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OASIS Writing Skills

Webinar Transcripts:
APA Formatting & Style: Beyond Citing Sources

Transcripts for the Writing Center's webinars.

APA Formatting & Style: Beyond Citations

Presented May 11, 2020

View the recording

Last updated 6/10/2020



Visual: Introductory slide: APA Formatting and Style: Beyond Citing Sources presented by Beth Nastachowski of the Walden Writing Center.

Audio: [Beth] Hello, everyone! Welcome to the webinar today. My name is Beth Nastachowski, and I'll be your host for today’s session APA Formatting and Style: Beyond Citing Sources. I am located in St. Paul, Minnesota, which was quite cold this weekend, but we're looking up and I'm seeing temperatures near the 70s, which we're excited about in Minnesota. My colleagues and I were saying earlier, we're taking it personal, the weather keeping us inside during the pandemic where we need to be staying home anyways, so we're looking forward to that. I have been with the Writing Center now for coming up on ten years, and I have worked many different jobs within the Writing Center and have always enjoyed these kind of live presentations for students so I'm really excited to be here today and hopefully help answer questions that you have and hear what questions you have in the Q&A box so I can answer those too. That's a great opportunity during the live sessions.

Before I go over to the housekeeping slide here, I wanted to give my colleagues a chance to introduce themselves. They'll be in the background answering your questions. So do you want to introduce yourself, Jes?

[Jes] Yes, absolutely. I'm Jes, a member of the Writing Center. I'm happy to be here today to facilitate behind the scenes. You'll see me responding to questions in the Q&A pod. And if anybody was in the APA session last week you might have met me before. It's nice to see you again.

[Beth] Thanks so much, Jes. Sarah, do you want to introduce yourself?

[Sarah] Sure, hello, everyone, I am Sarah Prince, associate director of resource management here at Walden's Writing Center. And I am calling in tonight from a much warmer Peachtree City, Georgia, where temperatures have been around 75‑80 degrees each day. I have two small children, so the warmer weather has been nice, because that means they can be outside. So looking forward to tonight. A little quiet time with adults is always a good change for me.

[Beth] Thanks, Sarah, we appreciate it. As I said, Jes and Sarah will be in the background answering questions. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping

  • Recording
    • Will be available online within 24 hours.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
    • Now: Use the Q&A box.
    • Later: Send to or visit our Live Chat Hours.
  • Help
    • Ask in the Q&A box.
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right-hand corner of the webinar room

Audio: [Beth] So a couple of housekeeping notes before I dive into the session itself.

The first is that I have started the recording of this session and I'll be posting the recording in the webinar archive. If you would like to come back and review the session or if you have to leave for any reason, you're more than welcome to do so. I know we have been advertising and presenting a number of webinars last week and this week and we have three more coming up this week already. So if you have missed any of those previous sessions that you thought looked interesting or helpful, know the recordings are already in the archive or if they're sessions for the next couple days they'll be available as soon as we have those recordings ready for you. Just know that archive is a great resource to access the recordings of any of the sessions.

We encourage you to interact with us today. I appreciated all the respondents in the polls and kind of everything responding in the chat and hearing where you're coming in from. I have lots of chats throughout the session today so I encourage you to interact there, but also note that throughout the session today we'll be covering a lot of different APA style topics and you can find more information and examples on our website. So I included links throughout the website throughout the slides.

You can interact through the Q&A box. So that's on the right side of the screen and that's where Jes and Sarah will spend today answering questions or comments. I encourage you to ask questions as soon as you have them. As I mentioned, and as we'll see in the next couple slides here we have a lot of different APA style rules to go over. I encourage you to ask the questions as soon as you have them because if you wait to save them you might forget them or we might go past that topic. Be sure to answer those as soon as you have them. But know after the webinar we're here to help and support you too. You have our email address and live chat hours, both of which I'll list at the end of the webinar in the last slide too, but just remember we're always here to help and you can reach out after a session if you think of a question later or if you don't get to all of your questions at the very end of the webinar.

Finally, if you have technical issues let us know in the Q&A box. We have a couple tips and tricks we can provide you. Note often we'll ask you to exit and reenter the webinar. That seems to fix a lot of issues. But know there's a help button at top right‑hand corner and that's a great place to go for any significant technical issues.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What we will cover today

Sentence-level style

  • Creating consistency in wording related to numbers, capitalization, abbreviations, lists, verb tense, and pronouns

Paper-level style

  • Creating consistency in presentation related to paper formatting and headings

Audio: [Beth] So with that, we are going to dive right in here today. So I wanted to make clear before we kind of get into the session what we're going to cover today and what we won't cover. Since APA style, of course, is the topic of how ‑‑ it covers the entire manual, right? We have two webinars we presented earlier last week that focus on citations and references, but today what we're going to focus on is the style rules that aren't citation reference related but more sentence and formatting related. So that's what we're going to focus on. Specifically at the sentence level we're going to talk about the rules that APA has to create consistency. So talking about capitalization and abbreviations, lists, verb tense, and pronouns. And then also we're going to end the session talking about formatting at the paper level. So talking about headings and the title page of your paper, those sorts of formatting rules that apply at the paper level and aren't just associated with a single sentence. One thing that we do have and that we recommend in terms of APA style is using our APA journal. This is a journal that can help you keep track of the rules that you're using in APA and keep track of sort of the feedback you have and kind of the common errors you have too. You can use the journal in multiple different ways. Maybe you keep track or use the journal to keep track of the APA feedback you've received from your faculty members or maybe just a place to keep track some of the changes from 6 to 7 you're hearing about. However you want to use it, those journals are a really helpful tool in the feedback you're getting and see the progress. We included a journal template and journal example in the files pod and you can download those to your computer by clicking the links in the files pod and you'll be able to click "download files." I should have mentioned earlier, but I will now, since we're talking about the files pod, the slides I'm using are also available in the files pod. It's the file that is titled "slides" at the beginning. So click that title and you'll be able to click "download file" and save that to your computer too. Feel free to do that throughout the session.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: What we will not cover today

