When carrying out research work for your undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral studies, certain requirements are essential to comply with international standards of writing, presentation and publication. While there are other standard writing style norms, below you will find information about who APA is as an organization and the main APA Standards that are used when doing research work, especially when you are studying abroad.

What is APA?

Founded in Washington, DC, APA, the American Psychological Association is a scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. With 150,000 members, APA is the largest association of psychologists worldwide.

APA aims to advance in the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge for the benefit of society and the progress of people’s lives. Her vision is to stand out as a valuable, effective and influential organization, developing psychology as a science.

The APA style is widely accepted in the Social Sciences. The American Psychological Association’s (APA) citation style requires parentheses within the text rather than in footnotes or endings.

How are appointments written with APA Standards?

The citation in the text provides information and usually the name of the author and the date of publication are placed, which allows the reader to then locate the corresponding bibliographic entry. Full information about each source cited in the text is detailed in the section called “References”, located at the end of the research report.

How are titles written?

APA standards require a clear and continuous writing style. Three levels of titles are used, one main written in bold and centered, a secondary one written in italics and in the left margin and a tertiary one written in italics, but with the text continued in the same line. The clearest way to indicate them is by considering the following:

  • The paragraphs that follow the titles do not need to have indentation, but all the others must have it, in any other case.
  • In writing, avoid using sex-specific adjectives or pronouns. Assumptions arising from gender stereotypes about people, their abilities, attitudes and relationships should also be avoided.
  • Texts should be written in the third person or, better yet, in infinitive, always preferring “the authors consider” or “is considered” instead of writing a phrase like “we believe”.

Advantages of using the APA Standards

  • The information presented is of lesser length and with enough information to continue with the idea to be exposed. This allows the person to save time and effort in their search for information and articles, as well as facilitate the reading of writing, compared to other formats such as the Chicago style.
  • The APA style is used mainly in order to facilitate and simplify the search for scientific information, in addition to helping the researcher in social areas to maintain an order to his ideas and form a general structure in his writings, facilitating this its rapid publication and dissemination of the knowledge acquired and discovered through the research carried out.
  • An APA-style format at the time of writing facilitates the reader’s understanding, as well as the transmission of the idea that you want to give to the public.
  • It allows to shape scientific publications and the practicality with which it is designed allows to identify who are the authors in charge of said writing, as well as to avoid possible drafting errors.

General Guide to the APA Standards of a Research Paper

Phases of the work

1. Introduction to Research


  • Author and year cited in the text: a parenthesis is not necessary.
  • In the case of Author not mentioned in the text: his surname is placed at the end, year in parentheses (surname, year).
  • Author cited in the text: followed the year in parentheses surname (year)
  • Short quotations, of two lines or less (40 words), can be incorporated into the text using single quotation marks to indicate them
  • Longer citations are separated from the text by a space at each end and tabulated from the left margin; here there is no need to use quotation marks
  • Punctuation, writing and order must correspond exactly to the original text. Any changes made by the author should be clearly indicated, e.g. italics of some words to highlight them. When any material is omitted from the quotations, ellipsis is written in parentheses (. . .). The material inserted by the author to clarify the quotation should be put in square brackets. The source of a citation must be fully cited, e.g. author, year and page number in the text, plus a full reference in the bibliography.
  • Footers should be restricted to a minimum. Use superscript numbers in the text to indicate the reference to a particular footer

2. Results


  • The tables and figures must complement and clarify the text (avoiding including tables that do not provide more information to what is stated in the text). Use horizontal lines and vertical spacing to separate items in the table
  • Figures, graphics and illustrations:

These should be numbered consecutively with Arabic Indo numbers under the figure. If a key is required, it must be included in the legend of the figure, not in itself.

3. References


References should be written in alphabetical order by the surname of the (first) author (or publisher). Multiple references by the same author (or an identical group of authors) are sorted by year of publication, with the oldest first. If the year of publication is also the same, differentiate them by writing a letter a, b, c etc. after the year.

When a surname is compound (e.g. De Gaulle), sort it according to the prefix and make sure that it is also included in the appointment. If the author is a business name, sort it according to the first significant word of its name (e.g. The British Psychological Society, it goes under the “B”).

Italics or underlined?

  • If you are writing in a word processor that does not allow the use of italics, the APA format allows you to underline it.
  • Newspapers: style examples for journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.:

General form – periodicals [Publicado en papel] :

Author, A. A., Author, B.B., and Author, C.C. (year). Title of the article. Title of the newspaperorevista,xx, xxx-xxx.

  • Non-periodic: for non-periodic sources such as books, reports, brochures, audiovisual media, etc.:

General form – Non-periodic sources [Publicadas en papel o medios fijos] :

Author, A. A. (1999). Title of the work. Location: Editorial.

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Use of APA Standards in Research Papers

Use of APA Standards in Research Papers

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