Shaking Up the Format
Tips for Student Paper Writing and Managing Changes to APA Formatting
I've seen some recent Tweets showing excitement over some of the pending changes to formatting recommendations in the forthcoming APA Publication Manual version 7 (due for realease in October 2019). One thing that I'm pleased to see is more clarification on writing style to approach diversity and inclusion, as emphasized by Amy Diehl:
The recent hype over the APA Publication Manual version 7 reminded me that I had planned to do a blog post with some recommendations for student paper writing, based on some of the feedback that I find myself most commonly providing to my undergraduate and graduate-level Education students. I won't dwell too much on formatting specifics -- as I haven't seen the latest APA Publication Manual yet. But, I will provide some tips on writing style and formatting for stronger academic papers.
Three of the most common things that I point out in feedback on student papers relate to the use of a first-person perspective, the use of colloquialisms, and the use of subjective adjectives and adverbs. Here is the advice that I provide to my students (straight from the handy checklist of notes that I have ready when reviewing assignment submissions):
Common Formatting Issues
I have frequently commented on improper formatting of Running Headers in student paper submissions -- but it looks like I no longer need to worry about that. Running Headers will no longer be required for student papers in APA version 7. But, here is the list of some of the most common formatting comments that I have provided in feedback to my students:
Formatting for Digital Accessibility
Although I do not (at this point in time) deduct marks for this, I do like to point out to my students when they are not doing things to increase the digital accessibility of their papers. The easiest thing to do -- with the greatest impact for the widest possible audience -- is to use the formatting styles tools in your word processor. Too often I find that student manually format their paper titles, subtitles, and Level 1, 2, 3, etc., section headers. Doing this makes it impossible for anyone using a digital screen reader application to easily navigate your document. By formatting these elements using the formatting styles tools, you make two things possible:
This video shows how to use and modify the formatting styles in Word.
A General Template
This template may not reflect all of the forthcoming changes -- but it should provide you with a good start on preparing an undergraduate or graduate paper following APA standards.
Click on the button below to download a general paper template for MS Word, reflecting some of the changes coming for APA version 7.
American Psychological Association (2019, August 6). Seventh Edition of APA's Best-Selling Publication Manual to Publish in October with a 700,000 First Printing. [Web page]. Available from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2019/08/publication-manual
@amydeihl (2019, October 9). Use of singular "they" is no acceptable in APA style formatted papers [Tweet]. Retreived from https://twitter.com/amydiehl/status/1182135456479219712?s=19
GCFLearnFree.org (2016, February 8). Word: Applying and Modifying Styles. [YouTube video]. Available from https://youtu.be/w2lES-5Ynbk
Slade, Tim (2017, January 17). 100+ Free Hero Images for eLearning. [Web log post]. Available from https://timslade.com/blog/hero-images-for-elearning/
Rob Power, EdD, is an Assistant Professor of Education, an instructional developer, and educational technology, mLearning, and open, blended, and distributed learning specialist.
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