Prepare for Change: Old APA versus New APA

Baby with glasses looks at huge book

One of the most popular guides for academic writing standards across the curriculum is scheduled for some changes. It’s been a decade since The American Psychological Association (APA) last revamped its writing manual, but the organization will be releasing its updated, seventh-edition in October.  For many editors, faculty, and students, this means mastering new rules in short order.

And while change can be scary, when it comes to APA, all appearances indicate that the changes will be mostly user-friendly.  The group hosts a free online preview of its introduction to the new edition, and the APA’s social media feed has also leaked some helpful details.

Based on that information, these predictions for the changes we’ll see aren’t too bold. Here’s a quick table to help you and your colleagues brace for the changes:

Old Way (6th Edition)New Way (7th Edition)
The running head for the title page is different than the running head for subsequent pagesThe running head rules are “simplified,” and running heads are not required for student papers
A pronoun should reflect the same number as the noun it replacesUse of singular “they” is endorsed
Two spaces after a period that ends a sentence is acceptableUse one space after a period, unless otherwise directed
There are unregulated areas in capitalization for some proper nouns, science, and medical termsThere is increased guidance in this area
The first in-text citation mentions up to five authorsThe first in-text citation of a work by more than two authors may list only the first author, followed by “et al.”
The reference section lists seven authors of a single workThe reference section lists up to 20 authors for a single work
Book references disclosed publisher locationBook references omit publisher location
Font specifications: Times New Roman, 12-point is preferredMore flexible font specifications

The worst thing about change is often the unknown.  This quick glimpse at what the APA has in store offers encouraging news about the road ahead.


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

American Psychological Association. (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (Introduction to the 6th ed.).

Bio: Miriam Bowers-Abbott, MA, is an assistant professor and academic department leader at Mount Carmel College of Nursing.