Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for practitioners, researchers, and students in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

A lot of journals use APA style for journal article submissions. In 2009 APA released the 6th edition with several changes to the 5th edition.

  • What's a good summary of the important changes in the 6th edition?
  • Or, alternatively, what is a good online resource listing these changes?
share|improve this question
As this is the first question about publication process rather than substantive content, I've asked the question on meta about whether people see such questions as in scope for the site: – Jeromy Anglim Feb 8 '12 at 5:49
I would not introduce the apa-style tag... do we want cogsci to become an apa-style reference site? It is okay to ask about research practice (and to have a tag for that) but creating subtags for very specific parts of research-practice (like apa-style) seems dangerous. – Artem Kaznatcheev Feb 8 '12 at 6:47
I agree with @ArtemKaznatcheev, while this question is on topic I'd hate to start getting "Is this okay under APA style" questions. – Ben Brocka Feb 8 '12 at 14:21
Okay, I've removed the tag. I agree we don't want a whole pile of simple questions related to APA style (e.g., "where do I put the comma" type questions) – Jeromy Anglim Feb 8 '12 at 23:16
I am still skeptical about this question, does anyone (except students learning for the first time) actually check their papers for APA style? I just have LaTeX (or Word) auto-format it for me according to the journal's style-sheet. – Artem Kaznatcheev Feb 8 '12 at 23:24
up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you're going to be submitting articles to APA journals you should have access to the APA Publication Manual 6th edition. And it is useful to use a template (see here for discussion of 6th edition LaTeX packages) and a citation system that supports the rules.

There are changes that permit new things (e.g., longer abstracts, bullet lists, and keywords are permitted, single-spaced tables) and there are new suggestions (e.g., stronger encouragement to report confidence intervals; you can say "subjects" if you want; "I" and "we" are recommended over "the researchers"). However, if you already know the 5th edition, then changes of particular interest are those where compliance with the 5th edition would actually lead to violation of 6th edition rules.

Changes that stood out to me:

  • Provide two spaces at the end of sentences (but this doesn't make much sense if you use LaTeX)
  • Formatting of headings have changed and are simplified so that five-heading papers have the same first four headings as four-heading papers
  • Figure captions are now placed on the same page as the figure below the figure.
  • Tables and figures now appear before appendices
  • Footnotes are now placed on the same page that they are referenced.
  • Report p-values to two or three decimal places exactly and those less than .001 as p<.001.

References changes that stood out to me:

  • Include city and state for book publishers even if city is well known
  • Provide DOI with any references that have a DOI

General summaries of changes from 5th to 6th edition

Of course there are lots of little changes, check out some of these references for some other reviews of changes and resources:


  • Hughes, G., Onwuegbuzie, A., Daniel, L., and Slate, J. (2010). Editorial: Apa publication manual changes: Impacts on research reporting in the social sciences. Research in the Schools, 17(1). PDF
share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.