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APA 7th edition

Elements of Style in APA

Focus on writing in a way that is 

  • clear and coherent: ideas are presented in a logical way 
  • bias free: use the pronoun 'they/them' rather than 'she/her/hers' or 'he/him/his'
  • and uses people first language: people without shelter rather than homeless 
Quick Guides

Inclusive and bias free language

Writing inclusively and without bias is the new standard, and APA’s new publication manual contains a separate chapter on this topic.

The guidelines provided by APA help authors reduce bias around topics such as gender, age, disability, racial and ethnic identity, and sexual orientation, as well as being sensitive to labels and describing individuals at the appropriate level of specificity. Some examples include:

The singular “they” or “their” is endorsed as a gender-neutral pronoun.

  • A researcher’s career depends on how often he or she is cited.
  • A researcher’s career depends on how often they are cited.

Instead of using adjectives as nouns to label groups of people, descriptive phrases are preferred.

  • The poor
  • People living in poverty

Instead of broad categories, you should use exact age ranges that are more relevant and specific.

  • People over 65 years old
  • People in the age range of 65 to 75 years old

Streefkerk, R. (2019). APA Manual 7th edition: The most notable changes.


Referencing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers


NorQuest Library has noted that the formal APA style does not have a format to acknowledge Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers as a reference. In the spirit of wahkôhtowin and reconciliation, NorQuest College Library continues to follow templates created by Lorisia MacLeod and NorQuest College Indigenous Student Centre staff that meet this need.


Unlike other personal communications, Elders and Knowledge Keepers are cited in-text and in the reference list. The in-text citation should follow the same guidelines noted for a paraphrase or direct quote:

Name of Elder/Knowledge Keeper with year of communication.

Delores Cardinal described the nature of the... (2018).


The nature of the place was... (Cardinal, 2018).



Last name, First initial., Nation/Community. Treaty Territory if applicable. Where they live if applicable. Topic/subject of communication if applicable. personal communication. Month Date, Year.


Cardinal, D., Goodfish Lake Cree Nation. Treaty 6. Lives in Edmonton. Oral teaching. personal communication. April 4, 2004.

Note: If you would like to approach an Elder or Knowledge Keeper for teachings, remember to follow protocol or if you are unsure what their protocol is, please ask them ahead of time.