APA paperWelcome to the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire show. You are only a few steps away from your first million. The question is “what is APA format?” The options are:

  • A. APA is the Academy for Practical Astrology;
  • B. APA is the Assistant to a Pop Artist;
  • C. APA is the Anti-Philosophical Association;
  • D. APA is the American Psychological Association format for academic papers.

So, what do you choose? Would you like to ask the audience or phone a friend? Right you are! The variant D is correct. Enjoy the applause and take a look at this guide to answer correctly the next question as well: “How to format an APA paper?”

APA Paper: 4 Main Sections


The American Psychological Association (APA) has specific requirements not only for citing sources, but also for formatting papers. An APA essay (or research paper) usually has 4 main sections:

  1. title page;
  2. outline;
  3. main body;
  4. reference list.

APA Papers: Top Tips

These are the main recommendations for formatting the different sections of your APA papers:

  1. Title Page
    • Header: include the words “Running head” and a short title of your paper (USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS and do not exceed the limit of 50 characters, including spaces and punctuation). Use the option “special format of the first page”, because you will need to write only the short title of your paper on the following pages (without the words “running head” before it).
    • Upper right corner: use an Arabic figure (1) as page number, unless your teacher asks you not to write the page number on your cover page;
    • Middle of your cover page: write the full title of your paper (Capitalize Only Meaningful Words in It) press Enter write your name on the second line, and the name of your college on the third line.
  2.  

  3. Outline
    • Choose between the decimal (only Arabic figures for subsections: 1, 1.1, 1.1.2), and alphanumeric numbering style (Roman and Arabic figures, as well as English letters for subsections: I, II, A, B, C, 1, 2, 3).
    • Choose between phrasal and full-sentence outlines.
    • If you choose the phrasal type of outline, use equivalent constructions to start different points (for example, use “1. List volunteer experience. 2. Include personal details.” instead of “1. List volunteer experience. 2. Important personal details.”)
    • Header: include the CAPITALIZED short title of your paper without the words “Running head”.
    • Include the page number in the upper right corner of the page.
  4.  

  5. Main Body
    • Use 1 inch margins (2.54 cm) on all sides.
    • Use font 12 Times New Roman.
    • Include in-text citations for all ideas that you borrow from external sources. Use the author-date format if you cite the whole source: (Brown, 2006). Use the author-date-page format if you cite a specific idea from a specific page (Brown, 2006, p. 78).
    • Use subheadings for different sections (for papers longer than 3 pages).
    • Do not start a new section at the bottom of the page if you have less than 3 lines for your text below it. Instead, start the new section on a new page.
    • Include the page number and a short title of your APA paper in the header of each page.
  6.  

  7. Reference List
    • Start the list of your sources on a new page and write “Reference List” in the middle of the first line.
    • Order your sources alphabetically.
    • Indent your sources (press the Tab button to start second and all subsequent lines of every entry). Make it like this:
      Wormer, K., Besthorn, F., & Keefe, T. (2007). Human behavior and the social environment, macro level:
              Groups, communities and organizations
      . New York: Oxford University Press.
    • Include the page number and a short title of your paper in the header.

Good for you if you read all the tips!! Now you know the niceties of American Psychological Association papers and will easily use the APA citation style and format to make your papers perfect.