- Access My STLCC Email
- Access Banner Self Service
- Access Canvas
- Access the Course Schedule
- Register for a Continuing Education Class
- View Our Campuses
APA In-Text Citations and Sample Essay 7th Edition
This handout focuses on how to format in-text citations in APA.
Proper citation of sources is a two-part process . You must first cite each source in the body of your essay; these citations within the essay are called in-text citations . You MUST cite all quoted, paraphrased, or summarized words, ideas, and facts from sources. Without in-text citations, you are technically in danger of plagiarism, even if you have listed your sources at the end of the essay.
In-text citations point the reader to the sources’ information on the references page. The in-text citation typically includes the author's last name and the year of publication. If you use a direct quote, the page number is also provided.
More information can be found on p. 253 of the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
Direct quotation with the author named in the text.
Heinze and Lu (2017) stated, “The NFL shifted its responses to institutional change around concussions significantly as the field itself evolved” (p. 509).
Note: The year of publication is listed in parenthesis after the names of the authors, and the page number is listed in parenthesis at the end of the quote.
Direct Quotation without the Author Named in the Text
As the NFL developed as an organization, it “shifted its responses to institutional change around concussions significantly” (Heinze & Lu, 2017, p. 509).
Note: At the end of the quote, the names of the authors, year of publication, and page number are listed in parenthesis.
Paraphrase with 1-2 Authors
As the NFL developed as an organization, its reactions toward concussions also transformed (Heinze & Lu, 2017).
Note: For paraphrases, page numbers are encouraged but not required.
Paraphrase with 3 or More Authors
To work toward solving the issue of violence in prisons begins with determining aspects that might connect with prisoners' violent conduct (Thomson et al., 2019).
Direct Quotation without an Author
The findings were astonishing "in a recent study of parent and adult child relationships" ("Parents and Their Children," 2007, p. 2).
Note: Since the author of the text is not stated, a shortened version of the title is used instead.
When using secondary sources, use the phrase "as cited in" and cite the secondary source on the References page.
In 1936, Keynes said, “governments should run deficits when the economy is slow to avoid unemployment” (as cited in Richardson, 2008, p. 257).
Long (Block) Quotations
When using direct quotations of 40 or more words, indent five spaces from the left margin without using quotation marks. The final period should come before the parenthetical citation.
At Meramec, an English department policy states:
To honor and protect their own work and that of others, all students must give credit to proprietary sources that are used for course work. It is assumed that any information that is not documented is either common knowledge in that field or the original work of that student. (St. Louis Community College, 2001, p. 1)
If citing a specific web document without a page number, include the name of the author, date, title of the section, and paragraph number in parentheses:
In America, “Two out of five deaths among U.S. teens are the result of a motor vehicle crash” (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2004, Overview section, para. 1).
Here is a print-friendly version of this content.
Learn more about the APA References page by reviewing this handout .
For information on STLCC's academic integrity policy, check out this webpage .
For additional information on APA, check out STLCC's LibGuide on APA .
A sample APA essay is available at this link .
Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format
APA Format for Students & Researchers
In this guide, students and researchers can learn the basics of creating a properly formatted research paper according to APA guidelines.
It includes information on how to conceptualize, outline, and format the basic structure of your paper, as well as practical tips on spelling, abbreviation, punctuation, and more. The guide concludes with a complete sample paper as well as a final checklist that writers can use to prepare their work for submission.
APA Paper Formatting Basics
- All text should be double-spaced
- Use one-inch margins on all sides
- All paragraphs in the body are indented
- Make sure that the title is centered on the page with your name and school/institution underneath
- Use 12-point font throughout
- All pages should be numbered in the upper right hand corner
- The manual recommends using one space after most punctuation marks
- A shortened version of the title (“running head”) should be placed in the upper left hand corner
Table of Contents
Here’s a quick rundown of the contents of this guide on how to do APA format.
Information related to writing and organizing your paper:
- Paper and essay categories
General paper length
- Margin sizes
- Title pages
- Running Heads
- APA Outline
- APA Abstract
- The body of papers
- APA headings and subheadings
- Use of graphics (tables and figures)
Writing style tips:
- Reducing bias and labels
- Abbreviation do’s and don’ts
- Number rules
Citing Your Sources:
- Citing Sources
- In-text Citations
- Reference Page
Proofing Your Paper:
- Final checklist
- Submitting your project
- What is APA
- APA 7 Updates
What you won’t find in this guide: This guide provides information related to the formatting of your paper, as in guidelines related to spacing, margins, word choice, etc. While it provides a general overview of APA references, it does not provide instructions for how to cite in APA format.
For step-by-step instructions for citing books, journals, how to cite a website in APA format, information on an APA format bibliography, and more, refer to these other EasyBib guides:
- APA citation (general reference guide)
- APA In-text citation
- APA article citation
- APA book citation
- APA citation website
Or, you can use our automatic generator. Our APA formatter helps to build your references for you. Yep, you read that correctly.
Writing and Organizing Your APA Paper in an Effective Way
This section of our guide focuses on proper paper length, how to format headings, spacing, and more! This information can be found in Chapter 2 of the official manual (American Psychological Association, 2020, pp. 29-67).
Categories of papers
Before getting into the nitty-gritty details related to APA research paper format, first determine the type of paper you’re about to embark on creating:
Empirical studies take data from observations and experiments to generate research reports. It is different from other types of studies in that it isn’t based on theories or ideas, but on actual data.
These papers analyze another individual’s work or a group of works. The purpose is to gather information about a current issue or problem and to communicate where we are today. It sheds light on issues and attempts to fill those gaps with suggestions for future research and methods.
These papers are somewhat similar to a literature reviews in that the author collects, examines, and shares information about a current issue or problem, by using others’ research. It is different from literature reviews in that it attempts to explain or solve a problem by coming up with a new theory. This theory is justified with valid evidence.
These articles showcase new advances, or modifications to an existing practice, in a scientific method or procedure. The author has data or documentation to prove that their new method, or improvement to a method, is valid. Plenty of evidence is included in this type of article. In addition, the author explains the current method being used in addition to their own findings, in order to allow the reader to understand and modify their own current practices.
Case studies present information related an individual, group, or larger set of individuals. These subjects are analyzed for a specific reason and the author reports on the method and conclusions from their study. The author may also make suggestions for future research, create possible theories, and/or determine a solution to a problem.
Since APA style format is used often in science fields, the belief is “less is more.” Make sure you’re able to get your points across in a clear and brief way. Be direct, clear, and professional. Try not to add fluff and unnecessary details into your paper or writing. This will keep the paper length shorter and more concise.
