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Hints APA 6 in a Nutshell Dr.

Alford 2/23/2018

Eleven hints on APA style and grammar issues.

a) Quicker and Easier Corrections g) Affect and Effect
b) Format h) Lists and Bullets
c) Use Active Voice and Third Person i) Correct Tense
d) Citations and References j) Avoid Split Infinitives
e) Commas, Semicolons, and Which k) Single and Plural
f) Numbers

a) Quicker and Easier Corrections

If you have not already done so, install Word 2016 (Office 2016).

1 Ensure your version is up to date. When on-line, click File tab, (Office) Account, Update

Options, and Update Now. Wait until you see a dialog box “You’re up to date,” then close that

dialog box.

2 Make it catch potential errors. In the File tab, click Options, then click Proofing

- Make sure check marks appear in the top four boxes of “When correcting spelling in Microsoft

Office Programs” and the top four boxes of “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word.”

- Make Writing Style “Grammar & more.” Click the Settings… button.

- Ensure check marks appear in all boxes from “Adjective Used …” through “Oxford Comma.”

- Make Punctuation Required With Quotes “inside.”

- Make Space Between Sentences “two spaces;” click OK twice.

- As you type, Word 2016 underlines potential errors in spelling (red squiggle), grammar (blue),

and style (gold dots). Right click on each underline to see a suggested revision or comment.

3 Before you submit each assignment, always:

- Click the ribbon’s Review tab, click ABC Spelling & Grammar button. Read each dialog box.
- If you agree with a suggested change, click change or change all
- If it questions a correct name or word, click add, ignore, or ignore all
- If you agree with the comment, but it shows no suggested change, make edits consistent
with the comment
- If you disagree with the comment, click ignore, ignore all, ignore once, or (if you are
certain that it is wrong, for example, telling you to change four to 4) ignore rule
- Check that all fonts, margins, running heads, and paragraphs agree with APA style.
- Check that every citation has a reference with the same date and name spelling.
- Check that every reference has at least one citation with the same date and name spelling.
- Read the assignment aloud; ask a friend to read it aloud.

b) Format
Save time and avoid format errors.

On every page except the title page, never have any

paragraph with a) auto spacing before and/or after, b)
nonzero extra spacing before and/or after, c) line
spacing that is not double, or d) nothing in it.
You need exactly one space after a comma, after a
semicolon, and between two words.
You need exactly two spaces between one sentence’s
final punctuation mark and the first character of the next
sentence. See APA Manual Table 3.1 on p. 62 for
heading format. Use bold font for all headings except
References and Level 5 headings.
The picture on the left shows the paragraph dialog box
for all regular paragraphs, which need at least three, but
fewer than eight, sentences.
The table below shows changes for other paragraphs.


Title Page and Level 1 heading General Alignment - Centered, Indentation Special - None
Level 2 heading, Running head, or Abstract Indentation Special – None
Each Reference Indentation Special - Hanging 0.5”

Your Dissertation is a document for publication; therefore, its Level 1 headings for the page after the title
page, the References, and any appendix must be on the top line of a page. To achieve this, click just left
of the first character of the heading, then click the ribbon Insert tab’s Page Break button.
c) Use Active Voice and Third Person
Passive voice and first person have been used and accepted by us. APA style requires active voice and
third person. Here is this hint’s first sentence in active voice with third person: Students and faculty have
used and accepted passive voice and first person. Never use these first and second person words: our,
ours, us, we, you, your, or yours; instead, use third person words: he, her, hers, him, his, it, its, one,
one’s, she, their, theirs, them, and they. Avoid I, me, mine, and my, except when discussing the research
that you performed. Where possible, refer to yourself as “the researcher.”

d) Citations and References
For Direct Quotes, ignore all Hints except this box. See APA Manual Section 4.08 on p. 92 and
Section 6.03 on pp. 170-171. Use the quote’s exact words, including any spelling, grammar, and style
errors. If under 40 words, put it in quotation marks in the regular text. If over 39 words, put it in a block
quote indented 0.5” from the left margin, without quotation marks. End a block quote with its
punctuation mark or period, followed by a parenthetical citation, with no period after the parentheses.
Relatively inexpensive software coordinates, formats, and provides consistent references and citations. If
you do not use it, make a document with a 3-column table; type each reference in column 1, each in-text
citation in column 2, and each parenthetical citation in column 3. Copy entries from it and paste them into
your work. This table shows correct citation format. See APA Manual Table 6.1 on p. 177.
Author Count When In Text Citation Format (Parenthetical Citation Format)
Dubois (2012, p. 24) noted problems Urban school districts had problems
1 Always
in urban school districts. (Dubois, 2012, p. 24).
2 Always Hale and Hearty (2010, p. 27) (Hale & Hearty, 2010, p. 27)
3-5 1st Reid, Lyn, and Dee (1995, p. 29) (Reid, Lyn, & Dee, 1995, p. 29)
3-5 Not 1st Reid et al. (1995, pp. 22-31) (Reid et al., 1995, pp. 22-31)
Over 5 Always Davis et al. (2013, pp. 35-47) (Davis et al., 2013, pp. 35-47)
Williams (as cited in Richardson, Truancy was high (Williams, as
Secondary Source
2012) investigated truancy (p. 22). cited in Richardson, 2012, p. 42).
To cite an author of two or more works with the same year (e.g., 2010), use 2010a, 2010b, and so on.
The date must immediately follow the author(s) in a) all parenthetical citations, b) all citations of a work by
the author(s) of two or more referenced works, and c) a paragraph’s first in-text citation of each work.
No date must appear in the second and later in-text citations in the same paragraph of a work by the
author(s) of only one referenced work.
Unless needed to avoid confusion, never put any first names or initials in the text or any citation.
This table shows correct author and date format for References section entries in any assignment.
Author Count Reference Format for Author Names and Date
1 Wilson, T. K. (2006).

