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APA Review Checklist

Unless otherwise specified, page numbers indicated in square brackets refer to the 6th edition, 2nd printing or later (© 2010) of the Publication ManualAPA Style Guide to Electronic References, 6th ed. (© 2012); and APA Style Blog ( Latest changes reflected in NMU Olson Library APA Style Guide.

APA revised the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) format on March 1, 2017. Example:

APA Style is fluid (regularly changing), and some referencing formats have changed since the Manual was published in July 2009.

Therefore, it is highly recommended students consult the NMU Olson Library APA Reference Style Guide for examples, especially how to reference articles & books assigned a DOI, articles retrieved online which were not assigned a DOI, and how to reference online books & reports. However, the library's APA guide and checklists are not replacements for the entire Manual.

When preparing a product, it is highly recommended using MS Word style "No Spacing," because "Normal" style inserts extra space between paragraphs & references. 
If project is already written, change the content by highlighting narrative & references, click on Line and Paragraph Spacing, and then select: Remove Space After Paragraph.


  • Times New Roman 12-point font; everything double-spaced.

Organization & Miscellaneous

  • Include page numbers & running head as specified in DNP guidelines. Some Thesis & NMU Nursing DNP Scholarly Project guidelines specify No Running Head, and have different location for page numbers.
  • (Graduate works only) Chapters labeled according to DNP Handbook using words, not numerals.
  • In narrative, only two spaces (not one, not three) following end of sentence punctuation. Use Ctrl-H to find & replace these occurrences.
  • IRB is Institutional Review Board
  • If two sets of words are hyphenated but split, include the hyphen for both. Correct: pre- and post-test Incorrect: pre and post-test
  • Also, be consistent using word forms. If you introduce pre-test using a hyphen, keep that form throughout manuscript; do not make it one word: pretest.
  • Refer to decades without apostrophe. Correct: 2000s Incorrect: 1990's.
  • APA does not use superscripting for numbers such as 4th or 3rd. (Change Options - Proofing - Autocorrect settings in Word).

Inclusion of copyrighted material

  • Inclusion in whole (reprint) or in part (adaptation) of previously published copyrighted material requires written permission from the copyright holder[APA Manual, pp. 173-174] [DNP Scholarly Project Guidelines, p. 12]
    If original source is journal article, book, or report, contact publisher. If an instrument (survey, etc.), first contact creator directly.
    If material is from a web page, it is still protected by copyright, & students must secure permission before using. Place copies of permission correspondence (e-mail, letters) in an Appendix. 
    If permission is not received, copyrighted material must not be included in the Scholarly Project.

Chapter 4 - Mechanics of Style (Capitalization, Spelling, & Numbers) [pp. 87-124]


  • Capitalize all proper nouns and brand names of products. However, do not capitalize generic names. 
    [p. 102] Example: capitalize Tylenol, but not acetaminophen.
  • Academic course names. Spell out and capitalize specific course.
    Example: Nursing 311 not NU 311. [p. 102]
  • Do not capitalize or italicize names of laws, theories, models, statistical procedures, or hypotheses. However, capitalize personal name portion of these. [pp. 102-103] 
    Example: Roy's adaptation theory
  • Capitalize complete titles of tests, inventories, or scales. However, do not capitalize the word test or scale if it refers to subscales of tests. [p. 103]
  • First word of genera, species, and varieties are always capitalized. All are italicized. [p. 105]

Numbers [pp. 111-114]

  • Verify correct form of all numeric values. Include a comma for thousands (except dosage, temperature, years).
  • Generally, values less than 10 are spelled out, and values 10 or greater use numbers. 
    Examples: five nurses   75 patients
    However, when beginning a sentence with a number, always spell out the number as word(s). Example: One nurse supervises 15 RNs   not: 1 nurse supervises
    APA recommends not beginning a sentence with a number, and instead rewrite the sentence.

Exceptions to these general rules for numbers

  • Range of time should be numbers, as in: 9 to 12 months or 9-12 months
  • For time of day, do not spell out in words, but rather use standard conventions: 
    12:00 p.m. or at 3:00 p.m. [p. 112]
  • Use words for approximates, as in: about six weeks. [p. 112]
  • Temperature: use numerals and scale abbreviation. [p. 114] 
    Example: 98.6 °F
  • Percent: When percent sign is preceded by a number, use symbol with no space. [p. 118] 
    Correct: 12%  5% 
    Incorrect: 12 percent  5 percent   five percent   five%
  • However, when discussing percentage (no value) or percentile, spell out word.

