How to write in APA Format?

Academic writing in the social sciences and psychology is frequently carried out by the APA (American Psychological Association) style handbook. The APA style manual addresses a variety of formatting issues in academic writing, such as those involving citations in the work’s text and references, as well as the abstract and title page. You can study the in and out of the APA writing style by using APA format examples.

Why is APA formatting so essential in psychology and other social sciences?

By utilizing the APA style while writing on psychology, researchers and students can present information about their theories and studies in a consistent format. By using a consistent writing style, readers can spot important details in journal articles and other types of psychological writing.

If you’ve never had a psychology or social science course before, you’re probably used to using a different style guide, like MLA or Chicago. After being taught one set of guidelines for citation and paper structure for years, many first-year college students are taken aback by discovering that the APA style is mandatory by many universities.

It’s not easy to switch between formats, especially if you need to adapt to them for different courses. Mastering the fundamentals and saving a handful of useful links will ease the transition to the new format.

Aside from certain general guidelines, all APA papers must adhere to the APA style. Among these are:

  • Paper size 8.5 inches by 11 inches (A4) is recommended for typing.
  • Leave a space of at least one inch on all sides.
  • Include a cover page, a bibliography, and an author’s byline.
  • You should use a clear typeface (font) like Calibri or Times New Roman.
  • It is recommended that you double-space the entire paper.
  • Right-justify text to the left margin.
  • Use a half-inch indentation for paragraph introductions.

Categorize your Paper 

The standard format for a research paper calls for four parts: an introduction (title page and abstract), a body (body paragraphs), and a list of sources (references).

Title Page

Title, author, and institution information should all be on the title page. Then, give the course number and name, the professor’s name, and the due date for the paper. What the paper is about and who wrote it should be prominently displayed on the title page.

An APA title page can be written in either the student or the professional style. The essentials for the student edition are

  • Working Title
  • All of the paper’s authors’ names (the byline)
  • Author affiliations (the university attended including the name of the department)
  • Name and number of the course
  • Designation of the Educator (check with the instructor for their preferred format)
  • Date due for assignment (i.e., November 4, 2020)
  • A page reference

For a professional, APA includes: 

  • Title of Paper
  • List of Authors’ Last Names Paper (byline)
  • Each author’s institutional affiliation Author’s note
  • Prismatic Heading (an abbreviated version of the paper title)
  • Page reference

The title of the document should be in title case, bold, and centred for both academic and professional papers. About three or four lines down from the page’s top is where it has to be placed.

Put the byline under the title of the paper. Before the title and after the byline, there needs to be a single blank line double-spaced. Identifying information should follow the byline, not precede it. The author’s note appears after the affiliation in scholarly works.

An author’s note expands on the paper’s authors, research registration, data sharing, disclosures of any conflicts of interest, and contact information. It is customary for authors to acknowledge the contributions of their research’s financial backers in an author’s note.

Make that the page number appears in the upper right-hand corner of every page in both the student and the final, published APA article.


Following the title page of a research paper is the abstract, or paper summary. A good rule of thumb is to keep your abstract to 100–200 words, though this may vary depending on the requirements of the journal or your instructor.

You can think of an abstract as a short synopsis of your entire paper. If you are a student, you should inquire as to whether or not an abstract is required by your professor.

Use these guidelines as a guide while creating your abstract:

  • After the title page, there will be a separate page for the abstract.
  • The word “Abstract” should be written in boldface and centred at the top of the page.
  • One line after that, briefly discuss the paper’s primary arguments.
  • While abstracts will vary in length and detail, they will normally comprise the following sections: Introduction; Research question(s); Participants; Methods; Data Analysis; and Primary Conclusions.
  • An abstract should be no more than 250 words and written in a single paragraph with double spacing.
  • According to the “Publication Manual,” an effective abstract combines precision, consistency, and brevity. Make sure the abstract does not contain any new material that isn’t included in the main text of the study.

Central Parts

The main body of your work, in the case of an essay, would be the content of the essay. Lab reports typically have a more sectioned-off main body than other types of academic writing. Each lab report should have an introduction, methods, findings, and discussion part.


