10 commandments of apa formatting for healthcare students

10 Commandments of APA Formatting for Healthcare Students

Staff Writer
Apr 22, 2022

Anyone working within the realm of social and behavioral sciences is familiar with the “Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association,” or what most of us refer to as APA Style. When you’re in school for healthcare, APA Style is going to be your go-to guide for every paper you write. By the end of your education, you’ll know how to craft a citation at speeds that would make a NASCAR pit crew jealous.

1. Understand the sections

The structure of your papers will be relatively uniform, depending on specific requirements from your professors: title page, abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, references, and appendices, in that order.

2. Know formatting basics

Use a serif typeface for the body of your paper and a sans serif for figure labels. Double-space the entirety of your paper. Text should be left-aligned and right-ragged, with the opening of each paragraph indented one inch. Number your pages consecutively, with your title page as the first page.

3. Love headings

Headings help your readers identify crucial points in your text. There are five levels of headings in APA Style; each has its own specific formatting, and they should always be used consecutively.

4. Stay away from biased writing

The ultimate goal of APA is objective language that encourages specificity without bias. Be sensitive to labels, and when it comes to describing specific individuals involved in a study, aim to make your language general while still including necessary details.

5. Cite your sources

According to APA, “Cite the work of those individuals whose ideas, theories, or findings have directly influenced your work, even if you are paraphrasing or describing some else’s idea.” Be dutiful about avoiding plagiarism.

6. Be careful with quotations

If the quote is fewer than 40 words, incorporate it in text and enclose it with double quotation marks; if the quote is more than 40 words, it should be treated as a block quote.

7. Cite your sources correctly

APA Style uses author-date citations, which allows the reader to easily trace it to the reference page for full information. For in-text citations, use the author’s surname followed by the date of publication; if it’s a direct quote, include the page number.

8. Honor your reference list

This should be as accurate and complete as possible; its purpose is to help your readers learn about your sources. Include all citations, ordered by author’s surname, using the hanging indent paragraph style. Each citation should include author, publication date, title of the work, and publication data.

9. Use the serial comma

This one is simple: Use a comma between elements in a series of three or more items.

10. Remember your purpose

The goal is for clear scientific communication. Descriptions should be consistent, accurate, and always sensitive to the individuals being described.

APA Style has a decent amount of rules, but you’ll have ample opportunities to practice — and master — them all. Just keep your style guide handy and remember to cite your sources. You’ll be fine.

At Joyce University, we’re committed to helping our students succeed in any program they choose. We want to help our students write their best and be their best. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a medical assistant, dental lab technician, or a nurse, reach out to us. We would love to hear from you!


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