APA - What is it and why?

APA format can be a mystery! I'm here to help!

What, exactly, is APA?

APA, created by the American Psychological Association, is the most common format used by professions that involve policy and laws. This includes criminal justice, business, accounting, and medical.

These professions are based upon facts, not theories. It's very important for messages to be concise and in a format everyone in a profession can understand - least someone's life be harmed or a criminal goes free!

APA provides an understandable format for spacing, title page, and other physical layout attributes. Even more importantly, APA allows proof the information is credible through proper citation and references - which is very important when the career is centered around facts!

For students, APA helps avoid academic dishonesty - which could cause class failure and, in some cases, dismissal from the college.

Since college prepares students for the workforce, APA will be practiced in most, if not all, of your courses.

Why is APA Important?

Concise writing and format plays a key role in law and policy - especially since the receiver may not know the sender of the message. An expected and commonly used format helps:

  • Reduces miscommunication - which could lead to costly client and financial mistakes.
  • Provides an professional - not personal - form of communication which lends to credibility of the sender.
  • Allows everyone, despite where they are or what area they work in, a way to understand and relate to the message.
  • It's already a communication standard. If it isn't used correctly, personal professional credibility could be impacted.

How to Learn

Fortunately, there are - a lot - of ways to learn APA.
Your instructor, of course, is always a great starting point.

However, since APA is so important to your professional and college career, it's best to develop a toolbox of learning resources, reminders, and checks that will serve as a guide - not only for your college career - but also for your professional one as well!

Where to Learn?

It's always best to start at the source.

For us, that would be the virtual library. With just a few clicks, you could have access to a wealth of documents, videos, and other sources that will ensure your APA formatting is flawless.

Since access to the virtual library may not always be available, below are some resources that are recommended by students and faculty. Review and bookmark those that you feel most helpful.

If you find additional resources, be sure to tell your instructor! What you find can help others in future terms, so share your knowledge.

Recommended Sources