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I have to summarize a whole article. How do I cite it, if my whole assignment is about that?

When you summarize someone else's information, especially if you will be spending a lot of time summarizing (for instance, your assignment is to summarize an article or a chapter in a book), it is important to introduce your source right away.

Example: Stineway and Harper conducted an excellent experiment in late 2009 that is only now coming to full fruition. Their article, Hamsters Texting at the Wheel covers a whole variety of insights in the the driving habits of hamsters. Of note...

You will note that the introduction above includes more than just the standard APA in-text citation which would look like this: (Stineway & Harper, 2009). When introducing a source, rather than citing it, that is OK.

As you write your summary, you will want to remind your reader, occasionally, that you are still summarizing. You can do this simply be referring back to the authors, the title of the article, or both. Remember, however, that anything that needs an APA in-text citation will need to refer to author and date.

Example: According to Stineway and Harper (2009), hamsters are the best rodent drivers there are. They indicated in their literature review that gerbils are too distractable to be safe and that guinea pigs were too slow-reacting.

Note: Since you asked, a single citation at the end of the summary will not meet reference requirements for APA or any other citation style.

For more information on introducing and citing sources, see http://rasmussen.libanswers.com/faq/32328

  • Last Updated Jun 30, 2020
  • Views 184039
  • Answered By Kerry Louvier

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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format

APA Format for Students & Researchers

In this guide, students and researchers can learn the basics of creating a properly formatted research paper according to APA guidelines.

It includes information on how to conceptualize, outline, and format the basic structure of your paper, as well as practical tips on spelling, abbreviation, punctuation, and more. The guide concludes with a complete sample paper as well as a final checklist that writers can use to prepare their work for submission.

APA Paper Formatting Basics

  • All text should be double-spaced
  • Use one-inch margins on all sides
  • All paragraphs in the body are indented
  • Make sure that the title is centered on the page with your name and school/institution underneath
  • Use 12-point font throughout
  • All pages should be numbered in the upper right hand corner
  • The manual recommends using one space after most punctuation marks
  • A shortened version of the title (“running head”) should be placed in the upper left hand corner

Table of Contents

Here’s a quick rundown of the contents of this guide on how to do APA format.

Information related to writing and organizing your paper:

  • Paper and essay categories

General paper length

  • Margin sizes
  • Title pages
  • Running Heads
  • APA Outline
  • APA Abstract
  • The body of papers
  • APA headings and subheadings
  • Use of graphics (tables and figures)

Writing style tips:

Proper tone.

  • Reducing bias and labels
  • Abbreviation do’s and don’ts
  • Punctuation
  • Number rules

Citing Your Sources:

  • Citing Sources
  • In-text Citations
  • Reference Page

Proofing Your Paper:

  • Final checklist
  • Submitting your project

APA Information:

  • What is APA
  • APA 7 Updates

What you won’t find in this guide: This guide provides information related to the formatting of your paper, as in guidelines related to spacing, margins, word choice, etc. While it provides a general overview of APA references, it does not provide instructions for how to cite in APA format.

For step-by-step instructions for citing books, journals, how to cite a website in APA format, information on an APA format bibliography, and more, refer to these other EasyBib guides:

  • APA citation (general reference guide)
  • APA In-text citation
  • APA article citation
  • APA book citation
  • APA citation website

Or, you can use our automatic generator. Our APA formatter helps to build your references for you. Yep, you read that correctly.

Writing and Organizing Your APA Paper in an Effective Way

This section of our guide focuses on proper paper length, how to format headings, spacing, and more! This information can be found in Chapter 2 of the official manual (American Psychological Association, 2020, pp. 29-67).

Categories of papers

Before getting into the nitty-gritty details related to APA research paper format, first determine the type of paper you’re about to embark on creating:

Empirical studies

Empirical studies take data from observations and experiments to generate research reports. It is different from other types of studies in that it isn’t based on theories or ideas, but on actual data.

Literature reviews

These papers analyze another individual’s work or a group of works. The purpose is to gather information about a current issue or problem and to communicate where we are today. It sheds light on issues and attempts to fill those gaps with suggestions for future research and methods.

Theoretical articles

These papers are somewhat similar to a literature reviews in that the author collects, examines, and shares information about a current issue or problem, by using others’ research. It is different from literature reviews in that it attempts to explain or solve a problem by coming up with a new theory. This theory is justified with valid evidence.

Methodological articles

These articles showcase new advances, or modifications to an existing practice, in a scientific method or procedure. The author has data or documentation to prove that their new method, or improvement to a method, is valid. Plenty of evidence is included in this type of article. In addition, the author explains the current method being used in addition to their own findings, in order to allow the reader to understand and modify their own current practices.

Case studies

Case studies present information related an individual, group, or larger set of individuals. These subjects are analyzed for a specific reason and the author reports on the method and conclusions from their study. The author may also make suggestions for future research, create possible theories, and/or determine a solution to a problem.

Since APA style format is used often in science fields, the belief is “less is more.” Make sure you’re able to get your points across in a clear and brief way. Be direct, clear, and professional. Try not to add fluff and unnecessary details into your paper or writing.  This will keep the paper length shorter and more concise.

Margin sizes in APA Format

When it comes to margins, keep them consistent across the left, right, top, and bottom of the page. All four sides should be the same distance from the edge of the paper. It’s recommended to use at least one-inch margins around each side. It’s acceptable to use larger margins, but the margins should never be smaller than an inch.

Title pages in APA Format

The title page, or APA format cover page, is the first page of a paper or essay. Some teachers and professors do not require a title page, but some do. If you’re not sure if you should include one or not, ask your teacher. Some appreciate the page, which clearly displays the writer’s name and the title of the paper.

The APA format title page for student papers includes six main components:

  • the title of the APA format paper
  • names of all authors
  • institutional affiliation
  • course number and title
  • instructor’s name

Title pages for professional papers  also require a running head; student papers do not.

Some instructors and professional publications also ask for an author’s note. If you’re required or would like to include an author’s note, place it below the institutional affiliation. Examples of information included in an author’s note include an ORCID iD number, a disclosure, and an acknowledgement.

Here are key guidelines to developing your title page:

  • The title of the paper should capture the main idea of the essay, but should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. For example, instead of using the title “A Look at Amphibians From the Past,” title the paper “Amphibians From the Past.” Delete the unnecessary fluff!
  • Center the title on the page and place it about 3-4 lines from the top.
  • The title should be bolded, in title case, and the same font size as your other page text. Do not underline or italicize the title. Other text on the page should be plain (not bolded , underlined, or italicized ). 
  • All text on the title page should be double-spaced. The APA format examples paper below displays proper spacing, so go take a look!
  • Do not include any titles in the author’s name such as Dr. or Ms. In contrast, for your instructor’s name, use the form they prefer (e.g., Sagar Parekh, PhD; Dr. Minako Asato; Professor Nathan Ian Brown; etc.).
  • The institutional affiliation is the school the author attends or the location where the author conducted the research.

In a hurry? Try the  EasyBib title page maker to easily create a title page for free.

writing a summary of an article in apa format

Sample of an APA format title page for a student paper:

APA-format-student-title-page

Sample of title page for a professional paper:

APA-format-professional-title-page

Running heads in APA Format

The 7th edition of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual (p. 37) states that running heads are not required for student papers unless requested by the instructor. Student papers still need a page number included in the upper right-hand corner of every page. The 6th edition required a running head for student papers, so be sure to confirm with your instructor which edition you should follow. Of note, this guide follows the 7th edition.

Running heads are required for professional papers (e.g., manuscripts submitted for publication). Read on for instructions on how to create them.

Are you wondering what is a “running head”? It’s basically a page header at the top of every page. To make this process easier, set your word processor to automatically add these components onto each page. You may want to look for “Header” in the features.

A running head/page header includes two pieces:

  • the title of the paper
  • page numbers.

Insert page numbers justified to the right-hand side of the APA format paper (do not put p. or pg. in front of the page numbers).

For all pages of the paper, including the APA format title page, include the “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” justified to the left in capital letters (i.e., the running head). If your full title is long (over 50 characters), the running head title should be a shortened version.

APA format running head

Preparing outlines in APA Format

Outlines are extremely beneficial as they help writers stay organized, determine the scope of the research that needs to be included, and establish headings and subheadings.

There isn’t an official or recommended “APA format for outline” structure. It is up to the writer (if they choose to make use of an outline) to determine how to organize it and the characters to include. Some writers use a mix of roman numerals, numbers, and uppercase and lowercase letters.

Even though there isn’t a required or recommended APA format for an outline, we encourage writers to make use of one. Who wouldn’t want to put together a rough outline of their project? We promise you, an outline will help you stay on track.

Here’s our version of how APA format for outlines could look:

writing a summary of an article in apa format

Don’t forget, if you’re looking for information on APA citation format and other related topics, check out our other comprehensive guides.

How to form an abstract in APA

An APA format abstract (p. 38) is a summary of a scholarly article or scientific study. Scholarly articles and studies are rather lengthy documents, and abstracts allow readers to first determine if they’d like to read an article in its entirety or not.

You may come across abstracts while researching a topic. Many databases display abstracts in the search results and often display them before showing the full text of an article or scientific study. It is important to create a high quality abstract that accurately communicates the purpose and goal of your paper, as readers will determine if it is worthy to continue reading or not.

Are you wondering if you need to create an abstract for your assignment? Usually, student papers do not require an abstract. Abstracts are not typically seen in class assignments, and are usually only included when submitting a paper for publication. Unless your teacher or professor asked for it, you probably don’t need to have one for your class assignment.

If you’re planning on submitting your paper to a journal for publication, first check the journal’s website to learn about abstract and APA paper format requirements.

Here are some helpful suggestions to create a dynamic abstract:

  • Abstracts are found on their own page, directly after the title or cover page.
  • Professional papers only (not student papers): Include the running head on the top of the page.
  • On the first line of the page, center the word “Abstract” (but do not include quotation marks).
  • On the following line, write a summary of the key points of your research. Your abstract summary is a way to introduce readers to your research topic, the questions that will be answered, the process you took, and any findings or conclusions you drew. Use concise, brief, informative language. You only have a few sentences to share the summary of your entire document, so be direct with your wording.
  • This summary should not be indented, but should be double-spaced and less than 250 words.
  • If applicable, help researchers find your work in databases by listing keywords from your paper after your summary. To do this, indent and type Keywords : in italics.  Then list your keywords that stand out in your research. You can also include keyword strings that you think readers will type into the search box.
  • Active voice: The subjects reacted to the medication.
  • Passive voice: There was a reaction from the subjects taking the medication.
  • Instead of evaluating your project in the abstract, simply report what it contains.
  • If a large portion of your work includes the extension of someone else’s research, share this in the abstract and include the author’s last name and the year their work was released.

APA format example page:

Example APA abstract

Here’s an example of an abstract:

Visual design is a critical aspect of any web page or user interface, and its impact on a user’s experience has been studied extensively. Research has shown a positive correlation between a user’s perceived usability and a user’s assessment of visual design. Additionally, perceived web quality, which encompasses visual design, has a positive relationship with both initial and continued consumer purchase intention. However, visual design is often assessed using self-report scale, which are vulnerable to a few pitfalls. Because self-report questionnaires are often reliant on introspection and honesty, it is difficult to confidently rely on self-report questionnaires to make important decisions. This study aims to ensure the validity of a visual design assessment instrument (Visual Aesthetics of Websites Inventory: Short version) by examining its relationship with biometric (variables), like galvanic skin response, pupillometry, and fixation information. Our study looked at participants assessment of a webpage’s visual design, and compared it to their biometric responses while viewing the webpage. Overall, we found that both average fixation duration and pupil dilation differed when participants viewed web pages with lower visual design ratings compared to web pages with a higher visual design rating.

Keywords : usability, visual design, websites, eye tracking, pupillometry, self-report, VisAWI

The body of an APA paper

On the page after the title page (if a student paper) or the abstract (if a professional paper), begin with the body of the paper.

Most papers follow this format:

  • At the top of the page, add the page number in the upper right corner of all pages, including the title page.
  • On the next line write the title in bold font and center it. Do not underline or italicize it.
  • Begin with the introduction and indent the first line of the paragraph. All paragraphs in the body are indented.

Sample body for a student paper:

example APA paper body

Most scientific or professional papers have additional sections and guidelines:

  • Start with the running head (title + page number). The heading title should be in capital letters. The abstract page should be page 2.
  • The introduction presents the problem and premise upon which the research was based. It goes into more detail about this problem than the abstract.
  • Begin a new section with the Method and use this word as the subtitle. Bold and center this subtitle. The Method section shows how the study was run and conducted. Be sure to describe the methods through which data was collected.
  • Begin a new section with the Results . Bold and center this subtitle. The Results section summarizes your data. Use charts and graphs to display this data.
  • Draw conclusions and support how your data led to these conclusions.
  • Discuss whether or not your hypothesis was confirmed or not supported by your results.
  • Determine the limitations of the study and next steps to improve research for future studies.

Sample body for a professional paper:

example apa format professional paper body

Keep in mind, APA citation format is much easier than you think, thanks to EasyBib.com. Try our automatic generator and watch how we create APA citation format references for you in just a few clicks. While you’re at it, take a peek at our other helpful guides, such as our APA reference page guide, to make sure you’re on track with your research papers.

Proper usage of headings & subheadings in APA Format

Headings (p. 47) serve an important purpose in research papers — they organize your paper and make it simple to locate different pieces of information. In addition, headings provide readers with a glimpse to the main idea, or content, they are about to read.

In APA format, there are five levels of headings, each with a different formatting:

  • This is the title of your paper
  • The title should be centered in the middle of the page
  • The title should be bolded
  • Use uppercase and lowercase letters where necessary (called title capitalization)
  • Place this heading against the left margin
  • Use bold letters
  • Use uppercase and lowercase letters where necessary
  • Place this heading against the left side margin
  • End the heading with a period
  • Indented in from the left margin

Following general formatting rules, all headings are double spaced and there are no extra lines or spaces between sections.

Here is a visual APA format template for levels of headings:

example apa format headings

Use of graphics (tables and figures) in APA Format

If you’re looking to jazz up your project with any charts, tables, drawings, or images, there are certain APA format rules (pp. 195-250) to follow.

First and foremost, the only reason why any graphics should be added is to provide the reader with an easier way to see or read information, rather than typing it all out in the text.

Lots of numbers to discuss? Try organizing your information into a chart or table. Pie charts, bar graphs, coordinate planes, and line graphs are just a few ways to show numerical data, relationships between numbers, and many other types of information.

Instead of typing out long, drawn out descriptions, create a drawing or image. Many visual learners would appreciate the ability to look at an image to make sense of information.

Before you go ahead and place that graphic in your paper, here are a few key guidelines:

  • Follow them in the appropriate numerical order in which they appear in the text of your paper. Example : Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, Figure 3.
  • Example: Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, Figure 3
  • Only use graphics if they will supplement the material in your text. If they reinstate what you already have in your text, then it is not necessary to include a graphic.
  • Include enough wording in the graphic so that the reader is able to understand its meaning, even if it is isolated from the corresponding text. However, do not go overboard with adding a ton of wording in your graphic.
  • Left align tables and figures

In our APA format sample paper , you’ll find examples of tables after the references. You may also place tables and figures within the text just after it is mentioned.

Is there anything better than seeing a neatly organized data table? We think not! If you have tons of numbers or data to share, consider creating a table instead of typing out a wordy paragraph. Tables are pretty easy to whip up on Google Docs or Microsoft Word.

General format of a table should be:

  • Table number
  • Choose to type out your data OR create a table. As stated above, in APA format, you shouldn’t have the information typed out in your paper and also have a table showing the same exact information. Choose one or the other.
  • If you choose to create a table, discuss it very briefly in the text. Say something along the lines of, “Table 1 displays the amount of money used towards fighting Malaria.” Or, “Stomach cancer rates are displayed in Table 4.”
  • If you’re submitting your project for a class, place your table close to the text where it’s mentioned. If you’re submitting it to be published in a journal, most publishers prefer tables to be placed in the back. If you’re unsure where to place your tables, ask!
  • Include the table number first and at the top. Table 1 is the first table discussed in the paper. Table 2 is the next table mentioned, and so on. This should be in bold.
  • Add a title under the number. Create a brief, descriptive title. Capitalize the first letter for each important word. Italicize the title and place it under the table number.
  • Only use horizontal lines.
  • Limit use of cell shading.
  • Keep the font at 12-point size and use single or double spacing. If you use single spacing in one table, make sure all of the others use single spaces as well. Keep it consistent.
  • All headings should be centered.
  • In the first column (called the stub), center the heading, left-align the information underneath it (indent 0.15 inches if info is more than one line).
  • Information in other columns should be centered.
  • General . Information about the whole table.
  • Specific . Information targeted for a specific column, row, or cell.
  • Probability . Explains what certain table symbols mean. For example, asterisks,  p values, etc.

Here’s an APA format example of a table:

example apa format table

We know putting together a table is pretty tricky. That’s why we’ve included not one, but a few tables on this page. Scroll down and look at the additional tables in the essay in APA format example found below.

Figures represent information in a visual way. They differ from tables in that they are visually appealing. Sure, tables, like the one above, can be visually appealing, but it’s the color, circles, arrows, boxes, or icons included that make a figure a “figure.”

There are many commonly used figures in papers. Examples APA Format:

  • Photographs
  • Hierarchy charts

General format of a figure is the same as tables. This means each should include:

  • Figure number

Use the same formatting tables use for the number, title, and note.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to APA format for figures:

  • Only include a figure if it adds value to your paper. If it will truly help with understanding, include it!
  • Either include a figure OR write it all out in the text. Do not include the same information twice.
  • If a note is added, it should clearly explain the content of the figure. Include any reference information if it’s reproduced or adapted.

APA format sample of a figure:

example apa format figure

Photographs:

We live in a world where we have tons of photographs available at our fingertips.

Photographs found through Google Images, social media, stock photos made available from subscription sites, and tons of other various online sources make obtaining photographs a breeze. We can even pull out our cell phones, and in just a few seconds, take pictures with our cameras.

Photographs are simple to find, and because of this, many students enjoy using them in their papers.

If you have a photograph you would like to include in your project, here are some guidelines from the American Psychological Association.

  • Create a reference for the photograph. Follow the guidelines under the table and figure sections above.
  • Do not use color photos. It is recommended to use black and white. Colors can change depending on the reader’s screen resolution. Using black and white ensures the reader will be able to view the image clearly. The only time it is recommended to use color photos is if you’re writing about color-specific things. For example, if you’re discussing the various shades of leaf coloration, you may want to include a few photographs of colorful leaves.
  • If there are sections of the photograph that are not related to your work, it is acceptable to crop them out. Cropping is also beneficial in that it helps the reader focus on the main item you’re discussing.
  • If you choose to include an image of a person you know, it would be respectful if you ask their permission before automatically including their photo in your paper.  Some schools and universities post research papers online and some people prefer that their photos and information stay off the Internet.

B. Writing Style Tips

Writing a paper for scientific topics is much different than writing for English, literature, and other composition classes. Science papers are much more direct, clear, and concise. This section includes key suggestions, explains how to write in APA format, and includes other tidbits to keep in mind while formulating your research paper.

Verb usage in APA

Research experiments and observations rely on the creation and analysis of data to test hypotheses and come to conclusions. While sharing and explaining the methods and results of studies, science writers often use verbs.

When using verbs in writing, make sure that you continue to use them in the same tense throughout the section you’re writing. Further details are in the publication manual (p. 117).

Here’s an APA format example:

We tested the solution to identify the possible contaminants.

It wouldn’t make sense to add this sentence after the one above:

We tested the solution to identify the possible contaminants. Researchers often test solutions by placing them under a microscope.

Notice that the first sentence is in the past tense while the second sentence is in the present tense. This can be confusing for readers.

For verbs in scientific papers, the APA manual recommends using:

  • Past tense or present perfect tense for the explantation of the procedure
  • Past tense for the explanation of the results
  • Present tense for the explanation of the conclusion and future implications

If this is all a bit much, and you’re simply looking for help with your references, try the EasyBib.com APA format generator . Our APA formatter creates your references in just a few clicks. APA citation format is easier than you think thanks to our innovative, automatic tool.

Even though your writing will not have the same fluff and detail as other forms of writing, it should not be boring or dull to read. The Publication Manual suggests thinking about who will be the main reader of your work and to write in a way that educates them.

How to reduce bias & labels

The American Psychological Association strongly objects to any bias towards gender, racial groups, ages of individuals or subjects, disabilities, and sexual orientation (pp. 131-149). If you’re unsure whether your writing is free of bias and labels or not, have a few individuals read your work to determine if it’s acceptable.

Here are a few guidelines that the American Psychological Association suggests :

  • Only include information about an individual’s orientation or characteristic if it is important to the topic or study. Do not include information about individuals or labels if it is not necessary.
  • If writing about an individual’s characteristic or orientation, for essay APA format, make sure to put the person first. Instead of saying, “Diabetic patients,” say, “Patients who are diabetic.”
  • Instead of using narrow terms such as, “adolescents,” or “the elderly,” try to use broader terms such as, “participants,” and “subjects.”
  • “They” or “their” are acceptable gender-neutral pronouns to use.
  • Be mindful when using terms that end with “man” or “men” if they involve subjects who are female. For example, instead of using “Firemen,” use the term, “Firefighter.” In general, avoid ambiguity.
  • When referring to someone’s racial or ethnic identity, use the census category terms and capitalize the first letter. Also, avoid using the word, “minority,” as it can be interpreted as meaning less than or deficient. Instead, say “people of color” or “underrepresented groups.”
  • When describing subjects in APA format, use the words “girls” and “boys” for children who are under the age of 12. The terms, “young woman,” “young man,” “female adolescent,” and “male adolescent” are appropriate for subjects between 13-17 years old; “Men,” and “women,” for those older than 18. Use the term, “older adults.” for individuals who are older. “Elderly,” and “senior,” are not acceptable if used only as nouns. It is acceptable to use these terms if they’re used as adjectives.

Read through our example essay in APA format, found in section D, to see how we’ve reduced bias and labels.

Spelling in APA Format

  • In APA formatting, use the same spelling as words found in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (American English) (p. 161).
  • If the word you’re trying to spell is not found in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, a second resource is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary .
  • If attempting to properly spell words in the psychology field, consult the American Psychological Association’s Dictionary of Psychology

Thanks to helpful tools and features, such as the spell checker, in word processing programs, most of us think we have everything we need right in our document. However, quite a few helpful features are found elsewhere.

Where can you find a full grammar editor? Right here, on EasyBib.com. The EasyBib Plus paper checker scans your paper for spelling, but also for any conjunction , determiner, or adverb out of place. Try it out and unlock the magic of an edited paper.

Abbreviation do’s and don’ts in APA Format

Abbreviations can be tricky. You may be asking yourself, “Do I include periods between the letters?” “Are all letters capitalized?” “Do I need to write out the full name each and every time?” Not to worry, we’re breaking down the publication manual’s abbreviations (p. 172) for you here.

First and foremost, use abbreviations sparingly.

Too many and you’re left with a paper littered with capital letters mashed together. Plus, they don’t lend themselves to smooth and easy reading. Readers need to pause and comprehend the meaning of abbreviations and quite often stumble over them.