  • Capstone study formatting (TOC, appendices)
  • Citations
  • Reference lists
  • Tables and figures
  • MS Word formatting

Audio: [Beth] Some things we're not going to cover today, just to set the expectations. The first is capstone study formatting, for example, table of contents, appendices, also tables and figures which are more common in capstone studies. Those aren't part of the presentation today. We're not going to talk about citations or reference lists and I'm not going to get into the specifics about how to do something in Microsoft Word formatting. We do have links here to more information on our website, on the Form and Style website and the Academic Skills Center's website for all these areas, so I encourage you to click the links or download the slides here and you'll be able to see them. I also wanted to note here that in APA 7, Chapter 7 covers tables and figures. I have listed that here as well and that can be really helpful for you if you have your manual.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Transition to APA 7

  • New (7th) edition of APA manual released
  • APA 7 implementation dates: May 4 (semester-based programs) & June 1 (quarter-based and Tempo programs)
  • Some doctoral capstone students may continue using APA 6 for an additional grace period

Audio: [Beth] All right. A couple other housekeeping notes here before we dive into our first APA style rules that we're going to talk about. The first is reminder that this session is a part of our new APA 7 webinar series we're doing last week and this week. And the new 7th edition of the APA manual was released last fall. And Walden University is adopting APA 7 during the summer course start dates. So for semester based programs, that's May 4th. And quarter based and Tempo programs, that's June 1st. You either have already transitioned in your courses to APA 7 or you will be very soon. Additionally for doctoral capstone students, that's students writing their final capstone study or their dissertation you may continue using APA 6 for a grace period, and what that is you can finish your study using APA 6 or 7, you have a choice between the two. If you get final URR approval by the end of the year. There's full information about the grace period and what that means on the APA 7 transition page that is on the website. I'm sure Sarah or Jes would send the link if you want to look at it. If you're not sure if it applies to you is look at the grace period language and talk with your chair to see what really applies to you and whether you should be switching your study to APA 7 from APA 6.


Visual: Transition to APA 7

Audio: [Beth] A few resources to help you with this transition to APA 7 is first the APA 7 transition web page that I just mentioned is actually linked on this slide here, so you can go ahead and click on it and it will open up in a new tab on your browser if you like.

As part of that page we also have an APA 6 to 7 comparison table. If you're looking for just an outline of what is the difference between the ‑‑ the major differences between APA 6 and 7, that comparison table is there. This is one of four webinars of this week. We have more this week if you would like to continue APA webinars to learn more about APA and see the switch from 6 to 7. And the website content throughout the website is also overall updated as of May 1st. Or May 4th, I suppose. May 4th would be the date. You see the links I have throughout the slides are to web pages on our website also updated for APA 7.

Finally, if you have any APA 7 specific questions, so questions that are specific to the shift and what it means, you can also email our role account: So we have lots of resources to help support you in this transition to APA 6 to APA 7 and hope they will be helpful for you.


Visual: Visual changes to the following: Today’s Webinar

Audio: [Beth] In terms of today we are using APA 7 rules in this presentation. So we're going to focus on APA 7 today. I'm going to indicate larger shifts from 6 to 7 with the icon I have at the top right‑hand corner of the slide and make sure to note what the shifts are, although I'm not going to show you examples from 6 to 7, I just note this is a shift and show you what the APA 7 rule is.

For more details, if you would like an overview of 6 to 7, we do have the APA 7 at a glance webinars and those recordings are available for you at any time. You're welcome to take a look at those too.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Why does style matter?

[Chatbox question] When you encounter a document with inconsistent formatting or style, how does it affect your reading experience?

Audio: [Beth] All right. So we're going to dive into our session today by first having discussion about why we even talk about APA style and why it matters. So think about past readings such as books, articles, websites, work documents, discussion posts, what have you. And when you encounter a document with inconsistent formatting or style within it, how does it affect your reading experience, and think about yourself as a reader, how that inconsistent style affects your reading experience and what you focus on.

I'm going to go on mute while I give you a chance to respond here for a few minutes. And then we'll come back together to talk a little about your responses and continue.

[Brief silence in audio]

I see a lot of great responses so far, not great in terms of what the reading experience is, but a lot of what I was thinking about when I was thinking about this question. I hear you saying when we have the inconsistent formatting, a lot of people say it's distracting, so as a reader the inconsistent formatting distracts us away from ideas we're reading about. I also see people talking about how it feels like what you're reading is less authentic or credible, so it takes away the potential credibility of the author. Also there's confusion sometimes and I think that relates to that distraction that we as a reader is saying, why is there a difference in style? Am I not seeing this correctly? There's confusion, too, and that can take away from the ideas we're reading about.

Let's see... I'm seeing people mentioning they lose interest and focus. So you might not be interested in continuing if you see that inconsistent style partly because it could be distracting, right? And also some people mention it doesn't look professional. Again, it affects the credibility of how we look at that source.

This is really all helpful and all the things I was thinking about as I was thinking about this question. So I hope that as you think about this as a reader it helps you think about why having consistent style within your own academic writing is really no different. And you want to avoid all these reactions that you just outlined here. And that's part of what APA style does. In particular the rules that we're going to talk about today are meant to help with clarity but also to create some consistency internally so that you're approaching things in the same way.

