• The Complete Guide to APA Format in 2020
  • Headings and Subheadings
  • Discussion Section
  • Websites and Online Sources
  • Journals and Periodicals
  • Other Print Sources
  • Other Non-Print Sources
  • In-text Citations
  • Footnotes and Endnotes
  • Using MyBib Responsibly
  • Miscellaneous Questions

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APA Format is the official writing style of the American Psychological Association, and is primarily used in subjects such as psychology, education, and the social sciences.

It specifies how to format academic papers and citations for publication in journals, periodicals, and bulletins.

This guide will show you how to prepare and format a document to be fully compliant with APA Format in 2020.

Before You Start Writing...

There are several steps you must take to prepare a new document for APA style before you start writing your paper:

  • Make sure the paper size is 8.5" x 11" (known as 'Letter' in most word processors).
  • Set the margin size to 1" on all sides (2.54cm).
  • Change the line spacing to double-spaced .
  • Add page numbers to the top-right corner of every page.
  • Add a running head to the top-left corner of every page.

We have a pre-made APA style template document you can download to be sure you are ready to start writing. You can download it below:

When your document is ready, proceed to writing the title page .

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APA Style (7th ed.)

  • Cite: Why? When?
  • Book, eBook, Dissertation
  • Article or Report
  • Business Sources
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tools
  • In-Text Citation
  • Format Your Paper

Format Your Paper

Download and use the editable templates for student papers below: .

  • APA 7th ed. Template Document This is an APA format template document in Google Docs. Click on the link -- it will ask for you to make a new copy of the document, which you can save in your own Google Drive with your preferred privacy settings.
  • APA 7th ed. Template Document A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly according to APA 7th edition.
  • APA 7th ed. Annotated Bibliography template A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly for an annotated bibliography.

Or, view the directions for specific sections below:

Order of sections (section 2.17).

  • Title page including Title, Author, University and Department, Class, Instructor, and Date
  • Body (including introduction, literature review or background, discussion, and conclusion)
  • Appendices (including tables & figures)

Margins & Page Numbers (sections 2.22-2.24)

  • 1 inch at top, bottom, and both sides
  • Left aligned paragraphs and leave the right edge ragged (not "right justified")
  • Indent first line of each paragraph 1/2 inch from left margin
  • Use page numbers, including on the title page, 1/2 inch from top and flush with right margin

Text Format (section 2.19)

  • Times New Roman, 12 point
  • Calibri, 11 point
  • Arial, 11 point
  • Lucinda Sans Unicode, 10 point
  • Georgia, 11 point
  • Double-space and align text to the left
  • Use active voice
  • Don't overuse technical jargon
  • No periods after a web address or DOI in the References list.

Tables and Figures In-Text (chapter 7)

  • Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1)
  • Give each table column a heading and use separating lines only when necessary
  • Design the table and figure so that it can be understood on its own, i.e. it does not require reference to the surrounding text to understand it
  • Notes go below tables and figures

Title Page (section 2.3)

  • Include the title, your name,  the class name , and  the college's name
  • Title should be 12 words or less and summarize the paper's main idea
  • No periods or abbreviations
  • Do not italicize or underline
  • No quotation marks, all capital letters, or bold
  • Center horizontally in upper half of the page

Body (section 2.11)

  • Align the text to the left with a 1/2-inch left indent on the first line
  • Double-space
  • As long as there is no Abstract, at the top of the first page, type the title of the paper, centered, in bold , and in Sentence Case Capitalization
  • Usually, include sections like these:  introduction, literature review or background,  discussion, and conclusion -- but the specific organization will depend on the paper type
  • Spell out long organization names and add the abbreviation in parenthesis, then just use the abbreviation
  • Spell out numbers one through nine and use a number for 10 or more
  • Use a number for units of measurement, in tables, to represent statistical or math functions, and dates or times

Headings (section 2.26-2.27)

  • Level 1: Center, bold , Title Case 
  • Level 2: Align left, bold , Title Case
  • Level 3: Alight left, bold italics , Title Case
  • Level 4: Indented 1/2", bold , Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text. 
  • Level 5: Indented 1/2", bold italics , Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text. 

an illustration of the headings -- same detail as is given directly above this image

Quotations (sections 8.26-8.33)

  • Include short quotations (40 words or less) in-text with quotation marks
  • For quotes more than 40 words, indent the entire quote a half inch from the left margin and double-space it with no quotation marks
  • When quoting two or more paragraphs from an original source, indent the first line of each paragraph a half inch from the left margin
  • Use ellipsis (...) when omitting sections from a quote and use four periods (....) if omitting the end section of a quote

References (section 2.12)

Begins on a new page following the text of your paper and includes complete citations for the resources you've used in your writing.

  • References should be centered and bolded at the top of a new page
  • Double-space and use hanging indents (where the first line is on the left margin and the following lines are indented a half inch from the left)
  • List authors' last name first followed by the first and middle initials (ex. Skinner, B. F.)
  • Alphabetize the list by the first author's last name of of each citation (see sections 9.44-9.49)
  • Capitalize only the first word, the first after a colon or em dash, and proper nouns
  • Don't capitalize the second word of a hyphenated compound
  • No quotation marks around titles of articles

Appendices with Tables, Figures, & Illustrations (section 2.14, and chapter 7)

  • Include appendices only to help the reader understand, evaluate, or replicate the study or argument
  • Put each appendix on a separate page and align left
  • For text, do not indent the first paragraph, but do indent the rest
  • If you have only one appendix, label it "Appendix"
  • If you have two or more appendices, label them "Appendix A", "Appendix B" and so forth as they appear in the body of your paper
  • Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1, or Table B1 and Table B2 if Appendix B has two tables) and describe them within the text of the appendix
  • Notes go below tables and figures (see samples on p. 210-226)

Annotated Bibliography

Double-space the entire bibliography. give each entry a hanging indent. in the following annotation, indent the entire paragraph a half inch from the left margin and give the first line of each paragraph a half inch indent. see the template document at the top of this page..

  • Check with your professor for the length of the annotation and which elements you should evaluate.

These elements are optional, if your professor or field requires them, but they are  not required for student papers: 

Abstract (section 2.9).

  • Abstract gets its own page
  • Center "Abstract" heading and do not indent the first line of the text
  • Summarize the main points and purpose of the paper in 150-250 words maximum
  • Define abbreviations and acronyms used in the paper

Running Head (section 2.8 )

  • Shorten title to 50 characters or less (counting spaces and punctuation) for the running head
  • In the top margin, the running head is aligned left, with the page number aligned on the right
  • On every page, put (without the brackets): [SHORTENED TITLE OF YOUR PAPER IN ALL CAPS] [page number] 

More questions? Check out the authoritative source: APA style blog

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  • Last Updated: May 21, 2024 11:32 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.uww.edu/apa

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:

Proper tone.

