How to write an APA format paper: picking up some tricks


Before you begin writing your APA paper, it is important that you gather the appropriate number of sources and type of sources. After you have the right amount of sources for your page length, you will need to read through all of the sources.

Taking Notes

As you do this, highlight quotes from the articles that stand out and would be ideal in your paper. As you do this, make sure to write a citation too. You might not end up using all of the quotes you highlight, but it is vital to collect them. This process helps you better understand your topic and organize your analysis.

Take notes about what points each article makes. You can make generic notes so that writing your outline and subsequent paper is easier.

*Tip:

It is best to collect the quotes you highlight in a separate word document or on index cards. Having tangible index cards will make it easier for you to organize the quotes and statistics into categories or sections such as “history”, “causes”, and/or “effects”. While these categories are quite broad, they can help you to organize your thoughts.

As you take notes, remember to cite the sources. Place the citation next to the quote or the point you copied so that you can save yourself a lot of time later.

Organizing quotes

After you finish reading your sources and taking notes, you should start categorizing and organizing your quotes based on section. Place all of the quotes that relate to one area of the paper in one pile, and the others in another.

*Tip:

Your paper, with quotes, should NOT look like this:

  • Dickson wrote, "Cats have fleas..." (Dickson 2004: 1).
  • Sillecy wrote, "Cats don't have fleas..." (Sillecy 2002: 2).
  • Hitchcock writes that fleas prefer dogs to cats (Hitchcock 1999: 43).

It should instead, look like this:

While Dickson writes that “cats have fleas” (Dickson 2004:1), Sillecy states they do not (Sillecy 2002:2). Hitchcock believes that Sillecy is correct due to the fact that fleas prefer dogs to cats (Hitchcock 1999:43.

The last example (the correct one) tells the reader a bit more about the contrasting ideas that current research has rather than lumping one quote on top of the other. An APA research paper should be cohesive.

After you have sorted the different points you will make, be sure to fill in the blank areas in your paper with your text. Compare ideas from other researchers while forming a narrative that explains why you are performing further research and how.



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