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OASIS Writing Skills

APA Style:
APA Basics Checklist

This guide includes links to the Writing Center's pages on APA style.

APA Basics Checklist

Writing Center staff created this APA checklist to help students remember the basics of APA citations, reference lists, and style. It is not meant to be comprehensive, but students should use it as a reminder of the various APA rules that academic papers follow. If students are not sure what a particular item in the checklist refers to or entails, they should follow the link for more information. Have a question about APA? Ask OASIS.


  • Citations follow APA guidelines as articulated in section 8.1 of the APA manual (7th edition).
  • Sources used and cited in the paper are included in the reference list.
  • The abbreviation “et al.” is punctuated appropriately.
  • Parenthetical citations
    • Author(s) and publication year are always included.
    • A page or paragraph number is included for all quoted material, using the appropriate abbreviation: (p. xx) or (para. xx).
    • The citation is included within the ending punctuation for the sentence.
  • Narrative citations
    • Authors of cited studies are included within the sentence.
    • The publication year is included in parentheses immediately after the authors’ names.
    • Publication years are included the first time a source is used in a paragraph; all subsequent uses of that same source do not include the publication year. Note: Rule starts over with a new paragraph.

Reference List

  • The title of the list is centered and bolded.
  • Sources listed in the reference list are cited at least once in the paper.
    • Reference entries.
      • Each entry has an automatically formatted hanging indent.
      • Each entry has the basic information (as available): author(s), publication year, title, and retrieval information.
      • Each entry has been compared against the common reference entries and reference list basics on the Writing Center website, checking for:
        • Punctuation: periods and commas
        • Formatting: italics is used only when needed
        • Parentheses and brackets: used only when needed
        • Appropriate electronic information is included

APA Style

  • Past tense is used whenever literature or sources are talked about (i.e., Smith discussed).
  • Serial commas are used for all lists of three or more items (i.e., lions, tigers, and bears).
  • Hyphens are
    • used to join words that work together to modify another word (i.e., evidenced-based practice);
    • used to join “self” compounds (i.e., self-esteem); and
    • not used with prefixes such as "non," "semi," "pre," "post", "anti," "multi," and "inter."
  • Block quotations (of 40 or more words) are formatted as such.
  • Headings follow proper APA style (i.e., Level 1 headings are centered and bolded).
  • Numbers
    • 10 and above are expressed using numerals,
    • nine and below are expressed using words.
    • expressing specific numbers and time use numerals, and
    • expressing approximate time use words.
  • Complex lists of items within a sentence or paragraph can use letters to separate the items.
  • Bulleted and numbered lists are used for specific reasons.
  • The third person editorial "we" is avoided (including "us," "our," and "you").
  • Capitalization rules are followed (i.e., names of models and theories are not capitalized).
  • Formatting
    • Course paper template is used.
    • Title page follows the template guidelines.
    • Double spacing is used throughout the paper (including the reference list).
    • Use one space after periods or other punctuation marks that end a sentence.

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