There is more to APA format than just works cited. APA format, more officially known as American Psychological Association, is one of two main documentation styles used in the United States. This format is traditionally used when writing natural or social sciences research papers, including Physiology, Linguistics, Sociology, Economics, Criminology, Business and Nursing. It guides style, voice and references for your paper.

APA Basics

Use APA format in research papers to organize your content, achieve an active, first-person writing style and format in-text citations, endnotes, footnotes and reference pages. General APA guidelines recommend that you use 12 pt. Times New Roman font, include a page header at the top of every page and include four main sections in your paper: the title page, abstract, main body and references.

Establishes Credibility

By using APA format in your paper, you provide readers with cues that allow them to follow your ideas more efficiently. Using this standard format allows your readers to focus on your ideas instead being distracted by unfamiliar text and formats. The APA format shows that you are aware of your audience and helps establish your credibility.

Provides Style Guidelines

When writing in an APA format, you should use a certain style in your writing. The APA format explains what point of view and voice to write from, how to address clarity and conciseness and how to select certain words and terms. Clarity and conciseness are essential for conveying research. It helps you provide adequate information to your readers for following the development of your study. APA format guides you when selecting certain words, such as participants rather than subjects, helping you to increase clarity and control over how your readers receive your information and to avoid bias. Unlike other more literary styles, APA format recommends that you use simple, plain language to avoid confusing your meaning. Also, minimize figurative language and avoid using rhyming schemes or poetic devices.

Protects Against Plagiarism

After spending hours, even days, researching and writing a paper, the last thing you want is to be accused of plagiarism. The key to avoiding this is giving credit where it is due. Any word or idea that originated from somewhere else should be documented in your text following APA format. This includes information you gain through an interview, copying a unique phrase, using diagrams, charts or pictures or reusing media, audio, video or images.