Margin sizes in APA Format
When it comes to margins, keep them consistent across the left, right, top, and bottom of the page. All four sides should be the same distance from the edge of the paper. It’s recommended to use at least one-inch margins around each side. It’s acceptable to use larger margins, but the margins should never be smaller than an inch.
Title pages in APA Format
The title page, or APA format cover page, is the first page of a paper or essay. Some teachers and professors do not require a title page, but some do. If you’re not sure if you should include one or not, ask your teacher. Some appreciate the page, which clearly displays the writer’s name and the title of the paper.
The APA format title page for student papers includes six main components:
- the title of the APA format paper
- names of all authors
- institutional affiliation
- course number and title
- instructor’s name
Title pages for professional papers also require a running head; student papers do not.
Some instructors and professional publications also ask for an author’s note. If you’re required or would like to include an author’s note, place it below the institutional affiliation. Examples of information included in an author’s note include an ORCID iD number, a disclosure, and an acknowledgement.
Here are key guidelines to developing your 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. For example, instead of using the title “A Look at Amphibians From the Past,” title the paper “Amphibians From the Past.” Delete the unnecessary fluff!
- Center the title on the page and place it about 3-4 lines from the top.
- The title should be bolded, in title case, and the same font size as your other page text. Do not underline or italicize the title. Other text on the page should be plain (not bolded , underlined, or italicized ).
- All text on the title page should be double-spaced. The APA format examples paper below displays proper spacing, so go take a look!
- Do not include any titles in the author’s name such as Dr. or Ms. In contrast, for your instructor’s name, use the form they prefer (e.g., Sagar Parekh, PhD; Dr. Minako Asato; Professor Nathan Ian Brown; etc.).
- The institutional affiliation is the school the author attends or the location where the author conducted the research.
In a hurry? Try the EasyBib title page maker to easily create a title page for free.
Sample of an APA format title page for a student paper:
Sample of title page for a professional paper:
Running heads in APA Format
The 7th edition of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual (p. 37) states that running heads are not required for student papers unless requested by the instructor. Student papers still need a page number included in the upper right-hand corner of every page. The 6th edition required a running head for student papers, so be sure to confirm with your instructor which edition you should follow. Of note, this guide follows the 7th edition.
Running heads are required for professional papers (e.g., manuscripts submitted for publication). Read on for instructions on how to create them.
Are you wondering what is a “running head”? It’s basically a page header at the top of every page. To make this process easier, set your word processor to automatically add these components onto each page. You may want to look for “Header” in the features.
A running head/page header includes two pieces:
- the title of the paper
- page numbers.
Insert page numbers justified to the right-hand side of the APA format paper (do not put p. or pg. in front of the page numbers).
For all pages of the paper, including the APA format title page, include the “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” justified to the left in capital letters (i.e., the running head). If your full title is long (over 50 characters), the running head title should be a shortened version.
Preparing outlines in APA Format
Outlines are extremely beneficial as they help writers stay organized, determine the scope of the research that needs to be included, and establish headings and subheadings.
There isn’t an official or recommended “APA format for outline” structure. It is up to the writer (if they choose to make use of an outline) to determine how to organize it and the characters to include. Some writers use a mix of roman numerals, numbers, and uppercase and lowercase letters.
Even though there isn’t a required or recommended APA format for an outline, we encourage writers to make use of one. Who wouldn’t want to put together a rough outline of their project? We promise you, an outline will help you stay on track.
Here’s our version of how APA format for outlines could look:
Don’t forget, if you’re looking for information on APA citation format and other related topics, check out our other comprehensive guides.
How to form an abstract in APA
An APA format abstract (p. 38) is a summary of a scholarly article or scientific study. Scholarly articles and studies are rather lengthy documents, and abstracts allow readers to first determine if they’d like to read an article in its entirety or not.
You may come across abstracts while researching a topic. Many databases display abstracts in the search results and often display them before showing the full text of an article or scientific study. It is important to create a high quality abstract that accurately communicates the purpose and goal of your paper, as readers will determine if it is worthy to continue reading or not.
Are you wondering if you need to create an abstract for your assignment? Usually, student papers do not require an abstract. Abstracts are not typically seen in class assignments, and are usually only included when submitting a paper for publication. Unless your teacher or professor asked for it, you probably don’t need to have one for your class assignment.
If you’re planning on submitting your paper to a journal for publication, first check the journal’s website to learn about abstract and APA paper format requirements.
Here are some helpful suggestions to create a dynamic abstract:
- Abstracts are found on their own page, directly after the title or cover page.
- Professional papers only (not student papers): Include the running head on the top of the page.
- 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. Use concise, brief, informative language. You only have a few sentences to share the summary of your entire document, so be direct with your wording.
- 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. You can also include keyword strings that you think readers will type into the search box.
- Active voice: The subjects reacted to the medication.
- Passive voice: There was a reaction from the subjects taking the medication.
- Instead of evaluating your project in the abstract, simply report what it contains.
- If a large portion of your work includes the extension of someone else’s research, share this in the abstract and include the author’s last name and the year their work was released.
APA format example page:
Here’s an example of an abstract:
Visual design is a critical aspect of any web page or user interface, and its impact on a user’s experience has been studied extensively. Research has shown a positive correlation between a user’s perceived usability and a user’s assessment of visual design. Additionally, perceived web quality, which encompasses visual design, has a positive relationship with both initial and continued consumer purchase intention. However, visual design is often assessed using self-report scale, which are vulnerable to a few pitfalls. Because self-report questionnaires are often reliant on introspection and honesty, it is difficult to confidently rely on self-report questionnaires to make important decisions. This study aims to ensure the validity of a visual design assessment instrument (Visual Aesthetics of Websites Inventory: Short version) by examining its relationship with biometric (variables), like galvanic skin response, pupillometry, and fixation information. Our study looked at participants assessment of a webpage’s visual design, and compared it to their biometric responses while viewing the webpage. Overall, we found that both average fixation duration and pupil dilation differed when participants viewed web pages with lower visual design ratings compared to web pages with a higher visual design rating.
Keywords : usability, visual design, websites, eye tracking, pupillometry, self-report, VisAWI
The body of an APA paper
On the page after the title page (if a student paper) or the abstract (if a professional paper), begin with the body of the paper.
Most papers follow this format:
- At the top of the page, add the page number in the upper right corner of all pages, including the title page.
- On the next line write the title in bold font and center it. Do not underline or italicize it.
- Begin with the introduction and indent the first line of the paragraph. All paragraphs in the body are indented.
