: A guide to healing, recovery, and growth [Adobe Digital Editions version]. doi:10.1036/0071393722
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of work. Retrieved from http://www.xxxxx
O’Keefe, E. (n.d.). Egoism and the crisis in Western values. Retrieved from http://www.onlineoriginals.com/showitem.asp?itemID=135
Editor, A. A. (Ed.). (Year). Title of work. Location: Publisher.
Feldman, P. R. (Ed.). (1997). British women poets of the romantic era. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University.
Chapter in a Book
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of chapter or entry. In A. A. Editor & B. B. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pp. xxx-xxx). Location: Publisher.
Haybron, D. M. (2008). Philosophy and the science of subjective well-being. In M. Eid & R. J. Larsen (Eds.), The science of subjective well-being (pp. 17-43). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of chapter or entry. In A. A. Editor & B. B. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pp. xxx-xxx). Retrieved from http://www.xxxx
Haybron, D. M. (2008). Philosophy and the science of subjective well-being. In M. Eid & R. J. Larsen (Eds.), The science of subjective well-being (pp. 17-43). Retrieved from http://www.science.com/ Philosophy and the science.pdf
Format (Online with DOI):
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of chapter or entry. In A. A. Editor & B. B. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pp. xxx-xxx). doi:xxxxxxx
Example (Online with DOI):
Haybron, D. M. (2008). Philosophy and the science of subjective well-being. In M. Eid & R. J. Larsen (Eds.), The science of subjective well-being (pp. 17-43). doi:10.1037/10762-000
Multiple Editions of a Book
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of work (xx ed.). Location: Publisher.
Parker, F., & Riley, K. (2004). Linguistics for non-linguists: A primer with exercises (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Entry in an Online Reference Work — Byline Available
Author, A. A. (Year). Entry title. In B. B. Editor (Ed.), Title of reference work (xx ed.). Retrieved from http://www.xxxxx
Graham, G. (2005). Behaviorism. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Fall 2007 ed.). Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ behaviorism
Entry in an Online Reference Work — No Byline Available
Entry title. (Year). In Title of reference work (xx ed.). Retrieved from http://www.xxxx
Heuristic. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (11th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/heuristic
Entry in Reference Work — No Byline
Entry title. (Year). In A. Editor (Ed.), Title of reference work (xx ed., Vol. xx, pp. xxx-xxx). Location: Publisher.
Heuristic. (2007). In J. Smith (Ed.), The book of words (7th ed., Vol 3, pp. 65-66). New York, NY: Jones and Lawrence.
Book Written and Published by Organization
Organization Name. (Year). Title of work. Location: Publisher.
American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Note that the organization is both the publisher and the author, so the word “Author” is noted in place of the publisher’s name.
The Holy Bible
The Bible does not need to be listed on the reference page, but it does need to be cited in-text. (Refer to in-text citation rule.)
Journal Article With DOI
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Journal Title, Volume(Issue), xxx-xxx. doi:xxxxxx
Kalpič, B., & Bernus, P. (2006). Business process modeling through the knowledge management perspective. Journal of Knowledge Management, 10(3), 40-56. doi:10.1108/13673270610670849
Journal Article Without DOI and Retrieved From Internet
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Journal Title, Volume(Issue), xxx-xxx. Retrieved from http://www.xxxxxxxx
Sillick, T. J., & Schutte, N. S. (2006). Emotional intelligence and self-esteem mediate between perceived early parental love and adult happiness. E-Journal of Applied Psychology, 2(2), 38-48. Retrieved from http://ojs.lib.swin.edu.au/index.php/ejap
Journal Article Without DOI and Retrieved From Print Version
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Journal Title, Volume(Issue), xxx-xxx.
Light, M. A., & Light, I. H. (2008). The geographic expansion of Mexican immigration in the United States and its implications for local law enforcement. Law Enforcement Executive Forum Journal, 8(1), 73-82.
Author, A. A. (Year, Month). Article title. Magazine Title, Volume(Issue), xxx-xxx.
Mehta, P. B. (1998, June). Exploding myths. New Republic, 290(25), 17-19.
Article in a Magazine — Online
Author, A. A. (Year, Month). Article title. Magazine Title, Volume(Issue). Retrieved from http://www.homepage
Clay, R. (2008, June). Science vs. ideology: Psychologists fight back about the misuse of research. Monitor on Psychology, 39(6). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor
Article in a Newspaper — Print
Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Article title. Newspaper Title, pp. xx, xx.
Schwartz, J. (1993, September 30). Obesity affects economic, social status. The Washington Post, pp. A1, A4.
Article in Newspaper — Online
Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Article title. Newspaper Title. Retrieved from http://www.homepage.com
Brody, J. E. (2007, December 11). Mental reserves keep brain agile. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com
Report from University or Government Organization, Corporate Author
Organization name. (Year). Title of report (Publication No. xx). Retrieved from http://www.xxxx
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2003). Managing asthma: A guide for schools (NIH Publication No. 02-2650). Retrieved from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/asthma/asth_sch.pdf
Authored Report from Nongovernmental Organization
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of report (Research Report No. xxx). Retrieved from Agency name website: http://www.xxxxxxxxx
Kessy, S. S. A., & Urio, F. M. (2006). The contribution of microfinance institutions to poverty reduction in Tanzania (Research Report No. 06.3). Retrieved from Research on Poverty Alleviation website: http://www.repoa.or.tz/documents_storage/Publications/Reports/06.3_Kessy_and_Urio.pdf
The basic format for referencing Web pages is as follows:
Author, A. A. (year). Title of work [format description]. Retrieved from http://URL.
Note: The format description in brackets is used when the format is something out of the ordinary, such as a blog post or lecture notes. For other examples of format descriptions, refer to page 186 of the Publication Manual. If no date is given for the work, use (n.d.).
Landis, B. (1996). Carlisle Indian Industrial School history. Retrieved from http://home.epix.net/~landis/histry.html
Note: Use the article title or Web page title as the first element of the citation if the author is unavailable.
When discussing an entire website (as opposed to a specific page on the website), an entry does not appear in the reference list, but is cited within text as shown in the following sample sentence:
The International Council of Museums website provides many links to museums, codes of ethics, and the museum profession (http://www.icom.org/).
© 2014 Grand Canyon University 1 Last updated: August 6, 2019
© 2014 Grand Canyon University 16 Last updated: August 6, 2019