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How to Write an Essay in APA Format

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

apa format for essay

Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.

apa format for essay

What Is APA Format?

Apa essay format basics.

  • Steps to Follow

Frequently Asked Questions

If your instructor has asked you to write an APA format essay, it might at first seem like a daunting task, especially if you are accustomed to using another style such as MLA or Chicago. But you can master the rules of APA essay format, too.

An essay is one type of paper that can be written in APA format; others include lab reports, experimental reports, and case studies. Before you begin, familiarize yourself with some of the basic guidelines for writing a paper in APA format. Of course, it will also be important to follow any other formatting instructions that are part of your assignment.

How do you write an essay in APA format? The basic elements you need to include are:

  • A title page
  • An abstract
  • An introduction, main body, and conclusion
  • A reference section
  • Proper APA formatting with regard to margins, layout, spacing, titles, and indentations

This article discusses how to write an essay in APA format, including the basic steps you should follow and tips for how to get started.

Whether you’re taking an introductory or graduate-level psychology class, chances are strong that you will have to write at least one paper during the course of the semester. In almost every case, you will need to write your paper in APA format, the official publication style of the American Psychological Association . It is also used for academic journals.

Such rules are generally the same whether you are writing a high school essay, college essay, or professional essay for publication.

APA format is used in a range of disciplines including psychology , education, and other social sciences. The format dictates presentation elements of your paper including spacing, margins, and how the content is structured.

Most instructors and publication editors have strict guidelines when it comes to how your format your writing. Not only does adhering to APA format allow readers to know what to expect from your paper, but it also means that your work will not lose critical points over minor formatting errors. 

While the formatting requirements for your paper might vary depending on your instructor's directions, writing APA essay format means you will most likely need to include a title page, abstract, introduction, body, conclusion, and reference sections.

Your APA format essay should have a title page . This title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and your school affiliation. In some instances, your teacher might require additional information such as the course title, instructor name, and the date.

  • The title of your paper should be concise and clearly describe what your paper is about.
  • Your title can extend to two lines, but it should be no longer than 12 words.

An abstract is a brief summary of your paper that immediately follows the title page. It is not required for student papers, according to APA style. However, your instructor may request one.

If you include an abstract , it should be no more than 100 to 200 words, although this may vary depending upon the instructor requirements.

Your essay should also include a reference list with all of the sources that were cited in your essay,

  • The reference section is located at the end of your paper.
  • References should be listed alphabetically by the last name of the author.
  • References should be double-spaced.
  • Any source that is cited in your paper should be included in your reference section.

When writing in APA essay format, the text will include the actual essay itself: The introduction, body, and conclusion.

  • There should be uniform margins of at least one inch at the top, bottom, left, and right sides of your essay.
  • The text should be in Times New Roman size 12 font or another serif typeface that is easily readable.
  • Your paper should be double-spaced.
  • Every page should include a page number in the top right corner.
  • The first word of each paragraph in your paper should be indented one-half inch.

For professional papers (usually not student papers), every page of the essay also includes a running head at the top left. The running head is a shortened form of the title, often the first few words, and should be no more than 50 characters (including spaces).

Steps to a Successful APA Format Essay

In addition to ensuring that you cite your sources properly and present information according to the rules of APA style, there are a number of things you can do to make the writing process a little bit easier.

Choose a Topic

Start by choosing a good topic to write about. Ideally, you want to select a subject that is specific enough to let you fully research and explore the topic, but not so specific that you have a hard time finding sources of information.

If you choose something too specific, you may find yourself with not enough to write about. If you choose something too general, you might find yourself overwhelmed with information.

Research Your Topic

Start doing research as early as possible. Begin by looking at some basic books and articles on your topic to help develop it further. What is the question you are going to answer with your essay? What approach will you take to the topic?

Once you are more familiar with the subject, create a preliminary source list of potential books, articles, essays, and studies that you may end up using in your essay.

Remember, any source used in your essay must be included in your reference section. Conversely, any source listed in your references must be cited somewhere in the body of your paper.

Write Your Rough Draft

With research in hand, you are ready to begin. Some people like to create an outline to organize their argument prior to drafting. You may want to start with a very rough outline, and then add details.

Once you have a detailed outline, the next step is to translate it from notes to complete sentences and paragraphs. Remember, this is a first draft. It doesn't have to be perfect.

