Style rules are guidelines to ensure uniform writing across authors and publications. You may be familiar with popular guides such as APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard referencing. Your assignment guidelines will usually specify which style guidelines to use; if not, check with your instructor. Whichever style guide is required you should consult the most current manual because guidelines are updated every few years.
Remember, this chapter is based on the 7th edition of the APA (2020) manual.
The American Psychological Association (APA) style guidelines are commonly used in many academic fields, including nursing. The APA manual is a required resource for many nursing courses. So it is advised that you purchase it early in your program and consult it throughout. You can pick it up at your university bookstore. Alternatively, there are many websites where you can purchase an online copy or rent it for one year; however, the price difference is negligible. Another option is to borrow it from the university library.
All style guides specify how to write, format your paper, and cite your sources. You have already learned about some elements of writing, such as language and tone of voice. Other style rules may apply to elements such as manuscript structure (title page, abstract, layout of paper, and appendices), and citations and references. New with the current version of APA is a student version for a title page, which also includes the course number, the instructor name, and the assignment due date. See Figure 9.1 for an example title page for a student paper as per APA (2020). Also, APA indicates that student papers do not require a running head.
Other style rules are related to formatting (margins, line spacing, font size and style, indenting, page numbers, and title). For example, the guidelines indicated with APA (2020) are:
(a) One-inch margins on all four margins with left justification;
(b) Double spaced text;
(c) Times New Roman 12 font;
(d) Page numbers in top right corner starting on the title page;
(e) “Indent first line of every paragraph 0.5 in” (p. 45);
(f) One space after each sentence.
(g) In addition, the title of your paper should appear on the first line of the text of your paper (APA, 2020). As per APA, this title should be “title case, bold, and centered” (p. 39).
You also need to consider levels of heading in your paper. Headings help you organize your paper. APA (2020) identifies five levels of heading all of which are bolded and title cased. For an example of headings, check out the inside cover of the APA manual or this link
You will see that some headings are centred whereas others are flush left or indented (APA, 2020). Also, some are italicized and some have a period at the end of the heading. For a short paper, you may also decide to not use any headings.
Making a Manual Work for You
You may find style manuals confusing. Start by looking at the Table of Contents and review the most relevant sections. You could create a summary sheet of key points or use stick-on tabs to mark important pages or highlight important sections. Manuals provide samples of title pages, abstracts, introductions, citations, and references, and you should model your work based on these samples.
Figure 9.1: Sample title page for a student paper
The Effects of Baccalaureate Education on the Profession of Nursing
Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, Ryerson University
NSE 98: Professional Issues in Nursing
Professor Osay Mina
January 15, 2020