Sample body for a student paper:
Most scientific or professional papers have additional sections and guidelines:
- Start with the running head (title + page number). The heading title should be in capital letters. The abstract page should be page 2.
- 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 and use this word as the subtitle. 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 your data. Use charts and graphs to display this data.
- 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.
Sample body for a professional paper:
Keep in mind, APA citation format is much easier than you think, thanks to EasyBib.com. Try our automatic generator and watch how we create APA citation format references for you in just a few clicks. While you’re at it, take a peek at our other helpful guides, such as our APA reference page guide, to make sure you’re on track with your research papers.
Proper usage of headings & subheadings in APA Format
Headings (p. 47) serve an important purpose in research papers — they organize your paper and make it simple to locate different pieces of information. In addition, headings provide readers with a glimpse to the main idea, or content, they are about to read.
In APA format, there are five levels of headings, each with a different formatting:
- This is the title of your paper
- The title should be centered in the middle of the page
- The title should be bolded
- Use uppercase and lowercase letters where necessary (called title capitalization)
- Place this heading against the left margin
- Use bold letters
- Use uppercase and lowercase letters where necessary
- Place this heading against the left side margin
- End the heading with a period
- Indented in from the left margin
Following general formatting rules, all headings are double spaced and there are no extra lines or spaces between sections.
Here is a visual APA format template for levels of headings:
Use of graphics (tables and figures) in APA Format
If you’re looking to jazz up your project with any charts, tables, drawings, or images, there are certain APA format rules (pp. 195-250) to follow.
First and foremost, the only reason why any graphics should be added is to provide the reader with an easier way to see or read information, rather than typing it all out in the text.
Lots of numbers to discuss? Try organizing your information into a chart or table. Pie charts, bar graphs, coordinate planes, and line graphs are just a few ways to show numerical data, relationships between numbers, and many other types of information.
Instead of typing out long, drawn out descriptions, create a drawing or image. Many visual learners would appreciate the ability to look at an image to make sense of information.
Before you go ahead and place that graphic in your paper, here are a few key guidelines:
- Follow them in the appropriate numerical order in which they appear in the text of your paper. Example : Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, Figure 3.
- Example: Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, Figure 3
- Only use graphics if they will supplement the material in your text. If they reinstate what you already have in your text, then it is not necessary to include a graphic.
- Include enough wording in the graphic so that the reader is able to understand its meaning, even if it is isolated from the corresponding text. However, do not go overboard with adding a ton of wording in your graphic.
- Left align tables and figures
In our APA format sample paper , you’ll find examples of tables after the references. You may also place tables and figures within the text just after it is mentioned.
Is there anything better than seeing a neatly organized data table? We think not! If you have tons of numbers or data to share, consider creating a table instead of typing out a wordy paragraph. Tables are pretty easy to whip up on Google Docs or Microsoft Word.
General format of a table should be:
- Table number
- Choose to type out your data OR create a table. As stated above, in APA format, you shouldn’t have the information typed out in your paper and also have a table showing the same exact information. Choose one or the other.
- If you choose to create a table, discuss it very briefly in the text. Say something along the lines of, “Table 1 displays the amount of money used towards fighting Malaria.” Or, “Stomach cancer rates are displayed in Table 4.”
- If you’re submitting your project for a class, place your table close to the text where it’s mentioned. If you’re submitting it to be published in a journal, most publishers prefer tables to be placed in the back. If you’re unsure where to place your tables, ask!
- Include the table number first and at the top. Table 1 is the first table discussed in the paper. Table 2 is the next table mentioned, and so on. This should be in bold.
- Add a title under the number. Create a brief, descriptive title. Capitalize the first letter for each important word. Italicize the title and place it under the table number.
- Only use horizontal lines.
- Limit use of cell shading.
- Keep the font at 12-point size and use single or double spacing. If you use single spacing in one table, make sure all of the others use single spaces as well. Keep it consistent.
- All headings should be centered.
- In the first column (called the stub), center the heading, left-align the information underneath it (indent 0.15 inches if info is more than one line).
- Information in other columns should be centered.
- General . Information about the whole table.
- Specific . Information targeted for a specific column, row, or cell.
- Probability . Explains what certain table symbols mean. For example, asterisks, p values, etc.
Here’s an APA format example of a table:
We know putting together a table is pretty tricky. That’s why we’ve included not one, but a few tables on this page. Scroll down and look at the additional tables in the essay in APA format example found below.
Figures represent information in a visual way. They differ from tables in that they are visually appealing. Sure, tables, like the one above, can be visually appealing, but it’s the color, circles, arrows, boxes, or icons included that make a figure a “figure.”
There are many commonly used figures in papers. Examples APA Format:
- Hierarchy charts
General format of a figure is the same as tables. This means each should include:
- Figure number
Use the same formatting tables use for the number, title, and note.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to APA format for figures:
- Only include a figure if it adds value to your paper. If it will truly help with understanding, include it!
- Either include a figure OR write it all out in the text. Do not include the same information twice.
- If a note is added, it should clearly explain the content of the figure. Include any reference information if it’s reproduced or adapted.
APA format sample of a figure:
We live in a world where we have tons of photographs available at our fingertips.
Photographs found through Google Images, social media, stock photos made available from subscription sites, and tons of other various online sources make obtaining photographs a breeze. We can even pull out our cell phones, and in just a few seconds, take pictures with our cameras.
Photographs are simple to find, and because of this, many students enjoy using them in their papers.
If you have a photograph you would like to include in your project, here are some guidelines from the American Psychological Association.
- Create a reference for the photograph. Follow the guidelines under the table and figure sections above.
- Do not use color photos. It is recommended to use black and white. Colors can change depending on the reader’s screen resolution. Using black and white ensures the reader will be able to view the image clearly. The only time it is recommended to use color photos is if you’re writing about color-specific things. For example, if you’re discussing the various shades of leaf coloration, you may want to include a few photographs of colorful leaves.
- If there are sections of the photograph that are not related to your work, it is acceptable to crop them out. Cropping is also beneficial in that it helps the reader focus on the main item you’re discussing.
- If you choose to include an image of a person you know, it would be respectful if you ask their permission before automatically including their photo in your paper. Some schools and universities post research papers online and some people prefer that their photos and information stay off the Internet.
B. Writing Style Tips
Writing a paper for scientific topics is much different than writing for English, literature, and other composition classes. Science papers are much more direct, clear, and concise. This section includes key suggestions, explains how to write in APA format, and includes other tidbits to keep in mind while formulating your research paper.
