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Writing APA style paper

Writing APA style paper or APA format paper should not be a herculean task. Referencing is an important aspect of every scholarly work, be it at undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate level. There is various referencing format available for use. However, your faculty, department or discipline determines the one you would use. For instance, those in the social science, education, and psychology adopt the APA approach.

The acronym APA stands for the American Psychological Association. The APA style refers to the official formatting style adopted by the American Psychological Association in citing sources in scholarly paper, article, long essay and dissertations. Following its origin in 1929, the APA style has been widely used by student’s writers in the field of psychology, education, and social sciences to experience their ideas and present information in a written work in a consistent manner. Therefore an APA style paper simply implies to a research paper formatted following the American Psychological Association (APA) style referencing format. Typically an APA style paper would follow the author-date sequence.


A typical APA style paper for in-text citation gives the author’s name followed by the year of publication. However the manner at which the citation would be presented depends on some factors, for instance,

  1. If the citation is given at the end of a sentence, then the authors last name and year of publication is written in parenthesis separated with a comma, for instance, let us assume that Mark Nnamdi, in a study he conducted in 2017 said something interesting that we want our readers to see in our work, now what is expected that we either paraphrase what the researcher has said, or present the idea undiluted with quotation marks, showing that the idea was not edited. Thus “economic depression has become a peculiar feature of third world countries, this is due to their inability to tangibly tap into the vast potentials inherent in the introduction of technology in the management of the various aspects of their economy” (Nnadi, 2017).
  2. If the citation forms a part of the sentence, then the author’s name is given, while the year of publication is given in parenthesis. For instance, according to Nnadi, (2017).
  3. When citing two authors, give the last names of both authors, using an ampersand (&) to connect them; then followed by the year of publication. Example According to Nnadi & Okpara (2019), or if the citation comes at the end of the sentence, remember to put both authors names and year of publication in parenthesis like this … (Nnadi & Okpara, 2019).
  4. When citing three authors, follow the same rules first authors’ last name, followed by the second author’s last name, separated by a comma, and the third author’s last name joined with an ampersand. Example ……….. (Alele, Nnadi & Opkara, 2019). The same rule is applicable for four, five, six authors.


  • General referencing

This entails a list of all the citations and works cited in the study. It is expected that the researcher should provide the names and initials of authors, year of publication, the title of publication, and the source of the cited work in an ascending order. Example

Becker-Olsen, Karen, L., Cudmore, B.A., and Hill, Ronald, (2006). “The Impact of Perceived Corporate Social Responsibility on Consumer Behaviour”. Journal of Business Research, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp.46-53.

Writing APA style paper – WHEN TO USE et al

The word et al. is gotten from the Latin phrase et alia which means and others. Et al, is used mostly in in-text citation and in the reference list found in academic papers.

For instance, you might see the phrase, Igbaji et al. (2019). This means that the study, research or academic work was carried out by Igbaji and other researchers, usually more than three (3).

Also, it is worth noting that in most of the referencing style guides including APA, MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, and Harvard, et al. do not need to be italicized.

However, some field-specific publications require the italicization of the phrase, so it’s always a good thing to double-check.

Using et al. appropriately varies between style guides.

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