Layout of your APA reference list

Creating a reference list according to APA Style is quite a job. But after this you will also have to make sure that the layout of your reference list is good.

For example, the first line of a source reference must be aligned at the left margin. If a reference contains more than one line, then the following line(s) must be indented.

Step 1. Generate references in APA Style

The rules of APA Style are very complex. You can make it easier for yourself by using a source generator: simply select the type of source, fill in the empty fields and the source generator automatically creates the source reference for you.

You can use our APA Generator for this purpose. After you are finished generating the references you can download the sources to Microsoft Word.

Step 2. Setting the alignment

reference-list-indense-referencesMake sure the ruler is visible in Word by going to View and then clicking on Ruler. Then select all the text in your reference list.

In the ruler, you see two triangles and one square. If you grab the bottom triangle and drag it to the right, you will see that the first line remains as it was and the other lines are indented.

Step 3. Dividing URLs

Microsoft Word sees a URL as one word and will then always put a long URL on a new line. Thus, a lot of white space remains. See the screenshot below: url-divide-reference-list What you actually want is for Word to divide the URL after a slash so that the lines are nicely filled up. You can divide a URL after a slash by placing your cursor after the slash and then clicking on Insert → Symbol → More Symbols… → Special Characters. Then add the character No-Width Optional Break. symbol-optional-hyphen-break-url

You can also add this special character by typing ALT+8203. Pay attention, the numbers must be entered on the numeric keypad. These are the numeric keys on the right hand side of your keyboard.

You can also do this for all the slashes in your document by using the Find and Replace function in Word. At Find what type a slash. At Replace with type first a slash and then type ALT+8203. Now click on Replace All.


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Koen Driessen

Koen has written multiple theses and founded, together with Bas and Richard, the thesis editing company Scribbr in 2012.

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