APA Manual 7th edition: The most notable changes
In that time a lot of things have changed. Citing online material has become more common, the use of inclusive and bias-free language is increasingly important, and the technology used by researchers and students has changed.
The 7th edition addresses these changes by providing better and more extensive guidelines. This article outlines the biggest changes that you should know about.
References and in-text citations in APA Style
When it comes to citing sources, more guidelines have been added that make citing online sources easier and clearer.
In total, 114 examples are provided, ranging from books and periodicals to audiovisuals and social media. For each reference category an easy template is provided that helps you to understand and apply the citation guidelines. The biggest changes in the 7th edition are:
- The publisher location is no longer included in the reference. Instead of “New York, NY: McGraw-Hill” it’s just “McGraw-Hill.”
- The in-text citation for works with three or more authors is now shortened right from the first citation. You only include the first author’s name and “et al.”.
- Surnames and initials for up to 20 authors (instead of 7) should be provided in the reference list.
- DOIs are formatted as urls (https://doi.org/xxx). The label “DOI:” is no longer necessary.
- URLs are embedded directly in the reference, without being preceded by “Retrieved from,” unless a retrieval date is needed.
- For ebooks, the format, platform, or device (e.g. Kindle) is no longer included in the reference.
- Clear guidelines are provided for including contributors that are not an author or editor. For example, when citing a podcast episode, the host of the episode should be included; for a TV series episode, the writer and director of that episode are cited.
- Dozens of examples are included for online source types such as podcast episodes, social media posts, and YouTube videos. Also, the use of emojis and hashtags is explained.
Inclusive and bias-free language
Writing inclusively and without bias is the new standard, and APA’s new publication manual contains a separate chapter on this topic.
The guidelines provided by APA help authors to reduce bias around topics such as gender, age, disability, racial and ethnic identity, and sexual orientation, as well as being sensitive to labels. Some examples are:
- The singular “they” or “their” is endorsed as a gender-neutral pronoun.
- Descriptive phrases such as “people living in poverty” are preferred over adjectives as nouns to label people (e.g., “the poor”).
- Instead of broad categories (e.g., over 65 years old), you should use exact age ranges (e.g., 65-75) that are more relevant and specific.
APA Paper format
In the 7th edition, APA decided to provide different paper format guidelines for professional and student papers. For both types a sample paper is included. Some notable changes include:
- Increased flexibility regarding fonts: options include Calibri 11, Arial 11, Lucida Sans Unicode 10, Times New Roman 12, and Georgia 11.
- The running head on the title page no longer includes the words “Running head:”. It now contains only a page number and the (shortened) paper title.
- The running head is omitted in student papers (unless your instructor tells you otherwise).
- Heading levels 3-5 are updated to improve readability.
Mechanics of style
In terms of style, not much has changed in the 7th edition. In addition to some updated and better explained guidelines, there are two notable changes:
- Use only one space after a period at the end of a sentence.
- Use double quotation marks to refer to linguistic examples (e.g. APA endorses the use of the singular pronoun “they”) instead of italics.
When to start using APA 7th edition
The American Psychological Association anticipates that most people will start using the 7th edition in the spring of 2020 or thereafter. It’s best to check with your supervisor or check the website of the journal you want to get published in to see which APA guidelines you should follow.