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Academic Coaching & Writing

I. Using APA Style in Academic Writing: Introduction

Dec 15, 2014 by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

This week we begin a new series of blog posts about APA Style, covering five areas in which authors often encounter problems. Most people think of APA Style in terms of citations and references. However, that’s just one part of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). A major aspect of the discipline of academic writing is maintaining consistency in the use of numerals, abbreviations, punctuation, spacing, and so forth. If you often find yourself puzzling over such issues, this series could contain just the information you need.

In these posts, you’ll learn the basics of APA Style for

  • numbers,
  • commas,
  • abbreviations and acronyms,
  • line spacing, and
  • the use of et al.

Authors frequently stumble in these areas—and reviewers often look for such errors with a sharp eye (and a sharper pencil). Learning the distinctive points of APA Style will help you avoid these errors, making the writing experience more pleasant all around.

One caveat before we begin: Although many universities specify that APA Style should be used for dissertations, the APA Publication Manual is actually designed for authors who are preparing articles to be published. It has no specific instructions for theses or dissertations. Consequently, most universities devise their own dissertation guidelines, which vary a great deal from one school to another. It’s also not uncommon for faculty members and dissertation advisors to have strong stylistic preferences of their own. Thus, you may be asked to follow style rules that differ from those in the manual or in this blog series. It can be frustrating to encounter such inconsistencies, but don’t let that frustration stop you from writing.

Let us know what questions you have about APA Style. We’ll try to address your questions in future blogs.

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