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  • APA 7 Job Aid

    Basic Stylistic Guidelines

    Document Formatting

    Table 1

    Document Setup Guidelines

    Element Formatting
    Margins 1" on all sides
    Line Spacing Double-space (without extra line breaks between paragraphs and headings)
    Paragraph Indentation Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5" (use the indentation feature rather than manual tabs or spaces)
    Paragraph Alignment Left-align

    Table 2

    Font Styles

    Style Group Options
    Serif 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or 10-point Computer Modern
    Sans-Serif 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode

    Table 3

    Heading Levels

    Level Formatting
    1 Centered, Bold, Title Case
    2 Flush Left, Bold, Title Case
    3 Flush Left, Bold, Italic, Title Case
    4      Indented with Paragraph, Bold, Title Case, Ending with Period.
    5      Indented with Paragraph, Bold, Italic, Title Case, Ending with Period.

    Headings are best utilized by using your word processor's built-in style system. Here is a simple Google Docs template with the styles preset so that all you need to do is highlight your heading and apply the appropriate style to apply the proper formatting. Using styles is also preferable to manually formatting each heading because it allows the word processor to identify headings for the purpose of constructing outlines and tables of contents.


    Table 4

    Parenthetical Citation Examples

    Author Count Parenthetical Citation Narrative Citation
    One (Kimmons, 2020) Kimmons (2020) found that...
    Two (Kimmons & Johnstun, 2019) Kimmons and Johnstun (2019) argued that...
    Three or more (Kimmons et al., 2020) Kimmons et al. (2020) suggested that...

    Parenthetical citations are used within paragraphs to cite the source of a claim. An example of this would be the following:

    Current trends in educational technology reveal that exploring new technologies may be prioritized over addressing persistent educational problems (Kimmons, 2020).

    Narrative citations are similar to parenthetical citations but are mainly used if the name of the author is important for adding gravity to the claim or for making clear that the claim is that of the cited author and not your own. An example of this would be the following:

    Kimmons and Johnstun (2019) argue that the multihyphenate approach to navigating paradigms in educational technology is superior to alternatives.

    Narrative citations referencing an article's title should place the title in quotes and apply sentence capitalization as follows:

    Kimmons and Johnston explained in "Navigating paradigms in educational technology" (2019) that paradigms are deep and poorly understood.

    Narrative citations referencing the title of a book or journal should italicize the title and apply title case capitalization as follows:

    Kimmons et al.'s (2019) article in The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning showed that scraping school websites nationwide to glean valuable information was a possibility.


    References are included at the end of your paper to provide full details for any parenthetical or narrative citations that were included. References should be formatted with a hanging indent of 0.5".

    Journal Article

    Surname, F. M., & Surname, F. M. (2020). Journal article title goes here. Journal Title Goes Here, 1(2). https://doi.org/10.10.10/10.10.10

    In this example, the number 1 is the journal volume number and the number 2 is the journal issue number. If there is no issue number, exclude the number and the parentheses.

    If a DOI is available, always include it at the end of the reference as a complete URL.


    Surname, F. M. (2020). Book title goes here. Publisher Name.

    Book Chapter from Edited Volume

    Surname, F. M. (2020). Chapter title goes here. In F. M. Surname & F. M. Surname (Eds.), Book title (pp. 23-67). Publisher Name.


    Table 5

    Examples of Formatted Author Names

    Author Count Example Reference (Journal Article)
    Kimmons, R. (2020). Current trends in educational technology research and practice. TechTrends, 64(6).
    Kimmons, R., & Johnstun, K. (2019). Navigating paradigms in educational technology. TechTrends, 63(5), 631-641.
    Kimmons, R., Graham, C., & West, R. (2020). The PICRAT model for technology integration in teacher preparation. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 20(1).
    One, O., Two, T., Three, T., Four, F., Five, F., Six, S., Seven, S., Eight, E., Nine, N., Ten, T., Eleven, E., Twelve, T., Thirteen, T., Fourteen, F., Fifteen, F., Sixteen, S., Seventeen, S., Eighteen, E., Nineteen, N., ... Last, N. (2020). The PICRAT model for technology integration in teacher preparation. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 20(1).


    Direct quotations should generally be used sparingly (relying instead on paraphrasing), but they are sometimes useful for preserving the exact wording used by a cited author or to ensure that you are not misrepresenting an author's claim (especially when you intend to argue against it).

    When including a direct quotation, you should encapsulate it in quotation marks and include the page number (p. XX) or paragraph number (para. XX) of the quote within the citation. An example of this would be the following:

    The authors argued that paradigmatic plurality "may be a necessary reality of addressing complex educational problems" (Kimmons & Johnstun, 2019, p. 632).

