APA Document Format
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An Abstract is a “brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of an article” (APA, 2010, p. 25). The Abstract must be brief (usually 250 words or fewer), but include all main points of the paper. Its organization generally mirrors the organization of the paper (to check, compare the Abstract to the paper headings).
Why do writers use it?
Based on the Abstract, readers often decide whether or not to read the entire paper.
- The Abstract is page 2, on a separate page, after the title page and before the paper.
- Title the page Abstract in uppercase and lowercase letters, centered, at the top of the page (below the running head and page number). The Abstract should appear in the same font as the paper (e.g., Times New Roman, size 12), not bolded or italicized.
- Type the abstract in a single paragraph (double-spaced).
- Do not indent the paragraph.
- Do not cite referencesin the Abstract, with one exception: if your study continues or replicates previous research, note this in the Abstract, and cite the author’s last name and the year of the original report.
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Headings are used to signal the organization and structure of the paper. The appearance of the heading changes depending on the number of structural levels within the paper. Common headings include Methods, Results, and Discussion to indicate different sections of the paper.
Observe the following conventions:
- Use the same heading level for sections of the same importance (Example: Methods, Results, and Discussion will be the same level of headings)
- Begin a new level only if it will have two or more headings (do not use a level of headers under a section if there will only be one)
- Do not use a heading for the introduction (unless the instructor requests this)
- Do not label headings with numbers or letters
- Maintain the same font size used in the paper
- Maintain double-spacingbefore and after Level 1 and 2 headings; double-spacing does not apply with Level 3, 4, and 5 headings (for these levels, the text continues on the same line as the heading)
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All information taken from sources MUST be cited in your paper, whether you summarize, paraphrase, or quote the information. In-text citations refer readers to the References page and should be used appropriately to avoid plagiarism.
Types of In-Text Citations:
- Summary – Condensing an author’s information and stating it in your own words. The citation includes author’s last name and year
Example: (Smith, 2009)
- Paraphrase – Rephrasing an author’s idea in your own words. The citation includes author’s last name and year
Example: (Jones, 2011)
- Direct quotation – Using an author’s exact words (you MUST use quotation marks or block quote format). The citation includes author’s last name, year, AND page number. Direct quotations should be used infrequently, in situations where you cannot easily convey the information in your own words
Example: (Jones, 2011, p. 137)
Options for Using In-Text Citations:
- Parenthetical Citation – Include reference information at the end of a sentence, inside parentheses:
Example: The study’s findings support the importance of trust when working with patients with sensory deficits (Cappell, 2009).
- Attributive Tag – Provide the author’s last name and the date of publication within the sentence; two methods may be used:
Example: Cappell’s (2009) findings support the importance of trust when working with patients with sensory deficits.
Note: The author’s last name is followed by the year – keep citation information together Example with quotation: Cappell’s (2009) findings state that “trust develops as nurses provide quality care” (p. 32).
Note: The author’s name and year are found together; the page number follows the direct quotation
- Special Situations:
- Two or more works in the same citation; used when combining multiple studies with the same findings; arrange citations in alphabetical order
Example: (Johnson, 2000; Jones, 2004;Williams, 1999)
- More than one author with the same last name published in the same year; the References page would also include authors’ first initials
Example: (Smith, A., 2009); later in paper: (Smith, E., 2009)
- Secondary source: one author cites another author within his/her work. In the example below, the writer has used Smith’s work; Smith cited Johnson as a source of information. Include Johnson and date in a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence, as shown below. Only Smith will be cited on the References page.
Example: Smith’s study indicates that chemotherapy is an effective treatment method for leukemic cancers (as cited in Johnson, 2009).
Things to Remember:
- In any in-text citation, the author’s last name and the year published should be included; the format will differ depending on the number of authors:
- One to five authors: include all last names in the FIRST citation
Example: (Jones, Smith, Swanson, Fredrick, & Decker, 2008)
Note: Use & rather than the word and
- One or two authors: state all authors’ names throughout the entire document
- Three to five authors: use et al. for subsequent citations
Example: (Jones et al., 2008)
- Six or more authors: include ONLY the first author’s last name followed by et al. in all citations
Example: (Thompson et al., 2009)
- Include page numbers only if quoted directly
- If no author, use identifiers:
- Organization: Use organization’s name as author.
Example: (Centers for Disease Control, 2009).
- Title: Use first key word. If title is “Universal Lessons Learned by a Gastroenterologist,” cite (“Universal,” 2009).
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References (centered, not bolded)
- The References page begins on a new page; it continues to have a running head and page number
- All retrievable sources cited in the text should be included and ordered alphabetically in the References page
- APA uses a hanging indent: The first line of each reference aligns with the margin; subsequent lines are indented
- To do this in Microsoft Word, highlight the references, click the Home tab, click the arrow to extend the Paragraph section, and select “Hanging” under “Special” in the “Indentation” category
- Maintain double spacing throughout
- For an example of a complete References page, see the SVSU Writing Center Resources page: http://www.svsu.edu/writingcenter/writing-center-resources.html
- Include the last name of the author first, followed by first and middle initials only
- If there is more than one author, separate by commas with an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name
- Use corporate author or first significant word of title if there is no author
- For works with eight or more authors, cite the first six authors’ names followed by an ellipsis (…) and the last author’s name
- Titles of publications are italicized
- Capitalize only the first word of the title, the first word after a colon (indicating a subtitle), and proper nouns
- Periodical titles are capitalized and italicized
- Include publication information as required (i.e., volume number [italicized], issue number [in parenthesis, not italicized], and page numbers)
URL and DOI
- End citations with periods except after URLs and DOIs
- Look for DOI (digital object identifier) in articles from databases; if DOI is provided, include in References page
- If URL is required, cite journal/publisher homepage, not database URL
- Do not create a hyperlink for a URL
Author’s last name, first initial. (Year of publication). Title of the book. Publishing City, State:
Jones, J., & Smith, S. (2008). Reference of nursing theorists. New York, NY: Thompson
Author’s last name, first initial. (Year of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal,
volume(issue), page numbers. Retrieved from (insert home page of publication or DOI)
Theeke, L.A. (2009). Predictors of loneliness in U.S. adults over age sixty-five. Archives of Psychiatric
Nursing, 23(5), 387-396. Retrieved from www.psychiatricnursing.org/
With Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Author’s last name, first initial. (Year of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, Volume(issue),
page numbers. doi: number
George, T., Hamil, R., & Rondo, F. (2010). Sleep deprivation: A study of Michigan nursing students.
Journal of Psychological Nursing, 34(4), 112-125. doi: 10.2298/JSC0809835P
Author’s last name, first initial. (Year of publication or copyright date). Title of webpage used.
Retrieved from website URL
Mims, F. (2009). Scientific research, books, articles, columns, lectures and photographs. Retrieved from
Reference book (e.g. Taber’s Medical Dictionary):
The word. (Year). Editor's first initial and last name (Ed.),. Title of the dictionary (edition page
number). Publishing city, State: Publishing company.
Bolus. (1993). C.L. Thomas (ed.), Taber’s cyclopedic medical dictionary (18th ed., p. 276).
Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.
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Tables and Charts
If your paper will include tables or charts to present data, follow the guidelines in the SVSU Writing Center handout APA Format: Using Tables and Figures http://www.svsu.edu/writingcenter/writing-center-resources.html
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