The American Psychology Association created the APA format for academic writing. It is one of many formats including the Modern Language Association or MLA format and the Chicago Style also known as Turabian. With a myriad of associations in existence and each having its own writing format, how do you decide when to use APA? Here are some situations that you can usually use:
Almost every paper in the field of Psychology will be required to be written in APA format. The writing style was in fact structured specifically for psychological writing and perhaps only the most eccentric of Psychology professors would request another.
Fields that are similar to psychology can also use the APA format. This may also be useful where the dissertation straddles two different fields and one of them is Psychology or both of them are similar to Psychology.
In writing your dissertation it is important to bear in mind that your work will be corrected by someone else and your academic future depends on the result. If you are writing an Economics dissertation and your professor requests the APA format, don’t be a hero. Do as you’re told. You should request clarification if you believe he or she misspoke but once you receive confirmation, write the requested format. Your professor may have reasons for making that request or may be a little bit strange mentally but that person holds so much of your future at stake that it’s better to comply in the short term and muse over the strangeness of it all later on.
In cases where no style has been specified at all and APA style is the one you know best, it makes sense to select it. Double check that your professor isn’t just assuming everyone knows what style is required just in case. Once you know for sure, start writing in APA. It’s a great tool to have in your academic kit and you should use it whenever possible.
There may be a few other circumstances in which the style is the best option but this gives a basic idea of when to use the APA format.
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