Statistical and Mathematical Copy [pp. 116-123] Note use of italics & spacing

  • Writing p values: p < .001 or p = .005
  • Number of subjects in total sample N = vs. n = for portion of sample

Chapter 5 - Displaying Results (Tables & Figures) [125-167]

  • APA uses the following terminology: 
    Tables (row-column structure) 
    Figures (graphs, charts, maps, photos, illustrations-basically any illustration which is not a table) [p. 125]
  • Tables & figures are numbered using Arabic numerals in the order in which they appear in the work. 
    [p. 127]
  • Must label all tables & figures, even those in Appendices
  • Must caption all tables & figures.
  • The label for a table is written above. Example: Table 1 then double-space between table number and table title.
  • Insert table caption below table, beginning with: Note. 
    If information is from another source, include citation in caption according to copyright holder's directions; if none provided, use examples in Chapter 5 and as indicated on this library guide.
  • Figure number is placed underneath as part of the caption, and is italicized: Figure 2.
  • When student creates table/figure using data/info from their own research, caption needs to include only a brief description and any notes.
  • When referring to either in the narrative, capitalize the word, don't italicize, and never abbreviate: 
    Table 1  (Figure 3)

Chapter 6 - Crediting Sources (citing in-text & formatting names in references) [169-192]

Examples of how to format in-text citations appear in Table 6.1, p. 177, the In-text Citations tab of the APA guide, and here on the Library's web site.

  • In-text citation only works listed in the References. 
    Exception: When referring to an entire web site in the narrative, provide the source URL of the site in parentheses, and do not include in References. 
    Example: The American Nurses Association website ( provides a wealth of information to the newly-licensed RN.
  • Use Ctrl-F to find all occurrences & formatting of an author’s work(s) in-text & on the References list.
  • Spelling accuracy of author last names is critical.
  • Make sure to cite complete individual person author last name(s) in-text; that is, no abbreviations or shortening.
  • When citing groups/organizations the first time, spell out name and then indicate its acronym. In order to avoid confusion, recommend using well-known acronym for that group/organization. 
    Example: Here is a parenthetical first citation to a 2010 WHO report: (World Health Organization [WHO], 2010). Subsequent in-text cites to this work would then appear as: (WHO, 2010).
  • When citing more than one author parenthetically, place ampersand before last author, not the word and. Example: (Smith & Jones, 2011).

  • et al. : format inside parentheses is: (first author et al., year) Outside parentheses: first author et al. (year)
  • Applying et al. : If not using Zotero or Endnote (which tracks & automatically formats et al.), must keep track of first set of authors then subsequent use of et al. Do not revert to listing all of the authors later in the manuscript.
  • Citing six or more authors? Use: first author et al. and the year for first & subsequent cites. However, if two references shortened are the same form, include in-order first author and additional authors as necessary, followed by a comma and et al. to distinguish the works. [p. 175]

  • Citing more than one source within parentheses? Arrange alphabetical in order as they appear on the References list, and separate entries by a semi-colon. 
    Correct: (Jones & Smith, 2017; Marks & Fitz, 2012) Also, do not insert the word and or & sign after the semicolon. 
    Incorrect: (Smith & Marks, 2012; & Taylor & Fish, 2014)

  • More than one work with same first author surname (but are different people) [p. 176, Section 6.14] 
    Insert in-text all of the first author initials including capitalization and periods. 
    Example: Two works authored as follows: Barley, Zoe A. published in 2009; and Barley, Maurice Willmore published in 1972. 
    When citing these in-text, write: 
    We reviewed a number of studies authored by Z. A. Barley (2009) and M. W. Barley (1972).
  • More than one work with same first author surname (but are different people) & will use et al.(same first author/year & et al.). Insert in-text all of the first author initials.
  • When referring to individuals (not authors) in-text, omit titles (Dr.) and degrees (PhD). [p. 23]. Also provide in-text citation.

  • Secondary sources. As stated in the Manual: "Use secondary sources sparingly ... when the original work is out of print, unavailable through usual sources, or not available in English." [p. 178] 
    Generally, avoid using secondary sources. Instead, well before project deadline, try to acquire the original source cited in the secondary source. If the library does not own the original work, request through interlibrary loan (articles only take a few days, and books a little longer). 
    When writing a master's or doctoral thesis/dissertation/scholarly project, it is recommended students should not be citing secondary sources and relying upon secondary interpretations.
  • Strongly recommend referencing & citing original source of theories, not rely upon secondary sources. Examples include journal articles, books, or web page authored by theorist. Also acceptable would be reprint of author's theory in a theory book.
  • When referring to a specific figure in-text, the word is capitalized. Example: Figure 1
  • Seriation (creating lists) see Manual pp. 63-64. If including within a paragraph, APA uses letters, not numbers.
  • Direct quotation fewer than 40 words (part of sentence). Period is placed at the end of the sentence, not at the end of the quote. [Manual, p. 171]
  • Direct quotation 40 or more words (Block quotation). Period is placed at the end of the quotation itself. In-text citation follows but does not end in a period. [Manual, p. 171]
  • Emphasizing terms. Use italics the first time, and normal text thereafter. Do not use quotation marks unless indicating it as a direct quote, and then of course citing the source.
  • Abbreviations. Provide only when expected to use abbreviation more than once.
  • Avoid making et al. a possessive.
  • When citing & referencing names of software (such as SPSS, etc.), see p. 210 for rules.
  • All direct quotes must include page number, or if web page... section heading and paragraph number.

Chapter 7 - Reference Examples [pp. 193-215]

Law/legal sources: Manual, Appendix 7.1: References to Legal Materials [216-224]; The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (2015) 


  • Begin references on a new page, then center & title it (neither bold nor underline): 
  • Only works cited in-text must appear in References (except when referring to an entire web site, which is in-text only). Works consulted but not directly cited do not belong on the list of references. 
    Exception: Writing a Literature Review-type of article (which is vastly different from the lit review section of the scholarly project).
  • Some sites may refer to web pages as "articles." In APA style, articles are published in periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers/news sites). If it is not a periodical, reference as a web page.
  • Reference the same exact work only once in the list.
  • Make sure all entries use hanging indent, and are double-spaced.
  • Provide one space following end of sentence punctuation in References.
  • Arrange list alphabetically by first author last name.
  • Never use et al. in the References list.

Author Sentence

  • For a reference entry, list authors in the order they appear on the work.
  • Must include author middle initials when provided in the source (this is absolutely required). This directly affects the arrangement of entries in References.
  • Do not place a comma between author initials, but after the author first initial (when no middle is used), or after middle initial (when middle initial is used).
  • Must place a space between author initials.
  • When author has hyphenated first name, include periods for initials: M.-C.
  • Scandinavian author names such as van Soeren: Van is usually not the middle name, but rather part of the last name. Capitalize according to the form as it appears on the article.
  • When same exact set of authors in the same order & published same year, arrange alpha by title/part, and place lower-case letters immediately after year: (2001a) (2001b) [Manual, p. 182]. Use same year format for in-text cites.
  • When referencing works with more than 7 authors, there is a space between 6th author initial and ellipses. For example: Smith, L., . . . Bardin, T.
  • Format of author entries are last name, first initial, middle initial. Only exception is for authored chapter in an edited book.
  • When organization is author, do not include or replace name with acronym. Correct: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Incorrect: CDC.
  • When referencing U.S. government agencies as authors, do not spell out United States. Instead, provide initials without a space: U.S. 
    Also, provide the specific agency, not just the parent agency. Exception is CDC and some other well-known health agencies. See examples on APA guide & p. 205.

Publication Year

  • For journal articles, books, reports, & web pages, provide only the latest year.
  • For magazine articles, provide year, month such as: (2012, August)
  • For newspaper articles, provide year, month, day: (2017, July 10)

Capitalization of article, book, report, & web page titles

  • Basically, capitalize first word of title, & subtitle following a colon. Also proper names, abbreviations, & acronyms.
  • Titles of projects are considered proper names, and therefore capitalized.
  • Do not place quotation marks around article titles unless they appear on the article.
  • When including quotation marks in a title, the ending period goes inside, not outside of the ending quotation mark.

