Overview of APA Style: What is APA Style?

APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. According to the website of the American Psychological Association (2010), “APA Style was first developed 80 years ago by a group of social scientists who wished to establish sound standards of communication.”

Since that time, it has been adopted by leaders in many fields and has been used by writers around the world.” The APA manual is now in its 6th edition, and it is the preferred style guide in the social sciences (such as psychology and sociology) in the health professions, and in education.

In the Kenyan Writers Stylebook, the guidelines described align with the official publication:

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. (2009). (6th ed.). Washington,

Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab offers an excellent tutorial that provides an introduction to the style. Access it at HERE

Common Terms

As you explore the pages about this style, you will see these terms used. This is a quick glossary:

The References list is an alphabetized list of all of the sources you used. With each source, you
list the information a person would need to locate that source.

In-text citations tell the reader, directly after the use of a source in the text of the paper, when the material was published and where the material came from. They most often appear in parentheses at the end of the sentence in which the source was used. Sometimes in-text citations are referred to as “parenthetical citations.”

A quotation is a passage of language you copy directly from another source. It is enclosed in quotation marks and cited with an in-text citation.

A paraphrase is a passage of language in your own words that expresses an idea from another source. It is not enclosed in quotation marks, but it is cited with an in-text citation.

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