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APA Style: Writing & Citation

This Research Guide has been created to help students use APA style in their writing.

Appropriate Level of Specificity

Be specific about your sample.  If your writing about at-risk children, be specific about risk you are studying. (see page 132, Section 5.1 in the APA 7th edition manual.)

Not Specific - At-risk children

Specific - Children at risk for anti-social behavior.


If your paper talks about age groups, provide a specific age range.

Not Specific - Over 18 years of age

Specific - 18 to 35 years of age

Be Sensitive to Labels

Call people what they want to be called.  Appropriate terminology changes over time, and not everyone within a certain group will agree with a label.  Be sure to be sensitive to what you are calling people. (see pages 133 and 134 Section 5.2 in the  APA 7th edition manual)

Example:  Many Native American groups prefer people call them by their native language name. 

                  For instance, use Dine rather than Navajo.

Example:  If your study or paper is discussing people with autism, use the following phrases.  Use adjectives to serve as descriptors and not labels.

Persons diagnosed with Autism have difficulty with socialization.

Most children in the Autism group did not respond when asked their name

Reducing Bias by Topic

The 7th edition of the APA style manual provides more guidance for reducing bias language in the areas of age, disability, gender, racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality.  Bias Free language is covered in Chapter 5 of the APA Publication Manual.  The APA website also provides general guidelines for writing about these populations of people. You can find links to these topics below.




Racial and Ethnic Identity

Sexual Orientation

Socioeconomic Status


Acknowledge Participation

When writing about roles of individuals in an experiment, use language that portrays them as active participants, and not passive participants. (see page 141 and 142 in the APA 7th edition)

When describing peoples' roles in a study or experiment, try to use the active voice instead of the passive voice.  

The students completed the survey.   instead of   The survey was given to the students.

The children played with dolls             instead of     The children were given dolls to play with.

Make sure the language you use is consistent with traditions of your field.

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