    Lengthy quotations of 40 words or more should not be encapsulated in quotation marks, however, and should represent their own block of text with a 0.5" indentation on the left. An example of this would be the following:

    Though the hard sciences may be more amenable to a single-paradigm model (e.g., the Earth and the Sun cannot both be the center of the universe), social sciences and endeavors like education will exhibit greater plurality as professionals harbor fundamental disagreements about morality, people, and the social world. Either way, we have not, as a field, adequately grappled with this plurality nor articulated intentional ways for professionals to navigate it. (Kimmons & Johnstun, 2019, p. 632)


    Commas are perhaps the most misused form of punctuation. Do not use them to merely show when you would take a breath or just because a sentence is getting long. Rather, you should generally only use them in the following situations provided in Table 6, and common examples of comma misuse are provided in Table 7.

    Table 6

    Correct Comma Usage

    Situation Example(s) Note(s)
    Between Seriated or Listed Elements The student was sad, angry, and frustrated. correct
    I collected the data, analyzed the results, and reported on my findings. correct
    Use the Oxford rule
    Use parallel structure
    After an Introductory Phrase First, I collected the data. correct
    After collecting the data, I ran the results. correct
    To Set Off Nonessential Clauses Problem-based learning, which is now commonly used, involves giving students a problem to solve. correct Denoted by "which" or "such as" but not "that"
    To Separate Independent Clauses We collected the data, and we analyzed the results. correct
    We found one result, but the other team found another. correct
    Must use a conjunction, such as "and," "or," or "but"

    Table 7

    Incorrect Comma Usage

    Situation Example(s)
    Before an Essential Clause Games, that depict violence, are bad for children. incorrect
    Games that depict violence are bad for children. correct
    Between Two Parts of a Compound Predicate We collected the data, and analyzed the results. incorrect
    We collected the data and analyzed the results. correct


    Semicolons may be used to join two independent clauses into a single compound sentence without using a conjunction, as in this example:

    We shouldn't teach students what to think; we should teach them how to think. correct


    Colons may be used between an independent introductory clause and a final phrase or clause of illustration, as in this example:

    The evidence is clear: Tutoring improves student test performance. correct

    Do not use a colon after an incomplete sentence, as in this bad example:

    According to the evidence: Tutoring improves student test performance. incorrect

    If the text following the colon is a complete sentence, it should be capitalized.

    Em Dash

    An em dash may be used to set off an element that adds to or digresses from the main clause, as in this example:

    Evidence shows that tutoring—direct, one-on-one communication with a more-knowledgeable other—improves student learning. correct

    Do not use spaces around the em dash, and do not merely use a dash (-) or two dashes (--) in place of an em dash.


    Hyphens are used to join two words together into a compound word. They are generally used in situations where the meaning of the sentence might be unclear without them, as in this example:

    High-achieving students from middle-class families are overrepresented at charter schools. correct

    In this example, placing the first hyphen helps clarify that "high" refers to "achieving," while the second clarifies that "middle" applies to "class." One rule of thumb is that if a compound word is being used as an adjective modifying a noun (e.g., "high-achieving" is modifying "students"), then it should be hyphenated.

    Latin Abbreviations


    The abbreviation "e.g." is short for the Latin phrase "exempli gratia," translated as "for example." You may use it followed by a comma when providing a single example or a non-exhaustive list of examples, as in this example:

    Teachers use many technologies (e.g., Google Docs, interactive whiteboards, and 3D printers) in their classrooms. correct


    The abbreviation "i.e." is short for the Latin phrase "id est," translated as "that is." You may use it followed by a comma to restate, define, or clarify something you have already said, as in this example:

    Teachers now use interactive whiteboards (i.e., electronic whiteboards with features that allow for tactile interaction) to perform a variety of common tasks. correct


    The abbreviation "cf." is short for the Latin term "confer/conferatur," translated as "compare." You may use it to point your reader to another idea or source related to your statement, as in this example:

    Thompson (2019) found that tutoring had little effect on student achievement, unlike previous studies (cf. Adams, 2011). correct
    Royce Kimmons

    Brigham Young University

    Royce Kimmons is an Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University where he studies digital participation divides specifically in the realms of social media, open education, and classroom technology use. He is also the founder of EdTechBooks.org. More information about his work may be found at http://roycekimmons.com, and you may also dialogue with him on Twitter @roycekimmons.

    This content is provided to you freely by BYU Open Learning Network.

    Access it online or download it at https://open.byu.edu/rapidwriting/apa_formatting_job_aid.