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APA Style Help

Resources to help with APA Style formatting

General Formatting Rules (Section 8.03)

  • Use Serif fonts like Times New Roman (12-point), Georgia (11-point) and Computer Modern (10-point), or Sans serif fonts like Calibri (11-point), Arial (11-point), and Lucida Sans Unicode (10-point)
  • Double space all text on 8.5" x 11" paper and do not add extra spaces in between headings and paragraphs
  • 1" margins should be on all sides of the document.
  • Indent the first line of every paragraph by using the "tab" key on your keyboard
  • Page numbers (in header) flush right on every page beginning with the title page
  • Running head (in header) flush left
    • All capitalized (no abbreviations)
    • 50 characters or less of paper title
    • You no longer need the words "Running head" on the title page
    • Belongs in the top margin of the page
    • Should be on the same line as the page number
    • Appears on every page of your paper (title page, main body, references, etc.)

Exceptions

  • Text for images, charts, and figures can be single-spaced or one-and-a-half-spaced, depending on what makes your document the most legible for readers.
  • Footnotes should be single-spaced.
  • Triple or quadruple spacing may be used for special text, like equations or symbols.

Click on the links below each content tab for more information on general APA formatting rules in Academic Writer.

Basic Setup

Learn how to set up an APA Style paper, including setting the typeface, line spacing, margins, and page header.

Academic Writer

© 2016 American Psychological Association.

Running Head

Learn how to write and format a running head for an APA Style paper.

Academic Writer

© 2016 American Psychological Association.


Title Page (student paper)

A running head is not required at the top of a student title page, but the page number is still required in the top right.  A student title page should have the following elements:

  • Page number in the top right margin, located three to four spaced lines from the top of the page
  • The concise title of your paper
  • Your name with your middle initial (with an extra line of space between it and the paper title)
  • Your institution and department (if applicable)
  • Course name and number
  • Your instructor's name
  • The assignment's due date

*All of these items are to be centered.  If your instructor requests slightly different formatting from the above, follow their instructions.

 

Title Page (professional paper)

A professional title page contains the following elements:

  • Header
    • Flush left: "Running head:" followed by 50 characters of an all capitalized title of your paper
    • Flush right: page number beginning at 1
  • Page number in the top right margin, located three to four spaced lines from the top of the page
  • The title of your paper
  • Your name and the names of other authors (if you are a co-author).
  • Department or organization affiliation for each author
  • An author's note placed at the bottom of the title page

Title Page

Learn how to set up the title page of an APA Style paper, including the page header and running head, title, author name and affiliation, and author note.

Academic Writer

© 2016 American Psychological Association.


Subsequent Pages

  • Header
    • Flush left: 50 characters of an all capitalized title of your paper
    • Flush right: page number
  • Abstract (Section 2.04)
    • Belongs on a separate page after the title page, typically around 250 words or less
    • Center 'Abstract' on abstract page in bold
    • Place your abstract text on the next line down as a single paragraph
    • Keywords belong on their own line below the abstract text (no extra space between)
    • "Keywords" should be italicized and indented 0.5", followed by a colon and a space.  If your keywords go onto the next line, it does not need to be indented.
  • Body
    • Center full title on top of the first body page
    • Center level 1 headings, section labels (bolded), and appendix titles (bolded).  All other level headings are not centered.


Want to see it done for yourself?

Use our link below to Academic Writer for a tutorial on APA style.  The video below by Samuel Forlenza focuses on citing source properly in APA style.

Headings (Section 3.03)

There are five levels of headings.  The first level comprises of the main headings (method, results, etc.)  while other levels pertain to subheadings within the main headings.  The more complex your paper is, the more likely you will use more subheadings and go further down the list.

  • Level 1: Center, bold, title case (capitalize the first word and all other words in the heading that are four letters or more), text begins as a new paragraph
  • Level 2: Aligned left, bold, title case, text begins as a new paragraph
  • Level 3: Aligned left, bold, italics, title case, text begins as a new paragraph
  • Level 4: Indented, bold, title case ending with a period, text begins on the same line
  • Level 5: Indented, bold, italics, title case ending with a period, text begins on the same line

*Do not include abbreviations or footnotes in your headings!

Heading Levels

Learn how to use headings in an APA Style paper, including how to format the five different levels of heading and use them to organize your paper.

Academic Writer

© 2016 American Psychological Association.


Quotations (Section 6.03-6.10)

  • Always provide the author(s), year, and page number or page range
  • Incorporate in paragraph when <40 words
    • Use quotation marks
    • Do not end the quote with punctuation 
    • Punctuation goes at the end of the sentence or after the reference
  • Create block quote when >40 words
    • Do not use quotation marks
    • Indent the quote
    • Punctuation at the end of the quote
    • Reference after the punctuation
  • For in-text citations for quotations and paraphrases, view the in-text citation tab.

Quotation Marks

Learn how to use quotation marks, including in quotations of fewer than 40 words, for ironic comments or invented expressions, for titles of articles or chapters in the text, and for test items and verbatim participant instructions.

Academic Writer

© 2016 American Psychological Association.

Direct Quotations and Paraphrasing

Learn how to cite and format direct quotations and block quotations, make and indicate changes to direct quotations, and cite paraphrased material.

Academic Writer

© 2016 American Psychological Association.


Number Use (Section 4.31-4.49)

  • Use numerals for
    • 10 and above
    • Mathematical functions
    • Times, dates, ages, money, scores, and other forms of measurement (except in approximations)
    • Numbers that come before nouns
    • Specific places
  • Use numbers in words for
    • Numbers below 10
    • The beginning of a sentence, title, or heading
    • Common fractions
    • Universally accepted language

See the link below for an Academic Writer tutorial on using numbers in APA format.

 

Numerals Versus Words

Learn how to use numerals and how to use words when writing about numbers in the text, including how and when to combine the two.

Academic Writer

© 2016 American Psychological Association.

Microsoft Word Headers

It can be tricky to make the header of the first page different with the term "Running head." The video below by Allen (2020) shows how to create a running header in Microsoft Word, according to APA style 7th edition.

 

Follow these steps to create a running head in Microsoft Word (2013):

  1. Click the insert tab
  2. Page # --> Top of the page --> Plain Number 3
  3. When the tab for 'Header & Footer Tools' appears, check 'Different First Page'
  4. This will allow you to add 'Running head:' to the beginning of your header on the first page without affecting the following pages' header.

'Different First Page' is located under the 'Header & Footer Tools' tab.