Verb usage in APA
Research experiments and observations rely on the creation and analysis of data to test hypotheses and come to conclusions. While sharing and explaining the methods and results of studies, science writers often use verbs.
When using verbs in writing, make sure that you continue to use them in the same tense throughout the section you’re writing. Further details are in the publication manual (p. 117).
Here’s an APA format example:
We tested the solution to identify the possible contaminants.
It wouldn’t make sense to add this sentence after the one above:
We tested the solution to identify the possible contaminants. Researchers often test solutions by placing them under a microscope.
Notice that the first sentence is in the past tense while the second sentence is in the present tense. This can be confusing for readers.
For verbs in scientific papers, the APA manual recommends using:
- Past tense or present perfect tense for the explantation of the procedure
- Past tense for the explanation of the results
- Present tense for the explanation of the conclusion and future implications
If this is all a bit much, and you’re simply looking for help with your references, try the EasyBib.com APA format generator . Our APA formatter creates your references in just a few clicks. APA citation format is easier than you think thanks to our innovative, automatic tool.
Even though your writing will not have the same fluff and detail as other forms of writing, it should not be boring or dull to read. The Publication Manual suggests thinking about who will be the main reader of your work and to write in a way that educates them.
How to reduce bias & labels
The American Psychological Association strongly objects to any bias towards gender, racial groups, ages of individuals or subjects, disabilities, and sexual orientation (pp. 131-149). If you’re unsure whether your writing is free of bias and labels or not, have a few individuals read your work to determine if it’s acceptable.
Here are a few guidelines that the American Psychological Association suggests :
- Only include information about an individual’s orientation or characteristic if it is important to the topic or study. Do not include information about individuals or labels if it is not necessary.
- If writing about an individual’s characteristic or orientation, for essay APA format, make sure to put the person first. Instead of saying, “Diabetic patients,” say, “Patients who are diabetic.”
- Instead of using narrow terms such as, “adolescents,” or “the elderly,” try to use broader terms such as, “participants,” and “subjects.”
- “They” or “their” are acceptable gender-neutral pronouns to use.
- Be mindful when using terms that end with “man” or “men” if they involve subjects who are female. For example, instead of using “Firemen,” use the term, “Firefighter.” In general, avoid ambiguity.
- When referring to someone’s racial or ethnic identity, use the census category terms and capitalize the first letter. Also, avoid using the word, “minority,” as it can be interpreted as meaning less than or deficient. Instead, say “people of color” or “underrepresented groups.”
- When describing subjects in APA format, use the words “girls” and “boys” for children who are under the age of 12. The terms, “young woman,” “young man,” “female adolescent,” and “male adolescent” are appropriate for subjects between 13-17 years old; “Men,” and “women,” for those older than 18. Use the term, “older adults.” for individuals who are older. “Elderly,” and “senior,” are not acceptable if used only as nouns. It is acceptable to use these terms if they’re used as adjectives.
Read through our example essay in APA format, found in section D, to see how we’ve reduced bias and labels.
Spelling in APA Format
- In APA formatting, use the same spelling as words found in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (American English) (p. 161).
- If the word you’re trying to spell is not found in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, a second resource is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary .
- If attempting to properly spell words in the psychology field, consult the American Psychological Association’s Dictionary of Psychology
Thanks to helpful tools and features, such as the spell checker, in word processing programs, most of us think we have everything we need right in our document. However, quite a few helpful features are found elsewhere.
Where can you find a full grammar editor? Right here, on EasyBib.com. The EasyBib Plus paper checker scans your paper for spelling, but also for any conjunction , determiner, or adverb out of place. Try it out and unlock the magic of an edited paper.
Abbreviation do’s and don’ts in APA Format
Abbreviations can be tricky. You may be asking yourself, “Do I include periods between the letters?” “Are all letters capitalized?” “Do I need to write out the full name each and every time?” Not to worry, we’re breaking down the publication manual’s abbreviations (p. 172) for you here.
First and foremost, use abbreviations sparingly.
Too many and you’re left with a paper littered with capital letters mashed together. Plus, they don’t lend themselves to smooth and easy reading. Readers need to pause and comprehend the meaning of abbreviations and quite often stumble over them.
- If the abbreviation is used less than three times in the paper, type it out each time. It would be pretty difficult to remember what an abbreviation or acronym stands for if you’re writing a lengthy paper.
- If you decide to sprinkle in abbreviations, it is not necessary to include periods between the letters.
- Example: While it may not affect a patient’s short-term memory (STM), it may affect their ability to comprehend new terms. Patients who experience STM loss while using the medication should discuss it with their doctor.
- Example : AIDS
- The weight in pounds exceeded what we previously thought.
Punctuation in APA Format
One space after most punctuation marks.
The manual recommends using one space after most punctuation marks, including punctuation at the end of a sentence (p. 154). It doesn’t hurt to double check with your teacher or professor to ask their preference since this rule was changed recently (in 2020).
The official APA format book was primarily created to aid individuals with submitting their paper for publication in a professional journal. Many schools adopt certain parts of the handbook and modify sections to match their preference. To see an example of an APA format research paper, with the spacing we believe is most commonly and acceptable to use, scroll down and see section D.
For more information related to the handbook, including frequently asked questions, and more, here’s further reading on the style
It’s often a heated debate among writers whether or not to use an Oxford comma (p. 155), but for this style, always use an Oxford comma. This type of comma is placed before the words AND and OR or in a series of three items.
Example of APA format for commas: The medication caused drowsiness, upset stomach, and fatigue.
Here’s another example: The subjects chose between cold, room temperature, or warm water.
When writing a possessive singular noun, you should place the apostrophe before the s. For possessive plural nouns, the apostrophe is placed after the s.
- Singular : Linda Morris’s jacket
- Plural : The Morris’ house
Em dashes (long dash) are used to bring focus to a particular point or an aside. There are no spaces after these dashes (p. 157).
Use en dashes (short dash) in compound adjectives. Do not place a space before or after the dash. Here are a few examples:
Number rules in APA Format
Science papers often include the use of numbers, usually displayed in data, tables, and experiment information. The golden rule to keep in mind is that numbers less than 10 are written out in text. If the number is more than 10, use numerals.
APA format examples:
- 14 kilograms
- seven individuals
- 83 years old
- Fourth grade
The golden rule for numbers has exceptions.
In APA formatting, use numerals if you are:
- Showing numbers in a table or graph
- 4 divided by 2
Use numbers written out as words if you are:
- Ninety-two percent of teachers feel as though….
- Hundred Years’ War
- One-sixth of the students
Other APA formatting number rules to keep in mind:
- World War II
- Super Bowl LII
- It’s 1980s, not 1980’s!
