APA Style Format

The APA (American Psychological Association) style format is the most popular method for citing sources in academic work in the social sciences field. The importance of using proper citations cannot be understated. It gives credit to the authors for ideas and research that you have incorporated into your own paper. In addition, failing to acknowledge the work of others can lead to accusations of plagiarism, which in turn can lead to consequences such as a failing grade or even getting fired from your job.

This page offers guidelines on how to properly format your cover page, reference page (the bibliography) and general in-text citing.

Before you start your essay or research paper, you should familiarize yourself with some general APA rules. First, your paper must be typed on standard-sized paper (8.5” x 11”), using one-inch margins on each side. APA also requires double-spacing and the use of a font that is legible. The use of 12 pt. Times New Roman font is preferred, although you should always consult your teacher or professor if in doubt about the font.

The top of every page should include a running head/page header. To achieve this, insert page numbers flush right. Next, type your “PAPER TITLE” in all caps the header flush left. The running head should not be longer than 50 characters, including punctuation and spacing, even if the title of your paper is longer.

APA format title page

An APA format title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and the school, college or university where you study. The page header should be inserted flush left while the page numbering should be flush right and at the top of the page. This is how the running head should appear on the title page:

Running head: TITLE OF PAPER

On every subsequent page, the running head should look as follows:


Your title should be centered, typed in upper and lowercase letters, and located in the upper half of the page. APA recommends limiting your title length to a maximum of 12 words and avoiding the use of abbreviations and unnecessary words. It is acceptable for the title to consist of one or two lines. Use double-spacing throughout your paper, including on the title page.

Under the title, you should type your first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Omit titles (e.g., “Dr.”) or degrees (MA).

Under your name, type the name of your academic institution or research organization.

Here is an APA format sample for your title page:

APA format paper

In addition to a title page, an APA format paper should also contain an abstract, the body of the paper, and the reference list.

The abstract should follow the title page. The top will include the aforementioned page header. The word “Abstract” (without quotation marks, italics or any other type of modification) should be centered and located on the initial line of the abstract page. Below this is where you will provide a brief, one paragraph, double-spaced summary of the main points of your essay. Do not indent the abstract.

Note that the abstract in the APA format for a research paper should discuss the topic under study, the research questions, any subjects of the research, your research methods, the findings/results, analysis of the data, and your conclusions. You could also include the implications of your work and recommendations for future studies connected with your findings. The abstract should be no fewer than 150 words, but no more than 250.

Your abstract can also include keywords from your paper. This would allow researchers to find your work in databases easier. Below your abstract paragraph, indent as though you were starting a new paragraph. Next, type Keywords in italics. Complete it by listing your keywords.

Here is a sample of an abstract:

The body of your research paper should follow the universal format of introduction that discusses a problem, a thesis or argument that you intend to make, around three paragraphs in which you support your thesis and defend against counterarguments, and a conclusion that summarizes your work and discusses the broader implications.

The APA format for the reference list is very specific. First, you must use the term “References” (without bold, quotations or any modifiers) and not “Work Cited” (as in MLA) or “Bibliography.” The reference list should include the author(s)’ last name, first and middle initial, and the year of publication. The reference lines should be double-spaced and the second and subsequent lines for each reference should be indented half an inch from the left margin of your paper. Book titles and the titles of articles should be in italics. However, short publications, including newspapers, magazines and academic journals should not be italicized. Here is an example for reference:

Stephens, D. A., Bradford, H. E., & Woodard, W. S. (2004). How Chinese audiences are changing the way Hollywood makes movies. Journal of Entertainment, 24(2), 424-429.

For further assistance with creating a reference list, bibliography generator and in-text citation maker websites Easy Bib and kingcitation are really helpful.