You're also approaching things in the same way as other writers using APA style too, so you're joining them in the community of scholars who are writing using APA style. What I want to encourage you to do is think about the rules I'm talking about today as a tool for you as a writer to avoid confusion and create credibility and really bring your reader into your writing and help them focus on your ideas. Those are all the things I would encourage you to think about as you think about learning these APA style rules.

All right. Thanks, everyone, that was really helpful. I hope this is helpful in setting the stage about why we're talking about these rules.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Part 1: Sentence-Level Style

  1. Numbers
  2. Capitalization
  3. Abbreviations
  4. Latin abbreviations
  5. Lists
  6. Serial Commas
  7. Verb tense
  8. Pronouns

Audio: [Beth] So in the first part of the session today we're going to talk about sentence‑level style, as I mentioned. We'll focus on paper‑level style in the second part of it. And there are eight main rules we focus on in sentence‑level style. Of course, in APA style there are many other different rules. But these are the ones that we found that students use the most in their writing. And are used across the different kinds of writing that we have for students. There are maybe some more specific rules like tables and figures that I mentioned that are really specific or more common in capstone studies, but we're going to focus on other rules that are really more applicable and common across Walden writing that we see from Walden students. We have eight main rules we're going to talk about. We're going to talk about numbers, capitalization, abbreviations, Latin abbreviations, lists, serial commas, verb tense, and pronouns.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Numbers

General rule = Nine and below, use words.

 10 and above, use numerals.

Ex: There were four teachers for every 25 students in the class.

Audio: [Beth] We're going to dive right into these. The first rule we're talk about is numbers. . And the general rule we have here is that numbers nine and below use words, and 10 and above use numerals. This has not changed from APA 6 to 7, so that's a nice thing to keep consistent. And we really ‑‑ the main thing to keep in mind is that nine and below we write out and 10 and above use numerals. I have an example here. First learning numbers as a rule in APA style, I literally just wrote this out and had it on a sticky note next to my computer, so I could refer to it. And that helped me memorize it so I can incorporate into my writing. So for most of the time, this is what applies.

APA does have some exceptions to numbers, which are the following...

So, if we're talking about a series, like chapters or tables, and we're talking about the specific chapters or specific tables, then we will use numerals instead of writing out those numbers. So Chapter 4, Table 2. And abstracts, also in APA 6 that used to be an exception to this rule, and I apologize I should have noted it here, but in APA 7 the APA 7 now follows all the general rule that I have at the top here. That is one change for an abstract. And I wanted to just note that from APA style.

Units of measurement also don't follow the general rule. And always use numerals. Additionally, times, dates, ages, scores, and points on a scale or money use numerals. In those cases, you won't write out those numbers. You use numerals as well. As well as percentages and ratios.

For always using words you start the beginning of a sentence with words no matter what the numeral is for or what it is, as well as common fractions. So there are fewer exceptions for always using words. Most of the time with our exception it's an exception for using numerals. So general rule is listed here and then the exceptions for using numerals are listed on the left here.

Generally what I like to say is that if you're talking about a specific numeral as in like something that is ‑‑ that can be counted, something like ‑‑ all numerals can be counted, but the time, the dates, money, percentages, those are really specific numbers that... I don't know, it sticks out in my mind that those are exceptions. So, again, I would recommend putting these on Post‑It notes if it's a rule you're not familiar with and you're trying to incorporate into your writing.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Numbers

[Chat box question] Write the following sentence with properly-formatted numbers:

11/eleven patients waited for the doctor for eighty/80 minutes, and they were only 50%/fifty percent satisfied with the experience.

Audio: [Beth] So let's practice with this rule. We have the following sentences. I'm going to pull up a chat box. Why don't you go ahead and practice rewriting the following sentence with the properly formatted numbers. I'm going to give you all a few minutes to do so and then we'll come back together to talk about the answer.

[Brief silence in audio]

If you're still typing, feel free to do so, but I see so many correct answers. Wonderful job, everyone!

We had three different places where you had to choose between the numeral or writing out the word. And the correct answer is listed here in the note pad. So for the first one we have 11 patients. And 11, although normally, if 11 is above 10, it would be a numeral, because it starts a sentence, we write out the word. In terms of eighty or 80 minutes, we write out the numeral 80 because it's time, but also because it's over 10. If this was eight minutes, we also would still list it as a numeral because it's a unit of time.

And then 50% is also a numeral because we're talking about a specific percentage. If it was a smaller percentage, say 3%, we still do a numeral instead of writing out three, because it's a percentage.

So I hope this was useful for you all. And it was useful in sort of practicing these rules. Numerals take a little bit of time, but the more you practice with these, the easier they will become and the more they will become ingrained and a part of your APA style habits.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Capitalization

First word of a sentence

Major words and words of four letters or more in headings and your paper title

Audio: [Beth] We're going to switch back to the presentation and go to our next rule.

All right, the next one is capitalization. Again, this is very similar to numerals. Capitalization generally follows what we do in English grammar, but there are a few particular things that are common. I wouldn't say exceptions, but just particular capitalization questions we see from Walden students. Just like any other sentence in English grammar, we capitalize the first word of a sentence in APA style as well as major words and words of four letters or more in headings and title. So when we talk about heading capitalization or title capitalization, those are major words and words of four or more letters.

Proper nouns are capitalized in APA style, things related to specific names. So we have some examples here of phrasing and words where we do capitalize them and then not. Queen Elizabeth refers to a specific queen, so queen is capitalized and "the queen" is not because it's generally the queen.

The same with Department of Psychology and psychology course. A specific department is capitalized, but a course in general, we're not naming the specific title of the course, we keep the words lowercase. The same with chapter, if naming a specific chapter, like Chapter 2 we capitalize, but general references to chapters stay lowercase.

So you can see how proper nouns are really nouns that are made specific because they're referring to specific things in those cases.