  • If the abbreviation is used less than three times in the paper, type it out each time. It would be pretty difficult to remember what an abbreviation or acronym stands for if you’re writing a lengthy paper.
  • If you decide to sprinkle in abbreviations,  it is not necessary to include periods between the letters.
  • Example: While it may not affect a patient’s short-term memory (STM), it may affect their ability to comprehend new terms. Patients who experience STM loss while using the medication should discuss it with their doctor.
  • Example : AIDS
  • The weight in pounds exceeded what we previously thought.

Punctuation in APA Format

One space after most punctuation marks.

The manual recommends using one space after most punctuation marks, including punctuation at the end of a sentence (p. 154). It doesn’t hurt to double check with your teacher or professor to ask their preference since this rule was changed recently (in 2020).

The official APA format book was primarily created to aid individuals with submitting their paper for publication in a professional journal. Many schools adopt certain parts of the handbook and modify sections to match their preference. To see an example of an APA format research paper, with the spacing we believe is most commonly and acceptable to use, scroll down and see section D.

For more information related to the handbook, including frequently asked questions, and more, here’s further reading on the style

It’s often a heated debate among writers whether or not to use an Oxford comma (p. 155), but for this style, always use an Oxford comma. This type of comma is placed before the words AND and OR or in a series of three items.

Example of APA format for commas: The medication caused drowsiness, upset stomach, and fatigue.

Here’s another example: The subjects chose between cold, room temperature, or warm water.

Apostrophes

When writing a possessive singular noun, you should place the apostrophe before the s. For possessive plural nouns, the apostrophe is placed after the s.

  • Singular : Linda Morris’s jacket
  • Plural : The Morris’ house

Em dashes (long dash) are used to bring focus to a particular point or an aside. There are no spaces after these dashes (p. 157).

Use en dashes (short dash) in compound adjectives. Do not place a space before or after the dash. Here are a few examples:

  • custom-built
  • 12-year-old

Number rules in APA Format

Science papers often include the use of numbers, usually displayed in data, tables, and experiment information. The golden rule to keep in mind is that numbers less than 10 are written out in text. If the number is more than 10, use numerals.

APA format examples:

  • 14 kilograms
  • seven individuals
  • 83 years old
  • Fourth grade

The golden rule for numbers has exceptions.

In APA formatting, use numerals if you are:

  • Showing numbers in a table or graph
  • 4 divided by 2
  • 6-month-olds

Use numbers written out as words if you are:

  • Ninety-two percent of teachers feel as though….
  • Hundred Years’ War
  • One-sixth of the students

Other APA formatting number rules to keep in mind:

  • World War II
  • Super Bowl LII
  • It’s 1980s, not 1980’s!

Additional number rules can be found in the publication manual (p. 178)

Need help with other writing topics? Our plagiarism checker is a great resource for anyone looking for writing help. Say goodbye to an out of place noun , preposition , or adjective, and hello to a fully edited paper.

Overview of APA references

While writing a research paper, it is always important to give credit and cite your sources; this lets you acknowledge others’ ideas and research you’ve used in your own work. Not doing so can be considered plagiarism , possibly leading to a failed grade or loss of a job.

APA style is one of the most commonly used citation styles used to prevent plagiarism. Here’s more on crediting sources . Let’s get this statement out of the way before you become confused: An APA format reference and an APA format citation are two different things! We understand that many teachers and professors use the terms as if they’re synonyms, but according to this specific style, they are two separate things, with different purposes, and styled differently.

A reference displays all of the information about the source — the title, the author’s name, the year it was published, the URL, all of it! References are placed on the final page of a research project.

Here’s an example of a reference:

Wynne-Jones, T. (2015). The emperor of any place . Candlewick Press.

An APA format citation is an APA format in-text citation. These are found within your paper, anytime a quote or paraphrase is included. They usually only include the name of the author and the date the source was published.

Here’s an example of one:

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is even discussed in the book, The Emperor of Any Place . The main character, Evan, finds a mysterious diary on his father’s desk (the same desk his father died on, after suffering from a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy attack). Evan unlocks the truth to his father and grandfather’s past (Wynne-Jones, 2015).

Both of the ways to credit another individual’s work — in the text of a paper and also on the final page — are key to preventing plagiarism. A writer must use both types in a paper. If you cite something in the text, it must have a full reference on the final page of the project. Where there is one, there must be the other!

Now that you understand that, here’s some basic info regarding APA format references (pp. 281-309).

  • Each reference is organized, or structured, differently. It all depends on the source type. A book reference is structured one way, an APA journal is structured a different way, a newspaper article is another way. Yes, it’s probably frustrating that not all references are created equal and set up the same way. MLA works cited pages are unique in that every source type is formatted the same way. Unfortunately, this style is quite different.
  • Most references follow this general format:

Author’s Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year published). Title of source . URL.

Again, as stated in the above paragraph, you must look up the specific source type you’re using to find out the placement of the title, author’s name, year published, etc.

For more information on APA format for sources and how to reference specific types of sources, use the other guides on EasyBib.com. Here’s another useful site .

Looking for a full visual of a page of references? Scroll down and take a peek at our APA format essay example towards the bottom of this page. You’ll see a list of references and you can gain a sense of how they look.

Bonus: here’s a link to more about the fundamentals related to this particular style. If you want to brush up or catch up on the Modern Language Association’s style, here’s a great resource on how to cite websites in MLA .

In-text APA citation format

Did you find the perfect quote or piece of information to include in your project? Way to go! It’s always a nice feeling when we find that magical piece of data or info to include in our writing. You probably already know that you can’t just copy and paste it into your project, or type it in, without also providing credit to the original author.

Displaying where the original information came from is much easier than you think.Directly next to the quote or information you included, place the author’s name and the year nearby. This allows the reader of your work to see where the information originated.

APA allows for the use of two different forms of in-text citation, parenthetical and narrative Both forms of citation require two elements:

  • author’s name
  • year of publication

The only difference is the way that this information is presented to the reader.

Parenthetical citations are the more commonly seen form of in-text citations for academic work, in which both required reference elements are presented at the end of the sentence in parentheses. Example:

Harlem had many artists and musicians in the late 1920s (Belafonte, 2008).

Narrative citations allow the author to present one or both of the required reference elements inside of the running sentence, which prevents the text from being too repetitive or burdensome. When only one of the two reference elements is included in the sentence, the other is provided parenthetically. Example:

According to Belafonte (2008), Harlem was full of artists and musicians in the late 1920s.

If there are two authors listed in the source entry, then the parenthetical reference must list them both:

(Smith & Belafonte, 2008)

If there are three or more authors listed in the source entry, then the parenthetical reference can abbreviate with “et al.”, the latin abbreviation for “and others”:

(Smith et al., 2008)

The author’s names are structured differently if there is more than one author. Things will also look different if there isn’t an author at all (which is sometimes the case with website pages). For more information on APA citation format, check out this page on the topic: APA parenthetical citation and APA in-text citation . There is also more information in the official manual in chapter 8.

If it’s MLA in-text and parenthetical citations you’re looking for, we’ve got your covered there too! You might want to also check out his guide on parenthetical citing .

Would you benefit from having a tool that helps you easily generate citations that are in the text? Check out EasyBib Plus!

writing a summary of an article in apa format

References page in APA Format

An APA format reference page is easier to create than you probably think. We go into detail on how to create this page on our APA reference page . We also have a guide for how to create an annotated bibliography in APA . But, if you’re simply looking for a brief overview of the reference page, we’ve got you covered here.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to the references page in APA format:

  • This VIP page has its very own page. Start on a fresh, clean document (p. 303).
  • Center and bold the title “References” (do not include quotation marks, underline, or italicize this title).
  • Alphabetize and double-space ALL entries.
  • Use a readable font, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or Lucida (p. 44).
  • Every quote or piece of outside information included in the paper should be referenced and have an entry.
  • Even though it’s called a “reference page,” it can be longer than one page. If your references flow onto the next page, then that’s a-okay.
  • Only include the running head if it is required by your teacher or you’re writing a professional paper.

