APA body format

When you write a paper using the APA style, there are specific formatting requirements you must adhere to, as outlined in the sixth edition manual.

Along with these general rules that apply throughout the paper, there are particular guidelines per section for the cover page, abstract and reference page. You must also use a running head following certain formatting, and apply certain rules for your headings and subheadings.

General formatting requirements for APA

In the body of an APA format paper, you must apply the following formatting rules:

  • Set the margins to one inch (or 2.54 cm) on all sides
  • Apply double spacing throughout
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph one half-inch from the left margin
  • Use Times New Roman font in 12 pt (recommended)

Running head and page numbers

On each page, you must include a running head, which is the title of your paper or, if the title is longer than 50 words, a shortened version.

You must also include the page numbers, in the top right-hand corner, on every page of the paper.

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Formatting headings in APA

If your paper includes headings and subheadings, these must be formatted in a certain way. The formatting for each heading and subheading is determined based on what is called the “level.”

The major headings, or heading 1, are centred, bold and capitalized according to title case. There are guidelines for each level of heading down to heading 5, which are discussed in detail, with examples, in our guide to APA headings.

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Raimo Streefkerk

Raimo has a bachelor's and master's degree and has written several papers and theses. He likes to share his knowledge by writing helpful articles.

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