The other common thing we'll see for students as a question is what we capitalize in models and theories. While, of course, models and theories in our social science writing are really important, they aren't considered proper nouns by APA style, so we keep those lowercase. We capitalize Maslow, because that's a person's name, but hierarchy of needs is kept lowercase. Same with Einstein's theory of relativity. That's something to kind of get used to. It feels like the models and theories often should be capitalized because they feel really important, but they should stay lowercase. A note there weren't changes between 6 and 7, no major changes between the two editions for capitalization. These are rules if you learned in APA 6, they apply in APA 7, which is also great to see.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Abbreviations

  • Introduce once within parentheses
    • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    • English language learners (ELLs)
  • Combine abbreviations and a citation
    • The Department of Education (DOE, 2012) reported…
    • (Department of Education [DOE], 2012)
    • (DOE, 2012)

Audio: [Beth] Abbreviations are another particular way of referring to organizations or companies in shortening those names, if we would like to. Or you could use abbreviations for phrases too. And it helps keep your writing concise. It's important in APA style to introduce abbreviations appropriately so your reader knows what you're referring to. We can't assume a reader would know what an abbreviation stands for. In APA style we make sure to introduce an abbreviation once within parentheses. And you can see here that we have a couple of examples. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and then we have in parentheses CDC, and the phrase English language learners, in parentheses ELLs. Once we use it once we can use it without introducing again. It's important using abbreviations we use them consistently. If we're introducing ELL as the abbreviation in our first paragraph, we want to make sure to use it throughout the rest of our paragraph. Often with abbreviations what I tell students is that I recommend including abbreviations or kind of adding them in after you have a first draft of your paper and as you are kind of finalizing and polishing up your paper. That way you know the places you use that phrase, you introduce the first time and replace it throughout the rest of the paper and you have stayed on top of that.

You can use abbreviations to shorten citations. So that would be titles or ‑‑ not titles, but organization names and abbreviations. You can see here we have a couple examples. In this case, the source's author is the Department of Education and we abbreviate it as DOE and how we introduce depends on how we cite the source the first time.

Let me grab my handy green arrow here. The first bullet point we have included a narrative citation where we say the Department of Education and it's part of the sentence, so we might say... "The Department of Education reported that..." In this case we have DOE, introducing the abbreviation, and then comma and the year.

In the second bullet point, this is parenthetical. We include the Department of Education and we have in brackets, DOE, and then the publication year.

So it looks a little different depending on how we first introduce that author, whether it's a narrative or parenthetical citation, but thereafter we use the abbreviation DOE in all the different cases.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Abbreviations

(1) The ELLs (English language learners) in my class give a different perspective.

(2) Often ELL students have different experiences they can expose other students to.

(3) English language learners are thus a valuable addition to classes.

Audio: [Beth] I thought we would take a look at some examples of these sentences in and common errors we see with abbreviations. On the left we have some common errors with abbreviations that we're going to go through and revise. So first you can see in the first example here, it says the ELLs and then in parentheses, English language learners in my class give a different perspective. In this case the abbreviation and explanation are switched. If this is the first sentence we introduce this abbreviation, we want to spell out the abbreviation first and introduce the abbreviation in parentheses.

In the second example, we have a repetition of a word here. So this says often ELL students have different experiences that can expose other students too. ELL stands for English language learners, so we're saying often English language learners students have different experiences, which doesn't need that repetition of learners and students, right? So we can just remove that repetition.

And the third example we have English language learners are thus a valuable addition to classes and no reason to spell out the abbreviation because we introduced it earlier in our writing. So we want to use that abbreviation consistently once we introduced it once.

I have a couple of examples of how to revise those we revised for these common errors. You can see the first example we switched and have the English language learners in the sentence and ELL is an abbreviation. The second one we removed the repetition of the word students. And the third one we spelled out the English language learners with the abbreviation.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Abbreviations

[Chat box question] Choose one of these sentences and write it to include the abbreviation DOJ for Department of Justice appropriately, assuming in both that this is the FIRST time DOJ is being used:

The Department of Justice responds to press inquiries within 2 weeks.

Incarceration rates have increased 10% in the last 5 years (Department of Justice, 2016).

Audio: [Beth] So those are some common errors in abbreviations. We are going to go ahead and practice with abbreviations.

So choose one of these sentences, just one. And if you do one and have time, you can do the second, feel free. And go ahead and write it to include the abbreviation DOJ. Assume that in both cases this is the first time it's being used, so you're introducing that abbreviation. So both cases, assume the sentence you're writing is the first time you're writing that abbreviation. I'll give you a few minutes here and we'll come back together.

[Pause in audio]

I'm seeing a lot of the first sentence, but some of you, if you can do the second sentence, we can take a look at that one too.

[Pause in audio]

All right, I'm going to go ahead and copy and paste the answer here so you all can see it. Just one second.

Let me see if I can get it. Sorry, y'all.

All right, let me make sure we've got it right here. Goodness, apologies. My typing is not great when I'm doing it in front of everyone.

All right, and I'll make it big so we can see. Feel free to keep entering your responses if you haven't finished that yet, but on the left here, we have our responses, and I'm going to make it a little smaller.

So the first one I saw a wonderfully ‑‑ lots of great responses to this one, and that's great to see in this case because we have the Department of Justice, we introduced the Department of Justice DOJ abbreviation within the parentheses there. And that's a pretty kind of straightforward use of abbreviation, so that's great to see.

The second sentence, this is a little trickier because we need to introduce the abbreviation within parentheses already. So in this case we still list out Department of Justice because this is the first time we are including that one. Remember, if it was the second time you can include the abbreviation, but this is the first time we're introducing the abbreviation. So we say Department of Justice and have DOJ in the brackets with that publication year. So just remember, if we're incorporating that abbreviation or that full phrase the first time in parentheses, then we introduce the abbreviation in brackets just like we have here. The second time, you're totally right, we say DOJ 2016.

