What is APA Style?

The American Psychological Association, or APA style is most frequently used for works written in the social and behavioral sciences. APA style was first put forth in 1929 as a set of guidelines to create consistency across the presentation of scientific writings.

Originally formed by the combined efforts of anthropologists, psychologists and publishing professionals, APA style format provides structure under which research is written to minimize distraction and maximize precision. Today, this style is used throughout the world by professionals and students writing within the scientific fields.

The necessity of APA style

APA style creates a consistent, uniform format across all pieces of written work under its guidelines. These guidelines make it easy to scan articles quickly to find the key points and important research findings. In addition, the minimal distraction of non-pertinent information while focusing on the full disclosure of relevant information facilitates a faster dissemination of information. The following are benefits made possible through APA style:

  • Presents the important essentials of quantitative information
  • Highlights the ideas presented instead of the manner in which they are presented
  • Reports crucial details of research findings clearly and in a recognizable format
  • Follows a structured manuscript to allow for quick location of information

The focus of APA style

The basic focus of APA style is uniformity. From the title page down to the headings throughout a written piece, this format dictates how information is presented in both format and style. The guidelines of APA format govern written material to provide a clear and consistent presentation of information, including the following areas where rules dictate the structure:

  • Headings and manuscript formatting
  • Tone and style
  • Rules to eliminate gender bias
  • Abbreviations and some punctuation
  • Numbers and statistics, including how they are presented
  • Tables and figures, including how they are constructed
  • Citations for referencing resources
  • Reference list for sources consulted

Through these rules and guidelines, APA style lays out the entire format of a paper or manuscript written in this format.