Journal Article Review in APA Style

Journal article reviews refer to the appraisal of potencies and limitations of an article’s opinion and subject matter. The article reviews offer the readers with an explanation, investigation and clarification to evaluate the importance of the article. A journal article review usually follows the APA style, which is in itself an exceptional mode of writing. Writing a journal article review in APA style requires a thorough reading of an article and then present our personal opinions on its subject matter.

In order to write a journal article review in APA style, one must necessarily conform to the detailed guidelines of APA style of writing. As such, a few tips for writing a journal article review in APA style have been provided in details below.

Tips for Writing Journal Article Review in APA Style

Getting started

Read the complete article. Most journal articles use highly complicated and difficult language and wording. Thus, it is suggested to read the article thoroughly several times to understand it perfectly. Select a statement that effectively conveys the main idea of your review. Present the ideas in a rational order, keeping in mind that all opinions must sustain the main idea.

Start with a header with citation

Journal article reviews start with a header, including citation of the sources being reviewed. This citation is mentioned at the top of the review, following the APA style (refer to the APA style manual for more information). We will need the author’s name for the article, title of the article, journal of the published article, volume and issue number, publication date, and page numbers for the article.

Write a summary

The introductory paragraph of the review should provide a brief summary of the article, strictly limiting it to one to three paragraphs depending on the article length. The summary should discuss only the most imperative details about the article, like the author’s intention in writing the article, how the study was conducted, how the article relates to other work on the same subject, the results and other relevant information from the article.

Body of the review

The succeeding paragraphs of the review should present your ideas and opinions on the article. Discuss the significance and suggestion of the results of the study. The body of the article review should be limited to one to two paragraphs, including your understanding of the article, quotations from the article demonstrating your main ideas, discussing the article’s limitations and how to overcome them.

Concluding the review

The concluding paragraphs of the review should provide your personal appraisal of the journal article. Discuss whether the article is well-written or not, whether any information is missing, or if further research is necessary on the subject. Also, write a paragraph on how the author could develop the study results, what the information means on a large scale, how further investigation can develop the subject matter, and how the knowledge of this field can be extended further.

Citation and Revision

In-text citation of direct quotes or paraphrases from the article can be done using the author’s name, year of publication and page numbers (refer to the APA-style manual for citation guidelines). After finishing the writing of journal article review in APA style, it would be advised to re-visit the review after a few days and then re-read it altogether. By doing this, you will be able to view the review with a new perspective and may detect mistakes that were previously left undetected.


The above mentioned tips will help and guide you for writing a journal article review in APA style. However, while writing a journal article review, remember that you are undertaking more than just a narrative review. Thus, the article review should not merely focus on discussing what the article is about, but should reveal your personal ideas and opinions on the article.

Common APA Style Mistakes

Writing or formatting research papers in APA style is a very delicate work. This requires a lot of learning and practice, without which slight errors can pose great blunders. In order to avoid committing common APA style mistakes in your research paper, we are going to provide some useful instruction on how to avoid these common mistakes while writing your own paper.

The present article shows some common APA style mistakes made in research papers, along with their appropriate correction. We cover the basic sections of APA style research papers, including the general formatting and reference formatting of the paper.

Some Common APA Style Mistakes in General Formatting

Page Numbers / Running Head

Incorrect: In most research papers, the page numbers and the short title, also known as the running head is either missed out or not formatted correctly.

Correct: The short title, also called the running head appears in the header of all numbered pages. Starting from the title page, all pages should be numbered consecutively and appear in the upper right corner of each page. For more detailed information regarding APA style formatting, kindly refer to APA style guide.


Incorrect: Some research papers forget to format the ‘Abstract’ section correctly, while some completely forget to even mention this section in their paper. The abstract heading is formatted in bold or italics.

Correct: ‘Abstract’ is the first impression of your paper. It is highly advised to include an abstract as far as possible. The abstract appears on a new page, and the heading is centred and formatted as the rest of the text. More information about formatting the abstract correctly can be read in our article on how to write an abstract in APA style.


