Answered By: Jonathan Faerber
Last Updated: Dec 21, 2019     Views: 84

APA 6th Edition

You can make your writing easier to understand if you “make certain that every word means exactly what you intend it mean” (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 68).

 When deciding what words to use, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the dictionary definition of this word match my intended meaning?
  • Would a member of the general academic community require a dictionary to understand this word?
  • Am I comfortable using this word or words? Am I familiar with this language in other situations?
  • Would I use this word to express or explain this idea in a verbal conversation with my audience?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may need to consider alternatives. Ultimately, you want to be confident in using your words, and if you aren’t sure that you fully understand a word, chances are you are not using it in the most appropriate way. For more information about word choice, please see Chapter 3 of the APA Style manual as well as the Writing Centre's Writing Tips on vocabulary. For further resources regarding an appropriate writing style for academic papers, please see "I am not sure whether my writing style meets academic requirements. Are there resources on the Writing Centre website to help me?".

Reference

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. 

APA 7th Edition

The APA Style manual encourages writers to “be deliberate in your word choices, making certain that every word means exactly what you intend” (American Psychological Association [APA], 2020, p. 113). Consider how your intended audience might interpret the words you’ve chosen; do the words have more than one meaning, and if so, could readers misinterpret your message? When in doubt, “choose words and phrases carefully, and specify the intended meaning if there is potential for ambiguity” (APA, 2020, p. 114).

When deciding what words to use, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the dictionary definition of this word match my intended meaning?
  • Would a member of the general academic community require a dictionary to understand this word?
  • Am I comfortable using this word or words? Am I familiar with this language in other situations?
  • Would I use this word to express or explain this idea in a verbal conversation with my audience?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may need to consider alternatives. Ultimately, you want to be confident in using your words, and if you aren’t sure that you fully understand a word, chances are you are not using it in the most appropriate way. For more information about word choice, please see Chapter 4 of the APA Style manual as well as our Writing Tips on vocabulary. For further resources regarding an appropriate writing style for academic papers, please see I am not sure whether my writing style meets academic requirements. Are there resources on the Writing Centre website to help me?.

Reference

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000