2 Wilson, T. K., & Jensen, R. F. (2008).

3-7 Wilson, T. K., Jensen, R. F., & Jones, C. D. (2013).

Over 7 Reid, T., Lyn, R. K., Amys, D., Ruis, I. L., Tye, W. Q., Telesto, I.,…Dee, A. (2001).
Note: Preceded by three periods (an ellipsis) in Over 7, Dee is the last name in the full list of authors

To format all references correctly in alphabetical order: 1) In any order, type each reference as a single
paragraph with Indentation Special Hanging 0.5” (see Hint b)), 2) select all references, 3) in the ribbon
Home tab’s Paragraph part, click “AZ sort” button and click OK on the (default) paragraph text ascending.
Ensure all characters in reference titles are lower case except for the first letter of a) the title, b) each
proper name, c) the first letter of a word that starts a sentence, and d) the first letter of a word that follows
a colon. Put all journal titles and volume numbers in italic font, but use normal font for what follows the
volume number. Never put a period after a DOI or URL entry.

e) Commas, Semicolons, and Which
In a list of more than two entries, put a comma after each entry except the last. Put a comma after most
words that precede but, or, and which. Put a comma after the opening phrase of a sentence. Examples:
Usually, in the 1990s, in class, students made “knock-knock” jokes, which amused them.
Never put a comma after the word that immediately precedes an open parenthesis; If you need a comma,
put it after the close parenthesis.
Examples of when one must not, and when one must put a comma ahead of a verb: Williams (2012)
analyzed truancy data. Brown (2015), three years after Williams, collected and tested truancy data.
In APA style, semicolons serve only two purposes – to separate two independent clauses not otherwise
joined by a conjunction and to separate items in a list that uses commas. An example of the first is the
semicolon in this sentence; an example of the second is in this parenthetical citation of two works
(Mowbray et al., 2014; Wilson & Reed, 2005). Do not use a semicolon for any other purpose.
f) Numbers
Write out in words all numbers that start a sentence and all numbers closer to zero than 10.
Use Arabic numbers for all other numbers that do not start a sentence. Example: Fifteen eighth grade
students in a class of 23 students lived less than two miles from the 49 th Street School in the early 1990s.
“Apostrophe s” follows a number only if the number owns or is part of an entity that owns what follows the
s. Examples: He had a terrible two’s tantrum. Route 66’s towns had many motels.
g) Affect and Effect
Avoid the words “affect” and “effect.” Even if you use them correctly, an influential reader might
mistakenly believe they are wrong. Use the ribbon Review tab’s Thesaurus to find alternative words.
With rare exceptions, affect is a verb and effect is a noun.
h) Lists and Bullets
Do not number entries in a list unless they are in order of importance or a time sequence. For all other
lists, such as these hints, use parenthetical lower-case letters beginning with (a) or a), or use bullets.
i) Correct Tense
Always use past tense to discuss research, results, and findings; they all occurred in the past.
The only future you know is what will appear later in your work, discuss it using “will.”
For all other future concepts, use “could,” ”might,” “ought,” or “should;” avoid “will” or “would.”
j) Avoid Split Infinitives
Avoid split infinitives, they are ungrammatical and often annoy influential readers. This sentence has a
split infinitive, “He suggested that to simply split an infinitive is wrong.” Here it is without the split infinitive,
“He suggested that simply to split an infinitive is wrong.”
k) Single and Plural
A common grammar error is a singular (plural) subject with a plural (singular) verb or pronoun. Example:
The student, who earned high grades in the fall semester on three tests, were often happy with their
results. The subject “student” is a singular noun; “were” is a plural verb; “their” is a plural pronoun.
Avoid this problem by always using plural subjects, except where writing about a specific person, place,
or thing. This eliminates the need for the awkward gender-neutral pronouns “him or her” and “her/his.”

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