New APA Lingo

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Shakespeare, loosely paraphrased, once wrote that a rose by any other name is still a rose, and that idea, by extension, now applies to APA Style as familiar terms now have new names. 

In the past, the term “citation” was used to refer to information about sources within a paper and at the end. To differentiate where the citations appeared in a paper, the terms “in-text citation” and “reference citation” and sometimes “full citation” were used. Now, however, the term “citation” refers only to those citations found within the body of the paper. The terms “reference citation” and “full citation” do not even exist in the 7th edition of APA Style. So if someone says, “Where’s the citation?,” the question can only refer to in-text citations. 

So what is all the bibliographic information that appears on the “references page” called? Well, first, the term “references page” is no longer being used in APA Style. That page is now called “references” or “references list” or even “list of references.” Now this is not to say that the page with the references could not be called “references page” given that it is a separate page with the list of references, but it is to say that APA is no longer using that nomenclature. 

Another language change concerns how to talk about in-text citations. 

In the previous edition of APA, citations within the body of the paper were referred to as “citations” or “in-text citations” and sometimes “parenthetical citations,” but all of the terms meant essentially the same thing–information about a source that followed APA’s author-date citation format within the body of a paper. Those same terms still apply in the 7th edition, but APA has taken steps to be more intentional in terms of the types of citations. 

APA Style 7th edition more clearly establishes two types of in-text citations: parenthetical and narrative. With the author-date citation system, sometimes both the author and date appear in parenthesis separated by a comma–thus, a parenthetical citation–and sometimes only the date appears in parenthesis, and the author’s name is used in the sentence as part of the narrative–hence narrative citation. Narrative citations existed in the previous edition of APA, but that term was not actually put into use. Now APA Style more intentionally uses the term. 

A sentence with a narrative citation, for example, would include some kind of signal phrase, the date of publication in parentheses, and the rest of the sentence like this: Clements (2020) (in parentheses) explained the difference between a parenthetical in-text citation and narrative citation. 

One final  language change concerns APA’s recognition of the singular “they,” which was the focus of an earlier entry (and if you missed that blogcast, you can view and listen to that content here). 

Grammatically speaking, the pronoun “they” has long been a plural pronoun in that “they” refers to more than one person. Grammar requires agreement between a pronoun and the antecedent (what the pronoun refers to), so a sentence like “Each grammar curmudgeon rolled their eyes at the thought of a singular ‘they’” would not be grammatically correct because “their” is plural and refers to “curmudgeon,” which is singular. Well, the singular “they” resolves this agreement issue, and thus “Each grammar curmudgeon rolled their eyes at the thought of a singular ‘they’” is now grammatically correct given “they” exists in both a singular and plural form. 

Singular “they” also resolves the awkward “he or she” and “his or her” constructs because with singular “they” sentences like “Each student realized that he or she should do all he or she could to write well” would not be needed since singular they could be used instead of “he or she.”

The primary impetus, however, for this language change has to do with APA Style’s strong belief in using bias-free language in writing. To this end, the singular “they” is a pronoun of inclusivity in that it is a nonbinary singular pronoun for those individuals who do not identify with either he or she. 

Until next week–

Kurtis Clements

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