A table is a terrific way to present a large amount of data in a way that is yet easy to read and understand. Tables are a common way to present statistical findings and other numerical data in APA-style papers.

There are cases where a tabular presentation is inappropriate. If you can only provide limited numerical data, you should describe it in the body of your article.

The “Publication Manual” suggests putting the reader in mind when creating your table. Make an effort to present information in a way that is straightforward to grasp.

When including a table in a publication, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Place a unique title at the top of each table. According to APA guidelines, it ought to be underlined and capitalized.
  • After the bibliography, start each table on a new page.
  • All tables should be numbered (i.e., Table 1, Table 2, Table 3).
  • Include a table reference for each one you use in the body of the paper.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the table is to enrich the paper rather than to repeat the text. You shouldn’t feel obligated to explain every part of your table in the body of your content. The reader may become frustrated and confused if unnecessary details are included. Limit your reports to the most pertinent information.

Instead, focus on making your table concise. Mention significant points and advise the reader what to look for in your table.

Table Titles

When creating titles for tables, keep the following in mind:

  • You should capitalize the initial letter of each heading.
  • Use an informative heading for each column to separate the data.
  • In the table itself, abbreviate commonly used phrases. A notice explaining nonstandard terms should be placed under the table.


All of the sources you consulted to write your paper should be listed in the reference section. All of the sources you used in your paper should be listed here with the appropriate citations.

Keep in mind that you must list all sources that were used to compile your work in the bibliography. It is expected that all sources cited in the bibliography will be discussed in some context within the body of the article.

On a fresh page, boldly print “References” in the centre of the page. Don’t emphasize the title by making it stand out with bold or italics or by enclosing it in quotation marks.

Guidelines for Basic Reference Pages

Following these guidelines will help ensure that your reference page is properly formatted:

  • The references should be arranged alphabetically by the last name of the first author of each cited work.
  • It is standard practice to capitalize the first letter of each important word in a journal-title.
  • All names of articles should be capitalized just once. The initial letter of the word following a colon in a title should likewise be capitalized. Avoid using quote marks, underlining, and italics when presenting the title.
  • Always use double spacing when citing sources.
  • The names of books and scholarly publications should be italicized.
  • When numerous works by the same author are referenced, the earliest should be listed first and the most recent should be listed last.
  • Each reference should have a hanging indentation, with the initial line aligned to the left and subsequent lines indented.

A Guide to Using References Within the Text

Whenever you use someone else’s words or ideas in your paper, you must give them credit by citing their work. In-text citations are references made to a source within the text of a document, and APA style requires that you provide credit to the original author and the publication date.

1. Periodicals and Scholarly Journals

Your reference list should include journal articles in alphabetical order. More advice on APA style, including

  • It is standard practice to capitalize the initial letter of the first word in a title, subtitle, or proper noun.
  • The title of the publication and the volume number should be italicized.

Journal articles are often cited by listing the last names of the authors, followed by the first initials of their first names. The year of publication comes next, followed by a period and a pair of parenthesis.

After that, you should type the title of the article, being sure to only capitalize the first letter of the first word and the first letter of any proper nouns.

Following the comma is the journal’s name, which should be italicized. Next, in italics, add the volume number. After the comma, include the issue number in parenthesis.

Then, insert the page numbers, separated by a hyphen if they span multiple pages. Put a full stop after this sentence. Finally, if a DOI number is accessible, a hyperlink to that number should be supplied.

2. Books

This typeface (font) is suitable for use in published works. Refer to this format when referencing a book:

  • Author’s name in full (last name, first initial)
  • Parenthetical publication date
  • In this case, the book’s title is italics
  • Include the book’s edition in brackets if applicable.
  • In the name of the publisher
  • DOI identifier link

3. Digital Documents

A digital reference is quite similar to a printed one in terms of its basic structure. But the document’s URL should always be included.

To conclude even though your essay or research paper follows a similar general structure, your professor may have very different expectations. Your instructor may additionally want you to keep and submit a bibliography in APA style, in addition to the reference page.

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