Discussing common writing problems related to PhD thesis writing

Completing An APA Dissertation: Fundamental Formatting Rules

The APA format is possibly one of the most common formats that you will be asked to adopt when completing your dissertation. Students seem to adopt one of two mentalities when approaching their studies, they either stress excessively about meeting the guidelines, or they become too blasé about the whole subject. Both of these strategies will get you into serious difficulty. It couldn’t be simpler, if you have been tasked with following a particular style, all you have to do is follow it!

Here are the fundamental rules that you will need

  • Hanging Indentation
  • Who would have thought that there would be so many different ways to indent your work? In case you haven’t come across this before, hanging indentation is simply where you write the first line as normal, but then indent each line of the paragraph thereafter. In this case, then your margins should be half an inch from the left hand margin.

  • Cite references in Alphabetical order
  • You are probably already familiar with using someone’s surname before their first name. Well, all you need do here is to remember to list them alphabetically. Please start with the surname of the first person to be named in each source.

  • Titles should be cited in full
  • I’m sure that at some point most of us have found ourselves stricken by the laziness bug and have only cited the first part of a title – choosing to overlook the subtitle. In this kind of formatting this would be considered to a major faux-pas and so it is very important that you always cite the title in full.

  • Capitalisation
  • All major words in your paper should be capitalised. Don’t worry if this looks or seems weird to you, it is simply the format that you are required to follow. While in most areas of academia you will be rewarded for your free thinking, there are also an awful lot of rules and failure to comply with this will seriously impact in the overall grade that you get.

  • To use Italics or not use them?
  • If your paper is quite lengthy then you should use italics for the title. However, if your work is quite short, then using italics could work against you. As this particular rule can seem a little pedantic, I would suggest having a word with your tutor if you are in any doubt at all.

« Go back to the previous page