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Answered By: Suzanne Schriefer, Criminal Justice & Paralegal Librarian Last Updated: Feb 17, 2017 Views: 67213
APA has rules on seriation to help the reader see the organization of key elements within sections, paragraphs and/or sentences in a paper. When using seriated lists, choose terms or phrases that are similar or in parallel throughout the list.
There are three types of seriation that APA allows. Each is identified and given in the examples below:
The chart uses colors to denote the following:
1. Red for stop
2. Yellow for caution
3. Green for proceed
NOTE: Some may interpret items in a numbered list to be presented in order of importance.
APA allows for three types of seriated lists:
- Numbered lists
- Bulleted lists
- Lowercase letters within parentheses
Lowercase letters within parentheses
This form of seriation is used in a sentence or paragraph. For example:
In the study, patients were given (a) the trial drug, (b) no drug, or (c) a placebo.
If you are reproducing, quoting, or paraphrasing a list taken from a source, the citation would appear at the end of the last item. Include a semicolon (;) at the end of each listed item to inform the reader that all of the information in the list is from the resources cited. 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:
- acceptance (Hebert, Moore & Rooney, 2011, para. 9).
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:
- acceptance (para. 9).
Formatting a seriated list
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. Also, lists should follow APA formatting rules and be double spaced.
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?||Lettered||Numbered||Bulleted|
|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||√||√|
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