Writing Style Workshop Overview

Each week the Student Association of Social Workers host a writing style workshop.

Every Wednesday evening, the Student Association of Social Workers presents a workshop teaching the American Psychological Association, or APA, writing style. Though it is taught by instructors from the social work department, it is open to everyone. The workshop begins every Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, and the contact people are Tyleen Caffrey and Kelsey Walker.

While the workshop is often a lecture of various parts of APA formatting, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, Caffrey decided to do a question and answer format. One of the topics she touched on first was paragraph size; she said a paragraph should be around five to eight sentences, “otherwise, it’s not a paragraph.” A paragraph consisting of more than eight sentences can feel excessive.

Some concerns raised by students about APA formatting were having to do with punctuation in relation to quotes and citations. Caffrey said that it helps to “think of a quotation as the whole thing,” because the quotation marks should always go after the punctuation. Quotations can also be split by transition words, but it is important to close the quotes and not include the transition words. A couple of other tips she gave about quotations were to not use parentheses to emphasize something; also, when quoting an article, always be sure to say that the author said something, not that the article said it, because it is the author that is actually putting forth the idea. She also emphasized the use of Grammarly.com and Purdue Owl if you need immediate help.

As for citations, for short quotations, the author, year and page number should go immediately after the quote, not at the end of the sentence. For long quotations, they are in their own paragraph with every line indented to show what is in the quote. The parentheses that hold the citation’s information, like author, year of publication and page numbers, always go outside the quotations marks.

For the references page, each citation needs to have a “hanging indent;” that is where all of the lines, other than the first line, are indented. She also said that it is best to keep a running references page; that way when you are done writing, the page just has to be organized and put into the right format.

Some other tips that Caffrey gave were making sure that every APA structured paper has the correct formatting, such as font, spacing, margins, a title page and an abstract page, which is a brief paragraph explaining what the paper is about; she also said that it is important to make sure you have all of the paragraph requirements. There will a different number of content paragraphs for each paper, but every paper should have an introduction paragraph and conclusion paragraph. For more information or to get the Zoom link, contact Tyleen Caffrey or Kelsey Walker.

It is important to understand formatting, because you will use some kind of formatting for the rest of your college career, and possibly beyond that. Starting at this point in the semester can be helpful because it will allow you the time to become proficient in it before things get busy with finals. Even if you are well versed in APA style, this workshop, and others like it, can be helpful just as a refresher.

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