The APA Monster – Taming the Savage Beast
No one begins writing by loving the American Psychological Association (APA) format. No one. Sorry.
Yet, APA does not need to scare you into retreating. In fact, if you use a template every time that you write, format can actually raise your grade, make research easier for you, and make it easier for the teacher to grade your paper.
So, where do you get a template? Well, I have included one here for you to use - (attached at very bottom of post)
Simply follow these steps:
- Open the Template, and Save It as Your Current Paper. This way, you always have the template to use for the next paper.
- Create Your Headings. Simply follow the instructions that are written in the headings of the template. Highlight the heading, and type your own heading. Do this for all of your headings, paying special attention to the Headings Level 1. These are the headings that make-up the body of your paper, and guide the reader through your thoughts.
The Heading Level 1 can come right from the Rubric for your paper. Rubric is a big word that means the instructions for the paper. This is usually a few boxes with instructions in them, and next to the boxes are point values. This tells you what the teacher is looking for in every paper.
So… make your headings based upon those sections. This will make it easier for the instructor to grade your paper, because your points will be covered concisely. Look at the instructions in the boxes on the rubric. Make a short heading that says those things in your own words. For example, let’s pretend that one box says “analyze data in a clear fashion, giving points of interest about the subject.” So, you write something like “Analysis of Data” as your Heading Level 1. Easy peezy!
Create all your headings from the Rubric, and move-on to the next step.
- Do Your Research, Based upon the Headings in Your Paper. Research is important to complete every project, but it can lead you into rabbit-holes. It is best to stick to the subjects that are in your paper. These are the things for which you are being graded. Don’t research stuff that is not necessary.
When you find an article that is appropriate to a section in your paper, copy any quotes you want to make, and place them under that heading in your paper. Immediately, put a citation behind the quote to save yourself effort later. Better still, use your own words to describe what the author said, and put a citation behind that. Using too many quotes makes your writing look lazy, and hollow.
Also, add the reference in your Reference section right away, so you don’t have to look for it later. This will increase the speed of your writing. In the template, there are examples of references for the most common resources that are used, and a couple of the uncommon ones too. Use these to create your references by highlighting the parts and replacing them with your own words. For example, highlight the author’s name, and put in the author of your resource, followed by the date, the title, etc....
- Start Writing. This sounds overly simple, yes. Yet, the fact is that, at this point, you have done all the research. You placed the important stuff under the headings with citations. So, your evidence and descriptions are waiting for you to use them. How you blend all these facts is up to you, of course, but you are well prepared with resources. If you find that you are missing some information, do a little more research.
- Edit for the Sake of Pete! Before you hand your paper to the teacher, read it out-loud! You will see and hear your mistakes more clearly this way, including spelling, grammar, punctuation, and even content mistakes. Make your changes based upon this, and let someone else read it, if you have time. What makes sense to you, doesn’t necessarily make sense to a reader. This can help you clarify points that are muddled.
- Turn-In Your Paper.
You are done! Really, it can be that simple. You can use APA to assist you in your writing, instead of being afraid of it.
Once you have APA on your side, research can be enjoyable. Honestly! Research is the building of information that suits your academic and career choice. Enjoy it, and write well with APA at your side.
Written by Eric R. Burns
Doctoral Candidate (CES) | Argosy University, Denver
The Information and opinions expressed herein represent the independent
opinions and ideas of the faculty and/or staff and do not represent the
opinions, advice, or ideas of Argosy University.
APA 6th Edition Template (2).docx (34.4KB)