Why is APA Style® needed?

Uniform style helps us scan articles quickly for key points and findings. Rules of style in scientific writing encourage full disclosure of essential information and allow us to dispense with minor distractions.

Style helps us

  • express the key elements of quantitative results,
  • choose the graphic form that will best suit our analyses,
  • report critical details of our research protocol, and
  • describe individuals with accuracy and respect.

When we use an editorial style, we remove the distraction of puzzling over the correct punctuation for a reference or the proper form for numbers in text. Those elements are codified in the rules we follow for clear communication, allowing us to focus our intellectual energy on the substance of our research (Foreword, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed., p. xiii).

An author writing for a publication must follow the rules established by the publisher to avoid inconsistencies among journal articles or book chapters. For example, without rules of style, three different manuscripts might use sub-test, subtest, and Subtest in one issue of a journal or book. Although the meaning of the word is the same (in this case, subtest is APA Style®), such variations in style may distract or confuse the reader.

The need for a consistent style becomes more apparent when complex material is presented, such as tables or statistics.