APA6 7 Changes

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Most notable changes between the 6th and the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual

Generally, one major change from the 6th to the 7th edition is that the 7th edition is much more "user friendly" (at least I experience it that way). There is a video summarizing the major changes, another (a bit lengthy; the first 2:30 can be dropped) video going into more depth.
For those who don't want to purchase the book, at lot of the basics is covered on the APA-style web page. What is particularly noteworthy is the steadily increasing numbers of examples, e.g., for papers, for figures and tables, and for references. Furthermore, there are some instructional aids.
Finally, the part of that manual that deals with what should be included in a manuscript has be extended significantly. It now forms the Journal Article Reporting Standards (JARS). JARS includes three checklists for manuscripts using quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method approaches (in addition there are specific checklists,. e.g., for quantitative and qualitative meta-analyses).


I mentioned this before, but I regard the sample papers as well as the overview on the use of headings very instructive and incredibly helpful. Generally, APA7 is aiming to increase flexibility (e.g., with font choices) and coherence (with the headings), and the changes include:

  • There is increased flexibility regarding fonts, font options now include Calibri 11, Arial 11, Lucida Sans Unicode 10, Times New Roman 12, and Georgia 11 (only Times New Roman 12 was permitted before).
  • The running head on the title page no longer includes the words “Running head:”, only the (shortened) paper title (left) and the page number (right). Student papers may drop it.
  • The format of the headings was changed (it is more consistent in APA 7, and there is an overview at the inner book cover):
    • it uses Title Case Headings (words in the title always begin with a capital letter) for all levels of headings (APA 6: only 1 to 3)
    • Level 1 is centered, Level 2 and 3 are Flushed left and Level 4 and 5 are Indented
    • Level 1, 2, and 4 are Bold, Level 3 and 5 are bold and italic
    • Level 1 to 3 finish with a line feed, the new paragraph afterwards is indented
    • Level 4 and 5 end with a period. The text begins immediately afterwards

Language use

The general principles for bias-free language remained quite similar between APA6 and APA7. However, the principles are laid out more detailed in the seventh edition. A noteworthy change is:

  • The singular “they” or “their” is endorsed as a gender-neutral pronoun. (“A researcher’s career depends on how often he or she is cited.” → “[…] how often they are cited.”)

Figures and Tables

Sorry, I mentioned this before, but I regard the sample figures and tables incredibly helpful. Furthermore, there are two pages explaining the general rules for tables and figures. Changes with the 7th edition are:

  • The formatting of figures and tables is now unified:
    • Captions are now always above (APA 6 had them above for tables and below for figures).
    • Notes are introduced for figures (with rules similar to tables: general notes first, specific notes afterwards).
  • The placement of tables becomes more flexible: they now can be placed within the text or after the reference list with 1 table / figure per page (APA 6 demanded the latter)


The starting page for references on the APA style web page contains a lot of useful things including the basic principles and the elements of reference list entries. Further, there is a wealth of reference examples!
Changes from the 6th to the 7th edition when it comes to references include:

  • the et al.-rule has changed – now you use et al. for three or more authors (the 3-to-6-author-rule for the first occurrence was dropped)
  • in the reference list:
  1. The publisher location is no longer included (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster → Simon & Schuster).
  2. Including the issue number became mandatory.
  3. The DOI must now have to format: https://doi.org/ + DOI (earlier it could be DOI: + DOI).
  4. If the DOI is very long you can use a shortDOI (http://shortdoi.org/) by pasting the original DOI in the input field, the output can be used like: https://doi.org/f8vbpr; for URLs preferably use the URL shortener of the web page owner (e.g., https://goo.gl/l6MS), otherwise common providers such as bitly.com, tinyurl.com
  5. Surnames and initials for up to 20 authors (instead of 7) should be provided.
  6. URLs are no longer preceded by “Retrieved from,” unless a retrieval date is needed.
  7. Articles that are only available electronically (e.g., in PLoS or Frontiers), i.e., which have an article number instead of pages must now be preceded by "Article", e.g., Koelsch, S., Enge, J., & Jentschke, S. (2012). Cardiac signatures of personality. PloS One, 7(2), Article e31441. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031441