APA Format Guide: Explanations and Samples
All the academic papers must have the right format that meets the requirements of a certain style guide. For instance, students who study social sciences (linguistics, sociology, political science, archaeology, anthropology, etc.) and those who study behavioral sciences (psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience) should stick with APA format when writing their research reports, essays, literature reviews, and case studies. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the rules of the necessary style before you start to work on your project.
Features of APA Citation Style
First, let’s consider APA citation style so that you can understand what APA format looks like, in general.
American Psychology Association developed guidelines and standards of formatting for papers on different topics. The style includes rules for organizing papers on economics, political science, business, medicine, etc. It also includes standards for references and in-text citations.
Citing your sources and organizing your academic papers is a very important yet challenging task. However, it will be easy if you know exactly what the requirements are. You must demonstrate that you’ve researched your topic well, giving credit to other authors and listing your sources. It will help you avoid plagiarism, which is a very serious issue in the academic world.
Writing in APA Format
APA style includes strict rules for in-text citations, margins, references, and the overall structure of your content. Here are some basic rules. Please keep in mind that these requirements may vary in different institutions.
- Use double spaces.
- Choose standard paper (8.5×11) and make one-inch margins on all sides.
- Use a standard 12p font like Times New Roman, which is recommended by the APA manual.
- Every page must begin with a running head that includes the shortened version of your title. The shortened title should be written in all caps and flush left. Make sure that your header is shorter than 50 characters.
- Organize your outline the way you like, there are no specific guidelines for outlines.
- Include page numbers on the right.
- Make sure that your paper is concise and clear, with no unnecessary details.
- When describing your research steps, use the first person.
- Write in the active voice, especially when dealing with experiments.
- Choose words carefully to avoid bias.
- Use simple language and avoid complex expressions, metaphors, etc.
The Key Sections
Different papers have different structures. However, the typical essay structure includes a title page, abstract, body, and a list of references.
The title page must include the title, your name, and the name of your institution. This information must be written in the center of the page and double-spaced.
The title must reflect your main idea and be up to 12 words long. Write it in the upper half of the page. In addition, the running head on the title page must include words “RUNNING HEAD” in all caps.
The abstract must begin on a separate page, allowing your readers to get a grasp on the main ideas. Write the word “Abstract” in the center of the first line.
Your paper must also have a brief summary (up to 250 words). It’s an informative section that should present your research topic, state your research questions, and describe your methods. It should also include your main findings and conclusions.
You may also include a list of relevant keywords. This section must include an indented and italicized word “Keywords.”
Here are the general requirements for the main body:
- Begin the body of your paper with the running head and the title written on the first line.
- Indent the first line of the introductory paragraph and provide some details about the problem.
- Provide a literature review. Write these words in bold, at the center of the page and use them as a subtitle.
- Explain your methods in the methodology section so that your audience can understand how you’ve collected data and analyzed it.
- Summarize your key findings in the results section. Illustrate your data with charts and graphs.
- The discussion section must analyze your research results and interpret them. Make suggestions about future studies and draw conclusions.
Make sure to use proper subheadings and headings to organize your ideas in the right way. Don’t forget to divide them into sections. APA format includes five levels of headings with different purposes and sizes. This way, writers don’t have to use complicated numbering structures.
The references appear at the end of a paper, providing a list of all sources cited or paraphrased by the author. Your sources must be organized alphabetically, starting with the author’s last name. Use double spaces. The first line of each source must be indented left. Keep in mind that different types of sources should be organized in different ways.
For example, when including books, provide the author’s name, the year of publication, title, location, and publisher:
Smith, A. (2016). The titlу of the book. New York, NY: Publisher
Web pages and online documents should be cited in the same way, with the URL at the end. You should also include the phrase “Retrieved from” before the URL.
Using APA Essay Examples
Writing your first paper is a difficult task but if you have a good example of an APA paper, it will be much easier. You can use this sample paper as a learning model to create your own projects.
The sample paper will help you understand what the structure of your paper should look like so that you will only have to write the content. Start with the introduction and write your thesis statement. Provide your key points in the main body and illustrate them with examples and relevant evidence from reliable sources. After this, write a strong conclusion and a list of references so that your paper won’t suffer from plagiarism. Keep in mind that you should include in-text citations when paraphrasing someone else’s work. Include the author’s name and the year of publishing.
If your direct quote is longer than 40 words, indent the new line by a ½ inch from the left margin and make a blockquote, with no quotation marks. Make sure to indent all the other lines of the quote, as well.