Source sentence: Journal articles

  • Journal titles: Do not use MEDLINE-type of abbreviations, such as Am J Nutr
  • Verify official title of journals (e.g., Formulary, not Formulary Journal).
  • Journal titles: If official title is an acronym, DO NOT expand title. Correct: JAMA, AORN Journal, AANA Journal 
    Incorrect: Journal of the American Medical Association
  • Only include location when part of official title-even if the publication title is a generic name. Correct: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Incorrect: The Mining Journal (Marquette).
  • Capitalize all significant words; that is, all words except conjunctions, articles, prepositions.
  • Italicize journal title and volume number (but not issue number or page numbers).
  • Must include volume number (unless not yet assigned due to advance publication). Suggest including issue number unless known for sure that journal uses continuous pagination throughout volume.
  • Article published in supplemental issue format is: 109(Suppl. 2)
  • Advanced online publications - Verify article status is still advanced (has not been published). Often, articles have been published between when first retrieved, and then later submitted for a grade.
  • Colons are not used in the source sentence.
  • Must provide complete beginning & ending page numbers for articles. However, if journal is published online-only which includes an article number not a page number, APA requires you provide the page number range of the PDF. Examples include titles beginning with BMC. 
    For journals which are only published in HTML format and do not provide page numbers, place a period after the issue number. For example, referencing articles from Online Journal of Issues in Nursing would look like this: Online Journal of Issues in Nursing 22(3).

DOI (digital object identifier)

  • Must provide assigned DOI; this is not a choice, but a requirement. NMU DNP students are required to use the new format (effective 3/1/17), which begins: 
    Zotero uses this new format.
  • Verify DOIs are correct and match the reference.
  • If you split a DOI address between lines, begin next line with a slash: /

DOI not appearing on article or book?

Where to locate DOI for one article

  1. Check the first page of article (usually in smaller print near journal logo, copyright, or near author email address).
  2. If not on article, check database record/abstract (sometimes labeled as DOI). CINAHL began adding DOIs in 2009.
  3. If DOI does not appear on either article or in database, search the Cross/Ref DOI Lookup using article author/title

Where to locate DOI for list of articles

  1. Create an account at Cross/Ref. After you submit your request, you will receive an e-mail. Please click on the provided link to activate your account.
  2. Next, go to Simple Text Query Form and enter your e-mail address, then copy & paste entire reference list into box. Click submit.
  • If article retrieved online is not assigned a DOI, then must provide journal home page URL. 
    Note: this is different than the URL of where you found the article.
  • Verify the correct journal URL which matches the article referenced. For example, there are at least three different journals titled Child Welfare.
  • URLs are not underlined or active (change Options - Proofing - Autocorrect settings in Word).
  • If you split URL between lines, next line must begin with a slash: /

Book, Reports, Government Documents

  • Referencing a book with editors? In most cases, reference the separately-authored chapter(s), not the entire book.
  • Very few quality/academic works lack an author. If unable to identify an author, search title in WorldCat to verify the author.

  • For reports, include report number in parentheses at end of title sentence. Also provide URL for PDF, not web page URL on which PDF link appears.
  • Print version: Include Place of publication (City, ST/Province) or (City, Country) followed by a colon : followed by publisher. 
    Name of publisher: exclude words such as Publishing, Pub., Co., or Inc. [Manual, p. 187]
  • Name of publisher: keep words such as Books and Press [Manual, p. 187]

  • Online version: Do not include exact URL, but instead the source URL (see Library's APA Guide for provider-specific examples). You may not substitute print reference information for an ebook.
  • No comma between book title and edition statement within parentheses.
  • When online reports are regularly updated, recommend using latest published report (current data).

Chapter in an edited book

  • Is the book edited, or just authored? Verify by looking at the title page and verso page (will state edited by or Ed.).
  • Begin entry by providing author(s) of book chapter. Year of publication. Title of chapter.
  • Include page numbers of entire chapter, not just cited portion.

Web pages

  • If no individual(s) responsible for page, provide organization/agency as author.
  • Include latest year of publication as indicated on web page. Except for some government agencies, most provide year.
  • Titles of web pages are no longer italicized (changed in fall 2014).
  • For web pages, indicate exact date of retrieval.
  • If source is behind a paywall or "member-only," provide home page URL.
  • Verify URLs for web pages; update broken URLs.
  • Use caution when referencing lecture notes by a graduate TA or papers posted by students, as their credibility is questionable.
  • Some sites may refer to web pages as "articles." In APA style, articles are published in periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers/news sites). If it is not a periodical, reference as a web page.
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