All right, I hope that is helpful, everyone. Thinking through this, I encourage you to keep asking questions about abbreviations or any of these in the Q&A box. But for the sake of time we're going to go ahead and keep moving on here.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Latin Abbreviations

  • Only use these abbreviations in parentheses
  • Be sure to use the appropriate abbreviation

[Chart showing Latin abbreviations with their meanings]

Audio: [Beth] We have for the fourth rule Latin abbreviations. This one is just a note to keep in mind that is a little different in APA styles than others. In APA style we only use Latin abbreviations in parentheses, so you wouldn't include these abbreviations in the text of your sentence. If you're including them in the text of your sentence, the main narrative part of your sentence you write out what they mean instead. We recommend that you be sure you're using the appropriate abbreviation. Sometimes abbreviations can be used in common usage and we're not always exactly sure about the specific meaning. So if you're a little unfamiliar with the exact meaning of the abbreviations, it's not a bad idea to kind of write them down or save the chart and refer to it if you're used to using Latin abbreviations.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Lists

In a Paragraph:

A survey should include (a) clear wording, (b) convenient access, and (c) concise directions.

Numbers: Particular order.

When collecting data, I will

1. develop the survey questions,

2. send out the survey link to the participants, and

3. gather the data after 1 month.

Bullets: No particular order.

A survey should include

  • clear wording to avoid confusion,
  • convenient access so participants can easily respond, and
  • concise directions that do not overwhelm participants.

Audio: [Beth] All right. And next we have what regards lists. Lists can be a helpful way of incorporating information in your writing that can be complex but can be more approachable and clear and concise for the reader. Lists can be helpful, but we want to be careful which kind of lists we use in which situations. APA asks a couple of things for writers. First, if you're including a list in a paragraph, so within your sentence itself, you can certainly do so, but you always do so with lowercase letters that are within parentheses as you see here. This is a simple list. You can use a more complex list but will always use lowercase letters.

If you would like to include a list that has a particular order, you then can include that with numbers, but you want to do so in a vertical list. We never use numbers within the sentence itself. So those numbered lists should always appear sort of separated from the paragraph just like I have in the second example here.

If you also want to separate your list from the body of your paragraph, you can do so with bullet points, and those bullet points would indicate that the list has no particular order. Generally I would say that you will use bullets if you have a list that is fairly complex and separating it out like this makes it easier for the reader to comprehend. If it's a pretty simple list like we have in the first example where we just say clear wording, convenient access and concise directions, that works pretty well with those lowercase letters in parentheses.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Serial Commas.

  • Comma after each item in a series:
    • She found, read, and annotated the article.
    • I chose between a qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods design.
    • The Writing Center offers short answers via email, paper reviews by appointment, and webinars throughout the month.

Audio: [Beth] Last rule here before I stop for some quick questions. APA style uses serial commas, also known as the Oxford comma. We add a comma before a conjunction in a list. Often that is the word "and." I included a couple examples here. In the first example I have "She found, read, and annotated the article." And you can see before "and" we have a comma. That's the serial comma. We have in the second example, I chose between a qualitative, quantitative, and mixed‑methods design. We have a comma before the "and."

And the last one we have the Writing Center offers short answers via email, paper reviews by appointment, and webinars throughout the month. Again, we have the serial comma before the "and." Serial commas are straightforward, they just take practice and little bit of creating a habit to include them, but my recommendation with serial commas is start using them in all writing you do, include them in your emails, at work, text messages, and very soon they will become second nature to you. I know they have for me.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions?

Audio: [Beth] All right. We have just a couple minutes here for questions. Any questions, Sarah, that would be useful for me to address before we move on to verb tense and pronouns?

[Sarah] Yeah, thanks, Jes ‑‑ thanks, Beth. All in the chat box, I want you to know if Jes and I haven't gotten to your questions, we are working our way through those. Please be patient with us.

A couple questions, Beth, for you, specifically with capitalization, if we're talking about course subjects, in particular psychology, sociology, things like that, would you capitalize those or lowercase?

[Beth] Apology if I'm not hearing what you're saying, but it depends on the specific phrasing you're talking about. Psychology courses refers to multiple different courses, so keep it lowercase. If you're talking about a specific course like introduction to psychology, then it would be capitalized. Does that help?

[Sarah] Yep, that is exactly the answer I was looking for. Sorry I wasn't clear. Yes, general courses, talking about the subject, it’s in sentence case. A specific course would be capitalized.

Another student had a question about abbreviations in the dissertation, for instance. So at the beginning of each new chapter, would you suggest kind of starting over with the abbreviations rules or would you say once in Chapter 1 and then continue to use ‑‑ write the full term once in Chapter 1 and continue to use it?

[Beth] My understanding abbreviations apply across the chapters. Is that your understanding? I want to make sure I'm not leading anyone astray.

[Sarah] I would check with your chair. There's no hard and fast rule. I typically suggest to students that they start over each chapter because we don't always read dissertations from start to finish. For sure I think that's something you might check with your chair with.

[Beth] I think checking with your chair makes sense. And you'd always be welcome ‑‑ not you, Sarah, but attendees - send an email to and they can walk you through the decision as well.

[Sarah] The last is about abbreviations, too, Beth. Can you use abbreviations in your reference list?

[Beth] Oh, yeah. So I know I showed you some abbreviations where we were abbreviating the author of a source. In your reference list you will not include that there. In your reference list, you'll list out the author's full name and don't include the abbreviation at all. You just list it all out. Yeah. Great questions, everyone. I'm really glad ‑‑ Sarah, sorry, I saw you unmuted. Anything else before I move on?