Additional number rules can be found in the publication manual (p. 178)
Need help with other writing topics? Our plagiarism checker is a great resource for anyone looking for writing help. Say goodbye to an out of place noun , preposition , or adjective, and hello to a fully edited paper.
Overview of APA references
While writing a research paper, it is always important to give credit and cite your sources; this lets you acknowledge others’ ideas and research you’ve used in your own work. Not doing so can be considered plagiarism , possibly leading to a failed grade or loss of a job.
APA style is one of the most commonly used citation styles used to prevent plagiarism. Here’s more on crediting sources . Let’s get this statement out of the way before you become confused: An APA format reference and an APA format citation are two different things! We understand that many teachers and professors use the terms as if they’re synonyms, but according to this specific style, they are two separate things, with different purposes, and styled differently.
A reference displays all of the information about the source — the title, the author’s name, the year it was published, the URL, all of it! References are placed on the final page of a research project.
Here’s an example of a reference:
Wynne-Jones, T. (2015). The emperor of any place . Candlewick Press.
An APA format citation is an APA format in-text citation. These are found within your paper, anytime a quote or paraphrase is included. They usually only include the name of the author and the date the source was published.
Here’s an example of one:
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is even discussed in the book, The Emperor of Any Place . The main character, Evan, finds a mysterious diary on his father’s desk (the same desk his father died on, after suffering from a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy attack). Evan unlocks the truth to his father and grandfather’s past (Wynne-Jones, 2015).
Both of the ways to credit another individual’s work — in the text of a paper and also on the final page — are key to preventing plagiarism. A writer must use both types in a paper. If you cite something in the text, it must have a full reference on the final page of the project. Where there is one, there must be the other!
Now that you understand that, here’s some basic info regarding APA format references (pp. 281-309).
- Each reference is organized, or structured, differently. It all depends on the source type. A book reference is structured one way, an APA journal is structured a different way, a newspaper article is another way. Yes, it’s probably frustrating that not all references are created equal and set up the same way. MLA works cited pages are unique in that every source type is formatted the same way. Unfortunately, this style is quite different.
- Most references follow this general format:
Author’s Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year published). Title of source . URL.
Again, as stated in the above paragraph, you must look up the specific source type you’re using to find out the placement of the title, author’s name, year published, etc.
For more information on APA format for sources and how to reference specific types of sources, use the other guides on EasyBib.com. Here’s another useful site .
Looking for a full visual of a page of references? Scroll down and take a peek at our APA format essay example towards the bottom of this page. You’ll see a list of references and you can gain a sense of how they look.
Bonus: here’s a link to more about the fundamentals related to this particular style. If you want to brush up or catch up on the Modern Language Association’s style, here’s a great resource on how to cite websites in MLA .
In-text APA citation format
Did you find the perfect quote or piece of information to include in your project? Way to go! It’s always a nice feeling when we find that magical piece of data or info to include in our writing. You probably already know that you can’t just copy and paste it into your project, or type it in, without also providing credit to the original author.
Displaying where the original information came from is much easier than you think.Directly next to the quote or information you included, place the author’s name and the year nearby. This allows the reader of your work to see where the information originated.
APA allows for the use of two different forms of in-text citation, parenthetical and narrative Both forms of citation require two elements:
- author’s name
- year of publication
The only difference is the way that this information is presented to the reader.
Parenthetical citations are the more commonly seen form of in-text citations for academic work, in which both required reference elements are presented at the end of the sentence in parentheses. Example:
Harlem had many artists and musicians in the late 1920s (Belafonte, 2008).
Narrative citations allow the author to present one or both of the required reference elements inside of the running sentence, which prevents the text from being too repetitive or burdensome. When only one of the two reference elements is included in the sentence, the other is provided parenthetically. Example:
According to Belafonte (2008), Harlem was full of artists and musicians in the late 1920s.
If there are two authors listed in the source entry, then the parenthetical reference must list them both:
(Smith & Belafonte, 2008)
If there are three or more authors listed in the source entry, then the parenthetical reference can abbreviate with “et al.”, the latin abbreviation for “and others”:
(Smith et al., 2008)
The author’s names are structured differently if there is more than one author. Things will also look different if there isn’t an author at all (which is sometimes the case with website pages). For more information on APA citation format, check out this page on the topic: APA parenthetical citation and APA in-text citation . There is also more information in the official manual in chapter 8.
If it’s MLA in-text and parenthetical citations you’re looking for, we’ve got your covered there too! You might want to also check out his guide on parenthetical citing .
Would you benefit from having a tool that helps you easily generate citations that are in the text? Check out EasyBib Plus!
References page in APA Format
An APA format reference page is easier to create than you probably think. We go into detail on how to create this page on our APA reference page . We also have a guide for how to create an annotated bibliography in APA . But, if you’re simply looking for a brief overview of the reference page, we’ve got you covered here.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to the references page in APA format:
- This VIP page has its very own page. Start on a fresh, clean document (p. 303).
- Center and bold the title “References” (do not include quotation marks, underline, or italicize this title).
- Alphabetize and double-space ALL entries.
- Use a readable font, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or Lucida (p. 44).
- Every quote or piece of outside information included in the paper should be referenced and have an entry.
- Even though it’s called a “reference page,” it can be longer than one page. If your references flow onto the next page, then that’s a-okay.
- Only include the running head if it is required by your teacher or you’re writing a professional paper.
Sample reference page for a student paper:
Here’s another friendly reminder to use the EasyBib APA format generator (that comes with EasyBib Plus) to quickly and easily develop every single one of your references for you. Try it out! Our APA formatter is easy to use and ready to use 24/7.
Final APA Format Checklist
Prior to submitting your paper, check to make sure you have everything you need and everything in its place:
- Did you credit all of the information and quotes you used in the body of your paper and show a matching full reference at the end of the paper? Remember, you need both! Need more information on how to credit other authors and sources? Check out our other guides, or use the EasyBib APA format generator to credit your sources quickly and easily. EasyBib.com also has more styles than just the one this page focuses on.
- 12-pt. Times New Roman
- 11-pt. Calibri, Arial, Georgia
- 10-pt. Lucida, Sans Unicode, Computer Modern
- If you created an abstract, is it directly after the title page? Some teachers and professors do not require an abstract, so before you go ahead and include it, make sure it’s something he or she is expecting.
- Professional paper — Did you include a running head on every single page of your project?
- Student paper — Did you include page numbers in the upper right-hand corner of all your pages?
- Are all headings, as in section or chapter titles, properly formatted? If you’re not sure, check section number 9.
