American Political Science Association Style Manual


Published in P S, Fall, 1985. 

Abridged and revised for the Lamar University Political Science Department 


Dr. Bruce Drury

Professor of Political Science

Lamar University, Box 10030

Beaumont, Texas 77710



Aug. 1992. Second revision, Feb. 1999.


All formal papers submitted to satisfy the requirements for Political Science classes at Lamar University shall conform to the style described in this Manual, unless otherwise instructed by the professor.


Title Page  

The paper shall have a title page that provides the title of the paper, the author, the name and number of the class, the date of submission and the name of the professor for that class. The title should be descriptive and short (12 to 15 words maximum, preferably fewer). Long or overly catchy titles lose readers, who want to get to the point quickly.


If your professor requires an abstract, it should be of no more than 150 words, typed on a separate page. The abstract should describe succinctly what research problem you investigated, how you tackled the problem and what findings or conclusions you presented. The abstract should summarize, not introduce your paper.


Your paper should be typed on a standard typewriter or printed with a letter quality or near-letter-quality printer. The manuscript should be double-spaced throughout, except for single-spacing of direct quotations that are more than five lines in length. Margins should be one inch. Do not justify the right margin. Page numbers should appear centered at the bottom of each page of the text.

Spelling and Word Division


In general, avoid hyphens.

Prefixes. Words formed with the most common prefixes should be "closed," without hyphens. Some examples:

bipartisan midterm

reelection semiactive

postelection counterproductive

nonmonetary underestimated

coefficient multilateral


Break this rule when the prefix precedes a numeral (mid-1960s) or a capital letter (anti-Zionist) or when the prefix would create a string of three identical letters (cross-section). Compounds with "self" are always hyphenated (self-interest, self-determination).

Compound Words. When a compound acts as an adjective it is hyphenated:

long-term behavior

well-developed consensus

one-party dominance

life-cycle hypothesis

When the compound adjective follows its noun or stands alone, it is spelled "open" without hyphens:

policy was ill advised

consensus was well developed

Adverbs (most of which end "ly") never need hyphens.



Do not use italics merely for the sake of emphasis. A well-constructed sentence creates natural emphasis syntactically. Common expressions derived from foreign languages are not italicized:

Cooper et al.

per capita income


However, unusual words should be italicized: Italian Leggine. Underlining indicates italics.


Sentence Construction

Pay careful attention to changes in tense, to subject-verb agreement, and to word choice. Try not to split infinitives. Avoid rigid adherence to these rules if the resulting sentence sounds stilted.


Gender Neutral Language   

Unnecessarily gender-specific language should be avoided, including gender-specific terms for groups of people and the characterization of such groups as male.


Quoting from Other Sources    

When using the ideas and data created by some other person, you must credit the author with a citation. The idea should normally be paraphrased in your own words unless the exact words are needed to express the idea successfully. When you quote from another work, reproduce the original text word for word and letter for letter, including original Italics, spelling, punctuation, and other usage. Quotations exceeding 5 lines should be indented and single-spaced, without quotation marks. Indicate omissions by three dots, by four dots if the omission is at the

end of a sentence, or by a blank line if the omission is a paragraph or more. Use brackets to enclose words not in the cited material.


Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Contractions    

Avoid contractions such as "can't" for "cannot." Standard abbreviations are acceptable, for example, "U.S." for "United States" or "Dept." for "Department." Acronyms should be in parentheses at the first reference, after the spelled-out full forms. In later references, the letters are sufficient. For example, "National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)" the first time, but then "NASA." Using acronyms to designate variables, as in computer work, can be ungainly in the text of an article. When explaining the results of multivariate analyses, authors should avoid writing in computer acronyms. Rather, variables should be cited in common words (e.g., "party competition" instead of "PART-COMP84").



Symbols and Equations

Each equation should be typed on a line separate from the rest of the text. If several equations appear in a paper, each should be numbered flush left. Ambiguous symbols should be identified in the margin (e.g., to distinguish between the capital letter X and Greek chi).