[Sarah] No, I was saying thanks. That's really helpful.

[Beth] Awesome, thanks Sarah, and thanks, Sarah and Jes for answering the questions in the Q&A box. I see it's quite busy, and as it should be, I hope you all are asking the questions that you came to the session with and are coming up as we go through here.

Keep asking those questions. And know that Sarah and Jes are getting to those as soon as they can. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Verb Tense

Use past tense to discuss what an author said or did

  • Brown (2020) distributed the surveys by e-mail.
  • The CDC (2020) reported that 25% of Americans do not have access to health care.

Audio: [Beth] We're going to go over the last two sentence level rules here as well. These I'm going to go through ‑‑ I don't know, not fairly quickly, but I also want to make sure we have lots of time for the paper level rules as well.

So, in terms of verb tense, APA does have some specific rules that we kind of group under verb tense. And one of those is that we use past tense to discuss what an author said or did. So in these cases we have Brown distributed the surveys by email. And the CDC reported that 25% of Americans do not have access to healthcare. So any time you're talking about an author did something, you use past tense as shown here. So when you have a citations, like this, with the author and then the year, know that that verb that is following is going to be in past tense.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Verb Tense

Passive voice

  • The surveys were distributed by email.
  • The surveys were distributed by Brown (2020) by email.

Active voice

  • Brown (2020) distributed the surveys by email.

Audio: [Beth] APA also prefers the active voice instead of the passive voice whenever possible. And I want to emphasize here that this is a preference. So that doesn't mean that you can't ever use passive voice. Passive voice can be a useful construction in some cases and can help us avoid repetition in our writing as well. But active voice is really the preference because it's often clearer and more direct. So passive voice is when the doer of the sentence isn't always clear. So the surveys were distributed by email or the surveys were distributed by Brown. Both is passive because the doer isn't included before ‑‑ I'm sorry, at the start of the sentence before the verb.

In active voice, a revision would be simply Brown distributed the surveys by email. You see it's more direct and active and concise and depending on the context could be clearer as well. So that's another thing to keep in mind and to be watching for.

So as much as possible try to do active voice. Of course, sometimes there might be a case where passive voice helps us avoid repetition or can be helpful, but prefer the active voice when possible.

My recommendation for active and passive voice when working on that and incorporating active voice is really just write your paper as you normally would and build it into your revision and proofing process to go back and look for the active and passive voice and make revisions like that. That's the best way I found for myself and training myself to use active voice and use it as much as possible.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Verb Tense

[Chat Box Question]

Choose one of these sentences and revise it to eliminate the passive voice:

The community program was evaluated and revised.

The falls were recorded and reported to the hospital’s administrators.

Use your imagination!

Audio: [Beth] We are going to ‑‑ let's do a quick chat activity. We're just going to be able to spend a few minutes here, but I still think this would be really helpful because know active and passive voice is something we're all working on. Take a look at the two sentences and go ahead and choose one and revise it to eliminate the passive voice. I really am going to give us a minute or two here. Feel free to watch if you would rather not participate, too, and we can talk through this. I'll come back in just a minute and we'll talk through some answers.

[Pause in audio]

All right, wonderful job, everyone. I appreciate everyone using their imagination as they made revisions here. You can see I have a couple revisions in the note pad and all of them take the doer of the sentence and put it before the verb. So the program committee evaluated and revised the community program.

The community leaders evaluated and revised.

Or even Brown evaluated and revised.

And the last one, we have the hospital administrators received reports and records of the falls.

In these cases, the doer of the sentence is moved to the front place. That's important for clarity because it establishes exactly who did the actions, which is really important in APA style and in our academic writing.

I hope this gives you a taste of how to revise for active and passive voice. And feel free if you would like to keep practicing with these two, you can download the slides and practice after the webinar, too.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Pronouns

Avoid referring to yourself in the third person

The researcher will analyze the lesson plan. à I will analyze the lesson plan.

The author reviewed the case study. à I reviewed the case study.

Avoid “I think” or “I believe” statements

I think that education is a right everyone should have. à Education is a right everyone should have.

I believe that businesses that treat employees fairly will succeed. à Businesses that treat employees fairly will succeed.

Audio: [Beth] All right. We're going to move to the last sentence level area for APA style, and that's pronouns. In APA style we want to avoid referring to yourself in the third person. That means using phrases like the researcher or the author, doing so is more formal than needed in APA style and can be unclear. You can use "I" in those cases. If you're talking about specific actions you will take, you go ahead and use "I" and say things like "I will analyze" And "I reviewed "." That's preferred over researcher or author. We want to use “I” appropriately. 

We want to avoid “I think” or “I believe” statements which focus on our opinions. These statements are unnecessary because statements we make in our academic writing are known to be from ourselves, and so I think or I believe imply these are opinions, not evidence‑based ideas. In these cases "I" isn't appropriate. It's about using first person or I appropriately. In these cases I think education is a right everyone should have or I believe that businesses that treat employees fairly will succeed. We can simply delete these phrases and have the phrases or statements just themselves.

If you tend to include I think or I believe, I think it often becomes a habit in our writing. What I recommend is just like with passive voice go ahead and write your draft the first time and include it if that's a habit you have, but make it a practice to go back through your writing and revise and delete those statements and then you have clear declarative statements like we have here.



Visual: Slide changes to the following: Pronouns

Avoid referring to the reader with “we” or “you”

We need to ensure students have strong reading skills. à
Parents need to ensure students have strong reading skills.
Teachers need to ensure students have strong reading skills.

