American Psychological Association or APA has published specific requirements and guidelines for writing assignments and papers in social sciences. Apart from guidelines for citations, references and initial pages, there are of course some guidelines for the outlines of papers and assignments.
Basic principles and guidelines in American Psychological Association (APA)
The basic rules and guidelines in the American Psychological Association (APA) are the following:
- 12-point Sheriff, Times New Roman or Courier font for all text and a minimum of 8-point font for tables and figures.
- The text must be double spaced including the quotes and reference list.
- The page numbers must be located in the upper right corner of the paper.
- The margins should be set to 1” on each side of the paper.
- The title of the thesis must be stated on the cover page and after that it should be placed only in the left upper corner of the pages.
- The American Psychological Association (APA) does not use underlined text. Bolded text can be used only on figures and tables when specific data must be stressed and highlighted.
- Capitalization is also rarely used. Job titles can be capitalized only if the person’s name follows (for example, it will be the president of the company but in case the last name is given then it will be President Williams). Also, names of models, theories, diseases and conditions are not capitalized.
- When you list something in APA and if it is within a paragraph, then you must use (a), (b), (c), etc. in that order. If, however, you do not want to use a specific order then you have to use bullet points. Vertical lists are used when you need to express information but in certain order. There is one specific rule when writing numbers in APA style; numbers 10 and higher are written in numbers but numbers from 10 and below are written out. Exception is made for age, time, distance, percentage and various ratios, they are always stated as numerals, unless if they are not located at the beginning of the sentence.
- Latin abbreviations are also not used; for example: etc., i.e., e.g. and others. The language that is used in American Psychological Association (APA) must be bias-free and respectful.
There are also some specific guidelines in American Psychological Association (APA) that show how to write an outline in APA format.
How to write an outline in APA format
Writing an outline in APA format is all about structuring. Roman numeral letters are used in the main headings of the outline and capital letters are used below for sub-headings. If you have to continue in the sub headings then you will use lower case letters and Arab numbers below in parenthesis. Here is an example of how an outline in APA format would look like:
I. Choose a right thesis for your essay
A. Reflect on your thesis
B. Start researching your thesis
1. Look for facts and examples that prove your thesis in the best possible way
2. Outline and draft your results and thesis before starting to write
II. Start to write your essay
A. Form a strong introduction paragraph
B. Start writing the outline of your essay
1. Organize the paragraphs in the outline
a. The strongest example that supports your thesis should be the first paragraph
(1) The next ones are organized and structured by priority and strength
(2) Use at least three arguments to support your thesis
b. Use a counter argument
(1) Be sure the counter argument can be debated
c. Use a personal story to prove your thesis
d. Revise your outline
III. Finish your essay with a conclusion paragraph
A. The final paragraph should restate your thesis
1. Make the conclusion strong and convincing
a. Do not restate the examples but summarize the most important and influential part of them
b. Use simple but strong sentences
IV. Always proofread your essays at least once and make sure they are grammatically correct and well written.
You can use full sentences or just phrases in the outline. There is one more form for outlining an essay in APA format and it is called the decimal one. It is used rarely and if it has to, the professor will strictly inform you about it. In it you will use Arabic numbers only. Here is a short example:
1.0. Choose the right thesis for your essay
1.1. Reflect on your thesis
1.2. Start researching your thesis
1.2.1. Look for facts and examples that prove your thesis in the best possible way
1.2.2. Outline and draft your thesis and results before starting to write
It is very important for an outline to be well structured and written because it forms an overall impression of your essay and convinces the audience to accept it and believe in it.