The American Psychological Association (APA) introduced APA 7 in late 2019 as an updated version of APA 6. Understanding these key changes is necessary, considering that most schools adopt APA 7. This ensures that you don’t get confused and use the older version instead of the new version.
In this article, we will explain all the major differences between APA 6 and APA 7 to avoid mixing up.
The following are all the changes you should note. To make things easier for you, we’ve listed the chapter locations of the print manual. We have noted that most universities are now fully adopting APA’s Seventh Edition. This article will include a comparison table highlighting the major differences and similarities between APA 6 and 7 formatting styles. You can check your Writing Center's instructional guidelines for further clarification, but we have exhaustively covered everything necessary.
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APA 6 is standardized across all forums, but in APA 7, there is a different format for students and professionals.
The APA 7 paper formatting guide is as follows:
Title Page for Students
Title Page for Professionals
Please note that there is no limit to how many words the title can have.
In APA 6, the title page is centered on the upper side of the paper without extra spacing:
Note that there is a cap on the number of words to use in a title. Stay under 12.
Elements of the paper:
In APA 6, the following elements are on the paper:
In the APA 7 student format, only provide the following;
For the professional format, only the following are provided:
In academic writing, headings are critical for guiding readers through the paper. Each heading level is organized in the form of subordination. Each section of a paper must begin with a heading: 1.
In APA 6, the heading levels are as follows:
Level 1 Title Case- Centered, boldface, uppercase, and lowercase.
Level 2 heading- flush left, boldface, uppercase, and lowercase.
Level 3 heading- Indented, boldface, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period. The paragraph continues on the same line.
Level 4 heading- Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading followed by a period. Paragraphs continue on the same line.
Level 5 heading- Indented, italicized, lowercase paragraph heading followed by a period. The paragraph continues on the same line.
In APA 7, all levels of heading are title case and bolded. It begins with a level 1 heading; all subsequent subheadings in the introduction section must have level 2 headings.
The heading format for the APA 7 version is as follows:
Other changes to the Paper format are as follows:
In APA6, the running head is shortened or an abbreviation of the title. A small section with the name "running head" on the title page is omitted on all other pages.
In APA 7, the title with 50 or fewer words is used as the running head and is the same for every other page.
The new version has rules on pronoun usage, particularly using "they” as a singular pronoun. According to the manual, use “they” to describe a person whose gender is unknown instead of “he or she.”
In addition, use “they” for a person who uses it as their pronoun. Use Plural forms even when talking about them as a single person. For instance, say they are a good person instead of they are a good person.
APA 7 also advises against using who pronouns to describe animals or inanimate objects. It recommends using non-human relative pronouns such as “that.”
To prevent biases in academic writing, APA 7 has provided new instructions not in the previous version.
In other words, APA 7 insists on biased language and encourages respecting the language preferred by different people irrespective of their race, color, sexual orientation, ethnic identity, etc.,
Italics vs. quotation marks
In APA 6, when providing a linguistic example, use italics to highlight the word, phrase, or sentence. On the other hand, according to APA 7 mechanics of style, only quotation marks are used to highlight the linguistic example.
In APA 6, all numbers in the abstract are expressed numerically except for those expressing time. In APA 7, only numbers from 10, including those expressing time, must be written in numerals in all sections, including the abstract.
Punctuation for Bulleted Lists Within a Sentence
In APA 6, for the bulleted list within a sentence, provide punctuation after each listed element, just like in a regular sentence. On the other hand, in APA 7, you can either include or omit appropriate punctuation at the end of listed items.
The tables and figures formatting style has mostly stayed the same as in other areas. However, there are a few notable changes you should be aware of.
In APA 6, table numbers are in plain type, and the table title is in title case and italicized. On the other hand, in APA 7, the table number is bolded; the title is written in the title case and italicized.
In the older version, the figure number and caption are written on the same line and placed below the figure. In the newer version, the figure number and caption must be on a separate line and set above the figure.
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One of the notable changes in the APA 7 manual is the use of in-text citations. In the previous version, APA allowed listing three to five authors within a text, irrespective of the source. According to APA 6, you first list all the authors and separate them with commas, for example (Smith, Janey, Keys, & James, 2019). For subsequent mentions, only mention one author and use et al. “et al.” (which is the Latin name for “and others”).
However, if a source has more than six or more authors, you only include one author and use et al. for the rest.
On the other hand, APA 7 guidelines state that, for works with three or more authors, only mention one author and use et al. for all citations. For example, (Smith et al., 2019).
If you need to quote a YouTube video or any other streaming video in APA 7, provide a timestamp that marks the beginning of the quoted material in lieu of a page number.
Please note that audiovisual sources include TV shows, music videos, YouTube, speech recordings, PowerPoint slides, photographs, etc.
The type of media determines the author of the audiovisual works you want to quote. However, for streaming videos, the person or group of people who uploaded it are the author. Where the author has a username, mention it in square brackets after their real name.
For APA 6, there is no specific guidance in the manual; it is only available on their blog.
