APA Paper Formatting & Style Guidelines
Your teacher may want you to format your paper using APA guidelines. If you were told to create your citations in APA format, your paper should be formatted using the APA guidelines as well.
- Use white 8 ½ x 11” paper.
- Make 1 inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides
- The first word in every paragraph should be indented one half inch.
- APA recommends using Times New Roman font, size 12.
- Double space the entire research paper
- Include a page header known as the “running head” at the top of every page. (To make this process easier, set your word processor to automatically add these components onto each page)
- To create the running head/page header, insert page numbers justified to the right-hand side of the paper (do not put p. or pg. in front of page numbers)
- Then type “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” justified to the left using all capital letters
- If your title is long, this running head title should be a shortened version of the title of your entire paper
Sample running head/page header
APA Paper Components
Your essay should include these four major sections:
- Title Page
- Main Body
This page should contain four pieces: the title of the paper, running head, the author’s name, institutional affiliation, and an author’s note. Create the page header/running head as described above.
*Please note that only on the title page, your page header/running head should include the words “Running Head” before your title in all capitals. The rest of the pages should not include this in the page header. It should look like this on the title page:
- The title of the paper should capture the main idea of the essay but should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose
- It should be centered on the page and typed in 12-point Times New Roman font. Do not underline, bold, or italicize the title.
- Your title may take up one or two lines, but should not be more than 12 words in length.
- All text on the title page should be double-spaced in the same way as the rest of your essay
- Do not include any titles on the author’s name such as Dr. or Ms.
- The institutional affiliation is the location where the author conducted the research
Sample Title page:
On the following page, begin with the Running title.
- On the first line of the page, center the word “Abstract” (but do not include quotation marks).
- On the following line, write a summary of the key points of your research. Your abstract summary is a way to introduce readers to your research topic, the questions that will be answered, the process you took, and any findings or conclusions you drew.
- This summary should not be indented, but should be double-spaced and less than 250 words.
- If applicable, help researchers find your work in databases by listing keywords from your paper after your summary. To do this, indent and type Keywords: in italics. Then list your keywords that stand out in your research.
Sample Abstract page:
On the following page, begin with the Body of the paper.
- Start with the Running title
- On the next line write the title (do not bold, underline, or italicize the title)
- Begin with the introduction. Indent.
- The introduction presents the problem and premise upon which the research was based. It goes into more detail about this problem than the abstract.
- Begin a new section with the Method. Bold and center this subtitle The Method section shows how the study was run and conducted. Be sure to describe the methods through which data was collected.
- Begin a new section with the Results. Bold and center this subtitle. The Results section summarizes the data. Use graphs and graphs to display this data.
- Begin a new section with the Discussion. Bold and center this subtitle. This Discussion section is a chance to analyze and interpret your results.
- Draw conclusions and support how your data led to these conclusions.
- Discuss whether or not your hypothesis was confirmed or not supported by your results.
- Determine the limitations of the study and next steps to improve research for future studies.
** Throughout the body, in-text citations are used and include the author’s/authors’ name(s) and the publication year. In APA format page numbers are not used in in-text citations.
Ex: (Wilkonson, 2009).
For more information about how to cite properly please see EasyBib’s guides for APA citations based on the sources you are using.
Sample Body page:
On a new page, write your references.
- Begin with a running title
- Center and bold the title “References” (do not include quotation marks, underline, or italicize this title)
- Alphabetize and Double-space all entries
- Every article/source mentioned in the paper and used in your study should be referenced and have an entry.
Sample Reference Page:
Regardless of the type of paper you are writing under the APA paper format, it must follow certain guidelines. From margins and fonts to specific sections and a Reference List, these format guidelines dictate how your paper looks.
Use standard-size computer paper measuring 8.5” x 11”. Avoid using thicker stock-style paper.
Margins and spacing both play important roles in the APA paper format. They present your information in a clear format that aids readers in reviewing your content. Use the following guidelines for margins and spacing.
Both the type and size of the font you use in the APA paper format matter. Use the following guidelines:
All research papers written in the APA paper format have four main sections: title page, abstract, main body and reference section. Depending on the type of research paper you are writing, there may be additional sections.
The title page of an APA paper consists of a running head (also known as a header), your paper title, your byline as the author, the institutional affiliation and an author’s note (if required).
Running head—This consists of a shortened version of your paper title and a page number. Your running head can be a maximum of 50 characters according the APA paper format. Spaces and punctuation are included in the 50-character limit. The page number is placed flush with the right margin, and the rest of the running head is placed flush left. Put the shortened version of your title in all capital letters.
Running head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER
The running head continues on every page of your APA format paper. On every page after the title page, the running head looks like the below example:
TITLE OF YOUR PAPER
Remember that only the page number is used; the word “page” is not used.
Paper title—The full title is centered across the page and centered on the upper half of the page. Do not use abbreviations in paper titles. The APA paper format also suggests keeping your title to 12 words maximum while using one or two lines. Use normal title case. Double space after the title.
Your Paper Title:
Using Two Lines
Author byline—Below the title is your name or the your name along with other authors of the paper if it is a group paper. Use your first name, middle initial and last name. The APA paper format requires the omission of any titles, such as Dr. or Ph.D. Double space after the author byline.
Institutional affiliation—This is the location where you conducted research. If you are writing an APA format paper for a class in high school or college, use the name of your school.
Some instructors may request that you include their name, the date or the class name. For each of these requirements that are not included in the APA format paper guidelines, double space after the institutional affiliation. Place each piece of information that is required on a separate line, and double space between each line.
Author’s note—The author’s note is generally only required if the paper is meant for publication. If you are unsure whether this is a requirement for a school assignment, consult your instructor, and follow the APA format paper guidelines for the author’s note.
An abstract is essentially a summary of your paper. The abstract is placed on the next page after your title page. APA paper format dictates than an abstract stay between 150-200 words in length. In some cases, your instructor may set different requirements for the abstract with respect to length and/or content. Therefore, make sure you understand the assignment before writing your abstract. Otherwise, follow the rules and guidelines for creating an abstract in APA paper format.
The main body of an APA format paper consists of an introduction and body paragraphs and some type of conclusion. The main body of your paper typically starts on the third page of your paper. In addition, other sections may be required for certain paper types. In a lab report or experimental report for example, you would include a methods section, a results section and a discussion section after your introduction. With these additional sections, the discussion section takes the place of a conclusion. Other constructions and sections may also be required. Always refer to paper guidelines and instructions to determine which sections to include in the main body of your APA format paper.
The reference section or list for an APA format paper lists all the resources you consulted in the course of writing your paper. It does not only include the sources you cited in your paper, but the sources you do cite must be listed in this section. The reference list is set up on its own page with the word “References” centered at the top. It also follows guidelines and rules for listing your sources.
While this is the basic format for the APA paper format, other guidelines and rules apply depending on the type of information you provide and the type of paper you are required to write. There are special instructions for using headings, avoiding bias and incorporating charts, graphs, appendices and more—to name a few examples, so make sure you follow the basic formatting, any specialized formatting and the instructions given to you with an assignment that requests the APA paper format.