  • Reducing bias and labels
  • Abbreviation do’s and don’ts
  • Punctuation
  • Number rules

Citing Your Sources:

  • Citing Sources
  • In-text Citations
  • Reference Page

Proofing Your Paper:

  • Final checklist
  • Submitting your project

APA Information:

  • 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

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.

Literature reviews

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.

Theoretical articles

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.

Methodological articles

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

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.

apa format in research

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.

APA format running head

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:

apa format in research

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:

Example APA abstract

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:

example APA paper body

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:

example apa format professional paper body

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:

example apa format 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:

example apa format 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:

  • Photographs
  • 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:

example apa format 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:

  • custom-built
  • 12-year-old

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
  • 6-month-olds

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!

apa format in research

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
  • Neuroscience

What are social sciences? Social sciences focus on one specific aspect of human behavior, specifically social and cultural relationships. Social sciences can include:

  • Anthropology
  • Political Science
  • Human Geography
  • Archaeology
  • Linguistics

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
  • 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

apa format

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

APA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • Multiple Authors
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Parenthetical Citations
  • Sample Paper
  • View APA Guide

Citation Examples

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

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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

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APA Style 7th Edition: Citing Your Sources

Apa 7th edition, what is the purpose, quick links.

  • In Text Quick View
  • Block Quotes
  • Books & eBooks
  • Thesis/Dissertation
  • Audiovisual
  • Conference Presentations
  • Social Media
  • Legal References
  • Reports and Gray Literature
  • Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
  • Additional Resources
  • Reference Page

APA Publications in the Library

Cover Art

This guide pertains to the 7th edition of the APA Manual.

This guide is designed to support the citation and reference needs of USC students, staff, and faculty.  The 7th edition of the manual does make distinctions between formatting certain components for academic use over publication.  This guide will distinguish student/academic formatting where applicable. 

This guide is designed as a "quick" reference to common APA citation, reference and formatting criteria.  When in doubt, we encourage users to consult with the APA publication manual or APA website for further clarification as the authority on formatting.

Attribution for guide: Adapted from American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed).  https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

What is the purpose of citations?

Citations help readers locate your sources. They help to continue the scholarly conversation. To learn more about how citations can help you avoid plagiarism, view this interactive tutorial: 

USC Library Lessons: Avoiding Plagiarism through Citations

When considering citations and references for your papers, you can ask yourself, "could someone find this information in the future?"

A client's personal file would not need a citation because your reader cannot go find that information again.  Census statistics would require a citation because your reader could go locate that information again.

APA requires FOUR ELEMENTS of every citation:

  • Who- Author of content
  • When- Date content was published
  • What- Title of content
  • Where- Publication information. This can be the website you got it from or the journal or book's publication information.

If any of the elements listed above are unavailable, check out "Missing Reference Information" from APA for more information.

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  • APA Style Website As part of our Style and Grammar Guidelines, we explain the basics of paper format, grammar, punctuation, in-text citations, references, bias-free language, and more. Much of what you used to find on the sixth edition blog, you can now find on the APA Style website.
  • Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper by Robert V. Labaree Last Updated May 15, 2024 675233 views this year
  • Owl Purdue 7th Edition Style Guide and Formatting Writing guide from Owl Purdue covering the 7th edition of the APA Manual
  • Quick Reference Guide Quick guide on how to identify components to configure a reference for Journal article, book, and chapter from an edited book.
  • Annotated Sample Student Paper Sample student paper with formatting annotations.
  • Sample student paper
  • Annotated Sample Professional Paper Sample professional paper with formatting annotations
  • Sample professional paper
  • USC Libraries APA Style Quick Guide
  • Next: In Text Citations >>
  • Last Updated: Apr 22, 2024 9:37 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.usc.edu/APA7th

How to Write an APA Research Paper

Psychology/neuroscience 201, v iew in pdf format.

An APA-style paper includes the following sections: title page, abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references. Your paper may also include one or more tables and/or figures. Different types of information about your study are addressed in each of the sections, as described below.

General formatting rules are as follows:

Do not put page breaks in between the introduction, method, results, and discussion sections.

The title page, abstract, references, table(s), and figure(s) should be on their own pages. The entire paper should be written in the past tense, in a 12-point font, double-spaced, and with one-inch margins all around.

(see sample on p. 41 of APA manual)

  • Title should be between 10-12 words and should reflect content of paper (e.g., IV and DV).
  • Title, your name, and Hamilton College are all double-spaced (no extra spaces)
  • Create a page header using the “View header” function in MS Word. On the title page, the header should include the following: Flush left: Running head: THE RUNNING HEAD SHOULD BE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. The running head is a short title that appears at the top of pages of published articles. It should not exceed 50 characters, including punctuation and spacing. (Note: on the title page, you actually write the words “Running head,” but these words do not appear on subsequent pages; just the actual running head does. If you make a section break between the title page and the rest of the paper you can make the header different for those two parts of the manuscript). Flush right, on same line: page number. Use the toolbox to insert a page number, so it will automatically number each page.

Abstract (labeled, centered, not bold)

No more than 120 words, one paragraph, block format (i.e., don’t indent), double-spaced.

  • State topic, preferably in one sentence. Provide overview of method, results, and discussion.


(Do not label as “Introduction.” Title of paper goes at the top of the page—not bold)

The introduction of an APA-style paper is the most difficult to write. A good introduction will summarize, integrate, and critically evaluate the empirical knowledge in the relevant area(s) in a way that sets the stage for your study and why you conducted it. The introduction starts out broad (but not too broad!) and gets more focused toward the end. Here are some guidelines for constructing a good introduction:

  • Don’t put your readers to sleep by beginning your paper with the time-worn sentence, “Past research has shown (blah blah blah)” They’ll be snoring within a paragraph!  Try to draw your reader in by saying something interesting or thought-provoking right off the bat.  Take a look at articles you’ve read. Which ones captured your attention right away? How did the authors accomplish this task? Which ones didn’t?  Why not?  See if you can use articles you liked as a model. One way to begin (but not the only way) is to provide an example or anecdote illustrative of your topic area.
  • Although you won’t go into the details of your study and hypotheses until the end of the intro, you should foreshadow your study a bit at the end of the first paragraph by stating your purpose briefly, to give your reader a schema for all the information you will present next.
  • Your intro should be a logical flow of ideas that leads up to your hypothesis. Try to organize it in terms of the ideas rather than who did what when. In other words, your intro shouldn’t read like a story of “Schmirdley did such-and-such in 1991. Then Gurglehoff did something-or-other in 1993.  Then....(etc.)” First, brainstorm all of the ideas you think are necessary to include in your paper. Next, decide which ideas make sense to present first, second, third, and so forth, and think about how you want to transition between ideas. When an idea is complex, don’t be afraid to use a real-life example to clarify it for your reader. The introduction will end with a brief overview of your study and, finally, your specific hypotheses. The hypotheses should flow logically out of everything that’s been presented, so that the reader has the sense of, “Of course. This hypothesis makes complete sense, given all the other research that was presented.”
  • When incorporating references into your intro, you do not necessarily need to describe every single study in complete detail, particularly if different studies use similar methodologies. Certainly you want to summarize briefly key articles, though, and point out differences in methods or findings of relevant studies when necessary. Don’t make one mistake typical of a novice APA-paper writer by stating overtly why you’re including a particular article (e.g., “This article is relevant to my study because…”). It should be obvious to the reader why you’re including a reference without your explicitly saying so.  DO NOT quote from the articles, instead paraphrase by putting the information in your own words.
  • Be careful about citing your sources (see APA manual). Make sure there is a one-to-one correspondence between the articles you’ve cited in your intro and the articles listed in your reference section.
  • Remember that your audience is the broader scientific community, not the other students in your class or your professor.  Therefore, you should assume they have a basic understanding of psychology, but you need to provide them with the complete information necessary for them to understand the research you are presenting.

