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PSY 212: Personality: APA Style

Common Errors

As you write all papers for this course, please be mindful of correct grammar, an important component of my evaluation of your work.  Several issues to monitor include:

  • Inclusive language:  Please make sure that the language you use is not biased against any group.  For example, it is better to refer to humankind or people than to men, unless of course you are discussing ideas that relate only to members of a single group.
  • Agreement:  Make sure that you use singular pronouns and verbs when usingsingular nouns.  Consider this example: “A person should examine their values before judging obese people.”  This is incorrect, because the singular noun (person) does not match the plural pronoun (their).  The correct sentence is, “A person should examine his or her values before judging obese people.”
  • Avoid using contractions in formal papers.  You should also avoid using colloquial language or slang, unless you are quoting information that contains colloquialisms and/or slang.  However, quotations are for lazy scientific writers, so you should avoid using them in your paper.  APA guidelines encourage you to paraphrase instead.  You should have no more than one quotation in a scientific paper, though no quotations is preferred.  Finally, avoid what I call “you writing” in scientific papers (e.g., “When your relationship produces anxiety, you will feel….”).  If you have more than a two or three quotations in your paper that could be paraphrased instead, your grade will be reduced. However, do not avoid citing sources to avoid quoting—that will lead to even greater problems for you.
  • Spell check, spell check, spell check!  And be sure to proof your paper for other grammatical and stylistic errors.  A great way to detect errors in your paper is to read your work aloud.  That way, your brain is less likely to fill in the blanks as it does when you read your work silently.

Helpful Books

Need More APA Help?

Check out one of these websites for more tips & tricks: