5 Best APA Formatting Styles
American Psychological Association, commonly known as APA formatting is among the most used formatting style. It is mainly used to cite sources in the social sciences. It is now in its 6th edition. To sufficiently use this style, the essay should be typed, double spaced, and have a one-inch margins on every side. The commonly used font is New Times Roman and Aerial Black.
The paper is supposed to contain a header, beginning with “running head” which should be located at the top right side of the page. For example, your header is “An analysis of nursing essays” Your header is supposed to be “Running head: “AN ANALYSIS OF NURSING ESSAYS PROFESSIONALS”. After the page containing the title, other pages are supposed to contain only your header. Therefore, the header on the following pages will be “AN ANALYSIS OF NURSING ESSAYS PROFESIONALS”.
A page should contain the following parts as shown below:
Paragraphs are supposed to start from the edge and the paper is supposed to have an abstract. To get more information about APA formatting reach out our customer service department or just chat with our support staff.
To see a side-by-side comparison of the three most widely used citation styles, including a chart of all APA citation guidelines, see the Citation Style Chart.
You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel.
General APA Formatting Guidelines
Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. You should use a clear font that is highly readable. APA Formatting recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
Include a page header (also known as the "running head") at the top of every page. To create a page header/running head, insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.
Major Paper Sections
Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. Include the page header (described above) flush left with the page number flush right at the top of the page. Please note that on the title page, your page header/running head should look like this:
APA formatting for academic papers and essays
Published on February 22, 2018 by Raimo Streefkerk. Revised on March 20, 2020.
In addition to guidelines for APA Formatting citations, there are format guidelines for academic papers and essays. They’re widely used by professionals, researchers and students.
Scribbr APA Formatting Citation Generator
Cite a webpage by URL
The most important APA format guidelines in the 6th edition are:
Use 12 pt Times New Roman
Set 1 inch page margins
Apply double line spacing
Insert a running head on every page
Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
Tip: also read our article on the most notable changes in the APA Manual 7th
Instead of applying the APA guidelines to your document you can simply download the APA formatting template for Word.
An APA abstract is a one paragraph (± 250 words) summary of your paper. It introduces the objective or problem statement of the paper and includes information on the method, research results, and conclusions of your research. In a separate article we explain in-depth how to write an abstract.
Although most regular APA formatting guidelines apply, the abstract page also has specific requirements. The abstract starts with a centered heading “Abstract”. In contrast to regular APA Formatting headings, no styling is applied. The first line of the paragraph is, unlike regular paragraphs, not indented.
At the end of the abstract, keywords relevant to the research are included. These keywords improve the findability of your paper in databases. Indent the line with keywords and start with the italicized word “Keyword:”, followed by the keywords.
The APA Formatting reference page, also called reference list, is where all sources that are cited in the text are listed. The citations differs for each source type. Aside from the references itself the reference page as a whole also has specific APA formatting guidelines.
The APA formatting reference page example below highlights those guidelines regarding page margins, hanging indent and the reference page title “References”. Furthermore, the reference list is sorted alphabetically. You can easily create APA Formatting references with Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator.
In-text citations and references
APA formatting citations consist of parenthetical citation in the text (in-text citations) and the full reference in the reference list. For each webpage, journal article, book or any other source specific citation guidelines apply.
To make things easier Scribbr created the free APA Formatting Citation Generator that cites every source perfectly. Just enter the URL, journal DOI or book ISBN and both the in-text citation and full reference are generated.
In addition, Scribbr has in-depth APA citation examples for every source type ranging from journal articles and books to YouTube videos and tweets.
Setting up the APA formatting
This video will demonstrate how to set up the APA formatting in Google Docs.
Frequently asked questions about APA format
How do I set up APA formatting in Word?
How do I cite in APA formatting?
What font and font size is used in APA formatting?
Should I include page numbers on the title and reference page in an APA format paper?
Who uses APA formatting?
A Comprehensive Guide to APA Citations and Format
Overview of this guide:
This page provides you with an overview of APA formatting, 7th edition. Included is information about referencing, various citation formats with examples for each source type, and other helpful information.
If you’re looking for MLA formatting, check out the Citation Machine MLA Guide. Also, visit the Citation Machine homepage to use the APA formatter, which is an APA citation generator, and to see more styles.
Being responsible while researching
When you’re writing a research paper or creating a research project, you will probably use another individual’s work to help develop your own assignment. A good researcher or scholar uses another individual’s work in a responsible way. This involves indicating that the work of other individuals is included in your project (i.e., citing), which is one way to prevent plagiarism.
Plagiarism? What is it?
The word plagiarism is derived from the Latin word, plagiare, which means “to kidnap.” The term has evolved over the years to now mean the act of taking another individual’s work and using it as your own, without acknowledging the original author (American Psychological Association, 2020 p. 21). Plagiarism can be illegal and there can be serious ramifications for plagiarizing someone else’s work. Thankfully, plagiarism can be prevented. One way it can be prevented is by including citations and references in your research project. Want to make them quickly and easily? Try the Citation Machine citation generator, which is found on our homepage.
