Table of Contents Kinds of Sources

"APA style" is the set of specific formatting conventions sanctioned by the American Psychological Association. The collected procedures of any style are usually referred to collectively as a "stylesheet." Elements of the APA stylesheet include such in-text matters as punctuation standards, margin depth, line spacing, and heading format. This series of pages, however, will concentrate mostly on the post-text elements of APA style—that is, how to assemble and format entries for specific sources on the "References" page of a research paper.

Some people, when faced with the technical preciseness required by a stylesheet, might stop and ask: "What's the big deal?" or "Isn't the writing more important than the formatting?" While it's true that stylesheet formatting is only one aspect of the complex task of research writing, it is an important one. Correct formatting can be the difference between a job done and a job done well.

In academic writing, the reader's response to a piece of writing is crucial. In a classroom situation the reader is also usually the teacher, and at least part of a paper's grade is generally based on how well it follows the accepted style. More than any other reason, this justifies a student's careful attention to reference style. On the other hand, in a situation where the research will be published or circulated, and read by others in the field, stylesheets are equally important. Proper formatting is the hallmark of a detail-oriented researcher. A writer who makes stylesheet errors because he or she believes they are "no big deal" might be surprised when evaluators question other details of the paper, such as the data on which the conclusions are based. After all—if a writer can't get all the periods in the right places, how can he or she be expected to correctly calculate an ANOVA or T-test?

Finally, remember that the whole purpose of citing sources is to give readers the information they need to locate the various sources you use in your paper. Sometimes, a reader might simply want to read the whole source to learn more about the subject. Other times, a reader might want to find more about the context of the quote—perhaps to check that it really applies in the context in which you are using it. In other cases, a reader might want to verify that the writer actually said whatever it is you quoted them as saying. In all of these situations, the reader should be able to find the original piece of writing based on the information you provide. If the information is incomplete—if, for example, you omit crucial elements or put them in the wrong order—you have done your reader a disservice.

Table of Contents Kinds of Sources

Table of Contents
Citation Style: Books
List of Citation Formats
Citation Style: Chapters
Citation Practice 1
Kinds of Sources
Citation Style: ERIC Docs
Citation Practice 2
Basic Formatting
Citation Style: Internet Docs
Further Information
Citation Style: Unpublished Sources
Citation Style: Conference Papers