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Monday, August 29, 2011

How to Cite in APA Style

The APA in APA style stands for American Psychological Association.  Although the American Psychological Association created it, it is a citation style widely used in all of the sciences.  Do not let the fact that APA style is used for science intimidate you.  The fact is, it isn’t that much different than MLA style.

APA style and MLA style are fraternal twins.  Although they are not identical to one another, they are so similar that it’s possible to get confused between them if you’re not careful.  They use the exact same information but since they prioritize different things, they arrange that information in a different order. 

It’s important to note that APA  style asks for a title page, a running head across the top of all pages, and an abstract page.  If you are typing up a paper that requires those sections, please see Purdue’s Online Writing Lab’s reference guide for formatting your essay correctly.  This blog post will only focus on how to construct the citations you will use in your paper using the 6th edition of the APA Style Guide.

There are only 3 components to a citation style:

  • References page (known as the Works Cited page in MLA style)
  • Parenthetical citations
  • Notes (either footnotes or endnotes)

You may think that these components are arranged in the wrong order as the References page doesn’t actually appear until the very end of a paper, but you can’t build a parenthetical citation without the References page (indeed, a parenthetical citation is meaningless without its corresponding entry in the References page).  If you practice starting your References page as soon as you begin writing your papers, after a while it will feel more natural than leaving it until the end and you’ll thank yourself when you see how much more quickly you get your essays finished.

If you’re confused as to what a citation style is, please see my post “Citation Styles: A Primer.” When you’re comfortable with the what and why of APA style, come back to learn the how. There are only 3 components, remember, so you only have to learn how to execute each and you’re set to start citing scientific research!

APA Style References Page Entry

There are several pieces of information you will need in order to construct the References entry, so make sure you jot them down when doing your research so that you won’t have to hunt them down later.

  • the author’s full name
  • the title of the article and/or book, newspaper, journal, etc.
  • the date of publication of the source you are citing
  • the place of publication (if your source is a in print)
  • the name of the publisher
  • the page numbers of the article or book (if your source is  in print)
  • the volume and issue number (if your source is a magazine or journal)
  • the URL of the source (if your source is online)

Once you have all of your information gathered, you can construct a Reference page entry just by arranging them in a preset order, depending on source type. The following are examples of the most common types of sources. Follow the formatting of the examples EXACTLY. If words are capitalized, capitalize them in your own References page, etc.


Smith, J. K. (2010). Intro to biology: The seeds of life. New York: Penguin Press.

Magazine Article

Johnson, J. (1992, April). When algae strikes back. Nature, 15, 45-59.

Notice that the number that follows the magazine is the volume number. If the journal or magazine has several issues per volume, those would be included in parentheses immediately after the volume number, like so:  Nature, 15(4)

Online Blog Post/Article

Seitan, C. (2011, August 29). How to cite in APA style. Writing Simplified. Retrieved from

Online Video

TexasCountryReporter. (2010, Sep 29). Dogs trained in jail [Video file]. Retrieved June 6, 2011 from

APA Style Parenthetical Citation

There are only 3 pieces of information you will need in order to construct a parenthetical citation: the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page numbers (for print sources or online sources that have pagination).

There are three different ways you can incorporate a source into your text.  You can include a short quote, a long quote, or a paraphrase.  I will show you an example of each type of citation so you can see how simple it is to cite sources in APA style.

Short Quote

When including a direct quotation, you need to indicate to your reader that the words you are quoting are not your own (by putting them inside quotation marks), and attribute the words to the actual author (by including his/her name immediately before or after the quote).  In APA style, you need to follow the author’s last name with the year his/her work was published; this year is enclosed in parentheses.  If you are quoting a source that has pagination, you include the page numbers in parentheses at the end of the sentence immediately before the period. 

If you are confused by the written directions, just use the following examples as models for creating your own citations:

  • In a study conducted by Smith (2010), she found that “rats are as susceptible to tickling as humans” (p. 15).
  • The research concluded that “hamsters have very poor vision” (Smith, 2008, p. 20).

Long Quote

Long quotations (longer than 4 lines on a printed page) are called “block quotes” because you have to indent the quote, creating a block of text on the page.  These quotes need to be introduced and cited just as short quotations do.  The only differences are you include the final parenthetical citation AFTER the final period and you DO NOT enclose the quotation in quotation marks.  Note that in most academic papers, your teachers will prefer that you do not italicize the quotation.

