There are at least two reasons to learn how to report statistical results in American Psychological Association (APA) style. First, while it might be great fun doing statistical analyses it really doesn’t make any difference if you can’t effectively communicate the results to others. Probably not many of you are out there are running statistical analyses for fun and your own curiosity? Most likely you are doing it because it is a class requirement or you are doing for your job. In these cases you must somehow communicate your analyses to others and this leads us to the second reason for using APA style for statistical results.

Put yourself in the reader’s position. Suppose your boss has 10 employees who report to her. She is receiving reports from all of them. However, each one uses their own personal style. Thus, one employee may use M to indicate a mean (average), another might use AVE, another uses a little-m, x with a bar on top (x̄) is used by another, the Greek symbol mu (μ) might be used, and finally one hapless employee might use and mean looking emoji. Except for the emoji all of these ways might be acceptable, but in statistics they can also mean slightly different things. Thus, there are too many ways to communicate the same thing and the reader needs to take the time to decode the writer’s own personal style. APA style sets up some basic rules to make it easier on the reader, ensuring consistency and a common understanding.

The best statistics professor I ever had was blind. He taught the class with minimal use of old-fashioned “overheads.” He mostly just talked. “Writing” out equations verbally. Why was this so good? He said that statistics is a language and that you had to learn that language.

Getting the right answer is only part of statistics. You have to report it. Even though some students may get the right answers when they try to communicate the information it quickly becomes apparent that they don’t have a clue as to what they did and what it means. Writing up statistical results takes a lot of practice. And it requires that you understand what you did.

A great way to learn how to write statistical results is to read a lot of statistical results. I know it is hard, but it gets easier with practice. Go to a journal that uses APA style. Read the results of many articles. After a while you will start to see a pattern. Imitation is generally a good first step. Try to imitate some of the writing. Follow their structure and mechanics. Use the symbols that they use. After a while it will make more sense and become second nature where you won’t need a script to follow.