As you write your paper in APA essay format, be sure to keep careful track of the sources that you cite.

How do you start an APA paper? Your paper should begin with an introduction that includes a thesis statement that presents your main ideas, points, or arguments. Your introduction should start on the third page of your paper (after the title page and abstract). The title of your paper should be centered, bolded, and typed in title case at the top of the page.

Review and Revise

After you have prepared a rough draft of your essay, it's time to revise, review, and prepare your final draft. In addition to making sure that your writing is cohesive and supported by your sources, you should also check carefully for typos, grammar errors, and possible formatting mistakes.

When citing information or quotations taken from an interview, APA format requires that you cite the source, how the information was collected, and the date of the interview. They should not be included in the reference section, however, because they are not something that can be located by a reader in any published source or searchable database.

Instead, the information should be cited parenthetically in the main body of the text. For example: “There was an increase in the number of college students who screened positive for depression/anxiety” (R. Heathfield, personal communication, May 9, 2021).

If the essay is in a chapter of a book, edited collection, or anthology, APA format states that you should cite the last name, first name, title of essay, title of collection, publisher, year, and page range. For example: Smith, John, "The Light House," A Book of Poems , editing by Peter Roberts, Allworth Press, 2005, pp. 20-25.

According to APA format, a two-part essay is formatted the same as an essay, however, you'll need to create two title pages.

If you're including a short direct quote in your APA-format essay, you will need to cite the author, year of publication, and page number (p.) or page number span (pp.). Quotations longer than 40 words should omit the quotation marks and be put in the text using block quotation formatting, on its own line and indented 1/2 inch from the left margin.

The cover page or "title page" in APA essay format should always include the title of your paper, your name, and school affiliation as well as the course title, instructor name, and date, if requested by your teacher.

Nagda S.  How to write a scientific abstract.   J Indian Prosthodont Soc.  2013;13(3):382-383. doi:10.1007/s13191-013-0299-x

American Psychological Association.  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2019.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format / APA Sample Papers

APA Sample Papers

Ever wonder how to format your research paper in APA style? If so, you’re in luck! The team at EasyBib.com has put together an example paper to help guide you through your next assignment. (Actually, looking for MLA? Here’s a page on what is MLA format .)

The featured example is a research paper on the uses of biometrics to inform design decisions in the tech industry, authored by our UX Research Intern Peace Iyiewuare. Like most APA style papers, it includes an APA title page , tables, and several references and APA in-text citations to scholarly journals relevant to its topic. References are an important aspect of scientific research papers, and formatting them correctly is critical to getting a good grade.

This paper follows the formatting rules specified in the 6th edition of The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (the APA is not directly associated with this guide) . We’ve left comments and tips throughout the document, so you’ll know the specific rules around how to format titles, spacing, and font, as well as the citations on the APA reference page .

The reference list needs special care, as it demonstrates to the reader that you have accurately portrayed your outside sources and have given credit to the appropriate parties. Be sure to check our full APA citation guide for more information on paper formatting and citing sources in APA style. There is also a guide on  APA footnotes in case that is your preferred form of citation.

Download the APA Visual Guide

When citations are done, don’t forget to finish your paper off with a proofread—EasyBib Plus’s plagiarism and grammar check can help! Got a misspelled adverb ? Missed capitalizing a proper noun ? Struggling with subject-verb agreement ? These are just a few things our checker could help you spot in your paper.

D. Complete Sample APA Paper

We’ve included a full student paper below to give you an idea of what an essay in APA format looks like, complete with a title page, paper, reference list, and index. If you plan to include an APA abstract in your paper, see the Professional Paper for an example.

If you’re looking for an APA format citation generator, we’ve got you covered. Use EasyBib.com! Our APA format machine can help you create every reference for your paper.

Below is an example of a student APA format essay. We also have PDF versions of both a student paper and a professional paper linked below.