If providing secondary sources, the citation does not include the date of the original source in APA 6. However, in APA 7, secondary source citations must have a date of the original source.
In narrative citations, APA 6 advises against repeating the mention of publication year in the same paragraphs. On the other hand, APA 7 allows for subsequent mentioning of years within the same paragraph.
Whether you are citing a book, journal, or eBook, the APA manual has highlighted some significant changes in how the reference page should be.
Number of Authors
In the APA 6 reference list, you must provide the surname and initials of up to 7 authors in the reference's entry. If there are eight or more authors, use an ellipsis in place of all authors between the sixth and the last. For example, Smith, J. D., Khan, V., Zhang, H., Williams, T., Garcia, J., Sato, Y., . . . Laurence, D.
In APA 7 reference list, the surnames and initials of up to 20 authors are mentioned within the reference list. However, if there are more than 21 authors, you should use an ellipsis between the 19th and the final author.
If a publisher and the author are the same, the word "Author" is mentioned to refer to the publisher in APA 6. However, in APA 7, the publisher is omitted.
The 6th edition includes the publisher’s location in the reference list. It also mentions the city’s name if the country is not within the United States. For instance, Palmerston North, New Zealand
For cities within the US, the two-letter postal code abbreviation for the state is used instead of the country.
In the 7th edition, APA omits the publisher’s location from the reference list. For instance,
APA 6 includes the e-book format, platform, or device but does not include the publisher. E.g., Roach, M. (2010). Packing for Mars: The curious science of life in the void [Kindle version]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com
For APA 7, the publisher is included but omits the e-book format, platform, or device. e.g.
Forsyth, D. (2018). Probability and statistics for computer science. Springer Publishing Company. https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319644097
Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are essential to referencing online sources. In APA 7, sources must include DOI as a complete URL.
APA 7 also allows for shortened DOI and non-DOI links from the publisher.
For assignments submitted electronically, DOI & website links should be hyperlinked beginning with “http://” or https://. These can be either blue/underlined or plain black text, not underlined.
For books that have DOI, it should now be included on the copyright page after the publisher's name. Please note that according to the APA style, APA 7 includes DOI for all sources that have DOI, even if they are not available online.
Reference for Online Work Without DOI
If an online work does not have DOI, APA 6 uses the home page URL of the publisher’s journal or the book/report. However, in APA 7, if the DOI was found in an academic database, there is no need for the URL.
Website Name in References for Online Media
In APA 6, the website information is omitted in the publication, but the URL is provided. In the new version, list the website's name in plain text, then include a period before the URL.
APA 6 uses the words "retrieved from" before the URL in the reference list. E.g.
Forsyth, D. (2018). Probability and statistics for computer science. Springer Publishing Company. Retrieved from https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319644097
However, in APA 7, the words “retrieved from” are omitted. For example,
Forsyth, D. (2018). Probability and statistics for computer science. Springer Publishing Company. https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319644097.
The following table lists other differences between the older and the new versions you should know.
Superscripting of ordinal numbers
Does not allow superscript
Allows ordinal numbers with or without superscript as long as you are consistent
Uses Arial, Futura, or Helvetica, and any font size of between 8 to 14 points.
The recommended font is Arial, Calibri, or Lucinda Sans Unicode, and the size is the same as that of APA 6.
In students’ papers, color in photographs and figures is allowed.
Citing and referencing the Bible
Please provide the full name of the version the first time you cite it and omit it for subsequent mentions.
Spell out the name of the version you wish to cite fully for all citations. Also, provide the original and republished dates of publication. In addition, include the chapter and verse.
Spacing after punctuation marks
Space twice after punctuation at the end of a sentence.
Insert only one space after punctuation.
Preferred spellings of technology terms
All spellings must conform with the American English. Should follow Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. E.g., “e-mail,” “Internet,” and “web page.”
Common technological terms are spelled out like this, “email,” “internet,” and “webpage.”
Times New Roman
Accepts a variety of fonts.
Using abbreviations in headings
No specific guidelines were provided.
Headings can have abbreviations as long as 1) they were previously defined in the text or 2) the abbreviation is exempt from needing definition because it appears as its own word.
Dates listed in secondary source citations
They need to include the date of the original source.
The secondary source must have the date of the original source.
Gender and noun/pronoun usage
No specified guidance.
Use a person’s preferred names and pronouns even if they are not the same as those in their official documents. Note the concerns of confidentiality.
Race and ethnicity
No specific guidelines.
Avoid Latino. Instead, use Latin@” for Latino and Latina “
Don't include an epigraph from any academic source or quotation without permission.
For every paraphrased content, a citation should be used.
Doesn't require citation in every instance. If relevant, cite a source in the first sentence of every paragraph, and don't repeat it for subsequent sentences.
Even though mastering the new rules in the updated APA 7 can feel daunting, it is still possible. Take note of all the sections that differ from APA 7, and remind yourself of them when doing your school assignments. It's also important to always refer to the APA style manual for more detailed information about the new changes. Always check which style to use with your instructor or the publication journal.
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