Reading Comprehension in Grand Canyon University



Students of Grand Canyon University (GCU) are required to use the guidelines provided by the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) for preparing written assignments, except where otherwise noted. GCU has made APA templates and other resources available within the Student Success Center; therefore, students are not required to purchase the APA manual.

PLEASE NOTE: The curriculum materials (Syllabus, Lectures/Readings, Resources, etc.) created and provided by GCU in the online or Web-enhanced modalities are prepared using an editorial format that relies on APA as a framework but that modifies some formatting criteria to better suit the nature and purpose of instructional materials. Students and faculty are advised that GCU course materials do not adhere strictly to APA format and should not be used as examples of correct APA format when preparing written work for class.

APA Format and Style


Academic writing, which is independent thought supported by reliable and relevant research, depends on the ability to integrate and cite the sources that have been consulted. Use APA style for all references, in-text citations, formatting, etc.

Write in first- and second-person sparingly, if ever. This means, avoid using Iwe, and you; instead, use heshe, and they. Do not use contractions.

Paper Format

1) Use standard-sized paper of 8.5″ x 11″.

2) Margins should be 1″ all around (top, bottom, left, right).

3) Use Times New Roman 12-point font.

4) For emphasis, use italics (not quotation marks, bold, etc.).

5) Double-space.

6) Align the text flush left.


The basic organization of an APA-style paper includes the title page, abstract, body, and reference section, though students are encouraged to follow any specific directions given in their Overview assignment.

Title Page

The title page includes four elements that should be centered in the middle of the page: title, author byline, institutional affiliation followed by the course prefix and number (e.g., Grand Canyon University: PSY 351), and date of submission. Please note that even though APA does not require the date on a title page, it is a requirement for GCU papers.

Being the first page, the title page is where to set up your page header, which includes the running head and the page number. The running head—an abbreviated title that is a maximum of 50 characters—should appear flush left in all uppercase letters in the header on all pages. Page numbers should be in the header, flush right.

To format your running head and page numbers in Microsoft Word 2010, click InsertHeader Blank. In the header box that shows up, type Running head: ABBREVIATED TITLE HERE. After the title, tab over till the cursor is at the right margin, highlight the space, and click InsertPage Number and select Current PositionPlain Number.


The abstract covers the main points of the paper and is not always required in a GCU writing assignment. Read the assignment instructions carefully to determine whether the assignment requires an abstract or not.

1) Abstract is page 2 of the assignment.

2) The word Abstract should be centered at the top of the page.

3) As per GCU policy, the abstract should not exceed 120 words.

4) Do not indent the abstract paragraph.


The body will contain all of the author’s main points as well as detailed and documented support for those ideas.

1) The body begins on its own page.

2) The title of the paper should be centered at the top of the first page of the body, in initial caps.

3) The introduction follows the title, but is not labeled.

4) Use headings to separate sections of the paper, but none of the sections should start their own page. The first level of heading is centered and bolded with each word of four letters or more capitalized (see template for an example). The second level of heading (subheading) is flush left and bolded, with each word of four letters or more capitalized. Note that not all papers will have headings or subheadings in them. APA dictates that you should avoid having only one subsection heading and subsection within a section. In other words, use at least two subheadings under a main heading, or do not use any at all.


The references page will contain a list of all sources actually cited in the paper.

1) This should start its own page.

2) The word References, though not in italics, is centered at the top of the page.

3) Include all, any, and only sources that were actually cited in the paper.

4) Arrange the sources in alphabetical order using the authors’ last names.

Style, Punctuation, and Mechanics


1) Use numerals for numbers 10 and above (12 of the subjects); for numbers above and below 10 grouped for comparison (2 of 16 responses); for numbers representing times, dates, measurements, and ages (2-year-olds, 2 hr 15 min); for statistics and percentages (multiplied by 5, 5% of the sample); and for numbers denoting a specific place in a series, book, or table (Table 3, Group 3, page 32).