- Are all tables and figures aligned properly? Did you include notes and other important information directly below the table or figure? Include any information that will help the reader completely understand everything in the table or figure if it were to stand alone.
- Are abbreviations used sparingly? Did you format them properly?
- Is the entire document double spaced?
- Are all numbers formatted properly? Check section 17, which is APA writing format for numbers.
- Did you glance at the sample paper? Is your assignment structured similarly? Are all of the margins uniform?
Submitting Your APA Paper
Congratulations for making it this far! You’ve put a lot of effort into writing your paper and making sure the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. If you’re planning to submit your paper for a school assignment, make sure you review your teacher or professor’s procedures.
If you’re submitting your paper to a journal, you probably need to include a cover letter.
Most cover letters ask you to include:
- The author’s contact information.
- A statement to the editor that the paper is original.
- If a similar paper exists elsewhere, notify the editor in the cover letter.
Once again, review the specific journal’s website for exact specifications for submission.
Okay, so you’re probably thinking you’re ready to hit send or print and submit your assignment. Can we offer one last suggestion? We promise it will only take a minute.
Consider running your paper through our handy dandy paper checker. It’s pretty simple.
Copy and paste or upload your paper into our checker. Within a minute, we’ll provide feedback on your spelling and grammar. If there’s a pronoun , interjection , or verb out of place, we’ll highlight it and offer suggestions for improvement. We’ll even take it a step further and point out any instances of possible plagiarism.
If it sounds too good to be true, then head on over to our innovative tool and give it a whirl. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
What is APA Format?
APA stands for the American Psychological Association . In this guide, you’ll find information related to “What is APA format?” in relation to writing and organizing your paper according to the American Psychological Association’s standards. Information on how to cite sources can be found on our APA citation page. The official American Psychological Association handbook was used as a reference for our guide and we’ve included page numbers from the manual throughout. However, this page is not associated with the association.
You’ll most likely use APA format if your paper is on a scientific topic. Many behavioral and social sciences use this organization’s standards and guidelines.
What are behavioral sciences? Behavioral sciences study human and animal behavior. They can include:
- Cognitive Science
What are social sciences? Social sciences focus on one specific aspect of human behavior, specifically social and cultural relationships. Social sciences can include:
- Political Science
- Human Geography
What’s New in the 7th Edition?
This citation style was created by the American Psychological Association. Its rules and guidelines can be found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . The information provided in the guide above follows the 6th edition (2009) of the manual. The 7th edition was published in 2020 and is the most recent version.
The 7th edition of the Publication Manual is in full color and includes 12 sections (compared to 8 sections in the 6th edition). In general, this new edition differentiates between professional and student papers, includes guidance with accessibility in mind, provides new examples to follow, and has updated guidelines.We’ve selected a few notable updates below, but for a full view of all of the 7th edition changes visit the style’s website linked here .
- Paper title
- Student name
- Affiliation (e.g., school, department, etc.)
- Course number and title
- Course instructor
- 6th edition – Running head: SMARTPHONE EFFECTS ON ADOLESCENT SOCIALIZATION
- 7th edition – SMARTPHONE EFFECTS ON ADOLESCENT SOCIALIZATION
- Pronouns . “They” can be used as a gender-neutral pronoun.
- Bias-free language guidelines . There are updated and new sections on guidelines for this section. New sections address participation in research, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality.
- Spacing after sentences. Add only a single space after end punctuation.
- Tables and figures . The citing format is now streamlined so that both tables and figures should include a name and number above the table/figure, and a note underneath the table/figure.
- 6th ed. – (Ikemoto, Richardson, Murphy, Yoshida 2016)
- 7th ed. – (Ikemoto et al., 2016)
- Citing books. The location of the publisher can be omitted. Also, e-books no longer need to mention the format (e.g., Kindle, etc.)
- Example: https://doi.org/10.1038/s42255-019-0153-5
- Using URLs. URLs no longer need to be prefaced by the words “Retrieved from.”
New citing information . There is new guidance on citing classroom or intranet resources, and oral traditions or traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples.
Visit our EasyBib Twitter feed to discover more citing tips, fun grammar facts, and the latest product updates.
American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) (2020). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000
Published October 31, 2011. Updated May 14, 2020.
Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.
APA Formatting Guide
- Annotated Bibliography
- Block Quotes
- et al Usage
- Multiple Authors
- Page Numbers
- Parenthetical Citations
- Sample Paper
- View APA Guide
- Book Chapter
- Journal Article
- Magazine Article
- Newspaper Article
- Website (no author)
- View all APA Examples
How useful was this post?
Click on a star to rate it!
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?
We should not use “et al.” in APA reference list entries. If the number of authors in the source is up to and including 20, list all author names and use an ampersand (&) before the final author’s name. If the number of authors is more than 20, list the first 19 authors’ names followed by an ellipsis (but no ampersand), and then add the final author’s name. An example of author names in a reference entry having more than 20 authors is given below:
Author Surname1, F. M., Author Surname2, F. M., Author Surname3, F. M., Author Surname4, F. M., Author Surname5, F. M., Author Surname6, F. M., Author Surname7, F. M., Author Surname8, F. M., Author Surname9, F. M., Author Surname10, F. M., Author Surname11, F. M., Author Surname12, F. M., Author Surname13, F. M., Author Surname14, F. M., Author Surname15, F. M., Author Surname16, F. M., Author Surname17, F. M., Author Surname18, F. M., Author Surname19, F. M., . . . Last Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year).
Alvarez, L. D., Peach, J. L., Rodriguez, J. F., Donald, L., Thomas, M., Aruck, A., Samy, K., Anthony, K., Ajey, M., Rodriguez, K. L., Katherine, K., Vincent, A., Pater, F., Somu, P., Pander, L., Berd, R., Fox, L., Anders, A., Kamala, W., . . . Nicole Jones, K. (2019).
Note that, unlike references with 2 to 20 author names, the symbol “&” is not used here before the last author’s name.
APA 7, released in October 2019, has some new updates. Here is a brief description of the updates made in APA 7.
Different types of papers and best practices are given in detail in Chapter 1.
How to format a student title page is explained in Chapter 2. Examples of a professional paper and a student paper are included.
Chapter 3 provides additional information on qualitative and mixed methods of research.
An update on writing style is included in Chapter 4.
In chapter 5, some best practices for writing with bias-free language are included.
Chapter 6 gives some updates on style elements including using a single space after a period, including a citation with an abbreviation, the treatment of numbers in abstracts, treatment for different types of lists, and the formatting of gene and protein names.
