Research Paper in APA Format

Research Paper in APA Format

To make sure readers can focus on the content of a paper, you should follow a consistent order, structure and format.

The APA style for formatting papers is commonly used by students and researchers. Writers can typically use the default settings or automatic formatting tools in their word-processing program to follow these guidelines, but it’s important to note that they may need adjustments depending on what kind of work you are doing using this format. Sites like offer guidance on adapting APA Style guidelines to suit your needs when presenting a project other than an assignment or manuscript, for example, if you’re creating something like a conference poster or PowerPoint presentation for school.

You may need different formats depending on what kind of work it is, but follow the guidelines from your institution or publisher as necessary.

APA Style formatting

Paper format is covered in Chapter 2 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

APA alphabetization guidelines

References are ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name. If the author is unknown, order the reference entry by the first meaningful word of the title (ignoring articles: “the”, “a”, or “an”).

Let an expert format your paper

Our APA formatting experts can help you to format your paper according to APA guidelines. They can help you with:

  • Margins, line spacing, and indentation
  • Font and headings
  • Running head and page numbering
  • And more

APA formatting

Authors Citations

For multiple authors, uses the same convention you would use with other citations. List all the authors by last name and initials using an & symbol.

For example: Ramirez, Z. A., Jones, B. C., & Smith, D. C.

If no people are listed as authors, use the organization as author.

If you have a source with seven or more authors, you list the first six followed by an ellipsis (. ) and the last author.

Author’s last name, A. A., & Author’s last name, B.B. (year).Title of article. Title of Journal, volume(issue), page number – page number.

Finding an Article

PsycINFO Research Database
The American Psychological Association’s (APA) renowned resource for abstracts of scholarly journal articles, book chapters, books, and dissertations, the largest resource devoted to peer-reviewed literature in behavioral science and mental health.

Journal Article Request
If you can’t find the free full-text version of a research article, please complete and submit this form. An LRC staff member will then place an interlibrary loan request on your behalf.

Research papers written in APA style should follow the formatting rules specified in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.  Most research papers that are written for psychology courses at UCSD, including the B.S. Degree Research Paper and the Honors Thesis, have to follow APA format.  Here we discuss the formatting of research papers according to APA style.

  • The main body of text should begin on a separate page after the Abstract. 5
  • It should begin with the Introduction section. 5
  • The Introduction section should be titled with the title of the research paper and not the word “Introduction.” The title should appear at the top of the page, centered, and should not be bolded. 5
  • The remainder of the text should be flush-left, with each new paragraph indented except where noted above (see General Formatting Rules). 5
  • Each of the subsequent sections of the paper should be prefaced with a heading. APA guidelines specify different heading formats (for more information on Levels of Headings, see below). 5
  • The references’ section should begin on a separate page after the main body of text. 6
  • It should begin with the word “References” placed at the top of the page and centered. 6
  • All references should be listed in alphabetical order by the last name of the first author of each reference. 6
  • All references should be double-spaced and should use a hanging indent format wherein the first line of each reference is flush-left and all subsequent lines of that reference are indented (with that pattern repeating for each reference). 6
  • All references should use the appropriate APA reference format (for more information, please see the Citing References section of this website). 6

If you’ve never written an APA paper before, the formatting rules and guidelines can seem daunting and difficult at first. You might be used to writing papers in another format such as MLA or Chicago style, so it might take some time to get the hang of writing in APA format. Familiarizing yourself with some of the basics is a great place to start.

APA Format Guidelines

Although your instructor, institution, or publisher may have other specific formatting requirements for you to follow, there are some general guidelines you should know. These include:

  • Paper size: Use standard, white, 8.5 x 11–inch paper.
  • Margins: Set page margins to 1-inch on all sides.
  • Line spacing: Type and double-space your paper. Do not add extra space before or after paragraphs.
  • Font: A variety of accessible fonts are allowed. Acceptable choices include sans serif fonts (such as 11-point Calibri and 11-point Arial) and serif fonts (such as 12-point Times New Roman).
  • Page header: The page header appears within the top margin of every page of the paper. For student papers, the page header only consists of the page number, which is located in the top-right corner of each page. Professional paper headers consist of the page number and running head (top-left corner).

The seventh edition of the APA publication manual was published in October 2019. In addition to following any specific requirements of a publisher or instructor, you should always consult the latest edition of the publication manual if you have any questions about formatting or style.

