Family Relations Style Guide

Family Relations style is based on style guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA); all page references are to the Publication Manual of the APA, 7th ed.

Manuscript Preparation

  • Use the following fonts and corresponding point sizes: Calibri 11, Arial 11, Lucida Sans Unicode 10, Times New Roman 12, or Georgia 11.
  • Double space all manuscript elements: Abstract, headings, all text, block quotes, References, Tables, Table titles, Figure legends
  • Left-margin justification
  • Number pages and include running head as per APA style.
  • Titles should be have no more than 12 words in length
  • Place Acknowledgements on the title page
  • Title pages include complete contact information (i.e., address for each author; indication of corresponding author)
  • Following the abstract, identify up to six keywords by which the article may be indexed. Please list your key words in alphabetical order.
  • Headings are consistent with APA style.
  • Family Relations does not include/publish footnotes nor endnotes. Please incorporate any essential material into the text.

Numbers and Statistics

  • Use figures, not words, for dates, ages, sample, subsample, population size, exact sums of money, numbers that represent time, and scores and points on a scale. The guidelines for the presentation of numbers have been updated to be consistent throughout a work; for example, there is no longer an exception for presenting numbers in an abstract (see pp. 178-181).
  • In text and references, separate number ranges with an En dash. Type all mathematical operators (e.g., <, =) with a space before and after. Use numerals for all numbers when comparing to numbers 10 or above (e.g., 12, 11, and 6 months.
  • One fifth (noun) versus one-fifth (adjective).
  • Italicize scoring systems; for example "Response options ranged from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5)."
  • Expand all statistical or technical terms on first use (e.g., goodness of fit, GFI thereafter). See common statistical abbreviations and symbols in Table 6.5 (see pp. 183-186).
  • Italicize statistical symbols in text and tables (e.g., F, Fs, SD, M, p, r, R2).
  • Use symbols for percentage, dollars, and the like (e.g.,29%, $20).
  • Capitalize Model 1, Table 2, Wave 1, Figure 1, and so on.
  • Use N for the total sample and n for subsamples.
  • Round most decimal values to two numbers, except p values (three numbers).
  • For numbers below 1.0, include a leading zero if the upper range of the metric exceeds 1.0 (e.g., SD = 0.81, d = 0.67), but not if it cannot exceed 1.0 (e.g., p = .032, r = .76).
  • Use a thousands comma for numbers larger than 999 (e.g., 1,098).

APA-specific and General Grammar and Usage Rules


  • Expand all acronyms on first use, no matter how commonly used (e.g., Dyadic Adjustment Scale, DAS). Only abbreviate terms commonly used in FR.
  • The following prefixes should not require a hyphen: after, anti, bi, co, counter, equi, extra, infra, inter, intra, macro, mega, meta (but meta-analysis), micro, mid, mini, multi, non, over, post, pre, pro, pseudo, re, semi, socio, sub, super, supra, ultra, un, and under. Retain hyphens before a numeral, an all-caps abbreviation (pre-TANF), and a capitalized letter (e.g., non-Hispanic). Retain hyphens if word could be misunderstood or misread (e.g., re-pair, anti-intellectual). Hyphenate all self words (e.g., self-esteem, self-worth).
  • Hyphenate compound adjectives when they modify nouns; for example, middle-class families but families in the middle class. Terms for race and ethnicity do not include hyphens (e.g., African American families). Well-being is always hyphenated.
  • Emphasis and irony are best conveyed with words. Use quotation marks for in-text quotations of fewer than 40 words and to indicate ironic comments or invented expressions (e.g., the division of labor is "fair"); not for emphasis. Quotation marks around ironic expressions are dropped after the first occurrence.
  • Use italics infrequently as per APA guidelines. For emphasis, italicize new, technical, or key terms or labels but only at first occurrence. Italicize anchors of response scales in measurement section of manuscript (e.g., strongly disagree to strongly agree).
  • Paragraphs need to be three sentences in length or longer; contractions should be avoided.
  • Review the literature in the past tense.
  • Use letters, not numbers, in parentheses for a series: (a) first, (b) second, and (c) third; not (1), (2), (3); nor 1), 2), 3); nor a), b), c).
  • Capitalize the first word after a colon if it begins a complete sentence. Capitalize both words when a capitalized word is a hyphenated compound.
  • Capitalize racial groups: Black, White, Mexican American, European American.
  • Use the words ‘female’ or ‘male’ only as adjectives; use the words ‘girls,’ ‘women,’ ‘boys,’ or ‘men’ as nouns. Rewrite the sentence to avoid language such as ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘him,’ or ‘her’; the singular “they” or “their” is endorsed as a gender-neutral pronoun.
  • Avoid slash construction in (a) simple and/or constructions (use a phrase instead); (b) for simple comparisons (use a hyphen instead); and (c) more than once to express compound units (use centered dots and parentheses to avoid ambiguity).
  • Two commonly misused phrases are due to and based on. APA Style prefers the use of due in the financial sense. APA Style prefers based to be preceded by a linking verb (e.g., is). An alternative solution is to say "on the basis of . . . ."


