APA Lists


APA permits writers to use lists (seriation) to present key information to their readers clearly. Remember that sentences preceding lists often use a colon and that colons must always be preceded by complete sentences (as in the following examples).

When the information is organized according to chronology or a hierarchy, use numerals:

Observation findings showed patients cried less after immunizations when the following steps were taken:
  1. Nurses greeted patients by name.
  2. Patients were allowed time to settle into the examining room.
  3. Patients looked at colorful reading material.
  4. Nurses administered shots.
  5. Patients received candy.

When the information is organized into non-hierarchical or chronological lists should use bullets:

Statements obtained in patient interviews following the immunization protocol also indicate patient satisfaction:
  • "I hated the shot, but candy makes me happy."
  • "This candy is delicious. I love my nurse."
  • "What shot?"

Writers may also use lists within a paragraph. Within a sentence, the writer can use letters to separate items:

Following the conclusion of this study, clinic staff have (a) changed the intake form so that patients’ names are more visible, (b) made it standard procedure to draw immunizations in a separate area after leading patients to the examining room, (c) added colorful reading material in each examining room, (d) joined Costco, and (e) bought candy in bulk.

Authors may also separate points with bullet lists:

Following the conclusion of this study, clinic staff has
  • changed the intake form so that patients’ names are more visible,
  • made it standard procedure to draw immunizations in a separate area after leading patients to the examining room,
  • added colorful reading material in each examining room,
  • joined Costco, and
  • bought candy in bulk.

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