APA stands for American Psychological Association. APA "style" stands for a formalized type of formatting for journal articles and books that are written in the science and social science fields. It originated in 1929 when a group of psychologists, scientists, and business people came together to agree on a uniform set of formatting rules.
APA style has uniform rules for how to format headings and titles, how to abbreviate, how to format data and statistics, and how to format charts, tables, and graphs. APA also has rules for how to cite resources within the text and in the works cited or references page.
You can find complete information on APA style in the current edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
Here are a few examples of the rules of APA style.
1. An APA manuscript should be double spaced throughout and has the following major sections: title page, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, references, appendices.
2. Headings in an APA manuscript follow these formatting rules:
a. Level 1: Centered, Bold, Upper and Lowercase
b. Level 2: Aligned Left, Bold, Upper and Lowercase
c. Level 3: Indented, Bold, lowercase and ends with a period.
d. Level 4: Indented, Bold, Italicized, lowercase and ends with a period.
e. Level 5: Indented, Italicized, lowercase and ends with a period.
3. In-text citations include the author and the year of publication:
a. Smith (2010) states . . .
b. In 2010, Smith's study of . . .
c. The study led to remarkable advances in treatment options (Smith, 2010).
4. Citations in the reference section include author's/authors' name(s), year of publication, title of the work, and information about the publication. The references are alphabetized by author's last name:
Wanzek, J., & Cavanaugh, C. (2012). Characteristics of general education reading
interventions implemented in elementary schools for students with reading difficulties. Remedial and Special Education, 33(3), 192-202. doi: 10.1177/0741932510383162
Wedl, R. J. (2005). Response to intervention: An alternative to traditional eligibility
criteria for students with disabilities. Education Evolving: The Center for Policy Studies and Hamline University. Retrieved from