Conquering APA Style
I started by Communications journey in January thinking that I remembered many of the elements of the APA style manual. However, the first issue I discovered is that I was confusing some elements of the APA style manual with the AP Stylebook. The AP Stylebook is the one used by journalists that was originally created in 1953. As an undergraduate student, I used the AP stylebook more than APA style. Unfortunately, 17 years have passed between my undergraduate and graduate studies largely contributed to my confusion, considering that I had forgotten both exist (and the differences for each).
Now that I have regained my memory and have a clear understanding that APA style is what I will using for my graduate assignments, the biggest questions I have about APA style revolve around citing within the written work. I can successfully cite various types of works and am sure to research the mediums I am not sure about in the manual. However, I am uncertain as to some aspects of usage. For example, I am often unsure of when to use the author alone, the author and year of publication, or page number alone when citing within my written assignments. These are not the only components that are somewhat difficult for me.
One other aspect of APA style that surprised me the most is the use of capitalization in major words in titles and headings. For the most part, major words in the titles of publications are capitalized except for conjunctions and short prepositions; however, the manual notes that we should capitalize all words with four letters or more. That surprised me along with the rule of capitalizing both words in hyphenated compounds and capitalizing the first word after a colon or a dash in the title.
I believe the most difficult capitalization rule to remember will be the exception. It states that in titles of books and articles in reference lists, only the first word, the first word after a colon or em dash and proper nouns should be capitalized. To add a little further confusion, it states that the second word of a hyphenated compound should not be capitalized.
Although reviewing and reacquainting myself with APA style has been difficult, there are two recent occurrences that have helped me greatly. The first was my instructor’s correcting my last paper by showing me the errors and the peer-review exercise earlier in the week, where a fellow classmate also marked errors.
Each instance helped me see what areas I needed to review immediately regarding APA style. Without each paper’s specific errors being noted it would have taken me longer to fix the issues and I most likely would have continued to repeat them. I am now looking forward to being able to fix the mistakes and cite my future work properly.