APA Format Quick Guide
Note to students using Grammarly: See this resource on Grammarly's Place in the Writing Process
APA-7 delineates two versions: the student version and the professional version. Formatting elements except the title page, running head, and abstract are the same across both versions. All undergraduate students at Liberty University must use the student version and all graduate and doctoral students must use the professional version.
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- Will follow APA-7’s “Student Version”
- Simplified title page
- No running head
- No abstract
Graduate & Doctoral Students
- Will follow APA-7’s “Professional Version”
- Expanded title page
- Running head required (same on all pages)
- Abstract required (unless otherwise specified in instructions)
Video Tutorial links
- Plagiarism series – Video #1 of 4: Introduction: How often can students quote other sources? – Liberty University
- Plagiarism series – Video #2 of 4: How and when to cite your sources. – Liberty University
- Plagiarism series – Video #3 of 4: The three kinds of plagiarism. – Liberty University
- Plagiarism series – Video #4 of 4: Proactive and foolproof steps to avoid plagiarism. – Liberty University
- Use active voice, rather than passive voice.
- Be specific and concise.
- Avoid poetic or figurative language; scientific writing is the most appropriate for APA.
- Use past or present perfect tense (e.g., researchers have shown) for a literature review and description, and past tense when referring to results and experiments previously conducted.
- Title case = all significant words, usually those with 4+ letters, must be capitalized. Title case is used for titles of works mentioned in the body of your paper, and for the names of journals in your reference list. All five heading levels also use title case.
- Sentence case = only the first letter of the first word, proper nouns, and the word following a colon, if any, should begin with capital letters. Sentence case is used for all resource titles in the reference list (i.e., book or article titles, webpages, etc.).
- Use quotation marks around the titles of shorter works (i.e., articles or poems) and italics for the names of larger words (i.e., books or plays) mentioned in the body of your paper.
- APA-7 allows a wide array of fonts and sizes but Liberty University prefers all course assignments to be completed in 12-point Times New Romans or 11-point Calibri font.
See the respective sample paper and template for your level of study (i.e., undergraduate or graduate/professional).
See the respective sample paper and template for your level of study (i.e., undergraduate or graduate/professional).
- Before beginning to write the body of your paper, center the paper’s title on the first line in title case in bold font, exactly as it appears on the title page. The title is now considered a Level 1 heading.
- Your introductory paragraph/section, if you have one, will begin on the next line. Note that APA-7 expressly forbids using the term introduction as a heading; just type that paragraph under the paper’s title without any heading. Professors always trump APA, so if your professor requires a heading labeled Introduction, then include it. If your introduction section includes subheadings, those would be formatted as Level 2 headings.
- APA-7 recommends only one space after closing punctuation in the body of the paper (whereas APA-6 recommended two).
- APA papers use headings to separate paper sections and establish a hierarchy of information. Short papers (usually five pages or less in the body of the paper) may not have any headings unless required, but longer papers benefit from the organizational aspects of headings.
- Always begin with Level 1 headings and apply the appropriate heading and subheading levels from there. Do not simply progress from Level 1 to Level 2 to Level 3.
- For each heading, include at least two subsection headings or none at all. This follows the same principle as an outline: Section one would be divided into sections A and B or more; A cannot stand alone.
- As such, heading levels align with outline levels: Capital Roman letters in an outline become Level 1 headings, Capital Arabic letters become Level 2 headings, etc.
- Please note that some of the sample papers published by APA to demonstrate proper APA-7 format (including the “professional” version on pp. 50-60 of the APA-7 manual) depict the “Conclusion” section with a Level-2 heading. This is limited to empirical papers that are being submitted for publication in scholarly journals, as those conclusions pertain to the “Discussion” sections in such papers and are not conclusions of the overall papers themselves. Conclusions in academic papers at Liberty University will be Level 1 headings (including dissertations and theses, which are divided by chapters, unlike journal article manuscripts).
- A paper may only have Level 1 headings if it is not divided into smaller subsections — or the content under some Level 1 headings may include two or more Level 2 headings (and some content under Level 2 headings may include two or more Level 3 headings).
- See the sample APA papers for visuals of these heading levels:
- Level 1: centered, boldface, in title case, with the content beginning on the line below
- Level 2: left-aligned, boldface, in title case, with the content beginning on the line below
- Level 3: left-aligned, boldface, italicized, in title case, with the content beginning on the line below
- Level 4: indented, boldface, in title case with a period, then one space, and begin your content on the same line
- Level 5: indented, boldface, italicized, in title case with a period, then one space, and begin your content on the same line
- An in-text citation is used whenever another author’s work is directly quoted or paraphrased.