Here is an APA format sample for your title page:

APA format title page

An APA format title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and the school, college or university where you study. The page header should be inserted flush left, while the page numbering should be flush right and at the top of the page. This is how the running head should appear on the title page:

Running head: TITLE OF PAPER

On every subsequent page, the running head should look as follows:

Your title should be centered, typed in upper and lowercase letters, and located in the upper half of the page. APA recommends limiting your title length to a maximum of 12 words and avoiding the use of abbreviations and unnecessary words. It is acceptable for the title to consist of one or two lines. Use double-spacing throughout your paper, including on the title page.

Under the title, you should type your first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Omit titles (e.g., “Dr.”) or degrees (MA).

Under your name, type the name of your academic institution or research organization.

Here is an APA format sample for your title page:

APA format title page

APA format paper

In addition to a title page, an APA format paper should also contain an abstract, the body of the paper, and the reference list.

The abstract should follow the title page. The top will include the aforementioned page header. The word “Abstract” (without quotation marks, italics or any other type of modification) should be centered and located on the initial line of the abstract page. Below this is where you will provide a brief, one paragraph, double-spaced summary of the main points of your essay. Do not indent the abstract.

Note that the abstract in the APA format for a research paper should discuss the topic under study, the research questions, any subjects of the research, your research methods, the findings/results, analysis of the data, and your conclusions. You could also include the implications of your work and recommendations for future studies connected with your findings. The abstract should be no fewer than 150 words, but no more than 250.

Your abstract can also include keywords from your paper. This would allow researchers to find your work in databases easier. Below your abstract paragraph, indent as though you were starting a new paragraph. Next, type Keywords in italics. Complete it by listing your keywords.

Here is a sample of an abstract:

abstract in APA format

Researchers should follow the universal format of an introduction that discusses a problem, around three paragraphs in which they provide evidence to support their thesis and defend against counterarguments.
Your conclusion is important because it summarizes what you have written about in this work with how it relates to broader implications for society at large.
The APA format for the reference list is very specific. First, you must use the term “References” (not bolded, not included quotations or any modifiers must be used instead of “Work Cited” as in MLA), not “Bibliography”.
The reference list should include the author(s)’ last name, first and middle initial, and the year of publication. The reference lines should be double-spaced, and the second and subsequent lines for each reference should be indented half an inch from the left margin of your paper. Book titles and the titles of articles should be in italics. However, short publications, including newspapers, magazines and academic journals should not be italicized. Here is an example for reference:

Stephens, D. A., Bradford, H. E., & Woodard, W. S. (2004). How Chinese audiences are changing the way Hollywood makes movies. Journal of Entertainment, 24(2), 424-429.

For further assistance with creating a reference list, bibliography generator and in-text citation maker websites like king citation are really helpful.

The use of APA essay example

Writing your first paper can be intimidating. However, using APA style essay examples can be very helpful in learning the intricacies of this formatting and creating your own projects. If you have a good example to follow, then it will not be hard to create an engaging opening paragraph when introducing your thesis statement. Follow these with main body paragraphs where you outline key points and provide supporting evidence within appropriate quotes from authoritative sources (use quotes sparingly). Finish off by including a powerful conclusion sentence that includes references for avoiding plagiarism-this could include author names and publication years in parenthesis following quoted or paraphrased sentences, which should also appear in parentheses following one’s original text when citing them as well.

Here are some examples of APA citation in essay.

If you are referring to an interesting idea from another source but are not quoting it, there is no need to include a page number.

According to Brown (1997), Paris was full of artists and musicians in the early 1930s.

Paris was full of artists and musicians in the early 1930s (Brown, 1997).

If it’s a direct quote from a source, you need to include the author’s name, date of publication, and the page number starting with p., like (p.114).

If the direct quote is 40 words or longer, you need to start it on a new line with the indent of a ½ inch from the left margin as if it’s a new paragraph and omit quotation marks. The first line in any subsequent paragraph in a quote must be indented as well.

Smith’s (1996) study revealed that school students often experience difficulties when using APA style, especially when they have to cite sources in their academic works for the first time. This typically happen because many young people fail to get adequate help from their teachers.
Do you still think this is too tricky? A well-written APA formatting essay template can be of assistance!

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