In a recent study conduced by Smith (2007), she found that:

The great myth of the 21st century is the idea that multi-tasking is positively correlated with productivity. Quite the contrary, multi-tasking decreases efficiency. (p. 115)


When you paraphrase a source instead of quoting directly from it, you do not need to include page numbers (if your source has pagination).  The APA style guide strongly encourages the use of page numbers, however, so I will include them in the examples.  Other than that, continue to cite the way you would for a short quotation.

  • Smith (1998) measured the length of rats’ tails and found that the longer the tail, the smarter the rat (p. 25). 
  • One study even discovered that rats prefer healthy foods to eating junk food (Smith, 2000, p. 18-20). 


APA Style Notes

APA style does allow you to use footnotes in your paper if absolutely necessary. If you decide you do need to include an aside note that doesn’t fit in the text of the paper, use your word processor to insert a footnote.  Footnote indicators follow all punctuation marks EXCEPT dashes and close parentheses.

Examples of Footnote Indicators:

Teddy bear hamsters1 are often sold at pet stores.

1Although these hamsters are called teddy bears, they are not genetically related to bears.

Africa is the birthplace of all languages (according to studies done by historical linguists2).

2There are too many studies to properly cite them all. Please search "Africa language birthplace" for a full listing of research studies in GoogleScholar.

More Resources

There are more resources online, so if you want to progress beyond the basics of APA style, or have a more detailed question, there are plenty of web sites available to you. The official APA actually has a tutorial online that takes you through each step of the citation process if this blog post went too quickly for you. And remember, you don’t have to do it alone when it comes to citations; check out free online citation generators to help you with your work and to double-check what you’ve created.

Photo credit: lwtclearningcommons

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Chaper Preview of _Dan, A Man Without Youth_

Daddy's Book

I have had several people e-mail me to ask me about the projects I alluded to in an earlier post.  They’ve been keeping me busy and, as a result, I haven’t posted on this blog as much as I would have liked to.  Let me tell you about one of those projects, the one that is not only the dearest to me, but also the most challenging.

In order to tell you about that project, I have to first tell you about my father.  He was an extraordinary man who was a true intellectual.  He spoke 11 languages, remembered word for word anything he read, calculated complex mathematical algorithms in his head, and could name and date any historical event or person or empire.  That intellect landed him in concentration camp for 18 years when the Bolsheviks invaded Romania.  After he immigrated to America and married my mother, he spent years writing what would be an account of what happened to him during that horrific time in his life.  He titled his first book Dan, A Man Without Youth

He self-published the book in the 80’s, but never sold more than several thousand books.  My mother and he made a modest living and their priority was always my sister and me.  Because he chose to send us to private school, he didn’t have the money to spend on having his book professionally edited or advertised.  I’m at an age now where I think I have the maturity and skills to do his work justice.  English was not my father’s first language and it’s evident in his writing.  I want to rewrite his work and transform it into the story he always envisioned it would be.  He always talked about a time when I would be able to edit the political portions of his book to make it more friendly for people who are less politically-inclined.

This is by far the hardest project I have ever had to write.  I thought it would be simple because the story’s already written. What I’m finding as I rewrite the book is a constant need to question every word I put down.  In rewording the passage, am I changing the meaning? Is it what my father would have wanted to say? Am I preserving his voice? Am I doing right by him?  My father was an immigrant and I want the writing to reflect the voice of an immigrant.  Fixing the English grammar just enough so that the right meaning is conveyed, yet leaving the work rustic enough that it feels foreign is more of a challenge than I realized it would be. 

There are also several problematic areas in the plot of the story.  My father was a man who was writing about horrors he had learned about and witnessed long after he experienced them.  His writing reflects that in that he discusses topics early on in the book that his character is not actually introduced to until later in the work.  I’m currently grappling with how eloquent my father was as a child.  Having known my father and his intellectual prowess, I have no trouble at all believing that his child-self could debate philosophical ideals with Russian soldiers.  I’m not so sure readers will be able to be so accepting, though. 

Feel free to send me feedback, both good and bad, about the work.  It’s still in its infancy, but I could use help with knowing whether or not I’ve captured the voice of a foreigner in the writing style.

Chapter 1 of Dan, A Man Without Youth

The heavy gate of the famous prison of Gherla closed slowly, making a sinister sound. Dan was dumbfounded. As he stood on the sidewalk, he could hardly believe that, finally, he was free. Part of him wanted to run as fast as he could, afraid the guard who closed the gate would call him back to tell him his release had been a mistake. He couldn't move, though. His feet seemed nailed to the sidewalk as questions of what to do and where to go rushed through his mind. What direction should he take? Where was the railway station? Finally, Dan decided to walk to the church that was within sight of the prison. Although his legs, unaccustomed to walking more than the length of his cell, fought him every step of the way, he managed to walk until he reached the front of the church.