Word or Numerals?

Cardinal numbers from zero to nine are spelled out in the text:

seven-point scale

a value approaching zero

two quantitative variables

Those over nine are indicated as numerals:

99 interest groups

10 states

8,790 delegates

Ordinal numbers are spelled out:

seventh and eighth deciles

the nineteenth century

top tenth of the population

Exception: ordinals referring to legislative sessions use numerals:

99th Congress

9th Knesset

Decades are indicated by numerals and an "s" without apostrophe:

persistent inflation's of the 1970s and 1980s

during the mid-l96Os

Dates always use numbers: November 22, 1963.

Fractions are spelled out and hyphenated:

three-fourths voting

one-seventh of the survey

Percentages are always expressed as numerals followed by the "%" symbol, even if the numeral is less than 10:

Studies found 70%...

Fewer than 1% responded

Exception: When a percentage begins a sentence, the words should be spelled out: Seventy percent said that...



Tables are useful, but they should economize space. Often two tables sharing the same row or column headings can be combined. The same information should never be repeated in text, tables, and figures. Tables or figures should stand on their own. They should be understandable to the reader who has not yet consulted the text. All columns and rows should be clearly labeled; abbreviations or acronyms should not be used as primary labels. The meanings of numbers should always be clear. Under most circumstances, numbers should not be given beyond two decimal places.

A table or figure in the text of a paper illustrates a trend, finding, or relationship. Tables merely providing information or data--"storage tables"--should be included in an appendix if they must be included. Each table should be labeled, assigned an Arabic numeral, double-spaced on a single sheet of paper, and inserted in sequence at the end of the text. (Long tables are easier to read than wide ones.)

Include all the information the reader will need to understand your data either in the table itself or in a note (using superscript lowercase letters). If data are drawn from an established source, the reference should be cited at the bottom of the table:

Source: Statistical Abstract of the U.S. 1980, 24-28.

Supply headings for all columns, and make clear whether the data are frequencies, percentages, or specified other statistics. Indicate the number of cases upon which percentages are calculated and whether you are using column, row, or table percentages. Use only horizontal rules, placed below the title, below the headings, and at the foot of the table.



Titles and sources for figures should follow the same format as for tables. Each figure should appear on a separate page, and should be drawn in black ink on good quality paper. The type on figures should be right side up and large enough to be legible. Make sure the parts of the figure are labeled clearly.



Citations are brief notes on sources, appearing parenthetically in the text. They are designed to satisfy the reader's immediate curiosity without interrupting the flow of argument.

Works are cited where their findings or conceptual definitions arise. The citation usually includes only the last name of the author(s), the year of publication and the page number(s) in parentheses. When there are two different authors who have the same name, a first initial should be used to distinguish between them.

... the increased role of amateurs (Wilson 1962, 75).

... reported in several studies (C. Hermann 1978, 32; M. Hermann

1980, 347).

* If the author's name is used in the text itself, follow it with the

year of publication and page number in parentheses:

Jones (1978, 97) links these findings...

Aldrich and McGinnis (1983, 261) provide an extension...

* For two authors, use both names each time:

(Jones and Smith 1984, 12)

* For three or more authors, cite all names the first time and the

first author followed by "et al." later:

... rooted in the psychology of groups (Campbell, Converse, Miller,

and Stokes 1960, chs. 6 and 7)

... major social upheavals such as those of the New Deal (Campbell

et al. 1960, 150)...

Note, in the last example, the method for citing chapters and pages within a work; these should appear in the citations rather than the references. (Wherever possible, citations should include specific chapters or pages.)

* If more than one work is cited in a pair of parentheses, separate

with semicolons.

