How are verbs used most effectively?

This page reflects guidance from the sixth edition of the Publication Manual.

For the most current guidelines, see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) and our Style and Grammar Guidelines page for the seventh edition.

Verbs are vigorous, direct communicators. Use the active rather than the passive voice, and select tense or mood carefully.

  • Preferred:
    We conducted the survey in a controlled setting.
  • Nonpreferred:
    The survey was conducted in a controlled setting.
  • Preferred:
    Simpson (2001) designed the experiment.
  • Nonpreferred:
    The experiment was designed by Simpson (2001).
  • Preferred:
    Participants sat in comfortable chairs equipped with speakers that delivered the tone stimuli.
  • Nonpreferred:
    The participants were seated in comfortable chairs equipped with speakers that delivered the tone stimuli.

(adapted from the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual, © 2010)

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