Dan tried to open the gate to get inside, but it was locked. He wanted to pray and give praise to St. Anthony of Padua, the saint who had helped him get out of that wretched, cold, fortified place. Dan turned away, disappointed. He'd forgotten that now churches were only open on Sunday mornings or when someone was buried.

An old woman was passing by and stopped to take a long look at Dan. After a while, she said in a whisper, “Did they set you free, my son?” The words hit Dan's ears, but he couldn't understand them. The woman asked again. Dan, guessing at her question, nodded. The woman spoke again, and this time her words broke through the fog surrounding Dan's mind. “If you want to go to the railway station, you should take this street. Keep going until you pass a bridge. On your left there will be a restaurant, and if you keep going, you will see the station farther down.” “Thank you, Grandma,” said Dan, with a voice unused in years. He parted in the direction the woman showed him.

He walked as if he were in a dream. Everything he saw had a dreamlike quality. What was real? Did reality even exist? Beyond that heavy gate that so recently closed behind him was a nightmare. In a way, his time behind it was also like a dream... a nightmare or a dream that had lasted more than five years.

Is five years a long time? What does five years mean to a Milky Way star? Nothing! Not even a blinking. But for Dan, five years meant 30,000 working hours of slavery, five springs without seeing the cherry tree in his backyard bloom, five Christmas Eves full of tears and pain, without Christmas trees or Santa Clause.

In the street, everyone was in a hurry. Men and women, children and old people all were walking fast with eyes downcast, staring at the ground. No one was smiling. All the faces Dan could see were sad. Even the children had a serious look in their eyes.

Dan felt like a newborn. He walked down the street, looking curiously to the right and the left, feeling like kissing all those sad faces, especially of the children who were passing by. He had not seen a child for more than five years. He felt like stopping everyone and telling each person about the happiness of being a free man. But the people passing by didn't notice Dan. He was just another strange, slender man with a pale face and a tired looking bag.

The waiting area of the railway station was packed with people. When space had run out on benches, people sat on the concrete floor. Some people were sprawled out haphazardly, sleeping on the ground and Dan had to watch where he stepped so as not to step on them. Many people were smoking and the smoke had built up in the room to the point that everything was covered in a light fog of it. The second-class ticket booth already had a long line formed behind it when Dan entered the station and Dan went to stand at the end of it so he could validate the ticket he received from prison. That voucher for a free second-class train ticket was all that he got for more than five years of hard labor.

The line moved forward towards the ticket booth at a snail's pace. Looking at the people standing with him in line or sitting around on the concrete floor, Dan couldn't see a single smiling face. The Romanian people had forgotten how to smile ever since the Bolsheviks took over the country.

Finally, Dan arrived at the ticket booth. The clerk, seeing the prison voucher, looked up at Dan's pale face with compassion. Without saying a word, he validated it.

There were still more than three hours left before the train arrived at the station, so Dan went outside to escape from the smoke and breathe fresh air. It was a nice day towards the end of August with plenty of hot sun, so Dan looked for a shady place to sit under a big nut tree that wasn't too far from the station.

He was not hungry, in spite of the fact that he hadn't eaten anything in the past several days. How could he eat when almost all of the political prisoners had been freed and only he remained? There had been a political amnesty degree back in April or May, though no one was exactly sure when it happened. In Gherla, news from the outside entered with difficulty. The inmates just saw that every day 10 to 15 of them left the prison. In the beginning, they thought that these people were just being transferred to another prison, but the procedures resembled liberations. Rumors came through the walls, in different alphabets, that there had been an amnesty decree for political prisoners. Nobody knew this for certain, though, and above all no one knew how large that amnesty decree could be. Dan was confined in isolation in a small cell where, many years earlier, the famous outlaw Rosza Sandor was hung. He stared at that rusty hook in the middle of his cell's ceiling almost every day, especially at night when he couldn't sleep, and thought of that tragic event that had taken place more than a century before in that same room.