Incorrect: Keywords are not listed in the abstract section.

Correct: Keywords are used by search engines to find the information that the reader is searching. Keywords are listed below the abstract and are formatted according to the APA style guide.


Incorrect: Most of the papers had incorrect or inappropriate headings, which were either of wrong level or were incorrectly formatted.

Correct: Headings are quite tricky to format in APA style. Research article’s heading are comparatively easier to format than literature review article’s heading, which is a bit more challenging. All headings, whether first level heading or second level heading or third level heading, and so on, must be equally important in the point they are mentioned.

In-text Citations

Incorrect: Most common errors found in in-text citations include, spelling irregularities, wrong use of ‘et al.’, inaccurate use of commas and ampersands, and jumbled arrangement of multiple citations in a single parenthesis.

Correct: In-text citations should be accurate and valid. The names and year of publication of citations should be consistent throughout the paper. Multiple citations appearing in a single parenthesis should be arranged in an alphabetic order.


Incorrect: Providing direct quotations without page numbers.

Correct: It is advised to provide page numbers for direct quotations as this will save time and energy used in searching the page that the quotation is taken from. For more information on formatting style, kindly refer to our article on APA style of formatting.

Some Common APA Style Mistakes in Reference Formatting


Incorrect: References are not listed and formatted properly.

Correct: References appear on a new page and are formatted with hanging indentation. The heading is centred and formatted like the rest of the text.

Reference list

Incorrect: Most common APA style mistakes found in the reference list formatting include wrong use of commas, full stops, ampersands, etc., or inappropriate formatting of the reference list.

Correct: Reference list can be effectively formatted using available referencing software. However, in order to format the reference list manually, it is necessary to read carefully and learn the correct way of reference formatting in APA style.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Incorrect: In most research papers, DOIs are either omitted or scarcely provided.

Correct: DOI is a distinctive alphanumeric string used to identify content and offer a constant link to its location on the Internet. DOIs are recommended to be provided with the references as this will help the readers in finding the desired references more easily.

The above mentioned rules offer guidance to avoid the most common APA style mistakes while writing a research paper. Following these guidelines thoroughly can be little difficult. However, regular practice will eventually make you more familiar and better acquainted with the basic rules of APA style.

APA Style Citation

APA style citation follows the official guidelines set by the American Psychological Association for listing the sources used in a research paper. It has found widespread use in various disciplines, especially papers of social and behavioral sciences.

A paper with APA style citation should include in-text citations with a corresponding reference list, commonly known as the Reference section. In a research paper, the in-text citations are used in the main body of the paper when you refer to other studies relevant to your topic. The Reference section at the end of your paper should include all the in-text citations that you have used in your main paper. You need to keep in mind that, if you have cited a source in text, it must be included in the reference list.

Advantages of APA Style Citation

  • Its format is standardized in such way that the reader can understand it easily. The in-text citations help the reader to identify the source while reading the sentence/paragraph itself.
  • It does not use footnotes and endnotes. Therefore, the reader does not get distracted while going through the paper.
  • Its format undergoes periodic updations keeping in mind the current research trends.

Guidelines for Using APA Style Citation

Citing references in APA format may seem to be complex for beginners. So, we will discuss a few of the most commonly used APA style citations, which will help to form a basic understanding of this format.

APA Style Citation – In-text

Direct quotes

Example 1: Freud (1927) stated that “religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis” (p. 78).

Example 2: “Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis” (Freud, 1927, p.78).

Note: In case the quote is longer than 40 words, it should be set as a separate block of text with an indent of half inch from the left margin. Do not use quotation marks.

Two authors

Example 1: Optimization of anticoagulation therapy along with the platelet antiaggregation therapy is necessary for the effective management of stroke in TAH patients (Hart & Sherman, 1987).

Example 2: Hart and Sherman (1987) reported that optimization of anticoagulation therapy along with the platelet anti-aggregation therapy is necessary for the effective management of stroke in TAH patients.

Note: ‘and’ is used when the author names are part of the paragraph; ‘&’ is used when the author names are given in parenthesis.

Two to five authors

In first citation, all the names are listed. In subsequent citations, ‘et al.’ is used.

Example: …suffered from serious infection and sepsis (Rose, Moskowitz, & Packer, 1999).

In subsequent citations of the same source, use (Rose et al., 1999).

Six or more authors

In this case, cite the first author’s name followed by et al. for all occurrences.

Example: … for treatment of several diseases (Williams et al., 2002).

Multiple studies cited together

They should be sorted alphabetically with first author name.

Example: Numerous studies (Freud, 1927; Kamil, 1988; Rose et al., 1999; Williams et al., 2002)…

APA Style Citation – References

Two to six authors

Maliranta, M., Mohnen, P., & Rouvinen, P. (2009). Is inter-firm labor mobility a channel of knowledge spillovers? Evidence from a linked employer–employee panel. Industrial and Corporate Change18(6), 1161-1191.

More than six authors

Wolchik, S. A., West, S. G., Sandler, I. N., Tein, J., Coatsworth, D., Lengua, L., et al. (2000). An experimental evaluation of theory-based mother and mother-child programs for children of divorce. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 843-856.


Alchian, A. A. (1950). Uncertainty, evolution, and economic theory. Journal of Political Economy58(3), 211-221.

Note: The issue number should be used only if each issue of that particular journal starts with page one.


Fraenkel, J. R., & Wallen, N. E. (1996). How to design and evaluate research in education. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Book chapter

Stinchcombe, A. L. (1965). Social structure and organizations. In J. G. March (Ed.), Handbook of organizations (pp. 142-193). Chicago, IL: Rand McNally.

Edited book

Brown, J. E., & Stephens, E. C. (Eds.). (1998). United in diversity: Using multicultural young adult literature in the classroom. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

We have listed a few of the most commonly used APA style citations. For more examples and additional information, you can refer the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Choosing Effective Title and Keywords in APA Format Research Paper

The American Psychological Association (APA) format for a research paper mainly consists of four sections: the title page, abstract, main body, and references. Most of the time, the researchers are busy writing the main text of the paper, overlooking the importance of choosing effective title and keywords in APA format research paper.

Little importance is given to the title and abstract in a paper while the keywords are almost ignored and written in a hurry at last. This is a dangerous thing to do as these three—the title, abstract, and keywords—are essential for publication success.

Choosing Effective Title and Keywords: Why is it Important?

Choosing effective title and keywords in APA format research paper is extremely crucial in helping someone find your research. Without these, most papers will not be read or found by readers. This is because most search engines, websites or databases use the words found in the title, abstract, and keywords to display the paper when someone searches with a keyword. Thus, the title of the paper, keywords and the abstract decide whether the paper will be found and cited by another researcher or reader.

In most cases, the title and abstract are freely available in the internet. Therefore, the title and abstract determine whether the reader will continue to read the paper and want to buy it.

Choosing an Effective Title

A good title should be around 10-12 words and should only use words and phrases which correctly highlight the content of the research paper. An effective title will help search engines to categorize and rank the paper for better viewership.

While writing the title, it is necessary to search for those keywords that properly describe the paper. The title should be self explanatory, correct and comprehensible. The title in an APA format research paper is center aligned at the top of the page and is not bold, italicized or underlined.

After the title, the author(s) name(s) and institutional affiliation(s) as well as the corresponding author and contact details are presented.

Some Steps Towards Writing an Effective Title in APA Format Research Paper

  • Choose vital keywords from the paper.
  • Then frame a sentence with those keywords.
  • Delete unnecessary words and rephrase if needed to form a meaningful sentence.

Choosing Effective Keywords in APA Format Research Paper

Keywords are written after the abstract in an APA paper in a particular format. Around 5-6 keywords should be listed (the number might vary according to journal specifications). They are written after an indent, as if starting a new paragraph. The word ‘Keywords’ is italicized, followed by a colon mark, and is left aligned. The keywords are written in lower case with a comma separating each key word. There is no full stop after the last keyword.

