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Monday, November 21, 2016 An Easy Mistake in APA

Many of us in high school grew up with learning MLA format. It seemed so confusing then and I remember being so thankful that the section on citations was over. When I got to college, I learned that other formats, like APA and Turabian, also existed. My current degree field uses APA, and I thought I had mastered most of the style until I realized I still had a little bit of MLA following me around.

What’s the problem?

Some more experienced APA users tend to shorten their in-text citations if they’ve used it before, kind of like how Ibid is a short form in Turabian footnotes. In MLA, in text citations consist of the author’s last name and the page number: (Childers 78). In subsequent citations, if not interrupted by another source, the citation may include only the page number (78). Because I had practiced MLA for so long, I thought that same concept applied to APA, where in-text citations consist of the author’s last name(s) and the year. I thought that after I had used a full in-text citation once, I could cite subsequent citations with just the year: (2016). That is an incorrect, though!

How does it really work?

The correct shortened version of an APA in-text citation consists only of the author's name, which is the first element in the in-text citation rather than the second element. Instead, my APA citations should be (Childers, 2016) first and (Childers) for subsequent shortened forms. Basically, always include the author’s last name in each citation. In some instances, you may omit the year, but it is often better to include both elements to avoid confusion on the part of the reader.

Emily Childers is a Family and Consumer Sciences major and a writing coach at Liberty University's Undergraduate Writing Center.             

Posted at 9:53 AM | Comments (0)
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