Audio: [Beth] We also in APA want to avoid referring to the reader with we or you. Doing so often infers things about the reader that they are part of a certain group or might think certain things, like in this case we need to ensure students have strong reading skills. In this case use of "we" is unclear. Who do we mean? What group is that referring to. When you use we or you in your writing instead think about the group or the specific stakeholders you're imagining that "we" or "you" includes and replace it instead. That might be parents or teachers in this case depending on the author's meaning.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Pronouns

Use “they” as a singular pronoun when:

  • The person you are referring to uses “they” as their pronoun
  • You are unsure the gender or pronoun usage of the person you are referring to
  • While Robert filled out the survey, they did so incompletely.

Audio: [Beth] Finally, this is one of the big changes in APA 7. APA has adopted and encourages the use of "they" as a singular pronoun. When the person you're referring to uses they as their pronoun or you're unsure the gender or pronoun usage of the person you're referring to. Go ahead and use “they” as a pronoun instead of he or she, and use it also, of course, if that is the pronoun that the people you're talking about or the person you're talking about uses. While Robert filled out the survey, they did so incompletely. In this case, Robert, as this person, uses "they" as their pronoun, so I they use they as that individual ‑‑ not individual ‑‑ as the singular pronoun is what I mean.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Pronouns

[Chat box activity]

Revise these sentences to use the appropriate pronouns, using your imagination as needed:

The researcher sent revisions to his/her survey to his/her collaborators.

I think we need to be more aware of the way social media is influencing our lives.

Audio: [Beth] We're going to do the last chat for the night on this one before we move on to paper-level formatting. I'm going to give you a chance to revise the two sentences. I would love if some took the first one and some take the second one. And in a few minutes we're going to come back together to talk through these.

[Pause in audio]

All right, once again you are impressing me with revisions to the sentences, which is really great to see. There are many ways we can revise these sentences, and I pulled just a few here in the chat box. I'm sorry, in the note pad. I'm going to make them a little bigger. With the first one, there's a couple different ways you could revise this. The first is to revise his/her to use the singular they since we're not sure that the gender identification of the researcher, what pronouns the researcher uses, you can use they in that singular way. I saw someone say, I sent the surveys to my collaborators and using the first person, which would be appropriate if that was actions you were taking.

In the second sentence, a lot of revisions were about replacing who needs to be more aware and removing the "I think" language, which also were two great revisions we saw, things like society needs to be more aware of the way, and students need to be more aware of the way, making more specific what specific stakeholders we're referring to in those cases. Again, fantastic job. These are just some of the ways we could revise these sentences. I hope it's helpful to see how the habits we have as writers are just fine to include in the first draft and all about going back and revising and editing to clarify the wording and habits and that's a great way to make those revisions and feel like you don't have to get stuck as you're writing your first draft but can make revisions in the second and beyond draft beyond that too.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Part 2: Paper-Level Style

[Image of a title page of a student paper]

Audio: [Beth] All right, we're going to go back to the presentation because we still have some more to talk about today.

All right, in the last ten minutes here I'm going to go over our paper level style in APA 7. I say APA 7 because this is one of the areas where there were some more changes in APA style, although I want to note most of the changes are pretty straightforward and I think will be easily adaptable when you use our tools and resources.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA’s Paper Formatting

  • Templates

Title page

No running head

Page numbers


Double spacing

Font style and size

Audio: [Beth] So in APA style, APA asks for a title page at the start of the paper separate from the body of your paper. We, in student writing, don't use a running head. This is something Walden had dropped a couple of years ago, but APA 7 also now has adopted this rule that students do not need to include a running head in their academic writing for APA style. That's great to hear. That's tricky to include in Microsoft Word. No need to include a running head. You do include a page number at the top right‑hand corner. Double space the entire paper and use sort of a consistent font style and size. Now, APA 7 has sort of opened up what font styles and size you can use, so there are multiple options in APA 7, but we have defaulted to using Times New Roman Size 12 in course paper templates. If you're not sure what kind of font or size to use, Times New Roman size 12 is a great choice. Like I said, double space throughout. And we also on that title page include the title of your paper in bold. You include your name, as well as your program and university. And then the course name you're writing for and the due date.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA Paper Formatting Exceptions

  • Walden Course Paper Expectations
    • Deviates slightly from APA
    • NO running head required
  • Doctoral Capstone Study Expectations
    • Follows ProQuest publisher guidelines
    • NO running head
    • Multiple title pages, etc.
    • A few institutional variances for APA 7

Audio: [Beth] We have a couple notes here. First is the Walden course paper, that would be any of the writing you're doing for your courses up until if you're a capstone opportunity, doctoral capstone or a master's student, you might have a particular template for your thesis.

Our paper template does deviate just slightly from APA in that we have the Times New Roman Size 12. We also have options with abstracts or without abstracts. It's really up to you to determine if the abstract is necessary or not. And a reminder that the running head isn't required since this is a student paper and that's a rule that APA 7 has adopted as well. If all this sounds really kind of vague and abstract to you, know that the general templates that we have have all of this formatting set up for you. So my recommendation for paper formatting, to ensure you're following APA 7 and all the APA rules for formatting is download the templates on our website. If you haven't done so recently, be sure to visit the link here on our website because we have both the APA 6 and APA 7 example templates. So you want to update your template when you use APA 7 to have the general template in the APA 7 format or in that version. So be sure to visit that.

If you're a capstone student or getting ready to write your doctoral capstone, your final study there, note that the doctoral capstones are a little different because they have to follow Proquest publisher guidelines. They also don't have a running head and there are multiple title pages and a few institutional variances for APA 7. Doctoral programs, those templates will be updated and available on June 1st. If you're thinking you're in this group here, know that you want to come back to our website on June 1st so you can see the APA 7 templates for the doctoral capstone. And those will reflect all the changes here too and help you walk you through the changes for the capstone.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA Headings

Scaffolding Writing Instruction at an Online University

Background and Definition of Scaffolding [level 1]

       The term scaffolding has only recently come into use...

