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When do you use a slash mark?

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

Go to 7th edition guidelines


Use a slash

to clarify a relationship in which a hyphenated compound is used.

  • the classification/similarity-judgment condition

to separate numerator from denominator

  • X/Y

to indicate per to separate units of measurement accompanied by a numerical value

  • 0.5 deg/s

to set off English phonemes.

  • /o/

to cite an unpublished work.

  • Freud (1923/1961)


Do not use a slash

when a phrase would be clearer

  • Each child handed the ball to her mother or guardian.
    Each child handed the ball to her mother/guardian.

for simple comparisons. Use a hyphen or short dash (en dash) instead.

  • test–retest reliability
    test/retest reliability

more than once to express compound units. Use centered dots and parentheses as needed to prevent ambiguity.

  • nmol • hr-1 • mg -1


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

Last updated: August 2020Date created: May 2009
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