Method (labeled, centered, bold)

The Method section of an APA-style paper is the most straightforward to write, but requires precision. Your goal is to describe the details of your study in such a way that another researcher could duplicate your methods exactly.

The Method section typically includes Participants, Materials and/or Apparatus, and Procedure sections. If the design is particularly complicated (multiple IVs in a factorial experiment, for example), you might also include a separate Design subsection or have a “Design and Procedure” section.

Note that in some studies (e.g., questionnaire studies in which there are many measures to describe but the procedure is brief), it may be more useful to present the Procedure section prior to the Materials section rather than after it.

Participants (labeled, flush left, bold)

Total number of participants (# women, # men), age range, mean and SD for age, racial/ethnic composition (if applicable), population type (e.g., college students). Remember to write numbers out when they begin a sentence.

  • How were the participants recruited? (Don’t say “randomly” if it wasn’t random!) Were they compensated for their time in any way? (e.g., money, extra credit points)
  • Write for a broad audience. Thus, do not write, “Students in Psych. 280...” Rather, write (for instance), “Students in a psychological statistics and research methods course at a small liberal arts college….”
  • Try to avoid short, choppy sentences. Combine information into a longer sentence when possible.

Materials (labeled, flush left, bold)

Carefully describe any stimuli, questionnaires, and so forth. It is unnecessary to mention things such as the paper and pencil used to record the responses, the data recording sheet, the computer that ran the data analysis, the color of the computer, and so forth.

  • If you included a questionnaire, you should describe it in detail. For instance, note how many items were on the questionnaire, what the response format was (e.g., a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree)), how many items were reverse-scored, whether the measure had subscales, and so forth. Provide a sample item or two for your reader.
  • If you have created a new instrument, you should attach it as an Appendix.
  • If you presented participants with various word lists to remember or stimuli to judge, you should describe those in detail here. Use subheadings to separate different types of stimuli if needed.  If you are only describing questionnaires, you may call this section “Measures.”

Apparatus (labeled, flush left, bold)

Include an apparatus section if you used specialized equipment for your study (e.g., the eye tracking machine) and need to describe it in detail.

Procedure (labeled, flush left, bold)

What did participants do, and in what order? When you list a control variable (e.g., “Participants all sat two feet from the experimenter.”), explain WHY you did what you did.  In other words, what nuisance variable were you controlling for? Your procedure should be as brief and concise as possible. Read through it. Did you repeat yourself anywhere? If so, how can you rearrange things to avoid redundancy? You may either write the instructions to the participants verbatim or paraphrase, whichever you deem more appropriate. Don’t forget to include brief statements about informed consent and debriefing.

Results (labeled, centered, bold)

In this section, describe how you analyzed the data and what you found. If your data analyses were complex, feel free to break this section down into labeled subsections, perhaps one section for each hypothesis.

  • Include a section for descriptive statistics
  • List what type of analysis or test you conducted to test each hypothesis.
  • Refer to your Statistics textbook for the proper way to report results in APA style. A t-test, for example, is reported in the following format: t (18) = 3.57, p < .001, where 18 is the number of degrees of freedom (N – 2 for an independent-groups t test). For a correlation: r (32) = -.52, p < .001, where 32 is the number of degrees of freedom (N – 2 for a correlation). For a one-way ANOVA: F (2, 18) = 7.00, p < .001, where 2 represents the between and 18 represents df within Remember that if a finding has a p value greater than .05, it is “nonsignificant,” not “insignificant.” For nonsignificant findings, still provide the exact p values. For correlations, be sure to report the r 2 value as an assessment of the strength of the finding, to show what proportion of variability is shared by the two variables you’re correlating. For t- tests and ANOVAs, report eta 2 .
  • Report exact p values to two or three decimal places (e.g., p = .042; see p. 114 of APA manual).  However, for p-values less than .001, simply put p < .001.
  • Following the presentation of all the statistics and numbers, be sure to state the nature of your finding(s) in words and whether or not they support your hypothesis (e.g., “As predicted …”). This information can typically be presented in a sentence or two following the numbers (within the same paragraph). Also, be sure to include the relevant means and SDs.
  • It may be useful to include a table or figure to represent your results visually. Be sure to refer to these in your paper (e.g., “As illustrated in Figure 1…”). Remember that you may present a set of findings either as a table or as a figure, but not as both. Make sure that your text is not redundant with your tables/figures. For instance, if you present a table of means and standard deviations, you do not need to also report these in the text. However, if you use a figure to represent your results, you may wish to report means and standard deviations in the text, as these may not always be precisely ascertained by examining the figure. Do describe the trends shown in the figure.
  • Do not spend any time interpreting or explaining the results; save that for the Discussion section.

Discussion (labeled, centered, bold)

The goal of the discussion section is to interpret your findings and place them in the broader context of the literature in the area. A discussion section is like the reverse of the introduction, in that you begin with the specifics and work toward the more general (funnel out). Some points to consider:

  • Begin with a brief restatement of your main findings (using words, not numbers). Did they support the hypothesis or not? If not, why not, do you think? Were there any surprising or interesting findings? How do your findings tie into the existing literature on the topic, or extend previous research? What do the results say about the broader behavior under investigation? Bring back some of the literature you discussed in the Introduction, and show how your results fit in (or don’t fit in, as the case may be). If you have surprising findings, you might discuss other theories that can help to explain the findings. Begin with the assumption that your results are valid, and explain why they might differ from others in the literature.
  • What are the limitations of the study? If your findings differ from those of other researchers, or if you did not get statistically significant results, don’t spend pages and pages detailing what might have gone wrong with your study, but do provide one or two suggestions. Perhaps these could be incorporated into the future research section, below.
  • What additional questions were generated from this study? What further research should be conducted on the topic? What gaps are there in the current body of research? Whenever you present an idea for a future research study, be sure to explain why you think that particular study should be conducted. What new knowledge would be gained from it?  Don’t just say, “I think it would be interesting to re-run the study on a different college campus” or “It would be better to run the study again with more participants.” Really put some thought into what extensions of the research might be interesting/informative, and why.
  • What are the theoretical and/or practical implications of your findings? How do these results relate to larger issues of human thoughts, feelings, and behavior? Give your readers “the big picture.” Try to answer the question, “So what?

