May 25th, 2010

Can APA drive you insane?

I haven’t found any peer-reviewed research on this yet, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it were true.

APA citation style is far from intuitive, and many learners see it as a giant hurdle. Some days the librarians feel the same way. So, why is APA citation style so difficult, and what can you do about it?

First, take a deep breath and remember that APA citations are not designed to destroy your happiness. They are supposed to help others find the resources you used in your paper. I can’t tell you how often I have benefited from someone else’s careful citations.

BUT, the manual can’t cover every possible type of resource. And in this age of internet research, there are almost as many types of resources as there are pointless twitter posts. (Note: the APA manual does not give an example of a citation for a Twitter post either.) You just have to find examples that are similar, and then fill in the gaps.

For anyone new to APA citations, here are a few things you can do to make APA your very own friend (or, at least, frenemy):

  1. Learn how to read a citation (from the Library Research Handbook). Also take a look at how different citation styles represent the same resource.
  2. See the Online Writing Center’s excellent APA Style and Formatting resources.
  3. Give in to the inevitable and actually read (carefully) Chapter 6: Crediting Sources and Chapter 7: Reference Examples in the 6th edition APA Manual. Painful in the moment, but very helpful.
  4. Bookmark the In Text Citation chart on page 177 of the manual. Also the sample manuscript on page 41, and the journal article examples on page 198.
  5. Open a RefWorks account.

Once you have some experience reading and creating citations, you’ll be amazed how quickly you get the hang of it. You may still have to consult the manual to create a perfect citation, but it will become much faster and nearly painless.

- Erin


Comment from monique stamper
Time June 7, 2011 at 6:07 pm

what is the proper way to do the title page of any paper that a professor wants in a class. I have been told i have links on my title page when I dont understand what he is talking about

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