Langston, Research Methods Laboratory, Notes 3 -- Writing APA Style Papers
This set of notes covers the parts of an APA paper not covered in the method and results sections notes and the introduction and discussion sections notes. For formatting, see the APA formatted paper example (a downloadable pdf file).
Here are all of the parts of a paper (in the order in which they appear):
Title page
* = Page break.

A. Title page:
  1. Format:
    1. The heading for the first page is "Running head: <RUNNING HEAD> <#>" where <RUNNING HEAD> is a summary of the paper title and <#> is the page number. The title page is page 1, number consecutively after that. The title page and all subsequent pages should have the heading, but all pages after the first page will not have the words "Running head:."
    2. Type the title.
    3. Type your name.
    4. Type your institution.

B. Abstract: This is a brief summary of your paper. When you look at PsycINFO and read the article summaries, those are abstracts.
  1. Format:
    1. Put it on its own page.
    2. Once you set up the header, the running head and page number will be on all pages. The abstract will be page 2.
    3. Center the word "Abstract" at the top of the page. The word "Abstract" will not be in bold.
    4. Do not indent the first line (or any line).
  2. Content:
    1. No more than 120 words.
    2. Summarize each of the parts of the manuscript. I would choose the hypothesis from the introduction, a brief bit of participants, materials, and procedure from the method, the main results, and the conclusion from the discussion. The goal is to say in as few words as possible exactly what you did in your experiment. This is an important exercise in getting right to the main point.
Usually, you write the whole paper and then the abstract.

C. Introduction (for content, see the introduction and discussion section notes):
  1. Format:
    1. Center the title at the top of the page. It will not be bold.
    2. Indent the first line of each paragraph.
    3. It's usually in the past tense.  The parts that are already done (like literature citations) are definitely past.
  2. Content: For citation format, follow these examples:
    1. Single author:
    2. Two authors:
    3. More than two authors:
  3. Try not to quote exact words. If you have to quote, follow this example:

D. References: This is where you list the specific information required to locate the articles in the library. I'm going to give you examples of the most common types. See the Publication Manual for additional types.
  1. Format:
    1. Start them on a new page.
    2. Center the word "References" on the top of the page. The word "References" will not be bold.
    3. List references in alphabetical order by the first author's last name.
    4. Indent the second and all subsequent lines of each reference (e.g., a hanging indent, the first line is flush then indent the rest).
  2. Content:
    1. A journal article:
Glenberg, A. M., & Langston, W. E. (1992). Comprehension of illustrated text: Pictures help to build mental models. Journal of Memory and Language, 31, 129-151. doi:10.1016/0749-596X(92)90008-L
    1. An entire book:
      1. List all authors in the order listed on the book. Put their last name, first initial (and additional initials if there are any). Separate authors with commas, and put "&" before the last author. Space.
      2. Put the publication year in parentheses.
      3. Put a period after that and space.
      4. Put the title of the book (italic, capitalize as for a journal article), stop italic. If this is later than the first edition, put the edition in parentheses, like "(2nd ed.)".
      5. Put a period after that and space.
      6. Put the place of publication, a colon, space, and the publisher. End with a period.
Langston, W. (2005). Research methods laboratory manual for psychology (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
    1. A chapter in an edited book:
Glenberg, A. M., Kruley, P., & Langston, W. E. (1994). Analogical processes in comprehension: Simulation of a mental model. In M. A. Gernsbacher (Ed.), Handbook of psycholinguistics (pp. 609-640). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
    1. An online source:
Hyman, R. (1999). How people are fooled by ideomotor action. Retrieved from

E. Footnotes: In psychology we try to avoid the use of footnotes unless there's no other way to present the information. If you absolutely can't work it into the text, then:
  1. Format:
    1. In the text:
We used a stairstep procedure to determine reading speed.1
    1. On the Footnotes page:
1The stairstep procedure is a standard psychophysical technique for presenting trials to participants.

F. Tables: Tables are used to present statistical information, samples of materials, etc.
  1. Format:
    1. In the text:
    1. The table itself:

G. Figures: Figures are used to convey information that cannot be presented as text (e.g., graphs).
  1. Format:
    1. Each figure goes on its own page.
    2. The header appears on the page.
    3. Put the figure above the figure caption.
    4. The figure caption is a description of what is being presented in the figure. Start with the figure number in italic (e.g., Figure 1). Then a period, then the figure caption.

Research Methods Lab Notes 3
Will Langston

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