What is APA and APA 6th Edition

What is APA?

APA style came into existence when some psychologists, anthropologists and business managers convened a meeting in 1929 and established a set of rules in order to formalize various aspects of scientific writing to simplify the technique of reading comprehension. A publisher observes the guidelines that are reflected in APA style format to ensure an easy to understand presentation of written material. The following elements are taken care of by APA Style format:-

Selection of headings, Tone, and Length, Punctuation and Abbreviation, Presentation of numbers and statistic, Inclusion and Construction of tables and figures, Introduction of references and various other factors that form a manuscript.

APA 6th edition

American Psychological Association revamped their style manual in 2009. Initially, the APA Manual was used by the psychologists alone but of late students, researchers and writers form other fields started using APA Manual. Hence APA came up with 6th edition with a larger segment of readers in mind.

So let’s discuss the changes that took place in the sixth edition of APA style format.


  • When all human beings are talked about, then it specifies very clearly to refer to both men and women. Men are talked about when discussing about men only not when entire population is targeted.
  • Be respectful while using labels. Concentrate on the people and avoid the label. For example, instead of labeling a group “the older” or “the diabetic,” labels in which individuals are missed out, try “older adults” or “a woman with diabetes.”
  • Make sure you are uniform throughout with your writing and with your journal’s instructions.


Spacing:  APA instructs using two spaces after periods ending sentences regarding punctuation in manuscripts, to enhance comprehending of article.

One space: “Older research shows that patients are interested in sweet pills. This research explores how to discuss introduction of sweet pills with patients.”

Two spaces: “Older research shows that patients are interested in sweet pills. This research shows how to discuss introduction of sweet pills with patients.”


One should be specific while using approximations of time, like day, month, year etc.

Example – I started doing meditation about ten weeks ago.


  • put a zero before the decimal point with numbers smaller than one when the statistic can be larger than one for example 0.78 kg
  • Never put a zero before the decimal point when the number cannot be greater than one. for example:  p = 0.19


The sixth edition includes a section which guides you how to display results and data.  This section will assist you in deciding when and how to display your results and data.

Avoid using figures if they are repeating what is written in project report. You can use them when figures are adding some value to your piece of writing.


Use alphabetical order (for author’s last name) for the references that reflect in your article, with the exception of personal communication; include personal communication in the text, not in the reference list.

Electronic sources – As the electronic publishing is very popular, the sixth edition gives an outlook of electronic sources and explains how to reference them, especially with URLs and DOIs.

So far we have discussed both APA and APA 6th edition. But when it comes to choose between the two which one you will go for. In some cases APA is better and in other cases APA 6th edition is advantageous.

Let’s take a look at the differences between these two versions and see which is more useful. Here we go!!


If the course material asks for retrieval date on online, the paper can use APA as the APA 6th edition does not include retrieval date.


If the city is popular for publishing then APA does not require a country or city whereas the APA 6th edition always includes the name of the country or a two letter state code.


In the reference list APA used to put “et al” after the name of 6th editor if there are more than 7 authors whereas in case of APA 6th edition, all authors’ name are spelled out clearly irrespective of the numbers of the authors.

I believe that with this information we can easily identify which version we should look for while writing the manuscript. Best of luck!!

3 replies on “What is APA and APA 6th Edition”

  1. Jasmine says:

    Wow, that’s a great blog. Nicely written and quite informational

  2. Jackie says:

    Can you give some examples or screenshot too? That would be quite helpful

  3. Tristan says:

    Can you also write a blog on formatting tips for APA, especially tables and figures?

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