About APA Style®

The best scientific writing is spare and straightforward. It spotlights the ideas being presented, not the manner of presentation. Manuscript structure, word choice, punctuation, graphics, and references are all chosen to move the idea forward with a minimum of distraction and a maximum of precision.

To achieve this clarity of communication, publishers have developed rules of style. These rules are designed to ensure clear and consistent presentation of written material. Editorial style concerns uniform use of such elements as

  • punctuation and abbreviations
  • construction of tables
  • selection of headings
  • citation of references, and 
  • presentation of statistics

When editors or teachers ask you to write in APA Style®, they are referring to the editorial style that many of the social and behavioral sciences have adopted to present written material in the field. APA Style was first developed 80 years ago by a group of social scientists who wished to establish sound standards of communication. Since that time, it has been adopted by leaders in many fields and has been used by writers around the world.

APA's style rules and guidelines are set out in a reference book called The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.