In Chapter 7, additional examples are given for tables and figures for different types of publications.
In Chapter 8, how to format quotations and how to paraphrase text are covered with additional examples. A simplified version of in-text citations is clearly illustrated.
Chapter 9 has many updates: listing all author names up to 20 authors, standardizing DOIs and URLs, and the formatting of an annotated bibliography.
Chapter 10 includes many examples with templates for all reference types. New rules covering the inclusion of the issue number for journals and the omission of publisher location from book references are provided. Explanations of how to cite YouTube videos, power point slides, and TED talks are included.
Chapter 11 includes many legal references for easy understanding.
Chapter 12 provides advice for authors on how to promote their papers.
For more information on some of the changes found in APA 7, check out this EasyBib article .
APA Citation Examples
Other Citation Styles
Upload a paper to check for plagiarism against billions of sources and get advanced writing suggestions for clarity and style.
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Kids Mental Health
- Therapy Center
- When To See a Therapist
- Types of Therapy
- Best Online Therapy
- Best Couples Therapy
- Best Family Therapy
- Managing Stress
- Sleep and Dreaming
- Understanding Emotions
- Healthy Relationships
- Relationships in 2023
- Student Resources
- Personality Types
- Verywell Mind Insights
- 2023 Verywell Mind 25
- Mental Health in the Classroom
- Editorial Process
- Meet Our Review Board
- Crisis Support
APA Format Guidelines, Tips, and Examples
How to Write in APA Format
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Amanda Tust is a fact-checker, researcher, and writer with a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
10'000 Hours / Getty Images
APA format is the official style used by the American Psychological Association and is commonly used in the fields of psychology , education , and other social sciences. APA style refers to the way that student and professional publications are formatted for submission and publication. Knowing how to write in APA format is an important skill for both students and professionals.
The seventh edition of the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association" is the official guidebook for formatting your APA papers. It's the latest edition published in 2019. Of course, if you have further questions about how to format your paper, check with your professor or instructor on what they prefer.
If you're a beginner and need to write a paper in APA format, the following step-by-step guide can help you format your paper correctly and create the different sections that you will need.
General APA Format Guidelines
There are some basic rules of APA format that apply to any type of APA paper. These include:
- Type on standard-size (8.5-inch by 11-inch) paper
- Have a 1-inch margin on all sides
- Have a title page, a reference list , and a byline
- Use an easy-to-read font such as Calibri or Times New Roman
- Double-space the whole paper
- Align text to the left-hand side
- Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches
According to APA guidelines, your paper should include four main sections: a title page, abstract, main body, and references.
APA format emphasizes accessibility for all readers. Be sure to review their official information on how to make your paper accessible .
APA Format Title Page
There are two different versions of an APA title page : the student and professional versions. A student title page should include:
- Title of paper
- Name of each author of the paper (the byline)
- Affiliation for each author (the university attended, including the name of the department)
- Course number and name
- Instructor name (check with the instructor for their preferred format)
- Assignment due date (i.e., November 4, 2020)
- Page number
For a professional APA paper, include:
- Name of each author of the paper (byline)
- Affiliation for each author
- Author note
- Running head (an abbreviated version of the paper title)
For both student and professional papers, the paper title is in title case, bold, and centered. It should be about three to four lines down from the top margin of the page.
Be concise. Your title should be a short statement of what the reader will find in the paper. Your title will often identify the major variables and their relationships. Examples of APA paper titles include:
- Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Math Performance
- Impact of Leadership Style on Employee Productivity
- How Music Tempo Affects Running Pace
- How Medication Improves Smoking Cessation Outcomes
A title page for a professional paper should also include an author note, which provides more information about the paper's authors, study registration, data sharing, disclaimers on any conflicts of interest, a point of contact, and funding sources.
When writing your title, be concise and avoid any extraneous words that do not add meaning to your title. The APA style guide advises writers to avoid phrases such as "An Experimental Investigation of..." or "A Study of...".
APA Format Abstract
Think of an abstract as a summary of your paper. If you are a student, your instructor may or may not require an abstract; be sure to check.
Follow these tips for writing your abstract in APA format:
- The abstract should have its own page right after the title page.
- Centered at the top of the page in bold, write "Abstract."
- In the next line, briefly summarize the main points of the paper.
- While the content will vary, an abstract typically includes the research topic , research questions, information on participants and methods , the data analysis used, and main conclusions.
- An abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced, and usually no more than 250 words.
The "Publication Manual" states that a good abstract is accurate, coherent, and concise. Be sure not to include any information in the abstract that isn't in the paper itself.
Tables in APA Format
Tables are an efficient way to display a great deal of information in a concise, clear, and easy-to-read format. In APA format papers, tables are generally used to describe the results of statistical analysis and other pertinent quantitative data .
However, it is important to note that not all data should be presented in a table. If you have little numeric information to present, it should be described in the text of your paper.
The APA's publication manual recommends designing your table with the reader in mind. Strive to communicate data in a way that is clear and easy to understand.
Basic Rules for Tables
Keep these tips in mind when using a table in your APA format publication:
- Add an individual title to each table. It should be italicized and capitalized in APA style.
- Begin each table after the reference list on a page of its own.
- Number all tables (i.e., Table 1, Table 2, Table 3).
- Reference all tables in the text of the paper.
Remember that your table is there to supplement rather than replicate the text of your paper. Do not feel the need to discuss every element of your table in your text. Extraneous information can overwhelm and confuse the reader. Stick to reporting the most important data.
Instead, focus on keeping your table concise. Mention key highlights and tell the reader what to look for in your table.
Keep these tips in mind when writing table headings:
- Capitalize the first letter of each heading.
- Identify each column using a descriptive heading.
- Use abbreviations for standard terms in the table itself. Uncommon definitions should be explained in a note below the table.
If an additional explanation is needed, a note can be added below the table. There are three kinds of notes: general notes, specific notes, and probability notes.
General notes refer to some aspect of the entire table; specific notes refer to a particular column, row, or cell; probability notes specify the values of symbols in your table.
Reference Pages in APA Format
All sources cited in your paper should be included in the reference page. The reference page should appear at the end of your APA paper. This page makes it easy for the reader to easily look up all of the materials you cited.
Anything cited in the text must appear in the reference section and anything included in the reference section must be cited somewhere in the text.
Your references should begin on a new page with the title "References" in bold and centered at the very top. Do not underline, italicize, or place quotation marks around the title.
Basic Reference Page Rules
Be sure not to forget these rules when putting together your APA format reference page:
- Alphabetize references by the last names of the first author of each source.