While writing keywords, you must think what words you could have given while searching for your own paper.

Therefore, for better exposure and publication chances, care must be taken while choosing effective title and keywords in an APA format research paper.

Writing Literature Reviews in APA Format

Literature reviews are writing assignments that investigate the research conducted on a particular topic. It summarizes what scientific literature has to say about your particular topic. APA format helps us to organize the references in a standardized form. As such, it is most commonly used while writing literature reviews. Knowledge of writing literature reviews in APA format is very essential, especially for students. Students are often assigned the task of writing literature reviews to get them prepared before they take on primary research assignments. Generally, writing literature reviews in APA format is considered to be a complex process. However, you must remember that though writing it might be a complicated task, it is easy for the reader to understand. A few useful tips for writing literature reviews in APA format are discussed below.

Tips for Writing Literature Reviews in APA Format

  • As far as possible, avoid using direct quotes. You can summarize the basic idea in your own words, and give proper author citation for it. In case you have to use a direct quotation, enclose the quoted text in quotation marks, and provide the author name, year of publication, and page number in parentheses.
  • Mention the most fundamental studies first. In other words, the most recent studies should be mentioned at last. In that way, the studies will be listed in a sequence. Therefore, the reader can easily understand the research conducted on a particular topic and what conclusions were put forth. Reading about a research and knowing how and why it leads to another research helps you to get a clear understanding of a particular topic.
  • Based on your topic, try to include as many relevant references in your literature review as possible. That will help in preventing repetitive research. If some significant studies are omitted, readers might assume that research has not been conducted in that particular area and might take up the same. There is no point in people conducting the same type of research again and again. It is just a waste of time and effort.
  • Avoid citing secondary sources as far as possible. It is always advisable to go through the original source yourself and decide whether it is relevant enough to be cited in your literature review.
  • While presenting the sources, make it a point to evaluate them in the context of the topic. Present comparisons, point out flaws or loopholes that help in deciding the course of future research.

These are just a few general tips. For knowing more about the technical specifications of writing literature reviews in APA format, you can refer the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition.


Writing an abstract in APA style

Writing an abstract in APA style needs practice and a clear idea about the APA guidelines. An abstract is a condensed summary of a research paper. You should write the paper before writing the abstract.

The abstract always begins in a new page, which includes the page header. The abstract as the heading is in the first page and is centered without any formatting, bold, italics, under lining or quotation marks.

The first line of an APA style abstract is not indented. The abstract is a summary of the most salient points of the research. The abstract should be written as a single paragraph; double spaced and should be 150-250 words long. While writing an abstract in APA style, it should include the research problem, hypothesis, the methods, results and conclusion.

After the abstract is written, keywords are given. Keywords are italicized, and the line is indented.


Points to remember while writing an abstract in APA style

  • Begin writing the abstract only when the whole research paper has been finished. Although the abstracts come first, but it should be written last as it contains the gist of the complete research.
  • The abstract in APA style is written in a new page. The word Abstract is centered, and the first line is not indented. But the keywords are italicized and indented. The running head and the page number should be at the top right corner.
  • Writing an abstract in APA style should be short and precise. The abstract should be between 150 to 250 words. Although the word limit might differ in different journals.
  • Write the abstract as a paragraph and double spaced it.
  • The structure the abstract follows the order of the research paper. Start with a brief introduction, and then continue with a summary of the methods, results and discussion of the paper.
  • First write a rough draft by summarizing each section of the paper in one or two lines. Now refine the draft with repeated revisions.

APA Style of Formatting

The APA style of formatting refers to the style guidelines documented by the American Psychological Association. This comprehensive guideline makes us familiar about the structure of an APA paper and its overall writing style. Using APA format is very helpful when most of the sources in the paper are from published journals and frequently published works. Though APA style of formatting was basically developed to standardize scientific writing, it has found widespread acceptance in social and behavioral sciences, education, and business fields also.