See Student Paper                                 See Professional Paper

Using Biometrics to Evaluate Visual Design

Jane Lisa Dekker

Art Department, Northern California Valley State University

UXAD 272: Strategic Web Design

Professor Juan Liu, PhD

January 29, 2020

      A vast amount of research has been conducted regarding the importance of visual design, and its role as a mediator of user’s experience when browsing a site or interacting with an interface. In the literature, visual design is one aspect of website quality. Jones and Kim (2010) define website quality as “the perceived quality of a retail website that involves a [user’s] perceptions of the retailer’s website and comprises consumer reactions towards such attributes as information, entertainment/enjoyment, usability, transaction capabilities, and design aesthetics” (p. 632).  They further examined the impact web quality and retail brand trust has on purchase intentions. Additional research examining e-commerce sites has shown web quality has an impact on both initial and continued purchase intention (Kuan, Bock, & Vathanophas, 2008), as well as consumer satisfaction (Lin, 2007). Moreso, research on the relationship between visual design and perceived usability (Stojmenovic, Pilgrim, & Lindgaard, 2014) has revealed a positive correlation between the two. As users’ ratings of visual quality increase, their ratings of perceived usability follows a similar trend. Although this research spans various domains, the reliance on self-report measures to gauge concepts like visual design and web quality is prevalent throughout much of the literature.

Although some self-report scales are validated within the literature, there are still issues with the use of self-report questionnaires. One is the reliance on the honesty of the participant. This tends to be more of an issue in studies related to questionnaires that measure characteristics of the participant, rather than objective stimuli. More relevant to this study is the issue of introspection and memory. Surveys are often distributed after a task is completed, and its accuracy is dependent on the ability of the participant to remember their experience during the study. Multiple research studies have shown that human memory is far from static. This can

be dangerous if a researcher chooses to solely rely on self-report methods to test a hypothesis. We believe these self-report methods in tandem with biometric methods can help ensure the validity of the questionnaires, and provide information beyond the scope of self-report scales.

Research Questions

      We know from previous research that the quality of websites mediates many aspects of e-commerce, and provides insight as to how consumers view the webpages in general.  However, simply knowing a webpage is perceived as lower quality doesn’t give insight as to what aspects of a page are disliked by a user. Additionally, it’s possible that the user is misremembering aspects of the webpage or being dishonest in their assessment. Using eye tracking metrics, galvanic skin response, and facial expression measures in tandem with a scale aimed at measuring visual design quality has a couple of identifiable benefits. Using both can potentially identify patterns amongst the biometric measures and the questionnaire, which would strengthen the validity of the results. More so, the eye tracking data has the potential to identify patterns amongst websites of lower or higher quality.

If found, these patterns can be used to evaluate particular aspects of a page that are impacting the quality of a webpage. Overall, we are interested in answering two questions:

Research Question 1 : Can attitudinal changes regarding substantial website redesigns be captured using biometric measures?

Research Question 2 : How do biometric measures correlate with self-reported measures of visual appeal?

      Answering these questions has the potential to provide a method of justification for design changes, ranging from minor tweak to complete rebrands. There is not an easy way for companies to quantitatively analyze visual design decisions. A method for doing so would help companies evaluate visual designs before implementation in order to cost-justify them. To this end, we hope to demonstrate that biometric measurements can be used with questionnaires to verify and validate potential design changes a company or organization might want to implement.

      By examining data from test subjects during a brief exposure to several websites, we hoped to explore the relationship between the self-reported evaluation of visual design quality and key biometric measurements of a subject’s emotional valence and arousal. Subjects were exposed to ten pairs of websites before and after a substantial visual design change and asked to evaluate the website based on their initial impressions of the site’s visual design quality using the VisAWI-S scale, as shown in Table 1.  

During this assessment we collected GSR, facial expressions (limited by errors in initial study configuration), pupillary response, and fixation data using iMotions software coupled with a Tobii eye tracker, Shimmer GSR device, and Affdex facial expression analysis toolkit. This data was analyzed, in Table 2, to discover relationships between the independent and dependent variables, as well as relationships between certain dependent variables.  

Jones, C., & Kim, S. (2010). Influences of retail brand trust, off-line patronage, clothing involvement and website quality on online apparel shopping intention: Online apparel shopping intention. International Journal of Consumer Studies , 34 (6), 627–637. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2010.00871.x

Kuan, H.-H., Bock, G.-W., & Vathanophas, V. (2008). Comparing the effects of website quality on customer initial purchase and continued purchase at e-commerce websites. Behaviour & Information Technology , 27 (1), 3–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/01449290600801959

Lin, H.-F. (2007). The impact of website quality dimensions on customer satisfaction in the B2C e-commerce context. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence , 18 (4), 363–378. https://doi.org/10.1080/14783360701231302

Stojmenovic, M., Pilgrim, C., & Lindgaard, G. (2014). Perceived and objective usability and visual appeal in a website domain with a less developed mental model. Proceedings of the 26 th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference on Designing Futures: The Future of Design , 316–323. https://doi.org/10.1145/2686612.2686660

APA Formatting Guide

APA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • In-text Citations
  • Multiple Authors
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Parenthetical Citations
  • Reference Page
  • Sample Paper
  • APA 7 Updates
  • View APA Guide

Citation Examples

  • Book Chapter
  • Journal Article
  • Magazine Article
  • Newspaper Article
  • Website (no author)
  • View all APA Examples

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  • Knowledge Base
  • APA Style 7th edition
  • Setting Up the APA Reference Page | Formatting & References (Examples)

Setting Up the APA Reference Page | Formatting & References (Examples)

Published on November 4, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on August 23, 2022.

APA reference page (7th edition)

On the APA reference page, you list all the sources that you’ve cited in your paper. The list starts on a new page right after the body text.

Follow these instructions to set up your APA reference page:

  • Place the section label “References” in bold at the top of the page (centered).
  • Order the references alphabetically .
  • Double-space all text.
  • Apply a hanging indent of 0.5 inches.

Generate accurate APA citations with Scribbr

Table of contents, setting up the apa reference page, apa alphabetization guidelines, which sources to include on the reference page, annotated bibliography, creating apa references.

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apa format for essay

References are ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name. If the author is unknown, order the reference entry by the first meaningful word of the title (ignoring articles: “the”, “a”, or “an”).

Word processors like Word or Google Docs and citation generators can usually order the reference list automatically. However, ordering becomes challenging when citing multiple works by the same author or works by authors with the same last name.

Our in-depth article on ordering references in APA Style explains what to do in these situations.

Only include references for sources cited in the body text (with an APA in-text citation ). Don’t include references for:

  • Sources that you only consulted;
  • Personal communications (e.g., emails or phone calls);
  • General mentions of websites or periodicals ;
  • Common knowledge .

For some student papers, it’s common to describe or evaluate the source in an annotation . These annotations are placed on a new line below the corresponding reference entry. The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inches.

If an annotation consists of multiple paragraphs, the first line of the second and any subsequent paragraphs is indented an additional 0.5 inches.

APA annotated bibliography (7th edition)

The format of an APA reference differs depending on the source type. Play around with the options in the Scribbr Example Generator to get familiar with APA Style.

Scribbr Citation Generator

With Scribbr’s free APA citation generator you can easily cite your sources according to the new 7th edition guidelines. It’s accurate, fast, and easy to use. Give it a try!

APA Citation Generator

APA citation examples

Check out Scribbr’s citation examples to learn more about citing each type of source, ranging from books and journals to podcasts and tweets !


  • Journal article
  • Newspaper article

Reports and gray literature

  • Press release
  • Dissertation or thesis
  • Conference paper

Books and reference works

  • Dictionary entry
  • Encyclopedia entry

Audiovisual works

  • Movie or documentary
  • YouTube video

Online media

  • Personal communication
  • Tables and figures

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Streefkerk, R. (2022, August 23). Setting Up the APA Reference Page | Formatting & References (Examples). Scribbr. Retrieved January 2, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/apa-reference-page/

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

APA Headings and Seriation

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style  can be found here .

APA Style uses a unique headings system to separate and classify paper sections. Headings are used to help guide the reader through a document. The levels are organized by levels of subordination, and each section of the paper should start with the highest level of heading. There are 5  heading levels  in APA. Regardless of the number of levels, always use the headings in order, beginning with level 1. The format of each level is illustrated below:

Thus, if the article has four sections, some of which have subsections and some of which don’t, use headings depending on the level of subordination. Section headings receive level one format. Subsections receive level two format. Subsections of subsections receive level three format. For example:

Method  (Level 1)

Site of Study  (Level 2)

Participant Population  (Level 2)

Teachers  (Level 3)

Students  (Level 3)

Results  (Level 1)

Spatial Ability  (Level 2)

Test One  (Level 3)

     Teachers With Experience.  (Level 4)

     Teachers in Training.  (Level 4)

     Teaching Assistants .  (Level 5)

Test Two  (Level 3)

Kinesthetic Ability  (Level 2)

In APA Style, the Introduction section never gets a heading and headings are not indicated by letters or numbers. For subsections in the beginning of a paper (introduction section), the first level of subsection will use Level 2 headings — the title of the paper counts as the Level 1 heading. Levels of headings will depend upon the length and organization of your paper. Regardless, always begin with level one headings and proceed to level two, etc.

Special headings called section labels are used for certain sections of a paper which always start on a new page.

  • Paper title
  • Appendix A (and so on for subsequent appendices)

These labels should be positioned on their own line at the top of the page where the section starts, in bold and centered. 

APA also allows for seriation in the body text to help authors organize and present key ideas. For lists where a specific order or numbered procedure is necessary, use an Arabic numeral directly followed by a period, such as:

On the basis of four generations of usability testing on the Purdue OWL, the Purdue OWL Usability Team recommended the following:

  • Move the navigation bar from the right to the left side of the OWL pages.
  • Integrate branded graphics (the Writing Lab and OWL logos) into the text on the OWL homepage.
  • Add a search box to every page of the OWL.
  • Develop an OWL site map.
  • Develop a three-tiered navigation system.

Numbered lists should contain full sentences or paragraphs rather than phrases. The first word after each number should be capitalized, as well as the first word in any following sentence; each sentence should end with a period or other punctuation.

For lists that do not communicate hierarchical order or chronology, use bullets:

In general, participants found the user-centered OWL mock up to be easier to use. What follows are samples of participants' responses:

  • "This version is easier to use."
  • "Version two seems better organized."
  • "It took me a few minutes to learn how to use this version, but after that, I felt more comfortable with it."

Authors may also use seriation for paragraph length text.

For seriation within sentences, authors may use letters:

On the basis of research conducted by the usability team, OWL staff have completed (a) the OWL site map; (b) integrating graphics with text on the OWL homepage; (c) search boxes on all OWL pages except the orange OWL resources (that is pending; we do have a search page); (d) moving the navigation bar to the left side of pages on all OWL resources except in the orange area (that is pending); (e) piloting the first phase of the three-tiered navigation system, as illustrated in the new Engagement section.

Authors may also separate points with bullet lists:

On the basis of the research conducted by the usability team, OWL staff have completed

  • the OWL site map;
  • integrating graphics with text on the OWL homepage;
  • search boxes on all OWL pages except the orange OWL resources (that is pending; we do have a search page);
  • moving the navigation bar to the left side of pages on all OWL resources except in the orange area (that is pending);
  • piloting the first phase of the three-tiered navigation system, as illustrated in the new Engagement section.

If your bulleted list is part of the sentence and is not preceded by a colon, treat the bullets like a part of the sentence, adhering to standard capitalization and punctuation. This option is helpful for complex or longer bulleted sentences that may be more difficult to read without the aid of punctuation. For items in a bulleted list that are phrases rather than sentences, no punctuation is necessary.

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Navigating APA Format: Your Essential Guide for Academic Writing

Jan 6, 2024 | 0 comments

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Jan 6, 2024 | Blog | 0 comments

Navigating the world of academic writing can feel like embarking on a mysterious journey, and understanding APA format is like having a trusty map for the expedition. In this guide, we’ll unravel the secrets of APA Format, a set of rules that ensures your papers are well-written and properly structured. Have you ever wondered how to cite sources, create a bibliography, or format your title page? APA Format has your back. Let’s dive in and demystify the ins and outs of this essential tool for presenting your ideas clearly and organized.

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What is APA Format?

APA Format, or the American Psychological Association style, is like the language of academic clarity – a set of guidelines ensuring that your ideas are expressed and structured in a way that makes them easily understandable. It’s the blueprint for creating well-organized and properly cited papers. APA Format covers everything from citing sources within your text using in-text citations, crafting a snazzy title page, and compiling a neat reference list. Think of it as your writing buddy, helping you navigate the sometimes perplexing waters of academic communication. So, whether you’re a high school student or a seasoned researcher, mastering APA Format is like having a secret weapon to communicate your thoughts with precision and professionalism.

Publication Manual 6th Edition vs 7th Edition

Navigating the transition from the 6th to the 7th ed of the APA Publication Manual is like upgrading to a new and improved tool kit for your academic endeavors. Let’s break down the key differences:

Title Case for Headings:

  • 6th Edition: Heading titles were written in sentence case.
  • 7th Edition: Headings now use title case, meaning you capitalize the first and major words.

Italicizing Book Titles:

  • 6th Edition: Book titles and names of journals were italicized.
  • 7th Edition: Only book and report titles are italicized; the names of journals, magazines, and newspapers are now in the title case and not italicized.

In-Text Citations for Multiple Authors:

  • 6th Edition: Only the first author was mentioned for works with three or more authors, followed by “et al.”
  • 7th Edition: Include up to 20 authors in the reference list, and in-text citations now include all the authors for sources with three or more contributors.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

  • 6th Edition: Preferred the use of a DOI when available.
  • 7th Edition: We still prefer the DOI, but if it is unavailable, include the direct URL.

Inclusion of Website URLs:

  • 6th Edition: URL addresses were excluded from citations.
  • 7th Edition: If no DOI is available, include the direct URL in your reference.

Seriation (Lists):

  • 6th Edition: Used numbered lists for seriation.
  • 7th Edition: Recommends using bulleted lists, especially for lists within a sentence.

Publisher Location:

  • 6th Edition: Required the publisher’s location.
  • 7th Edition: Omits the publisher’s location for books and includes only the publisher’s name.

Citation of a Chapter in an Edited Book:

  • 6th Edition: The inclusion of the page range for the chapter was required.
  • 7th Edition: Includes the page range for the chapter if it’s a direct quote but not for paraphrased information.

APA Citation Basics

In academic writing, APA citation is your superhero cape – it helps you give credit where it’s due and adds that extra layer of professionalism to your work. Let’s break down the basics:

  • In-Text Citations: APA style uses in-text citations, where you mention the author’s name and the year of publication within your text. For example, (Smith, 2021). Simple, right?
  • The Reference List: At the end of your paper, you create a reference list like the hero’s hall of fame, listing all the sources you’ve summoned. Follow a specific format: Author’s Last Name, Initial(s). (Year of publication).  Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Source.
  • Book Citation Example: Smith, J. (2021). The Art of Wonder. Academic Press.
  • Website Citation Example: Brown, A. (2020). The Science Blog. Retrieved from [URL]
  • No Author? No Problem: If there’s no author, use the first few words of the title. It’s like giving credit even when the hero’s identity is mysterious (“APA Citation Basics,” 2021).
  • Page Numbers for Direct Quotes: Add the page number to your in-text citation when quoting directly from a source. It’s like providing the exact location of the treasure in your paper (Smith, 2021, p. 45).

APA Paper Formatting Basics

Mastering formatting your APA paper is like creating a polished canvas for your ideas. Let’s delve into the essentials:

Title pages in APA Format

Title pages in APA Format 1

The initial step in presenting every student or professional paper is crafting a meticulous APA title page. This page holds paramount importance as it serves as the initial face of your work. To construct it correctly, ensure that the title of your paper takes center stage on this page, followed by your name and the name of your institution. Emphasize the title by italicizing it and, per APA format guidelines, capitalize the first word of the paper’s title. This meticulous detailing creates a professional and polished appearance, setting the stage for the reader’s engagement with your work. Remember, the text on the title page is a precursor to the intellectual journey your paper is about to unfold, making it imperative to establish a visually appealing and well-organized APA format title page. Don’t forget to carefully consider the arrangement of information on the page after the title page to maintain the continuity and professionalism of your document.

Page header

The page header, a mini roadmap to your paper, appears on every page. It includes the title of your paper in uppercase letters (up to 50 characters) and the page number. It’s like a friendly guide, ensuring your reader is never lost.

General paper length

Your length will vary depending on whether it’s a student or professional paper. Student papers are typically shorter, while professional papers can be more extensive. Always follow the guidelines outlined in the APA manual or your instructor’s specifications.

Margin sizes

Margins matter! APA guidelines suggest 1-inch margins on every side of the paper. It’s like providing a neat frame for your writing, keeping everything within clear boundaries.

APA Outline

Organizing your thoughts is crucial. Create a clear and concise outline using Roman numerals and letters. It’s like a roadmap for your paper, ensuring a smooth journey from introduction to conclusion.

APA Abstract

The abstract is a concise summary of your paper, not exceeding 250 words. It’s like a sneak peek, giving readers a glimpse of what’s to come.

The body of papers

Your paper’s main text should follow general format rules. Double-spacing, Times New Roman font, and 12-point size are your best allies. It’s like ensuring your message is clear, legible, and easy on the eyes.

In-text Citations

APA in text citations

When incorporating information directly from a source or rephrasing its content, using APA in-text citation guidelines is essential. This involves using quotation marks for verbatim quotes and parenthetical citations to acknowledge the source. Include the author’s name and the publication year within the parentheses in your written work. This attributes the information to its rightful originator and gives readers a clear trail to trace back to the source. Imagine it as a courteous nod to your sources amid an intellectual dialogue, ensuring the flow of information is respectful, transparent, and seamlessly integrated into your narrative (Smith, 2020).

References page in APA Format

Your references page is brought to life at the end. List your sources alphabetically, following the general format provided in the APA manual. It’s like giving credit where credit is due, ensuring you honor the creators of the ideas woven into your paper.

References page in APA Format

Reference list citation components

Crafting a reference list in APA format is like assembling the cast for the credits of your academic production – each source plays a role, and the format ensures they get their rightful acknowledgment.

Reference List: Basic Rules:

  • Start your reference list on a new page at the end of your paper, and use a hanging indent for each entry. It’s like creating an organized guest list for your academic party.

Reference List: Author/Authors:

  • Please include the author’s last name, followed by their initials. If multiple authors exist, separate them with commas and use an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name. For example: Smith, J. & Johnson, A.

Reference List: Articles in Periodicals:

  • For articles in journals or magazines, include the author’s name, publication year, article title (in sentence case), the title of the journal or magazine in italics (title case), volume number in italics, and the page range. Example: Brown, M. (2021). “Unlocking the Secrets of Nature.” Science Today, 17 (3), 45-56.

Reference List: Books:

  • Book references include the author’s name, publication year, book title (in italics, title case), and publication information. Example: Anderson, R. (2019).  The Art of Exploration. Academic Press.

Reference List: Other Print Sources:

  • Other print sources, like newspapers or reports, follow a similar pattern: author’s name, publication year, title (in sentence case), and source details. Example: White, P. (2020). “Breaking News: Climate Change Impact.” Daily Globe, 6-7.

Reference List: Electronic Sources:

  • When citing online sources, include the author’s name, publication year, title (sentence case), and the URL. Example: Johnson, K. (2018). Digital Storytelling. Retrieved from [URL].

Reference List: Audiovisual Media:

  • For audiovisual sources, list the creator’s name, the year, title (italicized, title case), and format. Example: The Universe Unveiled (2017). Documentary.

Reference List: Other Non-Print Sources:

  • Non-print sources, like artworks or interviews, require the creator’s name, year, title (italicized, title case), and source details. Example: Smith, E. (2022).  Art Beyond Borders. [Art Exhibition].

Legal References:

  • Legal references involve the title (italicized, title case), the publication year, and the source details. Example: Environmental Protection Act (2020).

Footnotes & Appendices 

Footnotes and appendices in your APA paper are like the backstage crew, ensuring a seamless performance. While APA style typically minimizes the use of footnotes, if you need to add extra information, they can be beneficial. Number your footnotes consecutively throughout the paper and keep them brief. Appendices, on the other hand, allow you to include supplementary material without cluttering the main text. Label them as Appendix A, B, etc., and provide a clear title for each. For instance, if your research includes a lengthy questionnaire, you might place it in Appendix A.

Numbers & Statistics 

In APA formatting, numbers and statistics need rules to dance smoothly across your paper. Use numerals for numbers ten and above and spell out numbers below 10, except when referring to specific measurements. For statistics, reporting the correct values and considering the context is crucial. Provide means and standard deviations for normally distributed data, but consider using the median and interquartile range for skewed distributions. It’s like ensuring the numerical choreography in your paper is not just accurate but also contextually graceful.

Additional Resources

Sometimes, your paper needs to point readers to additional materials, where additional resources come into play. Include a separate section titled “Additional Resources,” where you list any materials you consulted but didn’t directly cite. This could be background readings, survey instruments, or data sets. It’s like offering your readers a treasure map for further exploration, guiding them to the sources that shaped your understanding.

APA Headings and Seriation

Headings and seriation (lists) provide the organizational structure for your APA paper, much like a well-organized script. Use clear headings to delineate sections and subsections in your paper. Capitalize the first word of each heading, and use the title case. For lists, use bullet points or numbers for a clear sequence. For example, in a section discussing research methodologies, you might have a heading “Quantitative Approach” followed by a list of specific methods. It’s like creating a roadmap for your readers, ensuring they can easily follow your paper’s narrative.

APA PowerPoint Slide Presentation

Creating an APA PowerPoint Slide Presentation is like giving your audience a well-structured visual tour of your ideas. Follow the same principles as in a paper – include a title slide, headings in the title case, and bullet points for content. Ensure consistency in font and spacing throughout. For example, your title slide might include the title of your presentation, your name, and your affiliation, formatted like this:

Exploring the Depths: Understanding Oceanography

John A. Scientist

Department of Earth Sciences, Ocean University

APA Sample Paper

An APA Sample Paper is your blueprint, showing you how to set up your document with the right margins, font, and spacing. It’s like having a writing mentor guiding you through the intricacies of APA style. Check out the sample paper in the APA manual for an overview of how to structure your title page, headings, and reference list. Follow this example to ensure your paper aligns with APA guidelines.

Tables and Figures

Tables and figures in your APA paper are visual aids that bring your data to life, offering a clear snapshot of complex information. Each should have a clear title, and you should refer to them in your text to guide your reader. For instance, if you have a table comparing the growth rates of various plants, your text might say: “As shown in Table 1, the growth rates varied significantly among the plant species.”


Abbreviations in APA writing should be sparingly defined upon first use in the text. This ensures your readers aren’t left decoding mysterious acronyms. For example, you might write: “The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends regular exercise for a healthy lifestyle. WHO guidelines suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.” 

APA Classroom Poster

Crafting an APA Classroom Poster is like turning your research into a visual masterpiece. Organize your information logically, use clear headings, and present your findings with eye-catching graphics. A typical poster might include sections like Introduction, Methods, Results, and Conclusion. Remember to use font sizes that are readable from a distance and to include visual elements that enhance your message.

General APA FAQs

How do you write in apa format.

Writing in APA format involves structuring your paper with specific guidelines for title pages, headings, citations, and references. Follow the APA Publication Manual rules, covering aspects like font, spacing, and citation style.

What is an example of an APA format?

An example of APA format includes a title page with a centered title, your name, and your institution. In the main text, use in-text citations with the author’s name and publication year, and create a reference list with complete details of all cited sources.

How do I use APA format in Word?

To use APA format in Word, set the document’s margins to 1 inch, choose a readable font like Times New Roman, and double-space the entire document. Utilize the “References” tab for citations and bibliography, following the APA guidelines for in-text citations and the reference page.

How to do APA references?

To create APA references, list the author’s last name followed by initials, include the publication year in parentheses, italicize the title, and provide publication details. Ensure proper indentation and hanging format for each reference entry on the reference page.

Sarah Bentley

With a passion for helping students navigate their educational journey, I strive to create informative and relatable blog content. Whether it's tackling exam stress, offering career guidance, or sharing effective study techniques

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  1. APA format for academic papers and essays

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    Learn how to format a paper in APA Style with the default settings and automatic formatting tools of your word-processing program or minor adjustments. Follow the guidelines of your institution or publisher to adapt APA Style formatting guidelines as needed for different purposes and platforms.

  4. General Format

    Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. Include a page header (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. For a professional paper, this includes your paper title and the page number. For a student paper, this only includes the page number.

  5. Sample papers

    The sample papers show the format that authors should use to submit a manuscript for publication in a professional journal and that students should use to submit a paper to an instructor for a course assignment. You can download the Word files to use as templates and edit them as needed for the purposes of your own papers.

  6. PDF Student Paper Setup Guide, APA Style 7th Edition

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  15. General Format

    Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font. Include a page header (also known as the " running head ") at the top of every page.

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  17. Title page setup

    The professional title page includes the paper title, author names (the byline), author affiliation (s), author note, running head, and page number, as shown in the following example. Follow the guidelines described next to format each element of the professional title page. Last updated: July 2022 Date created: September 2019

  18. APA Sample Papers

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