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THE PARTS OF SPEECH [ ? ]
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PLAIN ENGLISH WRITING ( What is? )
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GRAMMAR ( What is? )
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GRAMMAR MISTAKES
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CAPITALIZATION ( What is? )
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Guidelines for Writing Your Paper in APA Style
by Peter Gallagher

Writing your thesis or dissertation in APA Style (American Psychological Association Style) is typically a daunting chore, particularly if you've never composed a formal academic paper. APA Style comes with many stipulations, requirements, and rules. Many students feel overwhelmed writing a paper using this style because of the many possibilities for making mistakes.

Complying with the rules of APA Style is not as problematic as it seems. As with nearly any academic writing, rushing through your paper will only cause oversights and errors, so use your time wisely to check and correct any errors in style. I have provided my own tips to help you following APA Style.

TIP # 1: WRITE IN ACTIVE VOICE

Aim to minimize writing in passive voice. APA Style prefers active voice (as do all professional writers). Some professors will devalue your paper if you write too much in passive voice. When you write in active voice, the subject of the sentence is the "doer" of the action. The opposite happens with passive voice—the subject of the sentence has something done to it. You can easily identify passive voice because it often contains the word "by." Passive voice dulls your writing; active voice accentuates it.

TIP # 2: PRIORITIZE YOUR WRITING

Obeying the rules of APA Style is essential for developing a grade A+ paper. However, do not let the rigid rules distract you from the actual writing and creativity process. Concentrate on the material that you put into your paper as well as the words that you use. If your paper lacks valuable information, it won't matter how meticulously you followed APA Style.

TIP # 3: ENGLISH WRITING HELP

When writing your paper, avoid using contractions: "can't" should be "cannot," "it's" should be "it is," and "you're" should be "you are." Avoid slang and jargon. Write in clear, succinct language. Never write in the first person, either.

TIP # 4: AVOID PLAGIARISM AT ALL COSTS

Certainly, you never want to plagiarize any part of your paper. To guarantee you don't unintentionally plagiarize, cite all of your sources. If you're uncertain if you should use an in-text citation for a source, then you probably should use it. It's better to protect yourself than to make excuses later.

TIP # 5: PROOFREAD YOUR PAPER MORE THAN ONCE

Simple, subtle, stupid mistakes always sneak into academic papers, no matter how careful you are. You should proofread your paper more than once because mistakes become more apparent during a second and third reading. Do not proofread as an after-thought; instead, schedule a block of time to proofread in silence. In fact, professors advise to set aside your paper for 2-3 days before you proofread it again. If you can break away from your finished paper for a few days, you'll surprise yourself at how many new errors you see in your paper.

TIP # 6: PROOFREAD SOME MORE

Based on the significance of your paper, you may desire to hire a professional freelancer to proofread and copy edit your paper. Again, having a new set of eyes and a clear mind on your paper can — and will — improve your paper, if even slightly.

TIP # 7: DO NOT FORGET YOUR REFERENCE LIST

As you carry out the research for your paper, you must remember the Reference List page that you will need to create for your paper. Whenever you extract information from a source (primary or secondary), you must gather specific data about each source. Providing a detailed Reference List is important for two reasons: First, you must have the material for the Reference List anyway, so gathering it as you extract information from each source will save you time at the end. Second, if you have to return to a specific source to identify more content for your paper, you'll have very little trouble finding it again.

TIP # 7: REPETITION OF RULES BUILDS SKILL

Once you've understood a handful of APA Style rules, you'll repeat them throughout your paper, making your task much easier. This is particularly true with citing sources, either inside the primary text or on the References List page. Even though citations may have slight differences in formatting (depending on the origin of the source), much of the formatting is the same.

TIP # 8: WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK YOUR PROFESSOR

Lastly, if you run into a problem where the directions for your paper negate APA Style rules, follow your professor's guidelines. Several rules are flexible, providing your professor with some leeway in breaking rules. Furthermore, because APA rules have progressed over the years, you might have a professor who favors an old rule to a new rule.

If you come upon a discrepancy, just know this tidbit of information: The last time I checked, the APA Style Manual had never graded a paper in its life. Follow the preferences of the person who will be grading your paper.

© Peter Gallagher, Brian Scott, LousyWriter.com






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