Final paragraph: Be sure to sum up your paper with a final concluding statement. Don’t just trail off with an idea for a future study. End on a positive note by reminding your reader why your study was important and what it added to the literature.

References (labeled, centered, not bold)

Provide an alphabetical listing of the references (alphabetize by last name of first author). Double-space all, with no extra spaces between references. The second line of each reference should be indented (this is called a hanging indent and is easily accomplished using the ruler in Microsoft Word). See the APA manual for how to format references correctly.

Examples of references to journal articles start on p. 198 of the manual, and examples of references to books and book chapters start on pp. 202. Digital object identifiers (DOIs) are now included for electronic sources (see pp. 187-192 of APA manual to learn more).

Journal article example: [Note that only the first letter of the first word of the article title is capitalized; the journal name and volume are italicized. If the journal name had multiple words, each of the major words would be capitalized.] 

Ebner-Priemer, U. W., & Trull, T. J. (2009). Ecological momentary assessment of mood disorders and mood dysregulation. Psychological Assessment, 21, 463-475. doi:10.1037/a0017075

Book chapter example: [Note that only the first letter of the first word of both the chapter title and book title are capitalized.]

Stephan, W. G. (1985). Intergroup relations. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (3 rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 599-658). New York: Random House.

Book example: Gray, P. (2010). Psychology (6 th ed.). New York: Worth

Table There are various formats for tables, depending upon the information you wish to include. See the APA manual. Be sure to provide a table number and table title (the latter is italicized). Tables can be single or double-spaced.

Figure If you have more than one figure, each one gets its own page. Use a sans serif font, such as Helvetica, for any text within your figure. Be sure to label your x- and y-axes clearly, and make sure you’ve noted the units of measurement of the DV. Underneath the figure provide a label and brief caption (e.g., “Figure 1. Mean evaluation of job applicant qualifications as a function of applicant attractiveness level”). The figure caption typically includes the IVs/predictor variables and the DV. Include error bars in your bar graphs, and note what the bars represent in the figure caption: Error bars represent one standard error above and below the mean.

In-Text Citations: (see pp. 174-179 of APA manual) When citing sources in your paper, you need to include the authors’ names and publication date.

You should use the following formats:

  • When including the citation as part of the sentence, use AND: “According to Jones and Smith (2003), the…”
  • When the citation appears in parentheses, use “&”: “Studies have shown that priming can affect actual motor behavior (Jones & Smith, 2003; Klein, Bailey, & Hammer, 1999).” The studies appearing in parentheses should be ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name, and should be separated by semicolons.
  • If you are quoting directly (which you should avoid), you also need to include the page number.
  • For sources with three or more authors, once you have listed all the authors’ names, you may write “et al.” on subsequent mentions. For example: “Klein et al. (1999) found that….” For sources with two authors, both authors must be included every time the source is cited. When a source has six or more authors, the first author’s last name and “et al.” are used every time the source is cited (including the first time). 

Secondary Sources

“Secondary source” is the term used to describe material that is cited in another source. If in his article entitled “Behavioral Study of Obedience” (1963), Stanley Milgram makes reference to the ideas of Snow (presented above), Snow (1961) is the primary source, and Milgram (1963) is the secondary source.

Try to avoid using secondary sources in your papers; in other words, try to find the primary source and read it before citing it in your own work. If you must use a secondary source, however, you should cite it in the following way:

Snow (as cited in Milgram, 1963) argued that, historically, the cause of most criminal acts... The reference for the Milgram article (but not the Snow reference) should then appear in the reference list at the end of your paper.

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apa format in research

The APA format is a widely used style for writing academic papers, developed by the American Psychological Association. It provides guidelines for formatting documents , citing sources, and structuring content. APA format is commonly used in the social sciences, education, and psychology. Key features include in-text citations , a reference list, and specific rules for headings, margins, and font. It ensures clarity and uniformity in scholarly writing.

What is APA Format?

APA format is a writing style and format for academic documents such as scholarly journal articles and books. It is commonly used for citing sources within the field of social sciences. The APA guidelines include specifics on structure, formatting, in-text citations, and references, ensuring a uniform presentation and citation style.

APA Format Examples

Book citation.

  • Format: Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Year.
  • Example: Smith, John. The Art of Writing . Penguin Books, 2020.

Journal Article Citation

  • Format: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, vol. number, no. number, Year, pages.
  • Example : Doe, Jane. “Exploring Modern Literature.” Journal of Contemporary Writing , vol. 5, no. 2, 2019, pp. 34-56.

Website Citation

  • Format : Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Web Page.” Title of Website, Publisher, Date Published, URL. Accessed Date.
  • Example: Brown, Lisa. “Climate Change Facts.” Environment Today , Green Earth, 22 Apr. 2020, www.environmenttoday.org/climate-change-facts . Accessed 18 May 2024.

Edited Book

  • Format: Editor’s Last Name, First Name, editor. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Year.
  • Example: Lee, Susan, editor. Art in the 21st Century . Creative Press, 2018.

Book Chapter Citation

  • Format: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Chapter.” Title of Book, edited by Editor’s First Name Last Name, Publisher, Year, pages.
  • Example: Adams, Michael. “Modern Art Techniques.” Art in the 21st Century , edited by Susan Lee, Creative Press, 2018, pp. 45-67.

Conference Paper

  • Format: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Paper.” Title of Conference Proceedings, edited by Editor’s First Name Last Name, Publisher, Year, pages.
  • Example: Johnson, Emily. “Advances in Renewable Energy.” Proceedings of the International Conference on Renewable Energy , edited by Mark Green, Energy Press, 2022, pp. 123-134.


  • Format: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Dissertation/Thesis.” Degree, Institution, Year.
  • Example: Miller, Sarah. “The Impact of Climate Change on Coastal Erosion.” PhD dissertation, University of California, 2021.

Newspaper Article

  • Format: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper , Date, pages.
  • Example: Johnson, Mark. “New Tech Innovations.” The Daily Times , 15 Mar. 2021, p. A1.

Magazine Article

  • Format: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Magazine , Date, pages.
  • Example: Taylor, Jessica. “The Future of Space Travel.” Science Monthly , June 2020, pp. 56-63.
  • Format: Author’s Last Name, First Name or Username. “Title of Post.” Title of Blog, Blog Network/Publisher, Date Posted, URL. Accessed Date.
  • Example: Green, Sarah. “How to Plant a Garden.” Gardening Tips , Green Earth Network, 10 June 2021, www.greenearthnetwork.org/gardening-tips/how-to-plant-a-garden . Accessed 18 May 2024.

