The best medical writing is straightforward. It focuses on the ideas being presented, not the manner of presentation. APA style establishes a uniform structure, style and format to efficiently move ideas forward with maximum clarity and minimum distraction. The fundamentals of APA style have been designed to ensure clear and consistent presentation of written material.
APA papers follow a specific structural format. Depending on the sections necessary for the type of paper you are writing, a paper will generally have the following structure:
Paragraph Format (229kB)
Appropriate point of view is important in APA style because it conveys professionalism and proficiency to your audience. Use first or third person when describing procedures that you or your cohorts conducted or studied:
First person : Appropriate to use when discussing or describing your actions, such as procedures, activities and research.
Example: “I assessed …” “I studied …” “I performed …”
Third person : Appropriate to use when discussing or describing the work of your cohorts.
Example: “The triage nurse assessed …” “The radiologist studied …” “The doctor performed …”
Second person is NOT appropriate because it assumes an audience and their feelings, actions, thoughts, and beliefs. Instead, refer to a specific population.
Example: “Readers may find…” (rather than “you may find”)
APA Style encourages the use of active voice verbs rather than passive. Active voice is particularly important in procedural explanations (such as describing assessment findings); the subject performing the action should be clearly identified.
Example: Active - "We interviewed the patient ..." vs. Passive - "The patient was interviewed..."
For more information on active and passive voice, see the Purdue OWL: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/539/1/
Clear and concise writing is fundamental to APA style. It’s important to represent the details of a study or other research accurately.
Clarity : Be specific rather than vague in descriptions and explanations. Use details accurately to provide adequate information so readers can follow the development of your study.
Example of vague hypothesis: "It was predicted that marital conflict would cause behavior problems in children."
To clarify this vague hypothesis, use parallel structure to outline specific ideas:
Improved example: "The first hypothesis stated that marital conflict would cause behavior problems in school-aged children. The second hypothesis stated that the effect would be stronger for girls than for boys. The third hypothesis stated that older girls would be more affected by marital conflict than younger girls."
Conciseness : Remove unnecessary words and condense information when you can, particularly in introductory material or abstracts.
For more information on clarity and conciseness, see the Purdue OWL handouts:
Exercise care when selecting certain words or terms to use in academic writing. To increase clarity, avoid bias, and control how your readers will receive your information, choose appropriate vocabulary:
To better understand common terminology within the field of nursing, familiarize yourself with current nursing research and literature.
APA style, unlike creative or literary styles, encourages the use of clear and concise language. Poetic expressions and figurative language can distract from your writing; because these are not a feature of nursing literature, they are inappropriate when describing issues or findings.
To choose appropriate language: