A university student typing on his laptop in a library.
A university student typing on his laptop in a library.

Determining what kind of writing style to use may be confusing with acronyms like MLA, AP and APA. Which one should you use? If you are writing a paper in the social sciences, the writing style developed by the American Psychological Association (APA) is the most accepted option. APA style puts an strong emphasis on being concise and clear and discourages overly-poetic language and metaphor. It is intended to give professional colleagues a common format within which to communicate ideas and findings. Writing an engaging introduction and an elegant conclusion are important parts of the process.

Format Your Introduction

The introduction is the first paragraph of the main body of your paper. If your instructor requires you to write an abstract, your paper will begin on the page after the abstract; otherwise, begin on the page following the title page. Use a serif typeface, such as Times New Roman, and set your word processing program to double space the lines. Center your title on the page; don't use boldface type or underlining with the title. On the next line, indent an inch using the tab key and begin your introduction paragraph.

Begin Your Introduction

A good introduction makes an intriguing assertion that your paper will then address. Introduce your topic briefly. For example, you could write an opening introduction that reads like this:

Psychologists have recently found previously-undiscovered effects of classical music on the brain of a child under three. Less attention has been paid to the direct connections to language development.

Referencing Study Results

When referencing a study's results in your writing, give a quick summary of relevant background in APA style formatting. Some examples relating to the classical music effect on children introduction might be:

"Smith (1978) studied toddlers raised backstage at rock concerts and concluded that their language development was accelerated six months beyond that of his control group. "

"Jones (1997) studied toddlers in households where music was not allowed and found that their language development was significantly delayed. This suggests a positive correlation between exposure to music and early language learning."

Your Thesis Statement

In one or two sentences of your introduction, state your thesis: "Comparing the studies of Smith and Jones results in an attempt to isolate the connection between music and language development in the early years and suggests related questions in need of further study." Your thesis encapsulates your entire paper into a single sentence; the ideas you summarize in the earlier part of your introduction should flow logically to this statement of the purpose of your work.

Your Conclusion

The conclusion of an APA paper is the final paragraph where you restate your thesis and tie together supporting ideas you have referenced, spelled out and argued for in earlier paragraphs. Don't just restate the information. Instead put it into logical order in the body of your paper like a series of steps the reader can climb, illustrating the connections between each piece that reinforce your thesis. End with a suggestion to your reader that encourages further study or action.