Sample reference page for a student paper:

Here’s another friendly reminder to use the EasyBib APA format generator (that comes with EasyBib Plus) to quickly and easily develop every single one of your references for you. Try it out! Our APA formatter is easy to use and ready to use 24/7.

Final APA Format Checklist

Prior to submitting your paper, check to make sure you have everything you need and everything in its place:

  • Did you credit all of the information and quotes you used in the body of your paper and show a matching full reference at the end of the paper? Remember, you need both! Need more information on how to credit other authors and sources? Check out our other guides, or use the EasyBib APA format generator to credit your sources quickly and easily. EasyBib.com also has more styles than just the one this page focuses on.
  • 12-pt. Times New Roman
  • 11-pt. Calibri, Arial, Georgia
  • 10-pt. Lucida, Sans Unicode, Computer Modern
  • If you created an abstract, is it directly after the title page? Some teachers and professors do not require an abstract, so before you go ahead and include it, make sure it’s something he or she is expecting.
  • Professional paper — Did you include a running head on every single page of your project?
  • Student paper — Did you include page numbers in the upper right-hand corner of all your pages?
  • Are all headings, as in section or chapter titles, properly formatted? If you’re not sure, check section number 9.
  • Are all tables and figures aligned properly? Did you include notes and other important information directly below the table or figure? Include any information that will help the reader completely understand everything in the table or figure if it were to stand alone.
  • Are abbreviations used sparingly? Did you format them properly?
  • Is the entire document double spaced?
  • Are all numbers formatted properly? Check section 17, which is APA writing format for numbers.
  • Did you glance at the sample paper? Is your assignment structured similarly? Are all of the margins uniform?

Submitting Your APA Paper

Congratulations for making it this far! You’ve put a lot of effort into writing your paper and making sure the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. If you’re planning to submit your paper for a school assignment, make sure you review your teacher or professor’s procedures.

If you’re submitting your paper to a journal, you probably need to include a cover letter.

Most cover letters ask you to include:

  • The author’s contact information.
  • A statement to the editor that the paper is original.
  • If a similar paper exists elsewhere, notify the editor in the cover letter.

Once again, review the specific journal’s website for exact specifications for submission.

Okay, so you’re probably thinking you’re ready to hit send or print and submit your assignment. Can we offer one last suggestion? We promise it will only take a minute.

Consider running your paper through our handy dandy paper checker. It’s pretty simple.

Copy and paste or upload your paper into our checker. Within a minute, we’ll provide feedback on your spelling and grammar. If there’s a pronoun , interjection , or verb out of place, we’ll highlight it and offer suggestions for improvement. We’ll even take it a step further and point out any instances of possible plagiarism.

If it sounds too good to be true, then head on over to our innovative tool and give it a whirl. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

What is APA Format?

APA stands for the American Psychological Association . In this guide, you’ll find information related to “What is APA format?” in relation to writing and organizing your paper according to the American Psychological Association’s standards. Information on how to cite sources can be found on our APA citation page. The official American Psychological Association handbook was used as a reference for our guide and we’ve included page numbers from the manual throughout. However, this page is not associated with the association.

You’ll most likely use APA format if your paper is on a scientific topic. Many behavioral and social sciences use this organization’s standards and guidelines.

What are behavioral sciences? Behavioral sciences study human and animal behavior. They can include:

  • Cognitive Science
  • Neuroscience

What are social sciences? Social sciences focus on one specific aspect of human behavior, specifically social and cultural relationships. Social sciences can include:

  • Anthropology
  • Political Science
  • Human Geography
  • Archaeology
  • Linguistics

What’s New in the 7th Edition?

This citation style was created by the American Psychological Association. Its rules and guidelines can be found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . The information provided in the guide above follows the 6th edition (2009) of the manual. The 7th edition was published in 2020 and is the most recent version.

The 7th edition of the Publication Manual is in full color and includes 12 sections (compared to 8 sections in the 6th edition). In general, this new edition differentiates between professional and student papers, includes guidance with accessibility in mind, provides new examples to follow, and has updated guidelines.We’ve selected a few notable updates below, but for a full view of all of the 7th edition changes visit the style’s website linked here .

  • Paper title
  • Student name
  • Affiliation (e.g., school, department, etc.)
  • Course number and title
  • Course instructor
  • 6th edition – Running head: SMARTPHONE EFFECTS ON ADOLESCENT SOCIALIZATION
  • 7th edition – SMARTPHONE EFFECTS ON ADOLESCENT SOCIALIZATION
  • Pronouns . “They” can be used as a gender-neutral pronoun.
  • Bias-free language guidelines . There are updated and new sections on guidelines for this section. New sections address participation in research, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality.
  • Spacing after sentences. Add only a single space after end punctuation.
  • Tables and figures . The citing format is now streamlined so that both tables and figures should include a name and number above the table/figure, and a note underneath the table/figure.
  • 6th ed. – (Ikemoto, Richardson, Murphy, Yoshida 2016)
  • 7th ed. – (Ikemoto et al., 2016)
  • Citing books. The location of the publisher can be omitted. Also, e-books no longer need to mention the format (e.g., Kindle, etc.)
  • Example: https://doi.org/10.1038/s42255-019-0153-5
  • Using URLs. URLs no longer need to be prefaced by the words “Retrieved from.”

New citing information . There is new guidance on citing classroom or intranet resources, and oral traditions or traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples.

Visit our EasyBib Twitter feed to discover more citing tips, fun grammar facts, and the latest product updates.

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) (2020). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

apa format

Published October 31, 2011. Updated May 14, 2020.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

APA Formatting Guide

APA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • Multiple Authors
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Parenthetical Citations
  • Sample Paper
  • View APA Guide

Citation Examples

  • Book Chapter
  • Journal Article
  • Magazine Article
  • Newspaper Article
  • Website (no author)
  • View all APA Examples

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We should not use “et al.” in APA reference list entries. If the number of authors in the source is up to and including 20, list all author names and use an ampersand (&) before the final author’s name. If the number of authors is more than 20, list the first 19 authors’ names followed by an ellipsis (but no ampersand), and then add the final author’s name. An example of author names in a reference entry having more than 20 authors is given below:

Author Surname1, F. M., Author Surname2, F. M., Author Surname3, F. M., Author Surname4, F. M., Author Surname5, F. M., Author Surname6, F. M., Author Surname7, F. M., Author Surname8, F. M., Author Surname9, F. M., Author Surname10, F. M., Author Surname11, F. M., Author Surname12, F. M., Author Surname13, F. M., Author Surname14, F. M., Author Surname15, F. M., Author Surname16, F. M., Author Surname17, F. M., Author Surname18, F. M., Author Surname19, F. M., . . .  Last Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year).

Alvarez, L. D., Peach, J. L., Rodriguez, J. F., Donald, L., Thomas, M., Aruck, A., Samy, K., Anthony, K., Ajey, M., Rodriguez, K. L., Katherine, K., Vincent, A., Pater, F., Somu, P., Pander, L., Berd, R., Fox, L., Anders, A., Kamala, W., . . . Nicole Jones, K. (2019).

Note that, unlike references with 2 to 20 author names, the symbol “&” is not used here before the last author’s name.

APA 7, released in October 2019, has some new updates. Here is a brief description of the updates made in APA 7.

Different types of papers and best practices are given in detail in Chapter 1.

How to format a student title page is explained in Chapter 2. Examples of a professional paper and a student paper are included.

Chapter 3 provides additional information on qualitative and mixed methods of research.

An update on writing style is included in Chapter 4.

In chapter 5, some best practices for writing with bias-free language are included.

Chapter 6 gives some updates on style elements including using a single space after a period, including a citation with an abbreviation, the treatment of numbers in abstracts, treatment for different types of lists, and the formatting of gene and protein names.

In Chapter 7, additional examples are given for tables and figures for different types of publications.

