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APA Writing : How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation in APA Style

Writing that first thesis or dissertation can be a daunting task on its own. Throw in a need for APA Style guidelines in the paper, and it can be downright intimidating for the student who has never used APA Style in the past. However, following APA Style doesn't have to be a chore that takes all of the enjoyment out of your writing.

APA Writing : How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation in APA Style

Brian Scott is a professional freelance writer with over a decade of experience. He recommends using an APA formatting software to correctly format and write papers in APA Style, available at http://www.masterfreelancer.com/apa-writing-style-software.php

the Style as a format for its members to follow as they wrote books and journals for the APA to publish. The initial guidelines appeared in a magazine article in 1929. The first formal book appeared in 1952.

The format quickly grew in popularity, expanding well beyond members. Many educational institutions use APA Style as a guideline for students writing a formal paper, such as a thesis or dissertation.


By using APA, the student has a comprehensive guideline for formatting all aspects of the paper. For example, APA Style provides rules for the type and size of font to be used, the margins on the paper, and use of punctuation. It also provides rules for citing references, presenting figures or illustrations, and creating tables. Essentially, rules cover every aspect of the paper that you will be writing.

The APA Style rules have evolved over the years, making subtle changes. Sometimes, you may have an instructor who prefers an old rule and will ask you to break away on that particular rule. Other instructors allow for a few exceptions, especially those that make the paper easier to read, such as combining the abstract and title pages.

However, if you plan to submit your thesis or dissertation for publication, you’ll want to follow the APA Style precisely.


Using a word processor and a computer makes applying APA far easier than it used to be with a typewriter. If you need to add a footnote or insert a quotation at the last minute, it’s easy to do with a word processing program, such as MS-WORD.

When writing your paper, you start with a title page that contains the title, your name, and your school. The second page is the abstract page, which contains a short description of your paper. The main text begins on the third page. At the end, you’ll list all of the sources you used with your paper in the references section.

During your research, as you find sources to use in your paper, you will want to make sure you have the APA Style guidelines handy, ensuring that you collect all of the necessary information about each source. Different types of sources (such as books, reports, and papers) require different types of documentation in APA Style, but the information you’ll typically need includes:

* Title of book or article or report
* Author name or names
* Date of publication or creation or retrieval
* Name of publication
* Publishing house or company
* Pages or chapters used as a source
* Short description of source’s origination, if necessary, such as a Web site or a conference

Obviously, some citations will not have every piece of information listed above. When collecting information on your sources, a good rule of thumb to follow is: Collect at least as much information as you’d need to tell someone else how to find the exact piece of information you used as a resource in your paper. Take your time to ensure you have all of the information to properly cite the source.


If you have specific questions regarding APA Style, the ultimate resource is The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, which is available for about $40. The fifth edition is the current edition. You also can visit the APAStyle (dot) org Web site for some tips and additional information.

For additional help, your instructor might have some tips or guidelines. Your university library likely has dozens of books devoted to APA guidelines. If all else fails, Google can provide dozens of Web sites that provide tips for correctly applying rules in your paper.

With so many resources available, you can stop worrying about APA Style and place all of your focus where it belongs: On the substance of your thesis or dissertation.

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