(Durkheim 1966, 87; Trubek 1972, 4; Weber 1947, 360)

* To distinguish works by the same author published in the same year,

assign letters after the dates of publication and use the letters

also in the reference section:

(Jackson 1975a, 46; 1975b, 73)

Historical Citations

The reference section should refer the reader to the current source for a historical work:

(Freud 1961, ch. 2)

(Hamilton, Madison, and Jay 1960, 456-462)

Citations to classical authors such as Thucydides, Aristotle, and Plato may use standard forms identified in an opening note:

I cite Thucydides according to the standard form: book, paragraph

and, when necessary, sentence (e.g., 3.46.2); unless otherwise

noted, all the translations are my own.

I cite Plato according to the standard Stephanus pagination; I have

used Bloom's translation, Plato (1968).


Government Documents

Details on government documents should be in the reference section. For citations in the text, the name of the source, date, and page number in parentheses suffice:

(Congressional Record September 20, 1977, H6)

(Senate Foreign Relations Committee Print January 10, 1980, 24)

(Papers of President Ronald Reagan February 23, 1981, 10)

Citations to all other public documents may use the standard form identified in an opening note.


Legal Citations

Legal citations include the case name, year, and page number if warranted:

(Baker v. Carr 1962, 190)

More complete citations belong in the reference section. (If possible, use the U.S. Reports for Supreme Court decisions; this source is preferable to the Lawyers' Edition or Supreme Court Reporter.)


Citations from Electronic Sources

The Internet has rapidly become a valuable source for research information. Citations for information found on the World Wide Web, an e-mail message, a listserv message or other electronic forms should follow the common in text pattern of author, year and, if available, the page number. If the electronic source does not have page numbers, it is appropriate to use internal divisions such as section numbers or chapter heading to assist the reader in finding the original information.

(CIA 1999, Afghanistan/Government)


Repeated Citations

Repeat citation each time it is necessary. Avoid "ibid.," "op. cit.," or "supra."

Be sure that every cited work is included in the reference section and that the spellings of the authors' names and dates of publications are accurate in both citations and references.



Citations direct attention to the more detailed references, which provide complete source information to aid further research.

The following examples show proper forms for common kinds of references, Note that references are listed alphabetically by author. All lines are double-spaced, and all after the first in an entry are indented. When several works by the same author are listed, they should appear in chronological order, with the earliest publication first. Titles of articles and papers are not enclosed in quotation marks. Issue number and month of publication are omitted unless indispensable for identification. Use first names rather than initials in references.



One author:

Bernstein, Theodore. 1980. The Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to

English Usage. New York: Atheneum.

Note that no parentheses are necessary. The author's name and the date--the bits of information in the citations--appear first, followed by the book title, place, and publisher. Chapter and page numbers should be in the citation, not the reference.

Two Authors, new edition:

Strunk, William Jr., and E. B. White. 1979. The Elements of Style,

3rd ed. New York: Macmillan.

The last name comes first for the initial author only.

Edited book:

Dodd, Lawrence C., and Bruce I. Oppenheimer, eds. 1981. Congress

Reconsidered, 2nd ed. Washington: CQ Press.

Article in an edited book:

Jones, Charles 0. 1968. Interparty Competition for Congressional

Seats. In Samuel C. Patterson, ed., American Legislative Behavior.

Princeton: Van Nostrand.

The state of publication is specified only if the city is not well known or may be confused with another place, e.g., Cambridge or Columbus. Use postal abbreviations: MA, OH, NJ, DC.

Journal Articles

One author:

Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1983. Radicalism or Reformism: The Sources

of Working-Class Politics. American Political Science Review


The volume number follows the title and is followed by a colon and the appropriate page numbers.

Two or more authors:

Stevens, Arthur, Arthur Miller and Thomas Mann. 1974. Mobilization

of Liberal Strength in the House, 1955-1970. American Political

Science Review 68:667-681.

Article in press:

Niemi, Richard G. Forthcoming. The Problem of Strategic Behavior

Under Approval Voting. American Political Science Review.


Newspaper and Magazine Articles

Authored article:

Wicker, Tom. March 4, 1975. Energy Plan in Sight. New York Times.

