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Using Capitalization in APA Style

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Capitalization

There are 7 basic rules of capitalization in APA, but there are exceptions!
(see page 101-104 of the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association)

  1. Words beginning a sentence (treat the first word after a colon that begins a new sentence as if it were following a period)
  2. Major words in titles and headings
  3. Proper nouns and trade names
  4. Nouns followed by numerals or letters
  5. Titles of tests
  6. Names of conditions or groups in an experiement
  7. Names of factors, variables, and effects

"Use lower case letters when writing out full names of metric units" (Publication Manual, 2010, p. 115) but note there are exceptsions.

See if you can guess the correct way to capitalize words in each of the following examples:

The results of the study are presented in [c]hapter 4.
chapter 4
Chapter 4

Bandura's theory was clear: [s]elf-efficacy is a belief in one's ability
Self-efficacy
self-efficacy

Bandura's theory of [s]elf-[e]fficacy has been supported by research.
Self-efficacy
self-efficacy

In his book, [s]elf-[e]fficacy [i]n [c]hanging [s]ocieties, . . .
Self-Efficacy in Changing Societies
Self-Efficacy In Changing Societies
Self-efficacy in changing societies

The article, "Attitudes [t]oward Mental Health Workers"
The article, "Attitudes toward Mental Health Workers"

The article, "Attitudes Toward Mental Health Workers"

The [d]epartment of [p]sychology at the [u]niversity of [s]outhern California
The department of psychology at the University of southern California
The department of psychology at the University of Southern California
The Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California

A [p]sychology [d]epartment is considered part of [s]ocial [s]ciences
A Psychology Department is considered part of Social Sciences
A Psychology Department is considered part of social sciences
A psychology department is considered part of social sciences

The results of [t]rials 1 and 2 are presented in [t]able 1.
Trials 1 and 2 are presented in Table 1.
trials 1 and 2 are presented in table 1.
trials 1 and 2 are presented in Table 1.

In [t]able 3, [r]ow 1
Table 3, Row 1
Table 3, row 1

While there were significant differences between [w]hites and [b]lacks . . .
Whites/Blacks
whites/blacks

While there were significant differences between [w]hite men and [b]lack men . . .
White/Black
white/black

Shank (2006) indicated that [g]rounded [t]heory requires that researchers be able to set aside the known and strive to allow the unknown to speak

Grounded Theory
Grounded theory
grounded theory

 

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Diane M. Dusick, Ph.D.
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