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How to do a seriation in an APA paper? Bulleted lists, numbered lists, etc.?

How do you include a list or a series of points in your paper? How far off do you indent from the margin?
Last Updated: Jun 20, 2014  |  8768 Views

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APA has rules on seriation to help the reader see the organization of key elements within sections, paragraphs and/or sentences in a paper.

There are three types of seriation that APA allows. Each is identified and given in the examples below:


APA allows for several types of seriation: (a) lowercase letters within parentheses, (b) bulleted lists, or (c) numbered lists.


APA allows for several types of seriation:

  1. lowercase letters within parentheses
  2. bulleted lists
  3. numbered lists


APA allows for several types of seriation:

  • lowercase letters with parentheses
  • bulleted lists
  • numbered lists


If you are reproducing, quoting, or paraphrasing a list taken from a source, the citation would appear at the end of the last item. Two variations on how that type of citation might look are below:

Elisabeth Kulber-Ross is widely credited with identifying five stages of grief that many people go through when facing a terminal illness:

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance (Hebert, Moore & Rooney, 2011, para. 9).

or

Hebert, Moore and Rooney (2011) indicate that Elisabeth Kulber-Ross is widely credited with identifying five stages of grief that many people go through when facing a terminal illness:

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance (para. 9).

For more information, and examples, please see the Publication Manual's section on seriation (section 3.04, pages 63-65). Please note, you would use normal double spacing throughout. Web formatting inserts extra spacing between the list and the lines preceeding or following.

And, in terms of indentation for numbered and bulleted lists, APA suggests NO INDENTATION for lists in manuscripts, though it does indicate that final publications will have these sections indented. Since student papers are final publications, you can make a solid case for using your word processor's normal indent for bulleted or numbered lists (1/2 inch or 1 tab). However, do ask your instructor if they have a preference one way or another.


Here is a chart from APA that will help you pick which type of seriation to use:

What do you want to do with your series of items?LetteredNumberedBulleted
Clarify the elements without drawing overmuch attention to the list itself
Visually separate the list from the surrounding text
Show procedural steps
Show a chronology (first, second, third)
Show how items have relative importance (e.g., increasing or decreasing in importance)
Show a general list, with no implied chronology, procedure, order, or differences in importance



References

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Pscyhological Association.

Chicago, IL: Author.

Hebert, K., Moore, H. & Rooney, J. (2011). The nurse advocate in end-of-life care.

The Ochsner Journal (11)4: 325-329. Retrieved from 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3241064/

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