When to use APA Format

APA format is primarily used in academic writing within the social sciences. Here are specific instances when APA format should be used:

  • Psychology Papers : Research articles, literature reviews, and case studies.
  • Education Research : Studies on educational methods, learning theories, and classroom practices.
  • Social Sciences : Sociology, anthropology, and political science papers.
  • Business : Articles on management, marketing, and organizational behavior.
  • Nursing and Health Sciences : Research on patient care, health policies, and medical studies.
  • Criminology : Papers on criminal behavior, justice system studies, and forensic psychology.
  • Communications : Studies on media, journalism, and communication theories.

Why Use APA Format?

  • Consistency : Ensures uniformity in citation and formatting across documents.
  • Credibility : Proper citations give credit to original authors, enhancing the paper’s credibility.
  • Clarity : Structured format helps readers follow the argument and locate sources.
  • Professionalism : Presents work in a polished and scholarly manner.

General APA Format Guidelines

When writing a paper in APA format, adhering to specific guidelines ensures clarity, consistency, and professionalism. Here are the key components:

1. General Document Guidelines

  • Font : Use a readable font such as 12-pt Times New Roman, 11-pt Arial, or 11-pt Calibri.
  • Margins : Set 1-inch margins on all sides of the document.
  • Line Spacing : Double-space all text, including the abstract, body, and references.
  • Indentation : Indent the first line of every paragraph by 0.5 inches.

2. Title Page

  • Title : Centered, bold, and in title case (capitalize major words).
  • Author’s Name : Centered, below the title.
  • Institutional Affiliation : Centered, below the author’s name.
  • Course Number and Name : Centered, below the institutional affiliation.
  • Instructor’s Name : Centered, below the course number and name.
  • Due Date : Centered, below the instructor’s name.

3. Abstract

  • Start on a new page.
  • Center the word “Abstract” (bold) at the top.
  • Write a concise summary of the key points of your paper (150-250 words).
  • Do not indent the first line of the abstract.

4. Main Body

  • Level 1: Centered, bold, title case (e.g., “Methods”).
  • Level 2: Left-aligned, bold, title case (e.g., “Participants”).
  • Level 3: Left-aligned, bold, italic, title case.
  • Level 4: Indented, bold, title case, ends with a period.
  • Level 5: Indented, bold, italic, title case, ends with a period.
  • In-Text Citations : Use the author-date method (e.g., Smith, 2020). For direct quotes, include the page number (e.g., Smith, 2020, p. 23).

5. References Page

  • Center the word “References” (bold) at the top.
  • Use a hanging indent for each reference (first line flush left, subsequent lines indented 0.5 inches).
  • List all sources alphabetically by the author’s last name.

6. Running Head and Page Numbers

  • Include a running head on every page (a shortened version of the title, all in uppercase) aligned to the left.
  • Page numbers aligned to the right.

Full Sample Paper in APA Format:

Running Head and Title Page

Running head: UNDERSTANDING PSYCHOLOGY 1 Understanding Psychology: A Guide for Students John A. Smith University of Academic Studies PSY 101: Introduction to Psychology Professor Jane Doe May 15, 2024
This paper explores the fundamental principles of psychology, examining key theories and research findings in the field. It discusses cognitive development, behavioral analysis, and the impact of social media on mental health. The aim is to provide a comprehensive understanding of psychology’s role in everyday life and its applications in various professional contexts. Future research directions and practical implications are also considered. Keywords: psychology, cognitive development, behavioral analysis, mental health
Understanding Psychology: A Guide for Students Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior. It encompasses a wide range of topics, including cognitive development, behavioral analysis, and mental health. This paper aims to provide an overview of these key areas and their implications for everyday life. Cognitive Development Cognitive development refers to the progression of thinking, problem-solving, and information processing abilities. Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is one of the most influential theories in this field. Piaget proposed that children progress through four stages of cognitive development: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational (Smith, 2020). Behavioral Analysis Behavioral analysis focuses on the study of observable behaviors and the environmental factors that influence them. B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning theory is a cornerstone of behavioral analysis. According to Skinner, behavior is shaped by positive and negative reinforcements (Johnson, 2019). Understanding these principles can help in modifying behaviors in various settings, including education and therapy. The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health The rise of social media has significant implications for mental health. Studies have shown that excessive use of social media can lead to issues such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Johnson (2019) found that individuals who spend more than three hours per day on social media are more likely to experience mental health problems. Future Directions and Practical Implications Future research should explore the long-term effects of social media on mental health and develop interventions to mitigate negative impacts. Practical applications of psychological principles can improve educational practices, enhance workplace productivity, and promote overall well-being. Conclusion In summary, psychology provides valuable insights into human behavior and mental processes. By understanding cognitive development, behavioral analysis, and the impact of social media on mental health, we can apply psychological principles to enhance various aspects of life. Continued research and practical applications will further advance the field and its contributions to society.

References Page

References Brown, R. (2018). Cognitive development in children. In M. Green (Ed.), Child Psychology Today (pp. 45-67). Educational Press. Doe, J. (2021, March 15). How to study effectively. Learning Hub. https://www.learninghub.com/study-tips Johnson, L. M. (2019). The impact of social media on mental health. Journal of Social Research, 45(2), 123-134. Smith, J. A. (2020). Understanding psychology: A guide for students. Academic Press. Taylor, K. R. (2016). The effects of sleep on academic performance (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (UMI No. 1234567)

APA Format Title Page

The title page in APA format should include the title of the paper, the author’s name, institutional affiliation, course number and name, instructor’s name, and the due date. Here’s how to set it up:

Detailed Guidelines for Each Element:

  • Include a shortened version of your paper’s title (no more than 50 characters, including spaces).
  • Align it to the left margin.
  • Precede it with the words “Running head:” (for student papers, “Running head:” is omitted).
  • Insert the page number in the header, aligned to the right margin.
  • Place the title three to four lines down from the top of the page.
  • Center the title.
  • Use bold font.
  • Capitalize major words (Title Case).
  • Centered, below the title.
  • Include your full name (first name, middle initial(s), and last name).
  • Centered, below the author’s name.
  • Name of the institution where the work was conducted.
  • Centered, below the institutional affiliation.
  • Include the course number and full course name.
  • Centered, below the course number and name.
  • Include the full name of the instructor.
  • Centered, below the instructor’s name.
  • Format the date as Month Day, Year (e.g., May 15, 2024).

Visual Layout:

Apa format abstract.

An abstract in APA format provides a concise summary of the key points of your research paper. It should include the main topic, research questions, methods, results, and conclusions. The abstract is typically 150-250 words long and is placed on a separate page immediately after the title page.

Guidelines for the Abstract:

  • Center the word “Abstract” at the top of the page. Use bold font.
  • Begin the abstract text on the next line, without indentation.
  • Write a single paragraph in block format (i.e., do not indent the first line).
  • Summarize the main topic, research questions, methods, results, and conclusions of your paper.
  • After the abstract, you can include a list of keywords to help others find your work in databases.
  • Indent and italicize the word “Keywords:” followed by a list of keywords separated by commas.

Example of an APA Format Abstract:

Abstract This paper explores the fundamental principles of psychology, examining key theories and research findings in the field. It discusses cognitive development, behavioral analysis, and the impact of social media on mental health. The aim is to provide a comprehensive understanding of psychology’s role in everyday life and its applications in various professional contexts. Future research directions and practical implications are also considered. Keywords: psychology, cognitive development, behavioral analysis, mental health

Tables in APA Format

Tables in APA format are used to present quantitative data, making it easier for readers to understand complex information at a glance. Here are the key guidelines for creating tables in APA format:

General Guidelines:

  • Label and Title : Place the table label (e.g., “Table 1”) above the table, in bold, and flush left. Below the label, provide a brief but descriptive title in italics and title case.
  • Table Number : Each table should have a unique number, assigned in the order they are first mentioned in the text.
  • Headings : Include clear, concise headings for each column, including a heading for the first column (stub column).
  • Body : Present the data in the body of the table in a clear and organized manner.
  • Notes : Provide notes below the table as needed, including explanations of abbreviations, symbols, and any additional information necessary to understand the table.


  • Font : Use the same font as the rest of your paper (e.g., 12-pt Times New Roman).
  • Spacing : Tables can be single- or double-spaced, but consistency throughout the document is key.
  • Borders : Only horizontal lines should be used to separate information and clarify the structure.

Example Table:

Below is an example of how to format a table in APA style.

Note. N = Number of participants.

Reference Pages in APA Format

The references page in APA format provides a detailed list of all the sources cited in your paper. It is placed at the end of your document and should follow specific guidelines to ensure consistency and proper citation. Here’s a comprehensive guide:

  • Title : Center the word “References” at the top of the page. Use bold font.
  • Spacing : Double-space all entries.
  • Alphabetical Order : List references alphabetically by the author’s last name.
  • Hanging Indent : Use a hanging indent for each reference (the first line is flush left, and subsequent lines are indented 0.5 inches).

Example References Page:

References Brown, R. (2018). Cognitive development in children. In M. Green (Ed.), Child Psychology Today (pp. 45-67). Educational Press. Clark, D. (2020, November 5). Innovations in technology. Tech World, 15(4), 58-62. Davis, P. K. (Ed.). (2020). Modern theories of learning. Knowledge Press. Doe, J. (2021, March 15). How to study effectively. Learning Hub. https://www.learninghub.com/study-tips Green, M. (2018, June 10). The rise of online education. The Daily Times, pp. A1, A4. Johnson, L. M. (2019). The impact of social media on mental health. Journal of Social Research, 45(2), 123-134. Lee, S. T. (2017, April). Advances in behavioral science. In G. H. Collins (Chair), Annual Conference on Behavioral Research. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the National Behavioral Association, Chicago, IL. Nelson, B. (2021, January 10). How to manage time effectively. Time Management Blog. https://www.timemanagementblog.com/effective-tips Smith, J. A. (2020). Understanding psychology: A guide for students. Academic Press. Taylor, K. R. (2016). The effects of sleep on academic performance (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (UMI No. 1234567)

APA format in-text citation

In-text citations in APA format are used to give credit to the sources you use within the body of your paper. They are brief references that direct readers to the full citation in your reference list. Here’s a guide on how to format in-text citations in APA style:

  • Author-Date Method : APA uses the author-date method for in-text citations.
  • Parenthetical Citation : Includes the author’s last name and the year of publication, separated by a comma.
  • Narrative Citation : Includes the author’s name in the text and the year of publication in parentheses.
  • Page Number for Direct Quotes : When quoting directly, include the page number(s).
  • Parenthetical : (Smith, 2020)
  • Narrative : Smith (2020)
  • Two Authors
  • Parenthetical : (Johnson & Lee, 2019)
  • Narrative : Johnson and Lee (2019)
  • Three or More Authors
  • Parenthetical : (Brown et al., 2018)
  • Narrative : Brown et al. (2018)
  • Direct Quote
  • Parenthetical : (Doe, 2021, p. 15)
  • Narrative : Doe (2021) stated, “…” (p. 15).
  • Organization as Author
  • Parenthetical : (American Psychological Association, 2020)
  • Narrative : American Psychological Association (2020)

APA Format Example in Research

Below is an example of how to format a research paper using APA guidelines. This includes the title page, abstract, in-text citations, and references.


Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

University of Example

This study examines the relationship between social media usage and mental health among adolescents. Using a sample of 500 high school students, the study found a significant correlation between high social media use and increased levels of anxiety and depression. The implications of these findings suggest the need for awareness and interventions to mitigate the negative impacts of social media on young people’s mental health.

Keywords: social media, mental health, adolescents, anxiety, depression


Social media has become an integral part of modern life, particularly among adolescents. While it offers numerous benefits, such as connecting with peers and accessing information, concerns have arisen regarding its impact on mental health. This study aims to explore the effects of social media usage on mental health among high school students.


The study involved 500 high school students aged 14-18 from various schools in the metropolitan area.

Participants completed an online survey assessing their social media usage and mental health status. The survey included questions about the frequency and duration of social media use, as well as standardized measures of anxiety and depression.

The analysis revealed a significant positive correlation between high social media usage and increased levels of anxiety (r = .45, p < .01) and depression (r = .50, p < .01).

The findings indicate that excessive social media use is associated with negative mental health outcomes among adolescents. These results underscore the need for interventions aimed at reducing the adverse effects of social media on young people’s well-being.

In conclusion, this study highlights the importance of addressing the mental health implications of social media use among adolescents. Further research is needed to develop effective strategies for mitigating these negative impacts.

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). American Psychological Association.

Chou, H. T. G., & Edge, N. (2012). “They are happier and having better lives than I am”: The impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others’ lives. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(2), 117-121. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2011.0324

Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2018). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive Medicine Reports, 12, 271-283. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.10.003

What is APA format?

APA format is a style guide used for academic writing in the social sciences, providing guidelines for formatting, in-text citations, and references.

How do you cite a book in APA format?

Include the author’s name, year of publication, title in italics, and publisher: Author, A. A. (Year). Title of work . Publisher.

How do you format in-text citations in APA?

Use the author-date method: (Author’s Last Name, Year). For direct quotes, include the page number: (Author’s Last Name, Year, p. Page Number).

How is the references page formatted?

The references page is double-spaced, with entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, using a hanging indent for each reference.

What font and size are recommended in APA?

Use a readable font such as 12-pt Times New Roman, 11-pt Arial, or 11-pt Calibri.

How do you format a title page in APA?

Include the title, author’s name, institutional affiliation, course number and name, instructor’s name, and due date, centered and double-spaced.

How do you cite a journal article in APA format?

Include the author’s name, year, title of the article, title of the journal in italics, volume number, issue number, and page range: Author, A. A. (Year). Title. Journal Name, Volume (Issue), pages.

How do you format an abstract in APA?

Center the word “Abstract” (bold) at the top. Write a 150-250 word summary without indentation, and include keywords at the end.

How do you cite a website in APA format?

Include the author, date, title of the web page, website name, and URL: Author, A. A. (Year, Month Date). Title of web page. Website Name . URL

How are headings formatted in APA?

Use a five-level heading structure: Level 1: Centered, bold; Level 2: Left-aligned, bold; Level 3: Left-aligned, bold, italic; Level 4: Indented, bold, ends with a period; Level 5: Indented, bold, italic, ends with a period.


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apa format in research

Research Paper Format: Your Ultimate Guide

Research Paper Format

In this article, our research proposal writing service experts will empower you to understand the critical role of formatting in academic writing. You'll explore various types of research papers and tailor your format to the specific demands of your project. Learn how to format a research paper in APA, MLA, ASA, and Chicago styles, and demystify the art of citation in each. Gain insights into crafting a well-structured, impactful paper, and join us as we unlock your research paper's true potential and elevate your academic writing skills to new heights!

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The Basics of Research Paper Formats

Before diving into the intricacies of different paper writing formats, it's essential to establish a clear understanding of what exactly a research paper format entails. In essence, it is a structured set of guidelines and rules that govern the layout, organization, and overall presentation of your scholarly work. It encompasses elements such as font styles, margins, headings, citations, and reference lists.

Why is adhering to a specific research article format so crucial? The answer lies in the very essence of academic writing. Research papers are the means through which scholars and students communicate their ideas, findings, and insights to the academic community and the world at large. Consistency in formatting is paramount because it ensures that your work is presented in a standardized, professional manner. Adhering to a specific format serves multiple purposes:

research paper format basics

  • Clarity and Professionalism: A consistent format enhances the clarity of your paper and presents it in a professional light. It allows readers to focus on the content rather than being distracted by inconsistent styling.
  • Communication: Standardized formatting conventions enable scholars from various disciplines and institutions to understand your research more easily. It's a universal language that transcends academic boundaries.
  • Credibility: Conforming to a recognized format demonstrates your commitment to the academic standards of your field. It establishes credibility and trust among your readers.

Formatting research papers effectively isn't just about aesthetics; it plays a pivotal role in making your research paper more readable and comprehensible. Here's how:

  • Logical Flow: A well-structured format with clear headings and subheadings helps your readers navigate through your paper with ease, following the logical flow of your argument or analysis.
  • Citations and References: Proper citation and referencing, integral parts of formatting, giving due credit to the sources you've used, and lending authority to your research.
  • Consistency: Consistent formatting, from margins to font size and citation style, fosters a sense of order and coherence, making it simpler for your audience to focus on the content.
  • Accessibility: An appropriate format ensures that your research paper is accessible to individuals with diverse reading preferences and needs. It accommodates those who skim, scan, or read in detail.

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How the Choice of Format May Vary Based on the Type of Research Paper?

The type of paper you're working on plays a significant role in determining the most suitable college research paper format. For instance:

  • Argumentative Papers: These often follow formats that highlight the thesis statement, counterarguments, and supporting evidence. In APA or MLA formats, clear citations and references are key.
  • Analytical Papers: These may employ a variety of formats depending on the discipline, but clarity and logical flow are always crucial. APA or MLA can work well, depending on the subject.
  • Empirical Papers: APA format is commonly used for empirical research papers due to its focus on methodology, results, and statistics.
  • Literature Reviews: A literature review might follow APA, MLA, or Chicago styles, depending on the subject area. Consistent citation and referencing are essential.
  • Survey Research Papers: APA or ASA (American Sociological Association) formats are often used for survey research, emphasizing methodology and results.

How to Format a Research Paper in Different Citation Styles?

The art of crafting a research paper layout extends beyond structure and organization; it also encompasses the intricate details of citation styles. Each academic discipline has its preferred citation style, and mastering the nuances of these styles is essential for academic success. In this section, we'll provide you with the knowledge and tools to navigate the intricacies of APA, MLA, ASA, and Chicago formats. Whether you're working on research paper topics in psychology, literature, sociology, or history, understanding how to format your paper is the key to presenting your findings with precision and authority.

types of research paper

APA Research Paper Format

When it comes to academic writing, the American Psychological Association (APA) style is a formidable presence. Widely used in the fields of psychology, education, and the social sciences, mastering the APA research paper format is essential for researchers, scholars, and students. In this section, we'll delve into the core elements of APA formatting, offering insights into everything from title pages to reference lists. Whether you're embarking on a psychology research paper or exploring the intricacies of the social sciences, understanding the APA format is your key to presenting research with clarity and precision. And, should you ever need assistance in crafting a well-structured paper, you can always rely on our expertise and request, ' write my research paper for me'!

How to Cite a Research Paper in APA?

Citing sources in an APA research paper format is essential for acknowledging the work of others and maintaining the credibility of your own research. Let's explore the key aspects of APA citation with concise examples:

In-Text Citations

In APA, in-text citations include the author's last name and the publication year. They can be integrated into your sentence or enclosed in parentheses.

Author's Name in the Sentence:

  • Smith (2018) argued that...
  • According to Smith (2018),...

Author's Name in Parentheses:

  • This theory has been widely accepted (Smith, 2018).
  • The results were inconclusive (Jones & Lee, 2019).
  • When no author is available, use the first few words of the reference list entry and the year: ('Title of Article,' 2020).

Reference List

The reference list, located at the end of your paper, lists all the sources cited. Entries follow a specific format:

  • Author(s): Last name and initials or organization name.
  • Publication Year: Enclosed in parentheses.
  • Title of Work: Italicized with sentence case.
  • Source: Journal, book, or website.
  • DOI or URL: For online sources.
  • Smith, J. R. (2017). The Art of Research. American Psychological Association.

Journal Article:

  • Brown, M., & Davis, S. (2020). Experimental Findings in Neuroscience. Journal of Advanced Research, 32(5), 123-135.

Online Source:

  • Johnson, L. (2019). The Digital Age: A Comprehensive Overview. Retrieved from https://www.examplewebsite.com/digital-age

ASA Research Paper Format

The American Sociological Association (ASA) format serves as the standard in sociology and related disciplines, providing a structured framework for presenting research findings. Whether you're exploring social issues, demographics, or cultural phenomena, understanding the ASA research paper format is pivotal. In this section, we'll introduce you to the key elements of ASA formatting and guide you through the process of citing sources effectively.

How to Cite a Research Paper in ASA?

Citing sources in ASA format follows a specific set of guidelines designed to maintain consistency and clarity in sociological research. Let's delve into ASA citation with clear examples to ensure your research papers align with this discipline's requirements.

ASA in-text citations typically include the author's last name and the publication year, with variations based on whether the author is named in the text or included in parentheses.

