APA paper format
In addition to guidelines for citing sources, APA style also has guidelines for formatting papers. This article is based on the Sixth (most recent) Edition of the APA Publication Manual.
The guidelines outlined in this article are regarding font(size) for regular text and headings, page margins, and indentation. In addition, there are specific guidelines for the title page, abstract, and reference page.
APA format template
Instead of applying the APA guidelines to your document you can simply download the APA format template for Word.
Font, margins and indentation
APA guidelines for font(size), page margins and indentation apply to every page of your paper. The guidelines are as follows:
- Times New Roman font in 12 pt (body and headings)
- Title case for headings
- Double line spacing
- One inch (or 2.54 cm) page margins on all sides
- ½ inch indentation for every new paragraph
In the header of each page your include the paper title and page number. If your paper title is longer than 50 characters you should use a shortened version as running head. The page number should be positioned in the top right-hand corner. On the title page the running head is preceded by the words “Running head:”.
Running head: title page
Running head: subsequent pages
Throughout your paper you use different heading levels. The levels ranging from one to five help structure the document. Major headings, or heading 1, are used for the titles of chapters such as “Methods” or “Results”. Heading levels two to five are used for subheadings. Each heading level is formatted differently. These are the APA heading guidelines:
|Heading level||APA format|
|Heading 1||Centered, Bold, Title Case Capitalization|
|Heading 2||Left-Aligned, Bold, Title Case Capitalization|
|Heading 3||Indented, bold, Sentence case capitalization, a final period. The body text begins immediately after the period.|
|Heading 4||Indented, bold, italics, sentence case capitalization, a final period. The body text begins immediately after the period.|
|Heading 5||Indented, italics, sentence case capitalization, a final period. The body text begins immediately after the point.|
Title case capitalization: Capitalize the first, last, and principal words.
Sentence case capitalization: Capitalize only the first word and any proper nouns.
The title page, also called cover page, is the first page of your paper. The regular formatting guidelines regarding font and margins apply. In addition, an APA formatted title page contains:
- Running head including page number
- Full paper title (in title case)
- Author name(s), without titles and degrees
- Institutional affiliation
Note: APA style has specific formatting guidelines for including more than one author or institutional affiliation on the title page.
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.
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 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 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 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. The references can be generated using the free Scribbr APA Citation Generator.
APA reference page example
In-text citations and references
APA format 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 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.