Dan had received some communication through the wall in a prison code about the amnesty degree. This wall separated his cell from a bigger room, where some hundreds of inmates were kept. First, he understood that only prisoners sentenced up to five years would be liberated. After a month or so, his friends from the big room transmitted through the wall that even prisoners sentenced up to ten years had left the prison. However, this uncertainty gave the prisoners many nights without sleep at all, and Dan was one of them. He had to worry more than the other ones because he had come to this prison on a disciplinary transfer. He made two hunger strikes while there, and was kept most of the time in solitary confinement. He had been punished many a time and he was promised that he would never be able to see his family again. That was why, after almost everyone else had been freed, Dan couldn't eat or sleep any longer. His health deteriorated and he had lost almost all hope of freedom. On a sunny day at the end of August, he was compeltely taken aback when he was called to be liberated.


Dan came from a very poor family and was the oldest of three brothers and one sister. His father, a clerk working for the government, didn't make enough money to feed and provide clothes for the entire family. Dan and his brothers and sister didn't have toys to play with like other children did; instead, they made do with what they could piece together with string and old rags. Worse than not having anything to play with, though, they often didn't have anything to eat. Many a night Dan and his siblings went to bed without having any food in their stomachs. Sometimes Dan had to go door to door in his neighborhood, asking for a pot of corn flour to tide them over “until tomorrow.” Now and then he had to go to the same neighbor four or five times in a row, begging for the same pot of corn flour, without having returned the previous ones. He was so ashamed of this, that if it weren't for his brothers' heart-rending cries for food, he would have preferred going to bed hungry. When he saw his little sister crying for food, he couldn't help going back out to ask for another pot. Sometimes he was unsuccessful and he went back home empty-handed. Then his mother would name each house from memory, to see where Dan might go to ask for another pot. If she was lucky and thought of the right neighbor, Dan would come home with another pot of corn flour and the entire family would have an evening meal of maize porridge to fill their empty stomachs.

Dan remembered that sometimes after the potato harvest, his mother and he went into the field at night to look for any remaining potatoes. In the summertime, most of their food came from the forest: mushrooms, wild strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. In addition to foraging for food in the summer, Dan also brought home dry wood every day, so they would have something to keep them warm in the wintertime. He walked barefoot from spring, after the snow melted, until fall, when the new snow came down. His pants were so full of different colored patches that it was very difficult for someone to tell their initial color. When World War II began and his father was drafted into the Army, they didn't even have the little money his father used to bring home. The entire family would have died of hunger if Dan hadn't started working in a factory, the same one where his mother also worked a poor-paying job. He worked at night and during the day he went to school. He was used to burning the candle at both ends.


The train whistle awakened Dan from these sad remembrances. He saw the train approaching like a huge black snake winding through the hills. It moved slowly because it was a lower-class train and would take more than 24 hours to transport him from this station to Brasov, his home. Dan didn't have enough money to pay the difference for an express train. Full of eagerness to be near his loved ones again, he still had to wait another 24 hours. But what difference did 24 hours make when he'd already spent over 40,000 hours away in different prisons and forced labor camps?

The train finally arrived at the station and, with a great deal of noise, stopped in front of the platform. Dan got into a non-smoking coach and found a seat near the window.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Author Spotlight: Christopher Ruz

century of sand

There’s a story I read that was so haunting in its description, I felt compelled to share it with students and friends.  When it was removed from the Internet, I hunted down the author online and begged for a copy of it.  I’d pay to read it again, I wrote, just name your price.  Chris Ruz wrote back that no payment was necessary and attached the story to the e-mail.  After that, I was hooked.

For a while now, I’ve followed the work of Chris Ruz.  His short stories are full of such rich detail, I can’t even begin to imagine how lush the description would be in a novel written by him.   Well, now I no longer have to imagine because he has written a novel.

I am very impressed with the work Chris has completed on his novel Century of Sand.  I know 3 years sound like a long time, but Chris has completed college, worked full time, and written dozens of short stories at the same time as working on Century of Sand.   He is my real-life superhero and role-model.  Knowing he can create great literature while trying to live a life full of school, work, and friends gives me hope that I can too. 

This post does double-duty, highlight a great writer and the need for feedback. I have a handful of friends who let me know within hours of publishing each blog post if I have a spelling or grammar error somewhere in the post, which is why my posts are as error-free as they are. Unless you’re writing a diary entry, writing is a group effort with readers providing feedback and writers incorporating that feedback into the final draft or into future writing projects.  So help a writer out and let Chris Ruz know what you think about his work.  He has made the entire draft of Century of Sand available for download on his website in pdf format. EDIT: Century of Sand is no longer available on Chris’ website as he is trying to get it published. Good luck, Chris!!!