  • Johnson (2019) argued that...
  • According to Johnson (2019),...
  • This theory has been widely accepted (Johnson 2019).
  • The results were inconclusive (Smith and Lee 2018).

The ASA reference list, located at the end of your paper, lists all the sources cited. Entries should include:

  • Author(s): Last name, first name.
  • Title of Work: Italicized in title case.
  • Smith, John. 2017. The Art of Research. American Sociological Association.
  • Brown, Mary, and Davis, Susan. 2020. 'Experimental Findings in Sociology.' Journal of Advanced Research 32(5): 123-135.
  • Johnson, Laura. 2019. 'The Digital Age: A Comprehensive Overview.' Retrieved from https://www.examplewebsite.com/digital-age

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MLA Format Research Paper

The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is widely used in the humanities, including literature, language studies, and the arts. Navigating the research paper format MLA is essential for scholars and students in these fields. In this section, we'll provide an overview of the key elements of MLA formatting, guiding you through the process of citing sources accurately.

How to Cite a Research Paper in MLA?

Learning how to write a research paper in MLA format adheres to specific rules to ensure the clarity and consistency of your research papers. Let's delve into MLA citation with illustrative examples:

MLA in-text citations typically include the author's last name and the page number in parentheses. The format can vary based on whether the author's name is included in the sentence or enclosed in parentheses.

  • Smith argued that 'the sky is blue' (25).
  • According to Smith, 'the sky is blue' (25).
  • This theory has been widely accepted (Johnson 42).
  • The results were inconclusive (Smith and Lee 56).

Works Cited Page

The Works Cited page, located at the end of your paper, provides a comprehensive list of all the sources cited. Entries follow a specific format:

  • Title of Work: Italicized with title case.
  • Page Numbers: For print sources.
  • URL: For online sources.
  • Smith, John. The Art of Research. American Literary Press, 2017.
  • Brown, Mary, and Susan Davis. 'Experimental Findings in Literature.' Journal of Advanced Research , vol. 32, no. 5, 2020, pp. 123-135.
  • Johnson, Laura. 'The Digital Age: A Comprehensive Overview.' www.examplewebsite.com/digital-age.

Chicago Style of Citing Research Paper

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is a versatile and widely recognized style guide used across various disciplines, including history, social sciences, and fine arts. Mastery of the Chicago research paper format is a valuable skill for researchers and students in these fields. In this section, we will explore the core elements of Chicago formatting and guide you through the process of accurately citing sources.

How to Cite a Research Paper in Chicago Style?

Chicago citation style offers flexibility, accommodating both notes and bibliography (NB) and author-date (AD) systems. Let's delve into Chicago citation with examples to ensure your research papers adhere to the requirements of your discipline.

In Chicago NB (Notes and Bibliography) format, in-text citations often appear as footnotes or endnotes, while Chicago AD (Author-Date) format employs parenthetical citations. The format can vary based on whether the author's name is included in the sentence or enclosed in parentheses.

Chicago NB Format:

  • Smith argued that 'the sky is blue.' ¹
  • According to Smith, 'the sky is blue.' ²

Chicago AD Format:

  • (Smith 2017, 25)
  • (Smith and Lee 2018, 56)

Bibliography (Chicago NB) or Reference List (Chicago AD)

The Bibliography (for NB) or Reference List (for AD) is located at the end of your paper and lists all the sources cited. Entries follow specific formats:

Book (Chicago NB):

Journal Article (Chicago AD):

  • Brown, Mary, and Susan Davis. 2020. 'Experimental Findings in History.' Journal of Advanced Research 32, no. 5: 123-135.

Online Source (Chicago NB):

In the world of academia, mastering different types of research paper formatting and the art of citation is your passport to success. Whether it's APA, MLA, ASA, or Chicago, each format has its nuances, and understanding them is crucial. With a well-structured outline, clarity in in-text citations, and a meticulously organized reference list, you're poised to navigate the complexities of research paper writing. As you embark on your academic journey, remember that precise formatting and citing not only uphold the integrity of your work work but also enhance your scholarly impact.

Research Paper Topics

APA Citation Practice Quiz


APA style is used by writers to write concise, effective, and scholarly articles. In this APA citation practice quiz, we’ll be taking a look at your knowledge of the style and guidelines. This quiz contains various types of questions ranging from easy, medium, to complex. It will also provide you with valuable explanations for each answer, so you can hopefully learn something on top of testing your prior knowledge! If you like the quiz, don’t forget to share it with your friends and family. Good luck!

Students who owned computers scored 10 points higher than those who did not own computers.

Need to reference

No need to reference

Rate this question:

A new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that nearly half (48%) of all uninsured children have not had a well-child visit in the past year.

The united states of america became a country in 1776., which of the following statements would need to be referenced.

Internet Explorer is a lot of fun because you can find interesting information.

Internet Explorer has a 96% browser market share as of June 2000.

Internet Explorer is created by Microsoft

Bill Gates is the man who founded the company that creates Internet Explorer.

None of the above.

When quoting long sections of material (e.g., of more than 40 words):

Set the quote off with double quotation marks

Indent and use a block format without any quotation marks

Use a single quotation at the beginning and end of the quotation

Use double quotation marks and single spacing

When summarizing or paraphrasing a source, be sure to give:

The authors' names

The year of publication

The page number

All of the above

When citing a direct quotation from a source, be sure to give:

Indicate which is the correct apa in-text citation for the following source: title: role of personality in determining value judgements authors: maxine renee shaw, jonathan l. speaks, kathleen m. neal publication: journal of applied psychology volume no.: 75 date published: 1999 page numbers: 558-577.

(Maxine Renee Shaw, Jonathan L. Speaks, Kathleen M. Neal, p. 12-15)

(Shaw, Maxine Renee, Speaks, Jonathan L., and Neal, Kathleen M., 2005, p. 12-15)

(Shaw, Speaks, and Neal, 2005, p. 12-15)

(Shaw, Speaks, and Neal, 12-15)

To avoid plagiarizing, you should:

Give proper attribution to all sources, and know how to quote correctly

When paraphrasing, rewrite statements completely in your own words

Proofread carefully

Read the new passage and compare it to the original.  Is this appropriate or inappropriate paraphrasing? The original passage: Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47. The new passage: In research papers students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester 46-47). Source: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/research/r_paraphr.html

This is an appropriate paraphrase.

This is an inappropriate paraphrase

Read the new passage and compare it to the original. Is this an example of appropriate or inappropriate paraphrasing? The original passage: Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47. The new passage: Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes. Source: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/research/r_paraphr.html

This is appropriate paraphrasing

This is inappropriate paraphrasing

How do you quote correctly?

Give the source. As long as I do that, I don't need to do anything else

Introduce the quotation, format it correctly, use quotation marks, and cite correctly. Thoughtfully integrate the quotation into your writing

Mention the author of the quote and use quotation marks

Mention the author of the quote and no need to add quotation marks

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