APA Paper Formatting & Style Guidelines
Your teacher may want you to format your paper using APA guidelines. If you were told to create your citations in APA format, your paper should be formatted using the APA guidelines as well.
- Use white 8 ½ x 11” paper.
- Make 1 inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides
- The first word in every paragraph should be indented one half inch.
- APA recommends using Times New Roman font, size 12.
- Double space the entire research paper
- Include a page header known as the “running head” at the top of every page. (To make this process easier, set your word processor to automatically add these components onto each page)
- To create the running head/page header, insert page numbers justified to the right-hand side of the paper (do not put p. or pg. in front of page numbers)
- Then type “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” justified to the left using all capital letters
- If your title is long, this running head title should be a shortened version of the title of your entire paper
Sample running head/page header
APA Paper Components
Your essay should include these four major sections:
- Title Page
- Main Body
This page should contain four pieces: the title of the paper, running head, the author’s name, institutional affiliation, and an author’s note. Create the page header/running head as described above.
*Please note that only on the title page, your page header/running head should include the words “Running Head” before your title in all capitals. The rest of the pages should not include this in the page header. It should look like this on the title page:
- The title of the paper should capture the main idea of the essay but should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose
- It should be centered on the page and typed in 12-point Times New Roman font. Do not underline, bold, or italicize the title.
- Your title may take up one or two lines, but should not be more than 12 words in length.
- All text on the title page should be double-spaced in the same way as the rest of your essay
- Do not include any titles on the author’s name such as Dr. or Ms.
- The institutional affiliation is the location where the author conducted the research
Sample Title page:
On the following page, begin with the Running title.
- On the first line of the page, center the word “Abstract” (but do not include quotation marks).
- On the following line, write a summary of the key points of your research. Your abstract summary is a way to introduce readers to your research topic, the questions that will be answered, the process you took, and any findings or conclusions you drew.
- This summary should not be indented, but should be double-spaced and less than 250 words.
- If applicable, help researchers find your work in databases by listing keywords from your paper after your summary. To do this, indent and type Keywords: in italics. Then list your keywords that stand out in your research.
Sample Abstract page:
On the following page, begin with the Body of the paper.
- Start with the Running title
- On the next line write the title (do not bold, underline, or italicize the title)
- Begin with the introduction. Indent.
- The introduction presents the problem and premise upon which the research was based. It goes into more detail about this problem than the abstract.
- Begin a new section with the Method. Bold and center this subtitle The Method section shows how the study was run and conducted. Be sure to describe the methods through which data was collected.
- Begin a new section with the Results. Bold and center this subtitle. The Results section summarizes the data. Use graphs and graphs to display this data.
- Begin a new section with the Discussion. Bold and center this subtitle. This Discussion section is a chance to analyze and interpret your results.
- Draw conclusions and support how your data led to these conclusions.
- Discuss whether or not your hypothesis was confirmed or not supported by your results.
- Determine the limitations of the study and next steps to improve research for future studies.
** Throughout the body, in-text citations are used and include the author’s/authors’ name(s) and the publication year. In APA format page numbers are not used in in-text citations.
Ex: (Wilkonson, 2009).
For more information about how to cite properly please see EasyBib’s guides for APA citations based on the sources you are using.
Sample Body page:
On a new page, write your references.
- Begin with a running title
- Center and bold the title “References” (do not include quotation marks, underline, or italicize this title)
- Alphabetize and Double-space all entries
- Every article/source mentioned in the paper and used in your study should be referenced and have an entry.
Sample Reference Page:
Research papers are a norm at colleges and universities. If you're stuck on where to start or even how to finish, this article can help guide you to finish that paper.
After you start college, at one point or another, you're going to have to write a heavy-duty research paper. This isn’t your high school English teacher’s five-page requirement, either. This is going to be the 28-page monster you’ve heard about, but hoped wasn’t really true, and it will be a task that you’ll likely have to repeat more than once during your college career. But you are not alone. Students at colleges and universities across the country are probably facing the same daunting task.
There is hope, though. No matter how long your paper must be or how little time you have to complete it, there are some general tips that will help you complete a first-rate research paper. Use the following college guide by Sharon Sorenson, author of "How to Write Research Papers":
Plan your time
Some instructors give you ten weeks to complete a project, while others might allot a measly four. Plan backward from the day your paper is due and map out a schedule that allows you enough time to finish.
Choose your topic wisely
You may not be given a choice about the topic of your paper, but if you’re fortunate enough to have the option, then select a subject that interests you. If you choose something outside your scope of interest, you may find yourself nodding off and have difficulty finishing the task, which is not a good impression to make at college. Information is crucial; keep your topic broad enough that you can find enough resources to cover it, but narrow enough that you can successfully develop and support your ideas.
Write a top-notch thesis statement
All research papers must contain a thesis statement, which reflects the main topic and the order in which supporting ideas will develop. For example, if you write a paper entitled "Teenagers Coping with Alzheimer's Patients," your thesis statement might look something like this: "Understanding the emotions of both the patient and the family will help reduce everyone's frustration."
This statement implies that your paper will discuss patient and family emotions, as well as the reduction of their frustrations. With any paper you write, feel free to fiddle with your thesis statement as you go along to better reflect the results of your research.
Use excellent secondary resources
If at all possible, don’t rely heavily on one source when writing a paper at college. Search for and consult as many varying sources as humanly possible. You want to provide a well thought out, persuasive argument. Make sure you aren’t using outdated resources, and gather information that will prepare you to address potential arguments to your ideas.
Build an outline
After you’ve gathered your most valuable resources, develop an outline of what you plan to cover. This will help keep you from drifting into uncharted waters as you write. Developing a structure or plan is great college info for any task you encounter, not just writing papers. It helps keep you focused.
Create a first draft
Complete a first draft, then go back and check your facts. Did you forget an important argument or piece of information? Does the content flow easily from section to section? Make sure you used your own words and quoted all sources.
Before you hand in your paper, go back through it again to catch any errors. This time, look specifically for grammar and keyboard errors. If the thought of staring at your paper one more time makes your eyes glaze over, ask a friend or relative to read it and provide constructive feedback.
Writing a research paper can be a daunting task, but breaking it down into small steps makes the work much more manageable. If you develop a system for completing your research and putting your paper together, it will serve you well at whatever colleges and universities you attend. It may not get any easier, but the more you write, the better your papers will become.
Wait, don't go!
Sign up today and get exclusive tips and get a head start on your college experience! It’s our gift to you.