The American Psychological Association (APA) developed a set of standards that writers in the social sciences follow to create consistency throughout publications. These rules address:
APA's guidelines assist readers in recognizing a writer's ideas and information, rather than having to adjust to inconsistent formatting. In this way, APA allows writers to express themselves clearly and easily to readers.
The APA materials developed in the Walden Writing Center are based on the sixth edition of The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (i.e., "the APA manual"). Many programs at Walden require the Essential Guide to APA Style for Walden Students, a condensed, electronic resource based on the APA manual and produced by Laureate Education. This guide focuses on using APA in coursework, while the APA manual is comprehensive and focused on preparing a document for publication. The materials on our website are largely consistent with the recommendations in either of these two resources. However, when there are minor discrepancies between the two, we use the guidelines from the original APA Publication Manual.
When you are writing as a student, you are entering into a new writing community; just as you would need to learn the customs and rules of any new country you visit, you need to learn the customs and rules of academic writing. These guidelines will be different than guidelines for writing in other environments (such as letters to friends, e-mails to coworkers, or writing for blogs). The academic community has its own rules. These standards help writers:
To learn more about transitioning into academic writing, view "What Is Academic Writing?" Remember that it’s your job as the author to engage your readers, and inconsistencies in formatting and citations distract the reader from the content of your writing. By using APA style, you allow your readers to focus on the ideas you are presenting, offering a familiar format to discuss your new ideas.
APA style can seem overwhelming at first. To get started, take some time to look through these resources: