Concise Guide to APA Style

American Psychological Association (7th edn, 2020), 326pp, £34.95 (spiral-bound)
ISBN 978 1 43 383273 4

Reviewed by Alta Bridges

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The Concise Guide is the mini version of the APA’s new seventh edition style guide and comes in a handy spiral-bound format. It is aimed primarily at students and is adapted from the new Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition.

It seems that the APA designers have gone all out to put together a more user-friendly style guide. Both the full and concise publications of the seventh edition now come in full colour and with labelled thumb indexes, or tabs, to assist in finding specific topics more quickly. There are helpful quick guides ‘at a glance’ on the inside of the front cover (heading levels, citation styles) and back cover (common reference styles).

In the Concise Guide, the chapters are broken down into styles and elements specifically aimed at the needs of student writers. The first chapter focuses on student writing with a new sample student paper with labels to show how specific elements are used. Explanations, examples, especially on style issues, and ease of locating specific issues have been greatly improved from the previous version; for example, lists are included as a section with subsections in Chapter 4. Another major change is the simplification of references and in-text citations; for example, now all surnames and initials are to be included in the reference list for up to 20 authors and all names no longer have to be shown in the first appearance of an in-text citation.

There are expanded and/or new guidelines on capitalisation of proper nouns, job titles, diseases; the presentation of numbers; how to write gene and protein names; how to cite recorded/unrecorded knowledge; the presentation of DOIs and URLs; legal reference examples; new categories for references such as social media, blogs, and other types of online articles; and many more. References are also more streamlined: for example, italic commas are no longer specified in journal articles; issue numbers are always included; book references now omit the publisher location; and more examples are given for audiovisual material (YouTube videos, TED Talks, etc).

Generally, this update is a clear and precise style guide in an improved layout and design format, aided by the helpful thumb index. As with the previous edition, a blog is available for more guidance ( My overall impression is that the changes to the new edition of the style guide and specifically the Concise Guide have been a big improvement and are more in line with the latest trends in the publishing industry. The layout has improved considerably and the added samples throughout have made this a much more easily navigable and user-friendly edition. Although the Concise Guide is a concise version, most important issues have been included and it is a good, affordable alternative to the Publication Manual, even if you are no longer a student.

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