How do I use PERRLA?


This article provides a quick overview of how to use PERRLA.


A (moving) picture is worth 1,000 words. If you want a quick overview of using the PERRLA software, click here to watch a short tutorial video.

Downloading the software from our website, installing the software on your computer, and the activation process are all covered in other help topics.

The user interface of PERRLA for APA and PERRLA for MLA are so similar that only one tutorial is needed. Here, we're going to show you how to create an APA formatted research paper using PERRLA for APA. Believe it or not, using the PERRLA software is so easy that you don't even need to read a user's manual! By following the text below and reviewing the screen captures, you'll learn the basics in just a few minutes.    

Starting PERRLA for APA

Whenever you're ready to write an APA formatted paper, simply double-click the yellow Launch PERRLA pencil on your computer's desktop.


This launches PERRLA into your computer's memory. (Note that you must double-click on the yellow Launch PERRLA pencil to start PERRLA. If you launch Microsoft Word in the usual way - without using the yellow PERRLA pencil - the PERRLA software will not be loaded inside Microsoft Word so you won't have access to the PERRLA menu choices.)

New Paper or Open Existing Paper?


After PERRLA finishes loading, PERRLA will present you with the Welcome tab where you choose if you want to start a new paper or open an existing one. Click the "Start a New APA 6th Edition Paper" button to begin a new paper.



If this is the first time you've used PERRLA, you may see a screen prompting you to Activate.

Entering The Title Of The Paper


Now you will see the screen below with your name and institution already in the bottom two boxes. Start typing in the first box. As you type, the 2nd box will automatically fill in the correct information for the running head. You can, of course, change this if you'd like, but PERRLA is entering the information in strict APA format.



When you are done with this box, you simply click the OK button.


And... voila! Your paper is correctly formatted, your title page is filled in, and you're ready to type your paper.




Typing Your Paper


Now you're ready to start typing. This is the beauty of PERRLA.  Just start a paper and then start typing. When you're ready for your first citation, the real magic begins. On the screen shown below, we've typed a paragraph, and then selected the Add-Ins tab and Create Citation from the PERRLA menu.



Create or Edit a Citation


Whether you select Create Citation or Edit References from the PERRLA menu, you'll see a box like the one below. The first tab you'll see is a list of references in this paper. Because this is a new paper, there are no references yet to be displayed. So, at this time, the important button is the one located at the bottom right which is labeled New.



When creating a new citation, the first bit of information needed is the reference type. The Select Reference Type box below makes this easy. Select the type of reference you wish to use by double-clicking it. You will notice that most of the reference types are categories with a plus sign (+) next to them which allows you to expand and open each category to select more specific reference types. For example, if you double-click "Books, Reference Books and Book Chapters", you'll see that you can select "Books", "Reference Books", or "Book Chapters". If you then select "Books", you'll find that there are five specific book reference types to handle cases where there is no author, and two additional subcategories for translated and republished books, etc.



After selecting the appropriate reference type, in this case, "Book - With Author," the PERRLA Reference Wizard will appear, as shown below. You will use this software "wizard" whenever you create a new reference or edit an existing one. The PERRLA Reference Wizard will walk you through creating a reference one step at a time. Note that you are only prompted to enter the information that is required for the specific reference type you chose.


Helpful information will be displayed on the screen for each step, detailing the information that is needed to properly format your reference and citation.  When using the Next and Back buttons, you can navigate forward or backwards as needed as you answer each question.



The first thing the wizard prompts you for is the name of the author(s). When entering names of authors, you'll be using the PERRLA "Name Maker".  Whether you click in the Author(s) Names field or click the Name Maker button, the PERRLA Name Maker will appear. The Name Maker is a great time saver, and a PERRLA exclusive. Rather than battle through whether the last name is first, which initials go where, and where to put the ampersand, PERRLA takes care of that for you.



Here, we've added the names of two authors. After clicking the OK button to indicate we're finished entering author names, the wizard updates the screen to show the proper APA formatting.



Clicking the Next button to continue, we're presented with the next step. The wizard asks for the Year of publication as shown in the screen below.



