Great advice from experts on how to write an APA style paper

One way that you can best prepare yourself for the APA style paper is to keep your notes organized as you go. Many students want to avoid taking notes on a computer since they will be spending a great deal of time typing later on. For those in this situation, there are two great methods of note taking that can make the creation of an outline and subsequent APA style paper quite simple.

  • Method 1: The circle method

  • This method is designed to help you keep all of your ideas on one sheet of paper, so that you can see them simultaneously. To do this, you should write down all of your ideas on a sheet of paper and put a circle around them. Each time you have an idea that supports another of your ideas, you connect the two circles with a line. The advantage here is that you can glance down and see exactly how your ideas tie together. The downside is that you can only fit so many circles on one sheet of paper.

  • Method 2: Index cards

  • Many students find that index cards (the small 3 by 5 cards) are the best when it comes to taking notes while researching. As you read through books or magazine articles, you can write down each statistic, note, idea, quote, or paraphrase on an individual card. You can also note the citation on the back of the card so that you can easily compile your in-text citations and reference sheet later. This method of organization allows you to physically reshuffle the cards until you find the best outline. You can also see which arguments lack sufficient evidence, thus refining your research. This method is best done with an integration of colored and white cards. The colored cards can be used for main arguments while the white cards can be used for evidence, or vice versa.

Once this is done, you can create an outline. You can use the note cards in order as your outline, or you can write an outline on a single sheet of paper. You can create a sentence outline which uses a single sentence for every paragraph or a topic outline that uses fragments to describe each section. Some students prefer to rely on the cards or the circle method while others use this as a preliminary step before creating their outline and first draft.

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