Dissertation APA Formatting Basics

APA formatting can be very challenging as there are many (some obscure) rules to remember. I wanted to point out a couple nuances regarding APA reference formatting that you may not be aware of.

Here are some of the more common errors I see on a daily basis for my students and clients:

  • For each periodical (journal), there must be either a DOI or “retrieved from” URL. The DOI takes precedence over the URL, if present. To locate the DOI, search for the title at crossref.org. If a DOI is not available, use the journal’s homepage URL as the retrieved from source – not the database (e.g., Proquest).
  • The inclusion of an issue number implies that each issue begins on page 1, if not, omit the issue #. However, to determine this, multiple issues must be observed at the journal homepage – this takes work!
  • Only capitalize the first word of the title and sub-title.
  • Italicize the journal name and volume number, or the book title.
  • Only use the authors first and middle initials – not their full names
  • Use a number for units of measure, e.g., “5 years”, even if less than 10
  • Always use past tense for cited sources, e.g., “Smith (2019) stated…”
  • Avoid anthropomorphisms/personifications, e.g., “The study asserted…” Note here that the author(s) asserted, not the study!

Do any of these look familiar?  How does your paper align?  Also, do have the APA Manual?  Have your read it from front to back – with highlights?

APA Manual, 6th Edition

Here’s a link for further research regarding locating the DOI: 


Is this something that you would like assistance with. Let’s talk! Contact Dr. Lonny today and let’s put a plan together for your doctoral success.

Dr. Lonny has extensive experience in helping doctoral-level students through all phases of their dissertation, including writing, methodology, and all phases of the dissertation process and deliverable. Contact Dr. Lonny today to setup a free initial consultation and to discuss your dissertation topic, status, challenges, along with services offered and pricing options.

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Dr. Lonny

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