APA Style Essays - An Elaborate Writing Manual
The American Psychological Association produces a writing manual every year, with new guidelines that determine the style and format that all kinds of academic and professional writings take, particularly writings in the fields of Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Social Work, Psychiatry, and even Medicine.
The APA manual changes every year, in response to new technological developments and new methods of writing about the social sciences, and it has an elaborate structure with numerous requirements. Many students who are just getting familiar with the APA style find it to be very challenging, because the requirements are so specialized and so distinct from other style guidelines such as Chicago Style or MLA. Below are a few areas that a writer new to the APA format should pay extra attention to.
DOIs: Identifying Sources
Unlike MLA and other writing style guidelines, the APA requires that references pages include not only the name, author, publisher, and date of the source being cited, but also the DOI number. The DOI number is a relatively new identification number for documents that are accessed online and cited in academic prose, particularly journal articles that are published in an online format, but also electronic books and other sources. The DOI goes at the very end of each reference in your References page or Bibliography. The number is a long string of digits, but should be preceded by the letters DOI and a colon. You do not need to provide the DOI for a citation you accessed in printed paper format (as opposed to online). For example, if you are citing an article that was printed in 1969 and you are using the paper source itself, you do not need a DOI.
The APA also specifies a very particular order in which you must use different heading levels. For example, you cannot use a lower heading level until after you have established and utilized a higher level heading. Headings are nested within one another, in various levels, from the most broad to the most specific, and they help orient the reader to the structure of the paper. Following the proper hierarchy of headings is essentially to adhering to APA style.
In APA, the highest heading level is centered, bolded, capitalized. Following this is centered and bolded with sentence-style capitalization. Using the second level of header indicates you are entering into a topic that is a specific subset of the higher level heading. If you are moving into a new topic or broad area, you should use the higher level heading again.
The Importance of APA
It is important to read the actual APA manual. First, it is crucial to master it so you can communicate in the manner of psychologists, social workers, and other social scientists. Second, it is important to accomplish mastery of APA because it is so distinct from MLA or Chicago Style, and if you do not study the manual with a great deal of attention you will use formatting exclusive to these other styles. Focus first on changes to reference pages, and on changes to heading levels, then look at the more minute details. A writing service can provide invaluable help in mastering this format.