APA writing style?

Posted: October 8th, 2020

APA 6th Edition vs. APA 7th Edition

The American Psychological Association, APA, in October 2019, released the APA 7th edition. APA 7th edition comes ten years after its predecessor, APA 6th edition. The edition’s recent launching means that students, professional authors, faculty, and editors need to master the new rules within the shortest time.

So, what is the difference between APA 6th edition and APA 7th edition?

Our comprehensive guide will explain in-depth the difference between these two editions. This article will help you transition smoothly from using the APA 6th to the APA 7th edition.


What is APA style?

APA is an accepted writing style and formatting for academic documents such as academic papers, journals, and books. It is a typical style of writing paper references and citing sources in social or behavioral sciences.

The guide comes from the American Psychological Association, hence the abbreviation APA. APA guidelines are developed to help a reader comprehend more the fields of behavioral and physical sciences.

For better clarity under the APA style, there is a chapter which reduces language bias. Over time, APA has been adopted for use in other disciplines such as scientific journals, textbooks, and in academics.

APA has been used over time in publishing since 1923. With time, the writing style became popular, with editions undergoing reviews to keep up with the changing publishing needs. The first edition was released and underwent two editions- one in 1957 and the other in 1967.

The second edition was released in 1974. The third followed in 1983 and the fourth in 1994. In 2001, the fifth was published, the sixth in 2009, and the latest, the seventh edition in 2019. The sixth edition has been used for more than ten years.

APA 6th edition

What is APA 6th edition?

The 6th edition of the APA publication manual was launched and used for ten years (2009-2019). Four years after its development, the sixth edition had some controversies which led to the revision of some of its elements.

The Task Force responsible for manual revisions identified the need for modifications based on user comments, input from professionals, and some APA governance groups.

 What is APA 7th edition?

The APA 7th edition is the most recent and currently used guidelines for writing in APA style. It contains the rules regarding writing and formatting for editors, writers, researchers, students, and educators in social and behavioral sciences.

The difference in Referencing between APA 6th edition and 7th edition

In-text references

In-text reference, also known as in-text citations, is a brief reference that you include in your writing. The citation is placed within the text to help the reader differentiate your writing from other people’s work.

There are different ways to reference sources. Majorly, the reference style depends on the number of authors. Here are the guidelines for referencing under the APA 6th edition and how they differ under the 7th edition; 

  • An in-text reference for a piece written by one author

Under the sixth edition, in-text references are written in this format: Author’s last name, (Year). For example,…according to Wilson, (1990) OR Wilson, (1990) argues that…

The same format is used for in-text referencing under the 7th edition.

  • In-text referencing for work done by two authors

Writing an in-text reference for two authors’ work under the APA 6th edition will follow this format 1st Author’s Surname & 2nd Author’s Surname, (Year) for the first use. For subsequent uses, the structure will be the same.

For example, Beth & Ephantus (1998) OR Beth and Ephantus (1998)

Adding an in-text reference for work done by two authors using new APA 7th edition, you will use this format; 1st Author’s surname et al., (Year)

For example, Beth et al., (1998)

  • Work done by three to four authors

Under the sixth edition, work done by between one and four authors would be referenced in this format for the first use;

1st author’s surname, 2nd author’s surname, 3rd author’s surname & 4th author’s surname, (Year).

For example- Johnson, Wilson, Oliver & Joseph, (2000).

Other subsequent in-text referencing will be done in using this format; 1st Author’s Surname et al.,(Year)

For example, Johnson et al., (2000)

Adding an in-text reference for work done by more than two authors using new APA 7th edition, you will use this format; 1st Author’s surname et al., (Year)

For example, Beth et al., (1998)

  • One piece written by six or more authors

For both the first and subsequent uses, the sixth edition used this format for work done by six or more writers; 1st Author’s Surname et al., (Year).

For example, James et al., (2009)

Adding an in-text reference for work done by more than six authors using new APA 7th edition, you will use this format; First Author’s surname et al., (Year)

For example, Beth et al., (1998)

  • Authors sharing a last name

When writing an in-text reference, we use the author(s) surnames. So, what happens when several authors share a surname? How do you distinguish each author?

Under the APA 6th edition, you would different each author using this format; First Author- First name initials. Surname, (Year)

For example: G. W. Luke, (1989)

First Author’s first name- initials. Last name & Second Authors surname, (Year)

For example, G.W. Luke & Edwards (2002) discovered that… 

Citing an indirect quotation under the 7th edition

An indirect citation, also known as a secondary source, refers to when an author’s idea is published in another author’s work, but you have neither read nor accessed the author’s original work.

When citing a secondary source, you will use the same format as you would have used in the sixth edition. You will have to include both authors’ names, add “as cited in” before the citation. For example; …the connection was discovered (Jonathan, as cited in Miller, (2015).