2) Spell out numbers below 10 that do not represent precise measurements (eight items, nine pages); for numbers beginning a sentence, title, or heading (Forty-eight people responded. Ten subjects improved.); for common fractions (one fifth of the class); and for approximations of numbers of days, months, and years (about three months ago).


An acronym uses the first letter of each word in a name or title.

1) Acronyms must be spelled out completely on initial appearance in text. The abbreviation or acronym should appear in parentheses after that initial spelling out.


The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) had a profound impact on public education in the United States. The NCLB was an initiative of President George W. Bush in 2002.

Spelling and Word Usage

Use Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as a default for spelling words. The dictionary can also be used as a resource for hyphenation, capitalization, etc.

In-Text Punctuation

1) According to the American Psychological Association (APA), one space after terminal punctuation is considered correct for papers submitted for a grade.

2) Use ellipses when omitting material within a quote.

3) Place a comma after the penultimate word in a series. For example: Your books, ball, and bat are under the bed.

4) If a compound word is not in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, use hyphens for clarity rather than omit them.

5) Hyphenate compound adjectives that precede the noun they modify, except when the first word of the compound is an adverb ending in -ly. For example: role-playing technique, two-way analysis, middle-class families, widely used method

6) Do not hyphenate a compound adjective if its meaning is established or it cannot be misread. For example: grade point average, health care management

7) See page 98 of the APA Manual for further rules on hyphenation.

Initial Capitalization

1) Capitalize all words of four or more letters in titles (books, articles, etc.) used in text. This rule does not apply within the References section, except for the titles of periodicals.

2) Capitalize proper nouns and names.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations are used in the body of a paper to show which sources a student used for particular material.

When you use material from a source, you need to document that source by using a citation and reference note. All quotations, paraphrases, and summaries must be referenced. Using material from a source without citing that source is considered plagiarism; please reference GCU’s policy on Plagiarism in the University Policy Handbook.

Citation Rules

1) In-text citations should note the author information, plus the publication year.

2) For a work by one author, cite last name followed by year on every reference. This citation can be placed at the end of the sentence, or it can be incorporated into the grammatical structure of the sentence.


Researchers have concluded that food and comfortable setting were more important than games available to most students (Liu, 1999).

According to Liu (1999), researchers have concluded that food and comfortable setting were more important than games available to most students.

3) For a work by two authors, cite both last names followed by year on every reference.


(Walker & Allen, 2004)

According to Walker and Allen (2004)…

4) For a work by three to five authors, cite all last names followed by year on first reference, and the first author’s last name followed by et al. and year upon subsequent references.


(Bradley, Ramirez, Soo, & Walsh, 2006)

(Bradley et al., 2006)

5) For a work by six or more authors, cite last name of the first author followed by et al. and the year on all references.


(Wasserstein et al., 2005)

According to Wasserstein et al. (2005)…

6) If no author exists for the source, use the first few words of the title.


Students were more concerned about having a place to socialize with other students than about all-out competition (“Philosophy and the Science,” 2001).

7) When referencing the Bible, cite the book, chapter number, and verse number(s) (starting and ending). The first time the Bible is cited in the paper, also include the version used. This system of citation for the Bible is sufficient and requires no reference note for the Bible on the References page.


· Citing the Bible, first reference: Use book, chapter, verse, and version (Luke 2:16-20 King James Version).

· Citing the Bible, subsequent references: Use only book, chapter, and verse (Luke 2:16-20).

8) If the material is a direct quote, the page or paragraph number of the source should immediately follow.


“Ethics examines moral values and the standards of ethical behavior” (Ornstein et al., 2008, p. 162).

Basu and Jones (2007) went so far as to suggest the need for a new “intellectual framework in which to consider the nature and form of regulation in cyberspace” (para. 4).

9) Quotations with 40 or more words should be in block format.

a. Omit the encompassing quotation marks.

b. Start a block quote on a new line.

c. Indent the entire block 0.5 inches from the left margin (in the same position as a new paragraph)

d. Additional paragraphs within a block quote should have the first line indented an additional 0.5 inches.

e. The in-text citation for a block quote is placed outside the final punctuation for the quote.

f. Double space.

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