Answered By: Todd White
Last Updated: Jan 12, 2018     Views: 3

The note you are mentioning appears to be one of three types of notes you can have with a table, in this case a "specific note" which APA, on p. 138 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, describes as:

refers to a particular column, row, or cell. Specific notes are indicated by superscript lowercase letters (e.g. a, b, c). Within the headings and table body, order the superscripts from left to right and from top to bottom, starting at the top left.

I would think if there was going to be a discussion of how to number more than 26 “specific notes” (i.e. A to Z =26) it would appear here, but it doesn’t. Which could mean they forgot to address this (sometimes you can’t image every possible scenario that can occur when someone is writing a paper).

Or, it could mean that it is not supposed to be an issue. I am thinking that the lettering system for specific notes would be specific to a table. Therefore it would start over with each new table and there could be an argument that if you need more than 26 notes per table, your table lacks clarity.

But that is my guess. Here is my practical advice. APA offers no “smoking gun” as to how to proceed in this situation. Therefore my rule is always to use common sense and think of the ease of your reader. Consider your notes running something like this … x, y, z, a1, b1, c1, etc.

It’s simple and its clear and your paper should live or die on the clarity of your thoughts not whether you should have used a1 or aa in the numbering of specific notes in a table.

But, alas, I am not your professor and am not deciding what grade you have earned. You could always buzz this by her and see what she thinks. Since she is grading, she should know the answer.  ;)

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