APA Format

This comprehensive APA format guide will help ensure that your academic writing is organised and easy to follow.

Correct formatting enhances the clarity and credibility of your work

Clear instructions, practical tips and examples in Word documents will help you write to the required APA standard.

Key Components of APA Format

  • 1 inch (2.54 centimeter) margins
  • APA-compliant font and size
  • Header with a page number, and a running head for professional papers
  • Title page
  • Abstract page
  • Main body (headings, paragraphs, figures, tables, quotations)
  • Reference list

Note: Some requirements differ for student papers (i.e., not to be published) and professional papers (e.g. theses or journal submissions).

Your instructor may also modify these requirements (e.g., not have an abstract page) or add other requirements (e.g., Table of Contents, List of Figures, or a List of Tables).

By formatting your work according to APA guidelines, your ideas will be effectively and credibly understood.

Also, citing references in APA format will ensure you correctly credit your sources of information thus avoiding plagiarism.

Layout in APA Format

Margins

Set all margins to 1 inch (2.54 centimeters).  This is the default setting in Microsoft Word.

Often you will not have to change the margin size.

However, margin sizes may be different if your paper is to be printed and bound.

See margins in APA format if you want to check the margin size or change it.

Font Type and Size

The current APA guidelines (seventh edition) allow for a range of font types and sizes.

Note: This is different to the sixth edition which recommended Times New Roman size 12.

Your instructor may specify a font to use because it is a school or faculty standard, or that they prefer that particular font.

Check the assignment guidelines.

Headers

Headers differ for student and professional papers.

Your instructor may vary these guidelines.

Student Papers - Page Number Only

Align the page number to the right margin starting with 1 on the title page (see Figure 1).

Example of the header for a student paper in APA format with a page number on every pageFigure 1: Header for a student paper in APA format

See  how to insert a page number in APA format in a Word document.

Your instructor may vary the page numbering as follows:

Professional Papers - Running Head and Page Number

The header for a professional paper contains the following:

  • Running Head which is an abbreviation of the paper's title
  • Page number

Figure 2 shows an APA-formatted header for a professional paper.

Running head in APA format exampleFigure 2: Header in APA format for a professional paper

See how to create a Running Head in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Title Page

APA guidelines provide two formats:

Your instructor may vary these guidelines.

Abstract Page

An abstract page is usually required for professional papers but not student papers.

However, your instructor may vary this requirement, for example, for a longer student paper.

See how to write an abstract page in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Text in APA Format

Headings

APA guidelines identify five levels of headings:

  • Level 1
  • Level 2 (subheading of Level 1)
  • Level 3 (subheading of Level 2)
  • Level 4 (subheading of Level 3)
  • Level 5 (subheading of Level 4)

Figure 3 gives an example of three levels of headings.

Example of Level 1, 2 and 3 headings in a paper in APA formatFigure 3: Level 1, 2 and 3 headings

See headings in APA format on how to write your headings using Microsoft Word.

Paragraphs

Format a paragraph as follows:

  • use a font type and size of your choice within APA guidelines 
    (see font types for recommended fonts),
  • align against the left margin,
  • indent the first line (0.5 in or 1.27 cm),
  • double space lines within the paragraph, and
  • do not hyphenate a word over two lines.

See how to write your paragraphs in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Quotations

Short quotations (under 40 words) are written within double quotation marks within the sentence.

Write  long quotations (40 words or more words) as a separate block of text as follows:

  • indent the whole block (0.5 in or 1.27 cm) from the left margin,
  • double space the lines,
  • indent the first line of the second or subsequent paragraphs (0.5 in or 1.27 cm).

See how to write your quotations in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Footnotes

Footnotes are not used for citations but can be used to provide extra information or copyright attribution.

See how to write your footnotes in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Figures

Figures (e.g., images, diagrams) should follow specific APA formatting guidelines.

See how to create a figure in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Tables

Tables should follow specific APA formatting guidelines.

See how to create a table in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Table of Contents

There is no official guidance for a Table of Contents inAPA format.

However, you may consider adding one to your APA-formatted paper.

See how to create a Table of Contents in APA format using Microsoft Word.

Citations

Citations and reference list entries have specific APA formatting guidelines.

Citing sources can be quite time consuming. However, citation generators can save you a lot of time.

See how to cite in APA format using Zotero, a free citation generator.

Summary

Correct use of the APA format is crucial for organizing and enhancing the clarity of your academic writing.

The instructions, practical tips, and examples provided in apaword.com will help you write to the required standard.

Important elements in your writing, including margins, font, headers, title page, abstract, main body, and citations are covered in apaword.com.

Following APA guidelines ensures your ideas are effectively communicated, sources are credited correctly, and your writing meets professional standards (see what is apa format for more information).

From layout to citations, this apaword.com shows you how to produce exceptional academic work using Microsoft Word.

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