In Chapter 8, how to format quotations and how to paraphrase text are covered with additional examples. A simplified version of in-text citations is clearly illustrated.

Chapter 9 has many updates: listing all author names up to 20 authors, standardizing DOIs and URLs, and the formatting of an annotated bibliography.

Chapter 10 includes many examples with templates for all reference types. New rules covering the inclusion of the issue number for journals and the omission of publisher location from book references are provided. Explanations of how to cite YouTube videos, power point slides, and TED talks are included.

Chapter 11 includes many legal references for easy understanding.

Chapter 12 provides advice for authors on how to promote their papers.

For more information on some of the changes found in APA 7, check out this EasyBib article .

APA Citation Examples

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writing a summary of an article in apa format

Tips on Summarizing

  • Use your own words
  • Include the key relevant elements of the original and keep it brief - you're just going for the original's essence
  • Do not include your interpretation/analysis within the summary - make a clear distinction between your thoughts and someone else's
  • Vary how you introduce or attribute your sources, like "according to..." or "so-and-so concludes that..." so your readers don't get bored
  • Always include a citation

Polivy, J., & Herman, C. P. (2004). Sociocultural idealization of thin female body shapes: An introduction to the special issue on body image and eating disorders. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology , 23, 1-6. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.134.3.460

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Table of Contents

Collaboration, information literacy, writing process, apa summary, how should a summarized passage or work be cited.

When summarizing a passage or work from another writer, briefly outline in your own original words the major ideas presented in the source material. As brevity is the key feature of a summary, it is essential to express the main concepts of the original passage in as concise a manner as possible. Consider using a summary—rather than a short or block quotation—when preserving the original wording of the source material is not necessary for the reader to understand the ideas under discussion.

Let’s look at an example of a cited summary:

Original text:  “In their everyday life, people generally assume that they see the world around them the way it really is. When camping in Colorado, hikers believe they see the horizon as dotted with snow-covered mountaintops. When laying on the beach in North Carolina, sunbathers believe they see pelicans flying above the breaking waves. And these people would nearly always be right. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine  not  believing that the sights and sounds delivered to conscious awareness by perceptual systems are accurate renderings of the outside world. It would be difficult to know how to act if one could not trust one’s senses to accurately report what the world outside is like” (Balcetis, 2010, p. 77). [2]

Summary:  In  Social Psychology of Visual Perception , Balcetis (2010) argues that because humans rely on the sensory information received from their body, they form preconceived beliefs about their surroundings that manifest as imaginary visual occurrences (p. 77). [2]

Note:  The summary maintains the ideas of the original passage while concisely expressing its main concepts. The original author is also cited properly.

How should multiple sources be cited in a single parenthetical reference?

If multiple works need to be cited in the same set of parentheses, simply arrange them in alphabetical order by the author’s last names, or the order in which they would be listed in the References page. Use a semicolon to separate each work from the next one.

Let’s look at an example of multiple authors being cited:

In the past thirty years, Parkinson’s disease has been written about extensively by recognized figures in the field (Dorros, 1989; Duvoisin, 1991; Hauser & Zesiewicz, 1996). [3][4][5]

Note:  This example includes the in-text citations of three works arranged in alphabetical order by authors’ names, separated by semi-colons, and enclosed in parentheses.

  • Formatting In-text Citations (APA)

[1] Pender, K. (1998).  Digital colour in graphic design . Burlington, VT: Elsevier Science & Technology.

[2] Balcetis, E. (2010).  Social psychology of visual perception . Hoboken, NJ: Taylor & Francis.

[3] Dorros, S. (1989).  Parkinson’s: A patient’s view . Cabin John, MD: Seven Locks Press.

[4] Duvoisin, R. C. (1991).  Parkinson’s disease: A guide for patient and family . New York, NY: Raven Press.

[5] Hauser, R. A., & Zesiewicz, T. A. (1996).  Parkinson’s disease: Questions and answers . Coral Springs, FL: Merit.

Brevity - Say More with Less

Brevity - Say More with Less

Clarity (in Speech and Writing)

Clarity (in Speech and Writing)

Coherence - How to Achieve Coherence in Writing

Coherence - How to Achieve Coherence in Writing

Diction

Flow - How to Create Flow in Writing

Inclusivity - Inclusive Language

Inclusivity - Inclusive Language

Simplicity

The Elements of Style - The DNA of Powerful Writing

Unity

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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style  can be found here .

Media Files: APA Sample Student Paper  ,  APA Sample Professional Paper

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Note: The APA Publication Manual, 7 th Edition specifies different formatting conventions for student  and  professional  papers (i.e., papers written for credit in a course and papers intended for scholarly publication). These differences mostly extend to the title page and running head. Crucially, citation practices do not differ between the two styles of paper.

However, for your convenience, we have provided two versions of our APA 7 sample paper below: one in  student style and one in  professional  style.

Note: For accessibility purposes, we have used "Track Changes" to make comments along the margins of these samples. Those authored by [AF] denote explanations of formatting and [AWC] denote directions for writing and citing in APA 7. 

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Text: 51 8.21 2.7685

Email:  [email protected]

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Think of an article summary in APA format as the formal version of telling your best friend about the great movie you saw last night or talking to your mom about the awesome book you just finished reading.  In each case you're relying on your insights as to what details are important, necessary and enticing to your audience.

An APA summary has four crucial components:

1. The original research article ( click here for an example ) - make sure you have the full-text of the article.

2. Your summary ( click here for an example ) of the orginal research article.

3. The APA citation of the original research article ( click here for example on page 2 ) .

4. An outside reader - use FM's Writing Center. Hours are listed below.

Need more tips and strategies for writing your summary? This link is a great place to start.

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  • Writing an article REVIEW
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When writing a summary, the goal is to compose a concise and objective overview of the original article. The summary should focus only on the article's main ideas and important details that support those ideas.

Guidelines for summarizing an article:

  • State the main ideas.
  • Identify the most important details that support the main ideas.
  • Summarize in your own words.
  • Do not copy phrases or sentences unless they are being used as direct quotations.
  • Express the underlying meaning of the article, but do not critique or analyze.
  • The summary should be about one third the length of the original article. 

Your summary should include:

  • Give an overview of the article, including the title and the name of the author.
  • Provide a thesis statement that states the main idea of the article.
  • Use the body paragraphs to explain the supporting ideas of your thesis statement.
  • One-paragraph summary - one sentence per supporting detail, providing 1-2 examples for each.
  • Multi-paragraph summary - one paragraph per supporting detail, providing 2-3 examples for each.
  • Start each paragraph with a topic sentence.
  • Use transitional words and phrases to connect ideas.
  • Summarize your thesis statement and the underlying meaning of the article.

 Adapted from "Guidelines for Using In-Text Citations in a Summary (or Research Paper)" by Christine Bauer-Ramazani, 2020

Additional Resources

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How to Write a Summary - Guide & Examples  (from Scribbr.com)

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APA Referencing (APA 7th edition)

  • Summarising/Paraphrasing
  • Citations/Quotations and Abbreviations
  • In-text citations
  • Audiovisual material
  • Books (print or online)
  • Conferences, press releases, reports, reviews, theses.
  • Journal/Magazine article (print or online)
  • News article (print or online)
  • Personal communication
  • Social media (Facebook, Blogs and more)
  • Sound recordings
  • Reference list example
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Direct quotes should only be used sparingly in your work. It's generally better to put material into your own words, as this demonstrates your understanding of the material. Reserve direct quotes for particularly well written, striking content. To avoid plagiarism, it's also important to make sure that you do more than just make minor changes to the wording. 

To paraphrase or summarise without plagiarising:

  • Note the key points from the resource;
  • Without looking at the original material, write the idea in your own words;
  • Review the original material to check you have conveyed the idea correctly
  • Check that your writing does not use the same phrasing as the original source. Making minor changes to the material is not sufficient;
  • Specialised subject terms do not need to be changed;
  • If you cannot paraphrase, use a direct quote;
  • Include both an  in-text citation and a reference list entry for each resource used.