All about citations & references
Citations and references should be included anytime you use another individual’s work in your own assignment. When including a quote, paraphrased information, images, or any other piece of information from another’s work, you need to show where you found it by including a citation and a reference. This guide explains how to make them.
APA style citations are added in the body of a research paper or project and references are added to the last page.
Citations, which are called in-text citations, are included when you’re adding information from another individual’s work into your own project. When you add text word-for-word from another source into your project, or take information from another source and place it in your own words and writing style (known as paraphrasing), you create an in-text citation. These citations are short in length and are placed in the main part of your project, directly after the borrowed information.
References are found at the end of your research project, usually on the last page. Included on this reference list page is the full information for any in-text citations found in the body of the project. These references are listed in alphabetical order by the author's last name.
An APA in-text citation includes only three items: the last name(s) of the author(s), the year the source was published, and sometimes the page or location of the information. References include more information such as the name of the author(s), the year the source was published, the full title of the source, and the URL or page range.
Why is it important to include citations & references
Including APA citations and references in your research projects is a very important component of the research process. When you include citations, you’re being a responsible researcher. You’re showing readers that you were able to find valuable, high-quality information from other sources, place them into your project where appropriate, all while acknowledging the original authors and their work.
Common ways students and scholars accidentally plagiarize
Believe it or not, there are instances when you could attempt to include in-text and full references in the appropriate places, but still accidentally plagiarize. Here are some common mistakes to be aware of:
Mistake #1 - Misquoting sources: If you plan to use a direct quote, make sure you copy it exactly as is. Sure, you can use part of the full quote or sentence, but if you decide to put quotation marks around any words, those words should match exactly what was found in the original source. Here’s a line from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”
Consistency in the order, structure, and format of a paper allows readers to focus on a paper’s content rather than its presentation.
To format a paper in APA Style, writers can typically use the default settings and automatic formatting tools of their word-processing program or make only minor adjustments.
The guidelines for paper format apply to both student assignments and manuscripts being submitted for publication to a journal. If you are using APA Style to create another kind of work (e.g., a website, conference poster, or PowerPoint presentation), you may need to format your work differently in order to optimize its presentation, for example, by using different line spacing and font sizes. Follow the guidelines of your institution or publisher to adapt APA Style formatting guidelines as needed.
Information About APA Formatting
Who created it?
The American Psychological Association is an organization created for individuals in the psychology field. With close to 121,000 members, they provide educational opportunities, funding, guidance, and research information for everything psychology-related. They also have numerous high-quality databases, peer-reviewed journals, and books that revolve around mental health.
The American Psychological Association is also credited with creating their own specific citation and reference style. Today, this format is used by individuals not only in the psychology field, but many other subject areas as well. Education, economics, business, and social sciences also use APA style quite frequently. Click here for more information. This guide covers general information about the style, but is not affiliated with the American Psychological Association.
Why was this style created?
This format was first developed in 1929 to form a standardized way for researchers in science fields to document their sources. Prior to the inception of these standards and guidelines, individuals were recognizing the work of other authors by including bits and pieces of information in random order. There wasn’t a set way to format citations and references. You can probably imagine how difficult it was to understand the sources that were used for research projects!
Having a standard format for citing sources allows readers to glance at a citation or APA reference and easily locate the title, author, year published, and other critical pieces of information needed to understand a source.
The evolution of this style
The guide below is based on APA style 7th edition, which was released in 2020. In previous versions of APA format, researchers and scholars were required to include the publisher location for books and the date that an electronic resource was accessed. Both are no longer required to be included.
Details on the differences between the 6th and 7th editions is addressed later in this guide.
Citations & References
The appearance of citations & references
The format for references varies, but most use this general format:
Author’s Last name, First initial. (Date published). Title. URL
Researchers and scholars must look up the proper format for the source that they’re attempting to cite. Books have a certain format, websites have a different format, periodicals have a different format, and so on. Scroll down to find the proper format for the source you’re citing or referencing.
If you would like help citing your sources, Citation Machine.com has a citation generator that will help make the APA citation process much easier for you.
An APA in-text citation is included in research projects in three instances: When using a direct quote, paraphrasing information, or simply referring to a piece of information from another source.
Quite often, researchers and scholars use a small amount of text, word for word, from another source and include it in their own research projects. This is done for many reasons. Sometimes, another author’s words are so eloquently written that there isn’t a better way to rephrase it yourself. Other times, the author’s words can help prove a point or establish an understanding for something in your research project. When using another author’s exact words in your research project, include an APA in-text citation directly following it.
In addition to using the exact words from another source and placing them into your project, these citations are also added anytime you paraphrase information. Paraphrasing is when you take information from another source and rephrase it, in your own words.
When simply referring to another piece of information from another source, also include a citation directly following it.
Citations in the text are found near a direct quote, paraphrased information, or next to a mention of another source. To see examples of some narrative/parenthetical citations in action, look at the image above, under “All About Citations & References.”
Note: *Only include the page or paragraph number when using a direct quote or paraphrase. Page numbers have a p. before the number, pp. before the page range, and para. before the paragraph number. This information is included to help the reader locate the exact portion of text themselves. It is unnecessary to include this information when you’re simply referring to another source.