  • Strive for economy of expression.
  • Use while and since only in reference to time (alternatives when not referencing time include: although, whereas, but, because).
  • Include an Oxford comma in a series (e.g., red, blue, and yellow). Only use semicolons in a series if an element within the series contains commas: Flags were blue, red, and yellow; lavender, white, and apricot; or orange, green, and black.
  • "and/or" should be and or (two words). In general, do not make use of a slash if phrases can be understood without a slash or with insertion of "or"
  • "Policymakers" not policy makers
  • Child care (two words) as noun; childcare (one word) as adjective
  • "Children" instead of "kids"; "child" instead of "kid"
  • Generally, close quotation marks after periods and commas, "like this." Other punctuation marks are within quotations only when they are part of the quoted material.
  • Use which for information that is parenthetical in nature and set off this material with a comma; for information essential to the meaning of the sentence, use that (e.g., the Table, which appears in Appendix A; a variable that is measured).
  • The word data is plural.
  • Use e.g., i.e., etc., and vs. in parentheses only. Otherwise, for example, that is, etcetera, and versus. Follow e.g. and i.e. with commas (e.g., i.e.,).
  • Ellipses require spaces before and after each period, like this: . . ., not ...


Figures and Tables

  • Please consult this PDF for specific information on figure preparation.
  • Craft brief but clear and explanatory figure and table titles. Use title case (capitalize major words, all words of four or more letters, and both words of a hyphenated compound) and italicize.
  • Align headings and column entries. Align decimal points within columns.
  • Do not italicize column headings or variable names. Typically, boldface is reserved for unique statistical symbols.
  • Explain the meaning of scales, numbers, and variables with table notes or figure legends. If using acronyms or special punctuation, define them (e.g., pre = preschool; all bolded terms are weighted to U.S. norms). Tables should stand alone, without the need to go to the text for interpretation. Include the N in all tables.
  • Table notes:
          1.  First level: General table notes, together in a single paragraph, are relevant to the table as a   whole. Format is: Note. All values are weighted.
          2.  Second level: Specific notes run together in a second paragraph are used for information relevant to a particular row, column, or cell entry. There is no space between the superscript and the cell entry and between tghe superscript and the note. Format is: a 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree. Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. 
          3.  Third level: Tables should usually contain a column with exact p values. However, when doing so is not feasible (e.g., in a correlation matrix) then use a probablity note run together in a third paragraph to indicate the results of test of statistical significance. Use asteriisks only. Use periods to punctuate probability notes and format as follows: *p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001. In the rare instance when it is appropriate, use a dagger (e.g., † p <. 10.) *indicates the same p value from table to table within a paper. All p-value notes go on the same line. Insert spaces before and after <.

Reference and Parenthetical Citations in Text (see p. 261-263)

  • Citations in the text not enclosed in parentheses should list the date of the work in parentheses after the author's name, as in Jones (2002). List parenthetical citations in alphabetical order (Benton & Mays, 1999, Results section, para. 3; Chan, 1998; Farmer, 1999a, 1999b; Jones, 1992, 1999; Jones, Armstrong, & Hayes, 2001; Zindel et al., 2001).
  • For a single reference, use a comma between the author and the date (Jones, 1990).
  • In parentheses, link the authors' names with an ampersand “(Bruce & Smith, 1996)”; use and within the text: “Bruce and Smith (1996)”. In the case of three or more authors, all works cited are shortened to the name of the first author plus “et al.” For example, instead of naming Franze, Cox, and Queen, in one citation, it would be shortened to “(Franze et al., 1989)."
  • List different publications by the same author in chronological order. Do not repeat the author's name (Bruce, 1990, 1992a). Commas separate the dates of different publications by the same author; semicolons separate that author's work from that of other authors' (Jones, 1990, 1987; Bruce, 2000).
  • Works by the same first author but different coauthors are alphabetized by the last name of the second (or, if necessary, later) author.
  • Cite a single page number using p. and multiple page numbers using pp. (e.g., Jones, 1992, pp. 10-12). Put a space between p. or pp. and the number.
  • Use commas to separate citation dates in parenthetical material (see Jones et al., 2001, for an example).
  • In the case where the same citation is repeated within a paragraph, it is not necessary to list the year of the citation each time (e.g., Jones, 1992, cited first time, but simply Jones when cited thereafter within the same paragraph).
  • "In press" or "in review" dates should be updated prior to press if possible.

Reference List (pp. 281-309)

  • Begin the reference list on a new page. Double space all end references. Each new entry begins flush left; set subsequent lines with hanging indents. (CTRL-t in Word on a PC).
  • Alphabetize entries in the same manner as within-text citations (above).
  • The reference list includes all references and only references cited in the text.
  • Entries with multiple authors should include the names of all authors in the reference list unless there are eight or more authors (p. 184).
  • Use authors' last names and first and second initials (Gutman, A. S., & Smith, R. T.) Initials appear before surnames only for editors (e.g., A. S. Gutman).
  • Italicize book titles, journal names, and volume numbers. Page numbers are required for book chapters.
  • Do not include the publisher location in the reference.
  • Write the publisher name as shown on the work, followed by a period. Do not abbreviate the publisher’s name unless it is shown in abbreviated form on the work. Note: Some publishers may prefer to abbreviate publisher names (e.g., “John Wiley & Sons” to “Wiley) to save space in reference list entries; this is acceptable as part of a house style.
  • Include the digital object identifier (DOI) when available (pp. 187-192).
  • It is not necessary to include the issue number for a journal that is continuously paginated:

“Voydanoff, P. (2005). The effects of community demands, resources, and strategies on the nature of the work-family interface. Family Relations, 54(5), 583-595. doi 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2005.00343.x”