- Citations for paraphrases use an author/date format: (Author, Publication Year), e.g. (Smith, 2007).
- The citation for a direct quote should also include the page number: (Author, Year, p. #). If no page number is available (as in the case of an online webpage), list the paragraph: (Author, Year, para. 11). APA-7 expands this to including descriptive location details to get your reader to that content in longer non-paginated electronic resources such as e-books. In such cases, provide a heading or section name. If the heading or section name is brief (generally four words or less) include the full name, without quotation marks (i.e., Owen, 2020, Attachment Disorders section, para. 8). If the heading or section name is too long (generally, more than four words), use an abbreviation of the heading or section, encapsulated in quotation marks. For example, for a section named “Peace and Power in Modern Day Relationships,” the citation would be (Owen, 2020, “Peace and Power” section, para. 3).
- You can move information from the in-text citations to other parts of the sentence that the quote is part of as long as all required elements are present: e.g. Smith (2007) says, “arrows are sharp” (p. 8). However, the date follows the author’s/authors’ name(s), unless APA’s exception applies for subsequent citations of the same resource in a paragraph in which the first such citation was narrative in-text (not parenthetical; discussed further in Liberty University OWC’s sample APA papers).
- The page number follows a direct quote, even if these elements are split within your sentence. For example, Smith and Harlow (2011) elaborated on this by suggesting that “paper planes can float” (p. 8). Owen (2017) posited that “foxes can fly” (p. 17) in her dream analysis.
- Any quotation longer than 39 words should be made into a freestanding “block” of text, with no quotation marks (see Liberty University OWC’s sample APA papers due to formatting limitations of this webpage).
- The entire left margin of block quotes should be indented one-half inch as a whole “block” (with no extra indent on the first line).
- The parenthetical citation with the page number on block quotes follows the quote and period, with no additional punctuation after it (unlike shorter quotes, where the parenthetical citation falls within the sentence itself with the period following it).
- If no author is given, use a shortened version of the title in the citation rather than an author’s name. Note that this is very uncommon; you may need to sleuth around a bit to discern the author(s) of a resource, but the Internet makes this relatively easy.
- If the publication date is unknown, use “n.d.” in its place (include the periods, but not the quotation marks).
- For works with three or more authors, list only the first author’s last name (surname) in all citations followed by “et al.” (e.g. Smith et al., 2010). Note that al. is an abbreviation for alli, which is why it has a period and et does not. To confirm and clarify, you would no longer name up to five authors the first time you cite their source, as was required by APA-6.
Discussion Board Posts
Discussion board posts at Liberty University are designed to mimic active classroom discussion among students (and sometimes the professor). As such, though the content within them should be semi-formal and provide credit to sources, when a student refers to content from another student’s discussion board comments, only a mild referral to the other student’s name and which post that content originated from is necessary. For example, as Mark stated in his initial thread, xyz. Or as Charlotte stated in her response to Marienne, xyz. (No underlining would be used in the actual sentence used, of course). This is the only exception permitted to “personal communications” and applies only within course discussion board replies in that class.
Special Rule Regarding Repeat Citations
APA-7 allows writers to cite their source only once per paragraph, provided the reader can discern where the other sentence(s) derived from. This requires specific structuring. For example:
Owen (2020) claimed that “foxes can fly” (p. 17). She detailed their nocturnal habits. Her research gave critical insight into this population.
In each of the second and third sentences above, the sentences were structured in such a way that the content clearly refers back to Owen’s work.
In the case of Bible verses, it is easy for the reader to understand that subsequent citations of those came from whichever Bible version was cited earlier in that paragraph. For any subsequent verses cited in a paragraph that already has a full Bible citation, you can just use the verse itself. In each new paragraph (or if you change versions in the same paragraph), you will need to include the full citation. For example:
God calls each of us to witness to others to “make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” (New American Standard Version Bible, 1971/1995, Ephesians 6:19-20). Mark 13:10 and Matthew 28:19 command us to preach to all nations and make disciples…
There is no need to add the Bible version in that second sentence because the reader knows both of those verses refer to the same version of the Bible cited in the previous sentence.
- The rules for Bible citations have changed completely; you must now cite the Bible version in the body of the paper and include it in your reference list. Please see the appropriate sample APA-7 paper for your level of study for a detailed discussion of this.
- Note that APA-7 specifies to cite Bibles in “book formats” (p. 302) that are “treated as having no author.” Below are some examples of the hard copy references versus online references of some common versions. The citations are the same for both, as they contain the version name and the year(s) of publication. If you are using a different version, you will format it by following the examples given below (be sure to include a hanging indent, which this webpage cannot feature).