Scaffolding in Higher Education [level 2]

       Teachers in higher education began focusing on scaffolding…

Scaffolding Strategies [level 1]

      There are many ways educators can scaffold instruction…

Scaffolding Assignments [level 2]

       Educators can scaffold assignments by…

Audio: [Beth] APA also of course has heading levels that they specify. APA 6 and 7 have the same formatting for level one and level two headings. Note that titles are bolded in APA 7. So here we have a title which uses title case. It should be centered and bolded here. Level one headings are similar. They should also be centered and bolded in title case. After level one headings we have level two headings, which are left aligned, although also bolded and use title case.

These are heading levels we see for most Walden students. This is what we provided here in the session, but just know the templates provide examples for level three, four and five headings as well, which I think are really helpful. And if you go to the link I have on the slide, we also have examples on the website and I always like to note that the new APA 7 manual has a really handy chart for APA headings on the cover page too which I find really helpful. So that's something to note as well.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA Headings Tips

  • Heading levels help communicate the organization of your sections
  • Same heading level = same level of importance
  • Only use level 2 headings after a level 1 heading, etc.
  • Probably will not need more than level 2 in most course papers
  • Level 3 , 4, and 5 headings were updated in APA 7

Audio: [Beth] I wanted to provide tips on using APA headings as well. Generally, it's important to keep in mind that heading levels are a way for you to communicate the organization in your writing. So that means you want to make sure you use headings to indicate big sections within your writing and subsections. The same level of heading should also mean the same level of importance if your writing. So if you have a level one heading for main topic, your next main topic should also have a level one heading. So you want to kind of mirror that.

You also only use level two headings after level one. So they go in order. Use level one and then level two. Then if you have a new section, a new main section you go back to level one. It kind of works like that. Most course papers, you probably don't need more than level two headings, but it's possible you might need more. And our web page has great examples for you. Level three, four and five headings were slightly updated in APA 7, although it's a minor change in terms of capitalization and using italics, but, again, I would refer you to the cover of your APA 7 manual or take a look at the website. Those are great places to bookmark and keep handy once you start using those more detailed levels of headings.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Additional Resources by Degree

Audio: [Beth] I'm rounding into the end of our session here, so that we can end the last couple minutes with questions. And I'll just note that in our slide, of course, we have links to further information and further resources depending on which group you are in undergraduate or master's or doctoral students, all the links are there for you. 


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions: Ask Now or Later

Links to writingsupport@mail.waldenu.eduLive Chat Hours

Audio: [Beth] And we also want to encourage you to visit our other webinars, like I mentioned, and ask questions after the session. We would be happy to hear from you. Sarah, before I kind of have my last thoughts for the session and wrap us up, any questions you would like me to address aloud or anything to go over?

[Sarah] A lot of folks are asking about templates, in particular, and Jes and I are happy to provide direct links but remember that Beth provided those links in the webinar. Beth, would you mind sort of going over the two dates for template revisions on our website? I think folks are a little nervous about that, to round us out.

[Beth] Yeah, for sure, no problem at all. Like Sarah said, the links to those are all in my slides, which are in the files pod at the bottom right‑hand corner. The file is listed as "slides." Click on that and you can download and save to your computer. It's a great way to see all of the further information and examples I referred to throughout the session. We covered a lot tonight (chuckling)... and that further information can be really helpful.

So in terms of templates there's two kinds of templates we have in the Writing Center. One is general or course paper templates and those are for everyone, undergraduate and master's students, as well as all doctoral students as they come up to their final capstone study. Those are for all of your weekly assignment that is you do if your courses and they reflect APA 7 on our website right now. If you go to the templates, the section on our website, main website, and the one linked in the slides, you'll see the APA 7 course paper templates are available right now and you can download and start using them as soon as you start using APA 7.

For any doctoral students who are working on your final study, that's a dissertation or project study. What we generally refer to as a capstone. Those templates will be available on the form and style website on June 1st. So you want to come back to the form and style website and take a look at those templates on June 1st. And that's for the capstone studies.

Note that the form style editors do have tips on taking anything you have written in an APA 6 template for capstone studies and translating it to APA 7 on their website now. If you would like goat a head start, they do have tips there and that's a great place to go too.

But, yeah, that's the two dates. So course paper templates are available and up and ready now. You can use them as soon as you're ready. And the dissertation or capstone templates will be available June 1st. I hope that helps, Sarah. Anything to add there based on the questions you're seeing?

[Sarah] No, that's perfect. I think people are just wanting to get started. So that's really useful information.

[Beth] Yeah, I entirely understand.

All right, I'm going to go ahead and wrap us up for the evening by first saying thank you, everyone, for taking the time. I know especially in the world we're in right now, we're all really busy and have a lot going on and we appreciate the time you're taking to engage with us and learning about APA and APA 7. A reminder to ask questions if you have them. To download the slides; they're in the files pod to save those links. As well as look at our previous recordings. I want to encourage any of you who are undergraduate or master's students or doctoral students who haven't started your proposal, your capstone study yet, you're more than welcome to make a paper review appointment with our instructors as well. We have a fantastic team of professional writing instructors who can give you feedback on all areas of your writing, including APA. You can make an appointment to get feedback on your writing, currently are writing or writing in the past, and we have more information on the slide via the link we have here too.

I really appreciated everyone. I'm going to close us out for the evening because I know we're at the top of the hour and we hope to hear from you again with any questions you have, so that we can help you with APA style and APA 7 and, yeah, with that I will go ahead and close us out.

Thanks, everyone! Happy writing!