- Capitalize all major words in the title of a journal (i.e., The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ).
- Capitalize only the first letter in article titles. If a colon appears in the title, the first letter after the colon should also be capitalized. The title should not be placed in quotations, underlined, or italicized.
- Double-space all references.
- Italicize the titles of books and journals.
- When the same author is cited multiple times, list references in chronological order with the oldest first, working your way up to the most recent one.
- Use a hanging indentation for each reference; the first line of the reference should be aligned to the left, but each additional line needs to be indented.
Journals and Periodicals
Journal articles should appear in alphabetical order in your reference list. More APA format tips include:
- Capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title, subtitle, and proper nouns.
- Italicize the name of the publication and the volume number.
The basic format of a journal article reference is to first list authors by their last names followed by the initials of their first names. Next, the publication year is enclosed in parentheses and followed by a period.
The title of the article should then follow, with only the first letter of the first word capitalized as well as the first letter of any proper nouns.
The italicized title of the journal comes after, followed by a comma. Place the volume number next, also italicized. Follow this with the issue number in parentheses, followed by a comma.
Then, place page numbers, using a hyphen in between if it's a range of pages. Place a period after this. Finally, a hyperlink including the DOI number should be included if there is one available.
This style is applicable to printed texts. The format for citing books in APA format is as follows:
- Name of author (last name, first initial)
- The date of the publication in parentheses
- The italicized title of the book
- If applicable, put the edition of the book in parentheses
- Publisher name
- Hyperlink with DOI number
Note: Place a period after each of these elements.
The basic format of an electronic reference is very similar to that of any other reference. However, you typically need to include the online location of the document.
Since online URLs can change, the APA recommends utilizing a digital object identifier (DOI) in your references whenever possible.
A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string that begins with a 10 as well as a prefix (usually a four-digit number assigned to organizations) and a suffix (a number assigned by the publisher).
Many publishers will include the DOI on the first page of an electronic document. If a DOI is available, simply include it as a hyperlink at the end of the reference as follows: https://doi.org/10.0000/00000000000.
Be sure to consult the latest information from The American Psychological Association for more information on citing electronic sources.
A Word From Verywell
It's helpful to consult the latest edition of the APA "Publication Manual" when you have questions about proper formatting for your APA paper. If you're a student, it's a great idea to consult with your instructor as well. They can help establish clear guidelines and expectations for your papers before you submit them.
Nicoll LH, Oermann MH, Chinn PL, Conklin JL, Amarasekara S, Mccarty M. Guidance provided to authors on citing and formatting references in nursing journals . J Nurses Prof Dev . 2018;34(2):54-59. doi:10.1097/NND.0000000000000430
American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition (2020) .
American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2020.
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Generate accurate APA citations for free
- Knowledge Base
- APA Style 6th edition
- APA format for academic papers (6th edition)
APA Format (6th ed.) for Academic Papers and Essays [Template]
Published on November 6, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on September 4, 2023.
In addition to guidelines for APA citations , there are format guidelines for academic papers and essays. They’re widely used by professionals, researchers and students.
Generate accurate APA citations with Scribbr
The most important APA format guidelines in the 6th edition are:
- Use 12 pt Times New Roman
- Set 1 inch page margins
- Apply double line spacing
- Insert a running head on every page
- Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
Table of contents
Apa format template, running head, reference page, in-text citations and references, setting up the apa format.
Instead of applying the APA guidelines to your document you can simply download the APA format template for Word.
Download APA Format Template (.docx)
Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.
In the header of each page you include the paper title and page number. If your paper title is longer than 50 characters you should use a shortened version as running head. The page number should be positioned in the top right-hand corner. On the title page the APA running head is preceded by the words “Running head:”.
Throughout your paper you use different heading levels. The levels ranging from one to five help structure the document. Major headings, or heading 1, are used for the titles of chapters such as “Methods” or “Results”. Heading levels two to five are used for subheadings. Each heading level is formatted differently. These are the APA heading guidelines :
Title case capitalization : Capitalize the first, last, and principal words. Sentence case capitalization : Capitalize only the first word and any proper nouns.
Note that you are not required to include a table of contents in APA style , but if you do choose to include one, all headings should be formatted as plain text, with an additional indent for each level.
The APA title page , also called cover page, is the first page of your paper. The regular formatting guidelines regarding font and margins apply. In addition, an APA formatted title page contains:
- Running head including page number
- Full paper title (in title case)
- Author name(s), without titles and degrees
- Institutional affiliation
Note: APA style has specific guidelines for including more than one author or institutional affiliation on the title page .
Are your APA in-text citations flawless?
The AI-powered APA Citation Checker points out every error, tells you exactly what’s wrong, and explains how to fix it. Say goodbye to losing marks on your assignment!
An APA abstract is a one paragraph (± 250 words) summary of your paper. It introduces the objective or problem statement of the paper and includes information on the method, research results, and conclusions of your research. In a separate article we explain in-depth how to write an abstract .
Although most regular APA formatting guidelines apply, the abstract page also has specific requirements. The abstract starts with a centered heading “Abstract”. In contrast to regular APA headings, no styling is applied. The first line of the paragraph is, unlike regular paragraphs, not indented.
At the end of the abstract, keywords relevant to the research are included. These keywords improve the findability of your paper in databases. Indent the line with keywords and start with the italicized word “Keyword:”, followed by the keywords.
The APA reference page , also called reference list, is where all sources that are cited in the text are listed. The citations differs for each source type. Aside from the references itself the reference page as a whole also has specific APA formatting guidelines.
The APA reference page example below highlights those guidelines regarding page margins, hanging indent and the reference page title “References”. Furthermore, the reference list is sorted alphabetically . You can easily create APA references with Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator .
APA reference page example
APA format citations consist of parenthetical citation in the text ( APA 6 in-text citations ) and the full reference in the reference list. For each webpage, journal article, book or any other source specific citation guidelines apply.
To make things easier Scribbr created the free APA Citation Generator that cites every source perfectly. Just enter the URL, journal DOI or book ISBN and both the in-text citation and full reference are generated.
In addition, Scribbr has in-depth APA citation examples for every source type ranging from journal articles and books to YouTube videos and tweets .
This video will demonstrate how to set up the APA format in Google Docs.
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. (2023, September 04). APA Format (6th ed.) for Academic Papers and Essays [Template]. Scribbr. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/6th-edition/archived-format/
Is this article helpful?
Scribbr apa citation checker.
An innovative new tool that checks your APA citations with AI software. Say goodbye to inaccurate citations!
Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts
APA Headings and Seriation
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.