He has 2 Kindle compilations out for a very reasonable price of $0.99 each. That’s a scandalous price for the quality of work you’ll be receiving if you buy them.  Some of my favorite imagery is contained within them.  One of my favorite examples comes from the story “Black Rain”: “The sky through the bedroom window was the black of caverns and blind children.”  Wow.  What strange and fantastic kind of imagination does a person need to be able to describe the color black as the darkness blind children see?  See what I mean when I say this is great stuff? I even read several of his stories aloud to a friend to make absolutely positive he didn’t miss out on really great literature.

If the thought of work filled with imagery so vibrant it jumps off the page appeals to you, then head on over to and get a copy of either Past the Borders or The King and Other Stories by Christopher Ruz.  Heck, for a dollar each, you could easily afford to get both and never feel it in your wallet.  If his short stories whet your appetite for something more substantial from him, stop by Chris’ webpage and download a preview copy of Century of Sand.  Whatever you do, though, make absolutely sure you drop Chris some feedback about his work.  Artists thrive on feedback and it’s essential for continued growth. 

By the way, that haunting story I hunted Chris down for all those years ago is “The Long Way Home” and you can find it in The King and Other Stories.  All of his stories are hauntingly good, though, and will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading them.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Creative Process Illustrated

While I work on a couple of longer blog posts, here’s a quick link to a work of art I found online that attempts to illustrate the creative process.  I think it succeeds marvelously.  As you meander your way through the intricate little details of Winston Rowntree’s image, hopefully you too will feel a sense of camaraderie with a creative type out there who truly understands what it means to be an “artist.”

Click here or on the image above to be taken to “The Creative Process” by Winston Rowntree.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer and Stray Dogs

Brownie the Stray

Those who know me in person know that I have a penchant for bringing home lost animals.  My calling to help defenseless animals runs so deep that when I was still an undergrad, my professors would get phone calls and e-mails from me notifying them that I’d be late or unable to attend class because I saw a dog on the side of the freeway on my way to class and had to pick it up before it got run over.  My undergraduate years may be far behind me now, but I’m still bringing home dogs in distress (much to the chagrin of my family). 

This past weekend a dog actually found me instead of the other way around.  “Brownie” was wandering around in the alley behind our house and when our other dogs started barking at him through the fence, he decided our house sounded like a pretty cool place to be and wanted to join in on the fun.  So he plopped his big self outside our back gate and refused to move.  We had no choice but to bring him inside and keep him happy and healthy until a no-kill animal shelter opened on Monday.

Interestingly, Brownie wasn’t neutered.  As we speak, he should be getting neutered by the shelter I took him to, but it’s too late to save our house from his testosterone-induced hijinks. Being a puppy and quite hormone-driven, he carved a path of destruction through the house.  He refused to stay outside when he knew our other dogs were inside.  Clearly, injustice was being done and he rectified the situation by tearing through our window screens, pushing over all our makeshift barricades, and breaking through the doggie-door cover.  Once inside, he lifted his leg on EVERYTHING in the house and when we waved a broom at him to chase him back outside, he chewed through the broom. He broke into the dog food container, ate so much he threw up, then ate some more.  It would have been hilarious if it hadn’t been so frustrating. 

Brownie’s burning need to hump everything couldn’t be fixed, but my mom DID come up with a clever way of remedying his need to mark furniture.  What you see in the photo at the top of this post is that solution: doggie diapers.  This wouldn’t have worked without Brownie’s sweet disposition. He happily let us duct tape a towel around his mid-section and then never messed with it.  He did, however, keep messing with everything and everyone else.

My mother and I are still recovering from 2 days of little-to-no sleep.  I’m in charge of cleaning the house and repairing the damage since it was my idea to bring him inside.  All in all, it’s been a trying experience and, after experiencing the energy level of a puppy, I now know the only dogs I will ever adopt in the future will be geriatric. 

Life doesn’t stop for anyone, so I’m back to looking for a job, working on my books, and trying not to melt in this summer heat.  Do I regret the damage Brownie did to the house? Yes.  Would I pick him or another stray dog up again? Definitely.  Bleeding hearts like me are few and far between, though, and you shouldn’t rely on the goodness of someone else to save your dog if he gets loose.  Visit my previous post about lost dogs to see steps you can take if your own dog gets loose.

I’d stay and write some more, but there’s a window screen outside that needs my mad duct taping skillz.