APA stands for American psychological Association. This is an association that is dedicated towards the efforts of improving on and maintaining the quality of the APA citation style as used in texts, research papers and other publications. Although there are many other citation styles, APA stands out as one of the most popular, as well as easy to use styles. Before the adoption of citation styles in writing articles, research papers and other publications, there was confusion insofar as structure, formatting, writing style and referencing were concerned. Every author used to approach these aspects with their own styles, causing disarray. However, the adoption of APA as the ‘standard’ or rather widely acceptable citation style for all matter dealing with social sciences has restored order in this field. This now forces publishers or articles, research papers and any other publications in the field of social sciences to adopt this citation style as their preferred style. While this took a while to adjust to at the beginning, it has since become the norm for even high school students to format, reference and cite their work in APA.
Like any system, this one is not perfect, as well. The leading scholars in developing this citation style have dedicated much of their time to refining the previous editions of this style into better and more elaborate editions. Since its conception and adoption, APA has witnessed five different editions before its current 6th edition. The editions of APA are simply modifications to the previous rules involved in formatting, citation, word choice and referencing. In this sense, every edition is an improvement of the older edition. Currently in its 6th edition, this citation style is a constant reminder of change and improvement.
The APA citation style has a number of rules that almost certainly do not change. First of is the fact that any research paper in APA should encompass four major sections namely: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body and Reference Page in that order. It is worth noting that the Title Page, Abstract and Reference Page are all pages on their own, and do not contain any other information on the same pages. Secondly, the header section of this citation style is quite unique. For the Title Page, the header reads as “Running Head: PAPER TITLE” while for the rest of the pages until the end, it will read “PAPER TITLE”. Needless to say, these headers are always Flush Left.
The first page contains only the author’s name (without any titles) and the Institutional Affiliation. Only the first name and surname are written in full, with the maiden name being represented by the appropriate initial. The Institutional Affiliation represents the institution in which the research was carried out, or the school the author attends. The Abstract is a short highlight of the information found in the main body of the research paper. It provides the reader with a glimpse of what to expect from the paper. For the Reference Page, all references used in the research are cited according to APA style and are arranged in alphabetical order. It is also noteworthy that any lines after the first line are indented. The headings can be centered or flush left and in bold or italicized. This depends on the level of the heading, from 1-5. These are the key areas that define APA as a citation style on its own, and are the areas any writer or publisher applying APA cannot fail to observe.