APA Style: Why & What

by Larry Lesser, a Founding Editor of TEEM (Teaching for Excellence and Equity in Mathematics), a journal of TODOS: Mathematics for ALL.


This note is intended especially for first-time contributors who may not have prior experience publishing their excellent ideas. It is important and proper scholarly practice for articles to make connections with and give credit to prior and related work that grounds and informs one's writing. Bibliographic information on these sources needs to be sufficiently complete so that a reader could track down those items if she/he so desired. The most common way journals (including TEEM) ensure that this happens is to require a particular "style" or "format" for references to be in, and APA style happens to be the style most common in education journals. APA stands for the American Psychological Association, and its most recent version is the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2019).


The great majority of references in a typical paper will be covered by the following examples. Further details, types of examples, formats for tabulated statistics, etc., can be readily tracked down using the references and websites on APA style listed at the bottom of this webpage. In the examples below, I give the format in "generic template format" and then illustrate with a specific example of one of my works. Take note of the use of commas, periods, italics, parentheses, abbreviations, and capitalization. (But remember, the most important thing is to make sure all the information is included its a lot easier for editors to adjust capitalization than it is to track down a missing publisher, volume number, etc.) Another important thing to note about APA style is that when you quote an article in your paper, you need to give an in-text citation that includes author(s), year, and page(s) [example: Lesser (2008, p. 5)], rather than use a footnote.



Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Journal or Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages.


Lesser, L. M. (2008). Equity, social justice, and the mission of TODOS. Noticias de TODOS: News from TODOS Mathematics for All, 4(2), 7-9.


BOOK example:

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle (note the edition if there are multiple editions). Publisher.


Mayes, R. L., & Lesser, L. M. (1998). ACT in algebra: Applications, concepts and technology in learning algebra (prelim. ed.). McGraw-Hill.



Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. In A. Editor & B. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pages of chapter). Publisher.

Lesser, L. M., & Blake, S. (2006). Mathematical power: Exploring critical pedagogy in mathematics and statistics. In C. Rossatto, R. L. Allen, & M. Pruyn (Eds.), Re-inventing critical pedagogy: Widening the circle of anti-oppression education (pp. 159-173). Rowman & Littlefield.



(note: if the paper also was published in that conference's print or online proceedings, then that's usually a more accessible way to cite the paper; even if there is no published proceedings paper, the oral presentation itself is still typically referred to as a "paper" that is presented)


Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year of presentation). Title of presentation. Paper presented at the Name of Conference, Location of Conference.


Lesser, L. M., & Winsor, M. (2009). English language learners in statistics education. Paper presented at the sixth International Sun Conference on Teaching and Learning, El Paso, TX.



(note: when a conference does publish a proceedings volume, the publication year could actually be the year AFTER the year of the conference, as in the case below)


Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of paper. Title of Proceedings (pages of paper). Publisher.


Lesser, L. M. (2009). Social justice, gender equity, and service learning in statistics education: Lessons learned from the DOE-funded Project ACE (ACtion for Equity). Proceedings of the 2008 Joint Statistical Meetings, Section on Statistical Education (pp. 424-431). American Statistical Association.