Anonymous author:

Why Vote at All? June 20, 1980. Time, 14-15.

The reference section supplies inclusive page numbers for periodicals. The citation, with an anonymous author, is like:

(Why Vote at All? 1980, 14)

Historical References

Madison, James. 1961. Federalist 10. In Alexander Hamilton, James

Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers. Clinton Rossiter,

ed. New York: New American Library. (Original Work published in


The original publication date is given in parentheses when possible. The recent edition, however, is the one researchers will be able to consult most readily.

English Translations

Freud, Sigmund. 1961. The Ego and the Id. In John Strachey, ed. and

trans. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of

Sigmund Freud. Vol. 19, London: Hogarth Press. (Original work

published in 1923.)

Sources in Foreign Languages

Translate titles of books and long articles (in brackets, not underlined); do not translate the names of well-known periodicals. Romanized or foreign language words after the first work (except for proper names and for nouns in German) ordinarily begin with small letters.

Government Documents

The method of referring to government documents varies, but these forms should prove adequate.

U.S. Congress, House. June 5, 1983. Congressional Record. 98th

Cong., 1st sess. Washington: Government Printing Office.

U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. April 1984.

Report on Covert Aid to Central America. 98th Cong., 2nd sess.

Washington: Government Printing Office.

Reagan, Ronald. 1981. Papers of President Ronald Reagan.

Washington: Government Printing Office.

United Kingdom. 1879. Hansard Parliamentary Debates. 3rd ser., vol.


The "author" and date come first, followed by the title (underlined) and the term, session, place of publication, and publisher.

Legal References

Use the standard form for legal references (cases):

Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962).

Early in the Supreme Court's history, cases were identified by the recording clerk's name rather than by volume number. The correct reference would be:

Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137 (1803).

Lower federal court cases follow the same form:

Smith v. Jones, 385 4th Circ. 101 (1975).

Electronic Sources

World Wide Web. The most commonly used electronic source is the World Wide Web. The intent of the reference is to allow the reader to go from the in-text citation to the reference and then to access the cited material from the information provided. The reference listing for a WWW citation should contain the author's name; date of publication or last revision; title of document; title of complete work (if applicable), underlined; URL, in angle brackets; and date of access, in parentheses.

Central Intelligence Agency. 1999. Afghanistan/Government. World Fact Book, 1998. <html://> 1999, Jan. 29

Email Message.  To document an email message, you need to provide the author's name; the author's email address, in angle brackets; the date of publication; the subject line from posting; the type of communication (personal email, distribution list) in square brackets; and the date of access, in parentheses.

Albright, M. <> 1999, Jan.5. Statement on Cuba [Personal email]. (1999, January 29)

Newsgroup Message. To document a newsgroup message, you need to provide the author's name; the author's email address, in angle brackets; the date of publication; the subject line from posting; the name of the newsgroup, in angle brackets; and the date of access, in parentheses.

Stratfor. <>, 1999, Jan.29. Thailand/Myanmar. <STRATFOR/Global Intelligence Update> (1999, January 29)

Television and Radio Programs

Occasionally, material presented in news broadcasts or documentaries is quoted in a paper. The relevant information should appear in the reference section as follows:

CBS News. November 18, 1984. Sixty Minutes.

National Public Radio. September 10, 1984. All Things Considered.

Checking References

Authors must crosscheck their references; there should be a reference for each citation and vice versa.



Notes are used to present explanatory material and should be used sparingly if at all. All notes should be typed (double-spaced) consecutively at the end of the paper. Superscript numbers in the text direct the reader to the corresponding note. An acknowledgement note, without an asterisk or number, may be placed ahead of the first numbered note.



If your paper draws on data not documented in standard sources or in the text of the paper, an appendix describing these data may be necessary. For example, with respect to survey data:

* A description of the sample, including a definition of the

geographical area and details about how the sample was drawn,

sufficient to permit replication;

* Response rate (for quota designs, the number of refusals); and

* Exact wording of questions.