However, when writing the reference list, you will have to provide the original author’s details. This is how the reference list for the in-text reference above will appear; Miller, V. N. (2015). Animal Production (3rd ed.), South Africa, Longhorn Publishers.


How to write the reference list under APA 7th

How to write the reference list using APA 7th edition


Writing the references list using the 6th edition, you would only add as many as seven authors. Thus, it was quite limiting. Under the APA 7th edition, the student or professional author can now include as many as 20 authors for one source.

The new edition also provides more information on the author. For example, you can add the host’s name when referencing a podcast or a director’s name when referencing a TV episode.

When it comes to referencing government publications, the new edition no longer requires the author to add the agency hierarchy as the published author.


When referencing a journal article, the APA 7th edition requires you to include the issue number. Under the revised edition, the journal DOIs format is now doi.orgURL. For example; https://doi.org/20.2210/6.889870. Thus, the prefix “DOI,” which was used when citing using the APA 6th edition, is no longer required.

You should also not add the publisher’s location, which was mandatory when citing under the 6th edition. The 7th edition did away with this. It also eliminated the prefix “Retrieved from” when citing a URL.

The only time you should add a prefix before citing a URL is when the source or information isn’t archived or is bound to change. In which case, you shall add the prefix “Retrieved on (include the date) from (the URL link).

Still, on citing a URL, you should list the website name in title case, unlike under the 6th edition, which required the website name to be in italics. In case the web page title is similar to the author’s title, you should omit, including the web page title.

Lastly, when referencing e-books, including the type of the e-book such as the format, device, or platform, is no longer required. However, you will have to include the publisher.

What Changes does APA 7th edition have for Chapter Two?

Under Chapter two (Paper Elements and Formatting), these are the significant updates in the APA 7th edition;

Author Affiliations

The revised 7th edition demands that affiliations for authors working at various institutions use a superscript format. The format is inclusive of Arabic numerals, which will connect the author’s name to their relevant affiliations.

Each author’s affiliations should be added. That is the name of the course/ department/ division, followed by the institution’s name. A comma should separate these two details.

The 7th edition discourages the inclusion of the institution’s location unless the location is included in the institution’s name. Here is an example of the correct way to write the affiliations.

Author Note

Following the new edition, it is no longer necessary for students to write an author note. Not unless an instructor requires the students to include one. Here are the guidelines for formatting the author’s note as a student and as a professional author if requested.

Running Head

Student papers are no longer required to have a running head, as it was under the APA 6th edition. However, professional manuscripts MUST include a running head, which should be lesser than 50 characters. The words “running head” shouldn’t be used on the first page.

Here is a professional sample paper that will guide you on how to use the running head under the 7th edition.

The student papers page header should only include the page number. Not unless the instructor states otherwise.

APA 6th edition and APA 7th edition guide for writing a running head


The new edition features new guidelines when it comes to formatting and structuring abstracts. APA 7th  edition doesn’t require student papers to have an abstract unless requested by the instructor.


Unlike the 6th edition, APA 7th edition doesn’t make it necessary for student papers unless instructed to include them by the instructor. On the other hand, professional papers should have keywords.


Your paper’s title should appear at the topmost part of your paper, in bold text and centered. The sixth edition limited the author to using New Times Roman font 12. Luckily, the new edition has a variety of fonts that the author can choose from. The fonts are; Georgia 11pt, Arial 11pt, Times New Roman 12pt, Calibri 11pt, and Lucida Sans Unicode 10pt.

Though there is a range of fonts, remember to maintain accessibility when choosing your preferred font. Here is an in-depth discussion on the use of fonts and accessible typography.

When it comes to writing headings, find out how to write each heading and its formatting in our  APA 7th edition comprehensive manual.

Note: Different fonts will take up different space. As such, gauge your paper’s length using word count, rather than using page count.

Line Spacing

The 7th edition required double line spacing when writing your paper. You also do not add any lines before a heading, after a heading, or in between paragraphs.


There are different ways to adjust the margins under the new revision, depending on the paper type. For instance, the margin requirements for theses and dissertations are other than those for journal articles. Here is a detailed discussion on margins for the APA 7th edition.


You should only add one space after a period marking the end of a sentence or paragraph.


APA 7th edition prefers the use of descriptive phrases over nouns to describe people. The 6th edition labeled people using nouns. For example, “people languishing in poverty” instead of using descriptive phrases like “the poor.”

APA 7th edition PDF free download

To understand the APA 7th edition best, here is a sample of a student paper. Here is a professional paper to guide you on how to write it.

APA 7th edition generator

Is the new edition referencing proving troublesome to you? It could be time to get help from an APA 7th citation generator. You will only need to input the reference details, and it will output the citation in the correct format.

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