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Washington State University
College of Education

WSU Kinesiology Writing Guide

Kinesiology Writing Guide – American Psychological Association (APA)

Most of your kinesiology classes will require APA (American Psychological Association) format for writing. This style is different in a number of ways from that you may have used for high school or English class writing. Two differences that often catch students:

#1  APA style uses in-text citations rather than footnotes

#2  The heading for the references section is titled References (rather than Works Cited)

There are great online APA guides available.  Two of the most commonly used by kinesiology students are:


Click on the specific link for detailed formatting instructions and examples

Text formatting

Reference list formatting

For a copy of the full WSU Kinesiology Writing Guide in Word document, click here

For more information, see American Psychological Association (APA) 6th ed.







Be clear and concise

For a research project report, coverage should be complete enough to allow another investigator to attempt to replicate the study.

Write in the past tense

In general, it is particularly important to refer to the work of others in the past tense: “Smith (1989) said” not “says.” However, when you refer to events or ideas that are ongoing, use the present tense: “Current research shows that….”

Use the active voice whenever possible

“Three experimenters conducted the study” or “We recruited fifteen volunteer participants” not “ the study was conducted by…” or “fifteen participants were recruited”  AVOID “ the study was conducted by…” or “fifteen participants were recruited”

Specify antecedents for pronouns

“The task was not difficult” rather than “It was not difficult”.

Have a topic sentence for each paragraph

and the entire paragraph should be related to that sentence.

 Be straightforward and direct without distraction.  This is key to scientific writing

Avoid clichés, common phrases (such as “That said,…”) or any kind of creative writing device (e.g., rhyming). Redundancy is also to be avoided: “has been previously found” (leave out “previously”).

Avoid making concrete statements

In scientific writing, we also avoid making concrete statements (e.g. “the data prove that…”). Rather, we hedge and use terms like “support”

Avoid biases

1.  Disabilities: refer to person first, e.g. “women with arthritis” rather than “arthritic women”

2.  Pronouns:  The seventh edition of the APA Manual endorses the use of “they” as a singular pronoun. The manual advises writers to use “they” for a person whose gender is unknown or irrelevant.

a.  For instance, rather than writing “I don’t know who wrote this note, but he or she has good handwriting,” you might write something like “I don’t know who wrote this note, but they have good handwriting.”

b.  Additionally, “they” should be used for a person who uses “they” as their personal pronoun. In both cases, derivatives of “they,” like “them,” “their,” “themselves,” and so on should also be used accordingly. Plural verbs should be used when “they” is referring to a single person or entity (e.g., use “they are a kind friend” rather than “they is a kind friend”).

c.  The manual also advises against anthropomorphizing language. Thus, non-human relative pronouns like “that,” and “which” are recommended for animals and inanimate objects, rather than “who.”