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Using APA Style

Papers written in APA style follow the guidelines published in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, published in 2012. If you're a graduate student in a discipline that uses APA style, you should probably buy a copy.   

The APA Manual presents rules for citing your sources in-text and on your reference pages, but it also does a lot more. It includes rules for what lists and subheadings should look like; how words should be abbreviated and when numbers need to be written out; what a table should look like and what verb tense you should use to discuss someone else's research. That's just for starters.   

These aren't things you're expected to have memorized. What's important in APA is that you know what kinds of things APA has rules for and where to find those rules when you need them.

Have an APA question? Email the Writing Center to ask.

On a weekday, we'll try to get back to you within 24 hours.

Unfortunately, the APA Manual (although important) isn't that easy to use. It's designed for professional researchers who are publishing their research, and it doesn't always answer students' questions. You may need to look at several supplementary resources to actually find the answer to your question. Sometimes you won't be able to find it at all; sometimes the best you can do is to make an educated choice based on different examples and sources.


APA Resources

APA has developed several resources of its own, including:

ISU Handouts

The Writing Center offers the following APA handouts. Print out a copy now-- or stop by the center for paper copies! The links on this page are all .pdf files requiring Adobe Acrobat Reader



When you find an article in a database like JStor or PubMed, those databases often include a tempting little link saying something like "How to Cite this Article in APA." These citations are often incorrect-- don't trust them.

Similarly, automatic citation generators like zotero, citation machine, and the one built into Microsoft Word tend to produce citations that are right most of the time and wrong some of the time. Finding and fixing the errors can be more troublesome than doing the citations manually in the first place.


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