APA style is the key for properly formatting various research and academic publications. Beginners might face some difficulties in understanding the APA style of formatting. But, with gradual use, you become familiar with this style. A few basic rules of APA style are discussed below.

Basic Rules of APA Style of Formatting

  • Set one inch margin on all sides.
  • The font of your text should be a serif font that is clearly readable, most preferably Times New Roman, and the font size should be 12 pt.
  • Text alignment should be flush left (i.e., the right side should look ragged).
  • Line spacing should be set as double-spaced throughout the document including title page, abstract, main body, references, tables, figures, etc.
  • There should be a running head (short title of your paper) at the top of every page. It should be set flush left, and the page numbers should be set flush right. Ensure that the running head does not exceed 50 characters (including spacing and punctuation).
  • The first line indent of every paragraph should be half inch.
  • APA paper consists of four main sections: title page, abstract, main body and references.
  • Title page should consist of the title of your paper, author name(s), institutional affiliation(s), author note. The title should not contain any abbreviations.
  • The Abstract should begin on a new page. The word limit for the Abstract is 150-250 words (may vary as per specific publications).
  • The main body of your paper should begin on a new page. It includes Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion and References section. Appendix can also be included if applicable.
  • References should begin on a new page. It should include all the sources, which have been cited in the paper. The entries should be sorted alphabetically by the surname of the first author. First line should be flush left, and additional lines should have a hanging indent.
  • Each Table should begin on a new page after the Reference section.
  • Each Figure should begin on a new page after the Tables.

 The basic guidelines presented here provide you with just an outline of the APA style of formatting for a research paper. Every aspect of APA style has much more detailed specifications that we will discuss elaborately in our following posts.

Layout Considerations And Page Design

Different magazines have different layout styles, which determine the content choices. This means that a magazine will not change its layout and the space allotted to each article type, to accommodate a particular article. The article would be edited and formatted in the magazines standard manner.

Main layout considerations include:

  • Space: Each article has a word limit to accommodate it in the space allotted in the magazines layout.
  • Paragraph length: Magazine articles have shorter paragraphs compared to reports and essays.
  • Visuals: Visuals are often used to add more clarity to the article and are designed considering the target audiences needs and expectations.
  • Sections and headings: Sections are designed according to the space allotted for an article. Crossheads are used as a form of signposting to direct readers attention.

Page design is divided into four aspects:

  • Proximity: This refers to the spatial layout that displays related objects. For example, you be placed close to each other and to the relevant text.
  • Alignment: This refers to balancing the positions of horizontal and vertical elements on a page in relation to each other. For example, you can align the objects on the left with the left edge of the page and the objects on the right with the right edge of the page.
  • Repetition: This refers to the repetition of elements that bind different sections together. Bullet points, colors, and typefaces can be repeated for a visual impact and to help readers recognize and scan through pages easily and quickly.
  • Contrast: This is the opposite of repetition. It refers to putting together different elements and creating a visual impression. The use of contrasting elements acts as an information hierarchy. It introduces an element of surprise and indicates that the article has depth and variety. It can be used in colors, fonts and direction. To create an effective and impressive publication, you need to balance repetition and contrast.

Journalists use different terminologies to talk about the layout of articles and pages:

  • Title: This is used for all articles except new stories; headline is used for news stories. Titles can be creative and cryptic; headlines are not: they are structured in sentence form, present tense. For example, a title can be Swept Away; a headline can be Largest Tsunami Ever Recorded Hits Country.
  • Pullquote: It refers to using text of an article as a highlighting device “ the pullquotes from an article should be able to tell a story (i.e., summarize the main points of the article).
  • Subhead: It refers to the text that comes below the title and is used to give more information on the articles topic. Subheads are useful when the title is too enigmatic and needs explanation.
  • Crosshead: It is the journalistic term for heading.
  • Caption: It is the text that accompanies a visual.