Summarising

Summarising involves repeating the main ideas of a passage in your own words.  A summary concentrates on the important points rather than the details.

Original text

'... in order to learn consumers' views on beauty, Dove surveyed girls and women in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.  Some of the results were disturbing; for example, in Britain, more than half of those surveyed said their bodies "disgusted" them.  Six out of ten girls believed they would be happier if they were thinner, but actually fewer than two out of ten were in fact overweight.  Apparently, fashion's images of artificially curvaceous models and celebrities had wreaked not a little havoc on young self-concepts.'

Example of a summary  

Rath, Bay, Petrizzi and Gill (2015) report that the results of a survey by Dove of young girls and women in Britain indicate that many young girls have false ideas about whether they are overweight or not.  ​

Points to note :

There are different ways you can incorporate an in-text citation into your work. You can include the author's surname/s and the date in brackets at the end of a sentence or use the author's name/s  as part of your sentence.

Rath, P.M. , Bay, S.,   Petrizzi, R. &  Gill, P.  (2015). The why of the buy: Consumer behavior and fashion marketing (2nd ed.). Fairchild Books.

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is expressing what an author writes in another way. 

'An interesting aspect of plant growth is that new cells and tissues are formed all through the lifespan of of the plant, even in trees that may be a hundred or more years old" (Clarke & Lee, 2019)

Example of a paraphrase

As Clarke & Lee (2019) explain, old plants continue to grow new cells. 

Trees continue growing new cells throughout their entire life (Clarke & Lee, 2019).

Clarke, I. & Lee, H.. (2019). Name that flower (3rd ed). Melbourne University Press.

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Writing a Summary Paper in APA Style

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Faced with a long document, readers are either going to skim and try to take in the information or they can begin by reading the author's summary. Reading the much shorter summary especially in an academic setting is a good way to see the focus of the paper without reading the entire document first. The summary is a way to engage your potential reader with information about what is in your full paper.

A summary, also referred to as an informative abstract, brief synopsis or overview; is a short version of an original text. The purpose of a summary is to condense information by focusing on the most important ideas in a book or an article. A literature review is a specific type of summary that follows the American Psychological Association (APA) style. The APA requires a specific format for in-text citations, including paraphrasing and reference lists. Writers and students in the social sciences, business or nursing typically use the APA style when writing summaries.

Proper Terminology

Describe what you're summarizing, such as the author and the title of the work, at the beginning of your paper and focus on content that's critical to understanding the original text. The goal is to show your teacher that you have a well-rounded grasp of the material and can succinctly describe the main points. Limit your summary to approximately one-fourth the length of the original text, recommends Washington State University. A summary isn't an analysis, a review or a critique, so don't include your personal opinions, critical evaluations or opposing arguments -- unless opposing arguments are specifically addressed in the original text. Focus on the core issues and discuss the author's purpose for writing the book or article.

Point of View and Voice

Write your summary in the present tense using plain, clear language. Avoid cliches, figurative language and technical terminology in a summary, opting for common vocabulary and simple language, suggests the Purdue University Online Writing Lab. The APA requires that you use the active rather than the passive voice, so ensure the subject in each of your sentences is performing the action. For example, if your summary is on the ill effects of poor teenage eating habits, write: Some schools eliminate junk food from their school vending machines to address teen obesity concerns. Writing in the present tense and using the active voice helps readers identify the main message.

Literature Review

A literature review is a common type of summary that's written in the APA style. Be careful not to confuse a literature review with a book review or a literary critique. A literature review is a "critical summary of what scientific literature says about your specific topic or question," according to the Purdue University Online Writing Lab. A teacher might ask you to write a literature review to show how familiar you are with a topic or a field that you're planning to research. According to APA guidelines, a literature review typically includes a title page, an introduction and a list of references.

In-Text Citations

Incorporate in-text citations into your summary as needed. Avoid quotations and paraphrase unless an exact quote is critical to interpreting the information. Be as concise as possible to reduce the number of words in your summary, and always credit your references when quoting or paraphrasing. In-text citations must include the author's last name, date of publication and page numbers in parenthesis at the end of the quote or paraphrase. For example: One's personality affects their ability to fall in love. For some, it takes years, but for others it only takes a few days (Austen, 1813, p.88).

Reference List

The APA requires a reference page, rather than a works cited page, for listing the sources you used for your summary. Center the word "References" on your reference page, but don't bold or italicize it. Order your entries alphabetically by the author's last name by putting the first first line flush left and then indenting the following lines. Put a double space between references. If you're summarizing a specific book, poem or article, the original text might be the only reference you need. However, if you're summarizing Jane Austen's views of marriage, you might include several of her books and accompanying study guides in your reference page.

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  • Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Paraphrasing and Summary Exercises
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How to Write a Summary APA Style

Table of Contents

Summarizing the contents of your work is an excellent method to pique the interest of a potential reader. But do you know how to write a summary APA style?

When presented with a lengthy piece of writing, most readers will either scan it or turn first to the author’s summary. In an academic setting, reading the abstract is a great way to grasp a paper’s main points before diving into the body.

person writing on white paper

What Is a Summary?

A summary, synopsis, overview, or informative abstract, is a condensed version of the source material . Summaries are written to save readers time by distilling the key points from longer works like books and articles.

Literature reviews are a subset of summaries that adhere to the American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines. 

References and paraphrased text must adhere to the APA’s guidelines for citation. It is common practice for writers and students in the social sciences, business, and nursing to adopt the APA style when writing summaries.

The summary is meant to be a thorough representation of the main topic . To write a summary using the APA format, one should take a topic and divide it into a few more minor arguments or parts. Use the following guidelines to write a tremendous APA-style summary.

1. Correct Use of Terms

You should include basic information about the source you’re summarizing (author, title, etc.) right at the start of your paper. Then, zero down on the most relevant parts of the text to convey the gist of what was said.

The aim is to show your teacher that you’ve digested the material and can summarize its significance in a few carefully chosen phrases.

Experts suggest capping your summary at a quarter of the length of the original material. Summarizing is not the same as analyzing, reviewing, or criticizing.

Therefore, refrain from including your thoughts and feelings. Do not include any critical evaluations or counterarguments (unless such points are explicitly addressed in the original text). Pay attention to the meat of the text and address the author’s stated goals in doing so.

2. Voice and Perspective

Use simple, direct language and the present tense to write your summary. According to experts, a summary should use everyday vocabulary and plain language instead of clichés, figurative language, and technical terminology.

The APA dictates that you utilize the active voice instead of the passive one. So, verify that the subject of each of your sentences is performing the activity. Using the active voice and the present tense helps readers focus on the central idea.

3. APA Literature Review Style

The APA format is frequently used for literature reviews. A literature review is not the same as a book review or a critical analysis of a piece of writing.

Literature reviews provide a critical summary of what scientific literature says about your unique topic or question. A literature review requires demonstrating your knowledge of the subject and the context in which you should conduct your research.

When writing a literature review according to APA guidelines, you must include at the very least:

  • A title page
  • Opening paragraph
  • List of references.

4. Use of APA in-Text Referencing Style

If necessary, reference specific passages within the body of your summary. Don’t use direct quotes or paraphrase unless doing so is essential to understanding the information.

Minimize the number of words used in your summary by being as concise as possible. Remember to give proper citations if you quote or paraphrase from another source.

The components of in-text citations required are the author’s last name, publication date, and page numbers in parentheses after a direct quote or paraphrase.

For example, the probability of gaining weight after 35 years and above varies from person to person. Some people don’t add weight, while others do (Stevenson, 1813, p.88).

5. References

The APA style dictates that you utilize a reference page to list the sources from which you pulled information for your summary.

References should be centered at the top of the page; however, it should not be bolded or italicized. The first line should be flush left, and subsequent lines should be indented to show alphabetical order based on the author’s last name.

Please double-space between each citation. The original text of the work being summarized may be the sole source necessary.

