APA Updates: Highlights

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association:  New Edition Highlights

Marilyn H. Oermann

Nurse Author & Editor, 2019, 29(4), 1

The 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) will be available in October 2019. This article provides a summary of the chapters in the new edition and identifies important changes in APA style.

Summary of Chapters

The first chapter on scholarly writing describes the format of different types of papers (quantitative, qualitative, and mixed method; quantitative and qualitative meta-analyses; literature reviews; student papers including dissertations; and others). In this chapter, there is new content on data sharing; ethical, legal, and professional standards in writing for publication; and avoiding plagiarism and self-plagiarism, which will be particularly helpful to students. A later chapter explains when and how to cite works and has additional discussion on plagiarism.

The next chapter describes preparing each part of the paper from title page through references and includes sample papers (an article and a student paper) illustrating the principles. This chapter is intended for students and novice users of APA.

Reporting guidelines ensure that critical information about a study is included in a manuscript. Guidelines have been found to improve the quality of research reports and other types of manuscripts. There is a new chapter in this edition on standards for reporting quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research. (A good resource for authors is the EQUATOR website at http://www.equator-network.org/. There are literally hundreds of reporting guidelines available at that website.)

The next set of chapters in the new edition provides principles of effective scholarly writing, tips on grammar and word usage, using bias-free language in writing, and mechanics of style (punctuation, spelling, abbreviations, etc.). The new chapter on using bias-free language endorses the use of singular “they,” consistent with inclusive usage.

Authors and students need guidelines and examples for developing tables and figures, which are provided in the APA Manual. In this chapter, there are more than 40 new examples of tables and figures, which will be helpful to authors. There is now consistency in the formatting of tables and figures.

As in the prior edition, chapters describe how to: prepare in-text citations with examples of many possible variations; paraphrase and quote works; and prepare references. There is a separate chapter with many examples of references which include how to reference social media, websites, and other online sources.

Final chapters in the new edition explain the publication process, copyright and permissions, and what happens post-publication. There are sections on what can be shared after publication and on open access.

Changes in APA Style Worth Noting

  1. Only one space is used after a period at the end of a sentence. This is a welcome change!
  2. In-text citations for works with 3 or more authors are shortened to the name of the first author plus et al.
  3. The number of authors to include in a reference has changed: up to 20 authors can be listed before using the ellipsis.
  4. DOIs and URLs are provided as hyperlinks. The “DOI” part is no longer included, and the words “Retrieved from” are added only if the reference needs a retrieval date.
  5. Journal article references include the issue number.
  6. Book references omit the publisher location.

For the first time, the manual will be available in a tabbed, spiral bound edition, as well as hardback, paperback, and e-book versions. The initial printing will have 700,000 copies which should ensure an ample supply for authors, students, and researchers!

How quickly will journals and schools of nursing that use APA style expect people to switch to the 7th edition guidelines? That remains to be seen, but my advice would be to go ahead and start following APA advice. Many of the changes are easy to implement and some will make writing easier. Take advantage of that!


  1. American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). American Psychological Association.
  2. EQUATOR Network. (2019). Reporting guidelines for main study types. https://www.equator-network.org/reporting-guidelines/

About the Author

Marilyn H. Oermann, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, is Thelma M. Ingles Professor of Nursing, Duke University School of Nursing, Durham, North Carolina, USA. She is Editor of Nurse Educator and the Journal of Nursing Care Quality. marilyn.oermann@duke.edu

2019 29 4 1 Oermann

Copyright 2019: The Author. May not be reproduced without permission.
Journal Complication Copyright 2019: John Wiley and Son Ltd.