After we enter the date, we click the Next button to continue. The next step is to enter the title. The screen below shows the wizard prompting us for the title.



After entering the title and clicking the Next button, the wizard asks if this book is an edition. In this case, we're going to click the No button.



On the next screen, the wizard asks if we are using a printed version of the book. In this case, we're going to click the Yes button. If we had answered No, we would be presented with options related to online resources.



After clicking Yes, the wizard asks if this book is an electronic version of the book (E-Book). In this case, we're going to click the No button.



After answering the wizard questions about the book's edition information, it automatically moves to the next step, prompting us for the Place of Publication.



After entering the place of publication, we click the Next button, and the wizard prompts us to enter the Name of the Publisher. After entering the name of the publishing company and clicking the Next button, the Next button becomes "grayed out" to indicate that there are no more steps required for this reference. If we want to back up and change information entered in a previous step, we can click the Back button. Otherwise, we'll click the Finish button to finish entering this reference.




Entering the Citation Location


Okay, we've finished entering this reference, but there's one more thing we have to do. We have to tell the reader where in the publication the cited material can be found. To this end, PERRLA for APA prompts us for the citation location as shown in the screen below.



Here, we've chosen Page Number from the Quotation Location panel and then typed "27" to indicate that the material can be found on page 27. When we click OK, we're done!



The Citation Appears!


The citation will be added to our paper at the point where the cursor is located in your document. See the screen shown below.




Reference Page Created Automatically!


Very nice! But something else very interesting has happened behind the scenes; a Reference section has been added automatically as the last page of the document! If we scroll down to look at the last page of our paper, you'll see something that looks similar to this:




The Big Picture


If we "zoom out" to see what's been created so far, you'll see that we have a paper that consists of a title page, the body of our document, and a reference page.  All perfectly formatted to the APA standard!



Wasn't that easy?!



Re-Using Previously Entered References


PERRLA makes it easy to re-use a reference that you've entered previously. You've always been able to cite a reference multiple times in a single paper. But a feature found in PERRLA for APA version 5.1.0 and later allows you to access references that were entered in previous papers.



Re-Using an Existing Reference (from the current paper)


You can re-use a reference you've previously cited in this paper by selecting it from the list of active references when you click the Create Citation menu choice. Each time you choose Create Citation from the menu, you will be shown all the active references for this paper. You can see the reference we added earlier in the screen below.



To cite this reference again in this paper, simply click on the reference to highlight it, and then click the Select button at the bottom of the form. You won't have to re-enter the reference information; you'll only be prompted for the citation location (page number).


By the way, when PERRLA inserts a previously cited reference into the text, it is smart enough to know the order of that citation within the paper. In APA, that's important because the first and second citations in a paragraph, and even in the whole paper, are formatted differently. PERRLA handles it correctly for you, taking all the guesswork out of formatting your paper!



Re-Using an Existing Reference (from a previously written paper)


If you look at the previous screen that shows references for this paper, you'll notice that there is a tab on the form labeled "My Reference Database".  Starting with PERRLA for APA version 5.1.0, all references are stored in a reference database on your computer.


By clicking the My Reference Database tab, you are shown a list of all the references in your database, as shown below. To add any of these previously entered references, click on the references to highlight the ones(s) you wish to import, and then click the Select button.



After you click the Select button, the references will be placed in your current paper. The screen below shows that the references have been placed in the list of active references for this paper. Now we can select one of these new references and create a new citation without having to enter the reference again. This is a great time saver!


Note: For papers written before PERRLA for APA version 5.1.0, simply open your old papers using PERRLA, and the old references will be automatically imported into the new reference database! You will then be able to re-use these references in your new papers.



By the way, if you scroll down to the end of your document, you'll see that these imported references were automatically added to the reference section and are correctly listed in alphabetical order, as required by APA.


So, what has PERRLA done for you?


  • Setup your paper in correct APA format.
  • Created the title page with the correct information.
  • Created and maintained a reference page in correct alphabetical order at the end of your paper.
  • Created and maintained citations throughout your paper.
  • It makes writing APA-formatted papers a breeze!


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