- When including a verse, place it in the locator position after the year (in place of the page number). For example, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (New American Standard Version Bible, 1971/1995, John 3:16). You can also introduce it in the text of the sentence itself: John 3:16 proclaims that “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (New American Standard Version Bible, 1971/1995).
In-text citation Reference King James (King James Bible, 1769/2017).
(King James Bible, 1769/2017, John 3:16).
King James Bible. (2017). Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1769)
King James Bible. (2017). King James Bible Online. https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/ (Original work published 1769)
New International (New International Bible, 1978/2011) New International Bible. (2011). Zondervan. (Original work published 1978)
New International Bible. (2011). The NIV Bible. https://www.thenivbible.com/ (Original work published 1978)
New American (New American Standard Bible, 1971/1995) New American Standard Bible. (1995). Thomas Nelson. (Original work published 1971)
New American Standard Bible. (1995). https://nasb.literalword.com/ (Original work published 1971)
The Message (The Message Bible, 2002) The Message Bible. (2002). Eugene H. Peterson.
The Message Bible. (2002). https://messagebible.com/read-the-message/
English Standard (English Standard Bible, 2001/2016) English Standard Bible. (2016). Crossway Bibles. (Original work published 2001)
English Standard Bible. (2016). https://esv.literalword.com/ (Original work published 2001)
Liberty University Class Lectures
Since the purpose and function of APA references is to ensure the reader has sufficient information to be able to locate the original source if necessary, include course details and credit Liberty University when referencing class lectures and PowerPoint presentations since the URL does not provide sufficient locator details itself. Italicize the name of the lecture itself. If the course has multiple lectures per week, you can include the week and lecture numbers; otherwise omit those elements. If you have a direct URL, use that (see the Peters reference below); otherwise use the URL to Liberty University’s Canvas homepage (the reference on the left below). If the date is provided (see the Peters reference below), use that; otherwise use the year and semester that you took the course in (the reference on the left below):
When no presenter is named in the video itself, name Liberty University in the author’s position:
Liberty University. (2021, Spring). BIOL 102: Human biology. Week one, lecture two: Name of class lecture. https://canvas.liberty.edu
When a presenter is provided, name that person in the author’s position and include Liberty University in the publisher’s position after the name of the lecture:
Peters, C. (2012). COUN 506, Week one, lecture two: Defining integration: Key concepts. Liberty University. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/definingintegration-keyconcepts/id427907777?i=1000092371727
- Center the word “References” (in bold font but without quotation marks) on the top line of a new page following your conclusion. This term is also now regarded as a Level 1 heading. If you have only one resource to cite in the entire paper, APA authorizes the use of singular “Reference.”
- Use hanging indents (the first line of each entry should be left-justified, with lines two+ indented ½” from the left margin).
- Alphabetize all entries by the first word in each (usually the first author’s last name for each).
- Note that you must include a comma after the author’s name that precedes the ampersand in the reference list, even when there are only two authors. This does not apply to citations in the body of the paper.
- There should only be one space after periods in the reference list entries, just as in the body of the paper.
- If a work has more than 20 authors, list the first 19 followed by an ellipsis (…). Include the last author’s name immediately after the ellipsis as the final author mentioned. Do not include an ampersand (&) in references with 20 or more authors.
- Note that APA-7 allows writers to superscript the suffixes of ordinal numbers, as long as the writer is consistent throughout (see section 6.35 of the APA-7 manual). The examples included in the resources in this Quick Guide include superscripted suffixes for all book edition numbers, in accordance with APA-7’s option to do so.
- Do include reference entries for classical works including the Bible.
- Do not include reference entries for personal communication.
- Do not include a period after a URL or DOI.
- Note that the issue number of a journal article should be connected/attached to the volume number — e.g., 12(8). The volume number should be italicized, but the attached parentheses and issue number should not.
- Check Google Scholar or Crossref for DOIs of all articles published since 2007, if one is not readily denoted on the article itself.
- Format all DOI entries in URL format (https://doi.org/xx.xxxxxxx).
- Omit the publisher city and state in most cases (exception: conferences and symposiums).
- Only include the access date for online content that is likely to change (such as wikis).
- Do not include static hyperlinks which require log-on credentials to access, unless required by your assignment. This includes EZproxy links obtained from searches in the Liberty University Online Library.
- See the links at the top of this page for expansive reference entry examples.
Note that in a stand-alone Annotated Bibliography assignment, students would include the appropriate title page relative to their grade level; graduate and doctoral students would also include a running head on all pages as required for their grade levels.
Material on this page adapted from the Seventh Edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.