Knowing how to write a summary in APA style is a knowledge that can come in handy with many things, including writing research papers. By learning and practicing these skills, you will be able to showcase your academic prowess when you graduate.

How to Write a Summary APA Style

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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  • How to cite a journal article in APA Style

How to Cite a Journal Article in APA Style | Format & Example

Published on November 5, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on January 17, 2024.

An APA Style citation for a journal article includes the author name(s), publication year, article title, journal name, volume and issue number, page range of the article, and a DOI (if available). Use the buttons below to explore the format, or try the free  APA Citation Generator to quickly and easily create citations.

Cite a journal article in APA Style now:

Table of contents, basic format for an apa journal citation, citing an article with an elocator or article number, citing unpublished journal articles, special issue of a journal, frequently asked questions about apa style citations.

The article title appears in plain text and sentence case, while the journal name is italicized and in title case (all major words capitalized).

When viewing a journal article online, the required information can usually be found on the access page.

APA journal source info

Linking to online journal articles

A DOI should always be used where available. Some databases do not list one, but you may still find one by looking for the same article on another database. You don’t need to include the name of the database in your citation.

If no DOI is available and the article was accessed through a database, do not include a URL.

If the article is not from a database, but from another website (e.g. the journal’s own website), you should ideally use a stable URL: this is often provided under a “share” button. Otherwise, copy the URL from your browser’s address bar.

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writing a summary of an article in apa format

Articles published only in PDF form may provide an article number or “eLocator” instead of a page range; in this case, include the number in your citation, preceded by the word “Article.”

When citing from an article that has not yet been formally published, the format varies depending on whether or not it has already been submitted to a journal. Note that different formats are used for unpublished dissertations and raw data .

Unpublished article

The text of an article which has not yet appeared online or in publication (i.e. which is only available directly from the author) should be cited as an “Unpublished manuscript.” The title is italicized and information about the author’s university is included if available:

Article submitted for publication

An article that has been submitted to a journal but not yet accepted is cited as a “Manuscript submitted for publication.” The title is italicized, and the name of the journal to which it was submitted is not included:

Article in press

An article that has been submitted and accepted for publication in a journal is cited as “in press.” Here, the name of the journal is included, university information is omitted, and “in press” is written in place of the year (both in the reference list and the in-text citation):

If you want to cite a special issue of a journal rather than a regular article, the name(s) of the editor(s) and the title of the issue appear in place of the author’s name and article title:

Note that if you want to cite an individual article from the special issue, it can just be cited in the basic format for journal articles.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

In an APA journal citation , if a DOI (digital object identifier) is available for an article, always include it.

If an article has no DOI, and you accessed it through a database or in print, just omit the DOI.

If an article has no DOI, and you accessed it through a website other than a database (for example, the journal’s own website), include a URL linking to the article.

Include the DOI at the very end of the APA reference entry . If you’re using the 6th edition APA guidelines, the DOI is preceded by the label “doi:”. In the 7th edition , the DOI is preceded by ‘https://doi.org/’.

  • 6th edition: doi: 10.1177/0894439316660340
  • 7th edition: https://doi.org/ 10.1177/0894439316660340

APA citation example (7th edition)

Hawi, N. S., & Samaha, M. (2016). The relations among social media addiction, self-esteem, and life satisfaction in university students. Social Science Computer Review , 35 (5), 576–586. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894439316660340

The abbreviation “ et al. ” (meaning “and others”) is used to shorten APA in-text citations with three or more authors . Here’s how it works:

Only include the first author’s last name, followed by “et al.”, a comma and the year of publication, for example (Taylor et al., 2018).

You may include up to 20 authors in a reference list entry .

When an article has more than 20 authors, replace the names prior to the final listed author with an ellipsis, but do not omit the final author:

Davis, Y., Smith, J., Caulfield, F., Pullman, H., Carlisle, J., Donahue, S. D., James, F., O’Donnell, K., Singh, J., Johnson, L., Streefkerk, R., McCombes, S., Corrieri, L., Valck, X., Baldwin, F. M., Lorde, J., Wardell, K., Lao, W., Yang, P., . . . O’Brien, T. (2012).

In an APA reference list , journal article citations include only the year of publication, not the exact date, month, or season.

The inclusion of volume and issue numbers makes a more specific date unnecessary.

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  6. LESSON 78

COMMENTS

  1. Finding and Summarizing Research Articles

    Writing a summary or abstract teaches you how to condense information and how to read an article more effectively and with better understanding. Research articles usually contain these parts: Title/Author Information, Abstract, Introduction, Methodology, Result or Findings, Discussion or Conclusion, and References.

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  3. I have to summarize a whole article. How do I cite it, if my whole

    Answer When you summarize someone else's information, especially if you will be spending a lot of time summarizing (for instance, your assignment is to summarize an article or a chapter in a book), it is important to introduce your source right away.

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  5. APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.)

    Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines: Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides. Double-space all text, including headings. Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches. Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.). Include a page number on every page.

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    When summarizing a passage or work from another writer, briefly outline in your own original words the major ideas presented in the source material. As brevity is the key feature of a summary, it is essential to express the main concepts of the original passage in as concise a manner as possible.

  10. Summary

    Paraphrase/Summary. Paraphrasing is when you, as the researcher, put a passage or idea from another work and into your own words. A paraphrased passage is generally shorter and more condensed than the original. Summarizing is very similar to paraphrasing, in that it also involves putting someone else's ideas into your own words in order to ...

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  12. PDF APA Style Research Article Activity

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  14. How to Write Article Summaries, Reviews & Critiques

    When writing a summary, the goal is to compose a concise and objective overview of the original article. The summary should focus only on the article's main ideas and important details that support those ideas. Guidelines for summarizing an article: State the main ideas. Identify the most important details that support the main ideas.

  15. APA Referencing (APA 7th edition)

    Summarising involves repeating the main ideas of a passage in your own words. A summary concentrates on the important points rather than the details. Original text '... in order to learn consumers' views on beauty, Dove surveyed girls and women in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

  16. Guidelines for writing an article summary

    Write a short summary of the author's primary purpose in writing the article. Write short summaries of each of the author's main ideas. Revise your summary so that it reads smoothly from section to section Document your summary in APA style. See below. Format and submit your essay as directed in the syllabus along with the photocopy of the article.

  17. Writing a Summary Paper in APA Style

    The APA requires a reference page, rather than a works cited page, for listing the sources you used for your summary. Center the word "References" on your reference page, but don't bold or italicize it. Order your entries alphabetically by the author's last name by putting the first first line flush left and then indenting the following lines.

  18. Sample papers

    The sample papers show the format that authors should use to submit a manuscript for publication in a professional journal and that students should use to submit a paper to an instructor for a course assignment. You can download the Word files to use as templates and edit them as needed for the purposes of your own papers.

  19. How to Write a Summary APA Style

    Use the following guidelines to write a tremendous APA-style summary. 1. Correct Use of Terms. You should include basic information about the source you're summarizing (author, title, etc.) right at the start of your paper. Then, zero down on the most relevant parts of the text to convey the gist of what was said.

  20. Paper format

    To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments. The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create ...

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    On the first line of the page, write the section label "References" (in bold and centered). On the second line, start listing your references in alphabetical order. Apply these formatting guidelines to the APA reference page: Double spacing (within and between references) Hanging indent of ½ inch.

  22. How to Cite a Journal Article in APA Style

    If you want to cite a special issue of a journal rather than a regular article, the name (s) of the editor (s) and the title of the issue appear in place of the author's name and article title: APA format. Last name, Initials. (Ed. or Eds.). ( Year ). Title of issue [Special issue]. Journal Name, Volume ( Issue ).

  23. PDF Student Paper Setup Guide, APA Style 7th Edition

    Indent the first line of every paragraph of text 0.5 in. using the tab key or the paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program. Page numbers: Put a page number in the top right corner of every page, including the title page or cover page, which is page 1. Student papers do not require a running head on any page.