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How to Properly Write a Paper in APA Format

APA research papers follow a general format, such as the paper should have four major sections. There are also guidelines for in-text citations, the reference page, and endnotes/footnotes, and recommendations for font, spacing, and margins.

Four Major Sections

The four major sections of an APA paper are Title page, Abstract, Main body, and References.

  • Title Page

    The title page includes the title of the paper, the author’s name and the author’s institutional affiliation. The title is in upper and lowercase letters and centered in the upper half of the page. The title should take up no more than two lines and be no longer than 12 words. Try to omit all unnecessary words from the title; there should not be abbreviations in the title.

    Below the title is the author’s name. The name should include full first and last name and middle initial. Do not include titles or degrees. Below the name, add the institutional affiliation where the author conducted the research.

  • Abstract

    Start the abstract on a new page. On the first line, center the word “abstract” in plain font.

    The next line will begin a summary of the paper’s key points. Do not indent the summary. The abstract will include information such as research participants, results, research questions, methods, data analysis, and of course, the research topic. This is the appropriate section to include information on possible future work and implications of the research.

    The abstract is a single paragraph between 150 and 250 words.

  • Main Body

    On a new page, begin the paper’s introductory paragraph. Indent the paragraph and each subsequent paragraph of the paper. The main body will include a literature review, a discussion, and a conclusion and future study.

  • References

    Start the reference page on an APA research paper on a new page. Center the word “References” at the top of the page. The reference entries are alphabetized and in plain font. All entries are double-spaces and every sources referenced in the main body will have an entry.

Page Settings and Format

Every APA paper should follow the same format. APA recommends an easy to read font and font size, such as Times New Roman, 12 pt. Double-space the entire paper with 1” margins on 8.5” x 11” paper.

The top of every page has a page header, sometimes referred to as a running header. The page header includes the page number, flush right at the top of the page and the paper title, flush left at the top of the page. The paper title in the header typed in all cap. The paper title may not exactly match the title page. On the page runner, the title cannot exceed 50 characters, including spaces so it is frequently a shortened version of the official title.

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